Q: I've recently started working in a shop a couple of evenings a week as well as being a full-time secondary school teacher. However, the head says that the shop assistant job is unprofessional - he is concerned that it is in the school's catchment area. I'm desperate for money and worried that I will have to quit this part-time job for not good enough reasons. What should I do?
A: Have you explained your financial situation to the school? I am sure many young teachers find themselves in your position, with student debt to pay off and high living costs, even on a teacher's salary. If the school doesn't like you working in a shop, can they help you find something more appropriate, perhaps in youth work or tutoring? In the end, your head may feel it is not "quite the thing" for a teacher, but it is hardly a sackable offence. Meeting pupils and their parents outside school is an occupational hazard. A few years ago, the head wouldn't have dared to take this line with you in case you quit. This type of assertiveness on the part of the employer is symptomatic of the changing state of the job market, where there are now more teachers chasing jobs than there were in the past. Even though I am tempted to suggest you say "get real" to your head, negotiation might be a better way forward, especially as your debts won't go away and you need your teacher's salary.