Where do I start?

20th June 2003 at 01:00
Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I am about to complete my induction year and I've just handed in my notice due to bad experiences and bad management. I have taken about 10 sick days (spread out over the year) and wonder if this will affect job applications.

I know there are better schools for me somewhere. Do you have any views about supply work just in case I enter this field?

In the current climate, resigning without a job to go to is very risky. You need to get cracking on applying for jobs, but you'll be in competition with lots of others. With school budget problems and the huge number of people who have just finished their teaching courses, it won' t be easy. I don't know whether you're a primary or a secondary teacher. The situation is worse in primary and in certain regions. It won't be easy even in London.

There won't be much supply work around either and, although it gives you the chance to check out other schools, it's hard work; I've never found it rewarding. The pay sounds good - you hear of supplies costing pound;200 a day. But this is what the agencies get. You'll get a fraction of that and you won't be entitled to sick pay, holidays, pension or paid leave. And even if you work on all the 190 school days in a year, you'll still need money to support you for 365 days. Supply agencies are not charities; they're businesses out to make a profit. Some are more exploitative than others, so shop around.

Workload on supply is potentially lighter. Not having to write plans, reports and assessments may seem like heaven after teaching practice, but again, there are drawbacks. You'll be expected to follow the planning left for you by the full-time class teachers. Gone are the days when you could turn up with winning lessons from your own private cache. Working from someone else's plan can be difficult, so, inevitably, lessons don't go as well and you'll rarely get the buzz that comes from successful teaching. If you're in a school for any length of time, you'll be expected to slot into the same level of planning, assessment and reporting as permanent staff, so the workload will become comparable with theirs.

As for your history of sickness, some references ask for attendance records and others don't. If your head does mention it, it won't look good to a future employer. Ten days' absence out of a 195-day year is a lot and could have cost up to pound;2,000 in supply cover, so you need to be prepared to explain it at interview.

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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