28th September 2007 at 01:00
John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at

Q) I am a teacher living in Cumbria and I'm having trouble getting a job. There are 120 applications for each post and they are usually filled before being advertised. I have three children and am considering working abroad for a year to get some teaching experience. I qualified in 2003 as a mature student and have not yet begun paying off my debts. Do you have any advice?

A) You don't say whether you have trained for primary or secondary school teaching. If the former, then I doubt whether the situation is much worse than in many other parts of the country, judging by what others have been telling me over the past few months. If you qualified in 2003, how have you kept going since then? Juggling three children with a career is pretty demanding on you and your family.

There is no way you could hold down a teaching post in a new location without the wholehearted support of your family so make sure you have their backing first. If you look abroad for a teaching post carry out the recommended checks to ensure the background of the school and the organisation with whom it is accredited. There are lots of overseas teaching posts advertised in The TES job pages.

As for gaining work, you need to convince potential employers that as a mature person you have more to offer than younger newly trained teachers. Employers will rightly want you to account for how you have used the period since you qualified to ensure you have kept up-to-date. Some people in your position form links with local schools or the schools where their own children are pupils, by working part-time as a volunteer or teaching assistant.

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