17th January 2003 at 00:00
Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q Is there any standard teachers' job description that I can look at online? We have not had one before and have been given new ones to sign.

A I am going to assume that you teach in the maintained sector and not in a private school. Teachers' pay and conditions in "state" schools in England and Wales are regulated by the Government on the advice of the Teachers'

Review Body. A description of the "Conditions of Employment of Teachers other than Head Teachers" is published each year and can be found on the internet at:

This sets out what can be expected of you as a teacher. You should also check with your professional association to see if there are any locally negotiated elements. With all the discussion about workload, the nature of a teacher's contract and what can be expected of you is likely to be on the agenda for some time to come.

Q I am a mature student starting a degree course and plan to go into teaching. I would like to teach modern languages to young children in a primary school. Should I do a languages degree plus a primary PGCE, or a joint education and languages degree, plus training in a school. Or can you suggest a better route?

A Just before Christmas the Government announced plans to teach languages to young children. It isn't clear whether they will use peripatetic teachers, or expect class teachers to add languages to their repertoire of skills. Whichever route into teaching you decide is best for you will depend upon whether you want to teach only languages or a wider range of subjects.

Whatever you decide, try to find out if you can take some modules in teacher training alongside your degree. At the very least you might want to work as a volunteer in a local primary school to gain some experience and a further insight into where your real skills and interests lie.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Send your career questions to him at

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