Before you rest up, review your career

6th July 2001 at 01:00
Don't rest on your laurels just yet. Now is a good time to take stock of your career and think about where you wish to be a year on, writes Jill Parkin.

The end of term must be near: report writing looms, there are class coach trips and in the staffroom the instant coffee has gone solid in the bottom of the jar. Six recuperative weeks of freedom twinkle at the end of the tunnel.

The whole point of the summer break is to forget school, of course, but it's an opportunity to think forward, too. For children, September is the start of another phase. Not so for teachers, and if that thought makes you groan, perhaps you need more than a break.

Now may be the time to take stock of your career, before you get caught up in the planning and routine of another year in the same job. If you are not happy, what can you do?

The first stage of a career review is best done before the last day of term. Once you have done some heart-searching and talked to your family, make an appointment to see your headteacher. Make it clear you need at least 20 minutes, not five.

Whatever fulfillment you seek may be available where you are. You may not want a new job, just some new direction. Ask yourself how your job works with the rest of your life. Have your childcare responsibilities changed? Is this a time for more career demands or fewer? Do you want to go for management and the relocating that often goes with it, or do you want a change without a house move?

Have ready on paper an idea of what you would like to be doing over the next few years. Cover any extra responsibilities you would like, ideas for classroom initiatives and your own professional development.

Ask what your prospects are; does your head have a progression for you in mind? If so, you will obviously want to see how it answers your own wish-list. If not, drive the discussion yourself and see where it gets you.

You may be after pastures new, but don't leap clean over the fence right now. You would do better to spend time working out where you would like to be in September next year.

Next, dust down your CV. Just reading it will give you an idea of what experience you are lacking and may remind you of what your hopes were last time you updated it.

If you know what the gaps in your experience are, it is not too late to do something about it this summer. Ask your local authority if they have any training days on offer and visit the websites of the main recruitment agencies to examine their lists of holiday and twilight courses. You may find that if you register with the agency the courses - held around the country - are free. They don't represent a formal qualification but give useful skills and employers will be impressed with your commitment and interest.

Courses cover the literacy and numeracy strategies, a variety of special needs teaching, supply teaching, and one that any teacher may fancy is a course on dealing with challenging behaviour. Those considering radical career surgery may be interested in a course on converting from secondary to primary education.

Select Education recruitment agency has a comprehensive course list on its website (

When you are applying for a particular post your CV should be tailored to it, but it is always worth revising it towards the end of a school year. If you are considering going to a recruitment agency, you will need a general CV to give a clear idea of your aims and ambitions.

Don't be frightened of going for what you want: the jobs market is in your favour. Do read job advertisements, even if you don't want to apply yet. They will give you an idea of the thinking in schools and indicate what is available in other authorities.

So, don't let the end-of-term jobs list block your view. If you get going now, the summer break could be more than a mere crash-out.

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