Make a break

7th March 2003 at 00:00
Holidays can be good for your CV as well as your health

Summer may still seem a distant prospect, but if you want to make this year's holiday one to remember, it's time to start planning. Get cracking now and not only could your break be the talk of the staffroom in September, but you'll be adding valuable experience to your CV.

"Travelling and teaching are a perfect combination. It's a bit difficult to teach kids about a world that you've never seen; you need to experience it," says Tracey Waites, a history teacher at Woodlands school in Essex.

Tracey taught English in Japan for a year and frequently travels during her holidays.

An easy way to combine teaching and travelling is as a "counsellor" (children's activity instructor or general supervisor) with Camp America.

Summer contracts at the camps are usually at least nine weeks long, and offer the chance to extend your visa afterwards to travel around the US.

"There are lots of kinds of camps, and as a counsellor you can guarantee your teaching skills will be put to good use," says Nigel Poole, marketing assistant. Positions of responsibility are also available, which might be useful experience when you apply for promotion, and you can apply for special needs counsellor posts.

If you are already teaching, or can't get away for nine weeks, there are other adventure opportunities. International Voluntary Service offers a range of voluntary projects, many of them in eastern Europe. Teaching and community care projects can last between two and four weeks, and include anything from teaching English in a refugee camp to renovating children's homes. You will have to pay all your expenses.

If you like the idea of teaching children from other cultures but can't afford to leave the UK this year - no problem. They can come to you, en masse. There are numerous language schools for overseas students all over the country of varying size, shape and reputation. Many will require you to be TEFL trained, although it is often not essential. The vital element is, as Chris Woodcock, director of Project International, explains, "the ability to deal with people from other cultures, learn from them and have fun at the same time". Project International's summer schools last between three and six weeks.

Tempted? Think about the professional benefits you could gain from these experiences. Not only will it be a great discussion point at interview, but it should also count as "relevant experience" on the common pay spine as well. Itchy feet need to be scratched, but do your homework before rushing off.

* If you are an NQT make sure you finish your induction year (see Sara Bubb's advice column, right).

* Talk to your mentor or senior management team about projects you are considering, and ask for advice about related promotion opportunities.

* Go to events such as Camp America, on March 22, at the Olympia centre, west London.

Camp America: 020 7581 7373; International Voluntary Service: 0113 230 4600 Project International: 020 7916 8580

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