Working week

24th October 2003 at 01:00
Your job and career questions answered

IT route into teaching

I qualified as a teacher via PGCE straight after university. I then taught GCSE science and A-level physics for two years. That was some years ago. I am now interested in going back but would like to teach IT as I have been working in IT support for the past five years. Is there a possible route?

The short answer is, providing you have maintained your registration with the General Teaching Council, there is nothing to stop you applying for IT posts. Although you trained in science, schools may employ you to teach any subject. However, you may need some training. Approach your local recruitment strategy manager to see if there is an appropriate returners' course. Or, ask your local teacher training provider if they have any parts of their IT PGCE that might be useful to you. You would have to pay. With your physics training, there will always be pressure from heads for you to teach that shortage subject.

Where's our pay rise?

Some of us were told we had passed through to Point 2 on the upper pay spine last September, but have not been paid. Our head says the school hasn't had the money. What should we do?

If you have been told, in writing, that you have passed through, the school must pay you appropriately. As the financial year runs from April to March, I don't know why your head is saying the money has not come through. Even if the school has to go into deficit, it must still pay according to the rules laid down in the Pay and Conditions Document. Consult your professional association urgently.

Religious discrimination

I am an NQT and have a primary PGCE, but I'm also applying to high schools to teach RE and humanities. I am working as a supply teacher, but whenever I approach a school about long-term supply, I have a problem - as the evenings are drawing in I need to go home at 3.30pm on Friday when Shabbat starts, for a number of weeks. I have tried local Jewish schools and am now looking at non-Jewish schools.

I am sorry that your faith is proving a barrier to your employment. As Britain becomes a multi-faith community, issues such as yours are likely to arise. Historically, Jewish teachers and those of other faiths were allowed time off for major religious festivals during school terms. You could negotiate a part-time contract for 910ths of the week, finishing at lunch-time on Friday. This may be more acceptable to a school than trying to timetable non-contact time for Friday afternoons, even if you were only to disappear early for about a quarter of the school year.

However, EU member states have signed up to the Directive on Equal Treatment in Employment. Under this, unjustifiable discrimination in the employment of individuals, on the grounds of their religious beliefs, is an infringement of human rights, and an infringement of individual religious liberty. New regulations come into force here in December (look at It may be that after the regulations come into force, a school would not be able to ask your religious beliefs before appointment, unless it was a faith school, and employers would have to meet your need to be at home by the time darkness fell on a Friday.

You should consult your professional association for more details.

If you have any questions for John Howson, please email

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