Q I have reached the top of the upper pay spine (pound;33,444 outside London) and I'm wondering what to do next? Is it worth looking for a post as an Excellent Teacher or Advanced Skills Teacher (AST)? A The answer to your question depends upon a number of different factors, as I have noted in answers to similar past questions. However, it is always useful to get an update on what is happening in the job market. The Excellent Teacher grade arrived on the scene last year, whereas ASTs have been around since 1998. Somehow they don't seem to have really caught on. It is not easy to track information about these posts, especially the Excellent Teacher grade, because it is so new. However, we have only recorded 94 adverts for Excellent Teachers since last September across the whole secondary sector. Of these, 54 were for mathematics teachers and a further 19 for science teachers; of the remaining 21, six were in IT and nine in English. We have only recorded one, for a history teacher, among all the humanities subjects. This doesn't mean the grade hasn't been used internally by schools to reward staff but it does mean that, to date, you would have to look quite hard to find such a post. If finding an Excellent Teacher post is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, then looking for an AST post is not much easier. This year we have recorded 285 such posts in the secondary sector, only slightly above the 252 recorded in the previous year. Again, there seems to be a strong link between recruitment issues and AST adverts. There were 85 adverts for mathematics ASTs, some 30 per cent of the total, compared with 56 for English ASTs. Across the whole of the humanities area we recorded only four adverts, two for humanities and one each for citizenship and geography. There are some regional differences as well. So, to answer your question of whether it is worth considering these posts, the answer must be yes if you can find one. If you are a primary teacher, or in a subject in the secondary sector that doesn't suffer from recruitment problems, your chances of such a post are minimal and it would be far better to explore other options for your future career. Of course, the situation might change, but I wouldn't bank on i *
John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at askjohnhowson@ tes.co.uk.