14th July 2000 at 01:00
Advice for students and NQTs from Sara Bubb

I have recently completed a history PGCE, but the school I'm going to in September wants me to teach geography and RE as well as history. I don't even have GCSEs in geography and RE. What shall I do?

First, look at the job specification. Is teaching other subjects mentioned? If the job you accepted is significantly different from what is now being demanded, you have every right to complain and even take a position elsewhere. Perhaps, however, you were employed to teach in the humanities department in which case you are on less firm ground.

Either way, teaching RE and geography clearly are "unreasonable demands" from which you are legally protected as an NQT (see Circular 599 paragraph 26). Seek the advice of your induction tutor. You need to make clear that you have no qualifications in RE and geography - and no experience n teaching them.

If the timetable cannot be rearranged, you will need extra support, particularly in RE and geography planning and subject knowledge. Also clarify whether meeting the induction standards will be judged on your history teaching, or the geography and RE teaching as well. Your performance could be understandably different in subjects that you lack confidence. On the other hand, many skills such as behaviour management are generic, so the subject element may not be such an issue.

Certainly, you and your induction tutor should be proactive in remedying the situation, not least because the stakes are high. If channels within the school are not successful, your local education authority should have someone (a "named person") who can help sort out problems.

E-mail your questions to: Bubb cannot enter into personal correspondence

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