2nd May 2003 at 01:00
Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

Q I trained as a teacher in Jamaica and I recently moved to England. I now want to start teaching in secondary schools. When I was in Jamaica, I taught mathematics from Years 6 to 13, for almost six years. I have sent applications to various schools without success. I have just completed a master's degree in economics. What is the most efficient way of getting into the classroom here, and a paying teaching job?

AI am sorry you have found it difficult to start teaching in England.

Spring is not a good time to be looking for a permanent post since most schools have few reasons to create new teaching jobs. However, despite recent worries about funding, there are still teaching posts available for September.

Talk to the recruitment strategy managers in the local authorities where you are looking. They may be able to suggest schools with potential vacancies. Or they may have schools that would be prepared to help you convert your present teaching qualification through the overseas trained teacher scheme. This would give you qualified teacher status and demonstrate that you were familiar with the national curriculum and current teaching methods. QTS may make you more attractive to schools.

At the same time, contact one or more of the supply agencies that cover schools in the areas where you want to work. Supply teaching is not an easy option, but it would allow you to get a foot in the door. A supply agency may also know of schools that would be willing to help you gain qualified status. They might also help you make the most of your curriculum vitae.

With an economics degree and mathematics qualification, you should also consider further education. You don't need qualified teacher status to start work in this sector and part-time work is often available.

Q My partner is moving to the north-east to become head of department in a comprehensive. How hard will it be for me to find a teaching post in a primary school for September?

A Parts of the north-east have been disproportionately affected by the national decline in the birth rate, and rolls are falling in many primary schools. Authorities in the north have often not suffered as badly as other parts of the country in this year's funding changes. Nevertheless, with more new teachers qualified to teach in primary schools entering the market, competition could be quite stiff. You will need to sell yourself on your record and on how you will be able to adapt to teaching in a different part of the country. Partly because of the age distribution of the teaching profession, senior and middle management posts may be attracting less interest than more junior positions.

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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