Where do I start?

1st November 2002 at 00:00
Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I'm doing a PGCE but plan to go abroad, probably to teach English in Japan. Will this harm my chances of finding employment as an NQT when I return? Is there a set period of time within which I must do my NQT year, before the PGCE qualification becomes redundant? I don't want to ask my tutors about this as I feel they wouldn't approve.

There is no time limit between getting your teaching qualification and starting your induction year in England. I'm not sure what you mean by "redundant" - your PGCE never runs out and can't be taken away from you. However, you can fail induction, which means you won't be allowed to teach in a state school or non-maintained special school in England. So it makes sense to do induction in your first year of teaching, when all that you've learned is fresh and up to date, and in the context you trained for. Going abroad will make a complex job more difficult, and you won't get the reduced timetable, support, monitoring and assessment that will help you be a better teacher.

Then there are the financial incentives - the "golden hello" and your student loans repaid - to consider if your PGCE is in a shortage subject: maths, science, modern languages, technology, ICT, design technology or English including drama. You get the pound;4,000 "golden hello" in the term after you complete induction, so long as this happens within five years of gaining qualified teacher status. If you get a job in a state school within seven months of qualifying, the Government will repay loans taken out with the Student Loan Company during your degree and PGCE.

Teaching abroad won't harm your chance of finding a job in England, but it won't help if you're competing with people who are fresh from training and up to date with the latest educational developments. Employers may feel that your professionalism has been enriched through teaching abroad or they may question your commitment to the job and staying at their school.

There will always be schools with vacancies, but these are often in "challenging circumstances" with a high staff turnover - not great for induction.

You're wise not to mention your plans to your tutors. I think they would be justified in feeling irritated by someone who has taken up a PGCE place with a pound;6,000 training salary who plans to go abroad when their own country needs them desperately.

Are you a student or NQT? Email your questions to: susan.young@newsint.co.uk. Sara Bubb's A Newly Qualified Teacher's Manual: how to meet the induction standards is published by David Fulton, pound;16

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