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24th March 2006 at 00:00
TLRs: They can affect your future so think about adjusting your career accordingly

The recent introduction of teaching and learning responsibilities (TLRs) is reminding teachers of one of the key truths about career management. Jobs can and do change under people's feet at any time and with little or no warning.

Such changes serve as a reminder to teachers everywhere that they need to have a career management strategy in place and to keep it up-to-date at all times. Doing this will mean they are ready to deal with changes to their jobs and their job prospects whenever they are confronted by them.

The most important thing to remember about TLRs is that they are changing the reward structures in schools. Whether teachers are facing salary cuts, achieving salary increases or if the changes have no immediate impact, the rules about reward, recognition and status in schools are being rewritten.

Therefore, it makes sense for teachers to think about how teaching and learning responsibilities are likely to affect their careers now, and in the future, and adjust their career management strategies accordingly.

In addition to calculating the effect on your current salary and on pension projections, teachers need to think about the long-term impact on their career of the introduction of TLRs on the reward system in schools. Your best starting point is to review your attitude to your salary and position in school. Think about why you chose this position. How important was the salary in your decision-making? Your answers will give you a good indication of such impact.

So is it all about money then? Well, it might be. Think about how you judge if you are earning the right amount. Do you judge your success with reference to what other people in school earn, or what you think they earn? Do you have a sense of your place in a financial pecking order? Do you judge people's value and their success with reference to their salary? Are you aware of who earns what and where? Where do you think your salary should lie? Are you earning enough, or about the right amount by comparing the salaries of people of similar status with your own?

And what happens when you find someone whose expertise you do not rate highly is earning more than you? Is that when you start talking to the head about a salary increase?

There's more to life than money, isn't there? You may have been shaking your head as you thought about the above questions. If so, do you decide you are earning enough, or about the right amount, when are you able to pay your way in life? When you can pay your bills and afford a holiday, a house or a car - whatever is important to you - is that when you judge you are earning enough?

In fact, once you earn enough to cover your outgoings and have a little over for extras and small luxuries, do you lose interest in how much you are earning?

Your responses to the questions will give you a clear indication of the likely long-term impact of TLRs on your career.

If you are a teacher who values financial reward and the recognition and status that people who earn more than others often gain, plan your career moves with the responsibilities and rewards in mind. If you believe recognition of your efforts and achievements is to be found in your pay packet, take steps to make sure you seek the types of jobs, and are equipped to take the responsibilities associated with jobs, that deliver the rewards and recognition you want.

Many teachers are finding the jobs that deliver greater financial rewards since the introduction of teaching and learning responsibilities are not the ones that were the most highly paid in the past. If this matters to you, your career management strategy must take the new reality into account. You need to align your skills and your aspirations with the requirements of the more highly-paid jobs post January 2006.

If salary is not the key or what other people earn is of little interest to you, then teaching and learning responsibilities will have a limited impact on your strategy. Only if your salary falls below what you need to meet your commitments will pay become an issue for you. Only then will TLRs and the additional salary to be gained by taking on such responsibilities become important to you.

Life in school has changed, but it will probably take a few months yet for you to be clear exactly how extensively TLRs are going to affect your school and the jobs market more generally.

This is good. It means you have time to make plans. A cautious approach now will pay off in the future. Remember, it really is important that you are clear in your own mind just how important salary is to you and how salary issues shape your career whether you are considering your position because of the introduction of teaching and learning responsibilities or because it is time for you to review your career management strategy anyway.

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