Your career and pay questions answered by John Howson

21st March 2003 at 00:00

I qualified in my late 40s as an ICT teacher. Five years later, I'm still trying to find a job. For my NQT year, I worked away from home, in the south-east. At the end of the year, I was told they had only needed me to get through Ofsted. I'd wasted money trying to buy a house and living in temporary accommodation.

For the next year, I was a temporary ICT co-ordinator in a secondary school within driving distance of home. I set everything up from scratch. At the end of that year, I was told they were teaching ICT via a GNVQ scheme and didn't need me. I have also worked as a temporary ICT in another local school, keeping a seat warm.

Since then, I have been a supply teacher. I apply for every ICT job advertised, but only get interviewed for about one in 20. I'm well qualified in computers, with an MSc, and have more than 20 years in the industry.

Where do I go from here? In the absence of a real teaching job, do I walk away from the profession? I don't want to, but constant rejection does nothing for my morale.


First, check with someone who is prepared to be honest about your teaching skills. What do they see as your strengths and weaknesses in the classroom, and in your relations with those in authority? You may seem intimidating to others without realising it. You are also trying to make a career at an age when others are looking to quit, and some heads may not believe you are in it for the long haul. Finding people who can give you this advice is a priority.

If you are free to move around, try the international schools circuit.

Teachers in these schools often only do a couple of years in a posting, and you could see the world while also teaching interesting classes. You should have sufficient experience to be attractive to these schools. Have you considered further education? It often doesn't pay as well as teaching in schools, but there can be other compensations, such as working with adults.

Talk to your supply agency to see if they can make better use of your talents, perhaps in finding you longer-term assignments.

The fact you have stuck at it for five years gives you credit. Sadly for you, the flow of newly qualified teachers of ICT is set to expand over the next few years as the outpouring of new graduates find jobs in computing difficult to secure and turn to teaching instead. You need to consider this in your future planning.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Send your career questions to him at

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