5th April 1996 at 01:00
Q I graduated as a primary teacher in 1993, but have been unsuccessful in my attempts to find a post in the area where I have to live, which is dictated by my husband's job. If this situation continues, will my qualification cease to be valid?

A Under the current regulations, you will remain a qualified teacher for the rest of your life and I do not foresee that being changed.

Getting a post in teaching is, however, another matter and it is difficult when one is confined by circumstances to an area where few vacancies occur.

Your difficulties will undoubtedly increase with the passage of time, not because your qualification loses its validity but because prospective employers may well regard the lack of experience over the intervening years as a disadvantage.

Your situation is not impossible, however, because there are many teachers, particularly women, who take extended breaks from teaching in order to raise a family.

Their return to work is often helped by attendance on special courses which are provided for returning teachers, designed to update them on current developments and practice. Although you are not strictly a returner, such a course might well be appropriate for you one day.

Q Many schools employ teachers who are rugby players. Will the professional contracts that some of them are now signing affect their work as teachers?

A They should not do so. Accepting a contract as a rugby player is exactly the same as accepting a contract as an evening class lecturer at the local college, something which many teachers do to supplement their earnings or experience.

Teachers are free to undertake work outside school, provided that this does not interfere with the performance of the duties required of them by their principal contract.

Generally, there is no difficulty, but there is the possibility that an evening class or a rugby match or practice session might clash with a parents' evening or other school function, attendance at which is required as part of directed time.

Problems of this sort may be resolved by negotiation, but the primacy of the main contract cannot be set aside and teachers need to be aware of their obligations before entering into outside commitments.

Q Where a head or deputy takes over the duties of a teacher who is absent for a lengthy period, is there any way in which this can be recognised in salary terms?

A Any salary payments to teachers at any level must be in accordance with the terms of the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions of Service Document. It is therefore not possible, for example, to pay a head or deputy a responsibility point normally held by a teacher.

That does not mean, however, that the governors cannot, if they so wish, reward a head or deputy for a temporary increase in responsibility. What they would need to do would be to pay the head or deputy at the point above their current position on the spine for heads and deputies for that fraction of a full year which would most closely correspond in salary terms with the amount they wished to pay.

Questions should be sent to Helpline, The TES,Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200. e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.

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