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Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

Is it true that if unions strike I will lose pound;100 of my pay for the month? I've been hearing so many different things. Could you clarify this?

You don't get paid for any days on which you strike. Obviously, you normally strike only if you belong to the unions who have called the action, and you can choose not to, even if you are a member - though you should think about the consequences.

One way of working out what a day's pay is roughly would be to divide your salary (say pound;20,000) into 200 days' worth, which will be about pound;100 before tax, national insurance and pension. I guess you have to weigh up the short-term loss against the likelihood of long-term gain.

In one of your articles you advise an NQT to have a desk for her personal use. Is this a right? Our headteacher insists that desks are unnecessary and that good teachers can manage without them.

It's not a "right", but standard issue. Sorry to sound rude, but your headteacher is talking nonsense and undermining your self-esteem when he implies that you're not a good teacher because you want one. If he applied the same logic you probably wouldn't have a chair because you never sit down, or a staffroom because you're always in the classroom.

Could your headteacher do without a desk? Try applying the "a good headteacher doesn't need a desk" line, and see how great it makes him feel. Surely he should be out of his office leading and managing and not hiding behind a desk. He needs to write a letter? Well, he can use the secretary's desk.

Do you need to explain that you won't be sitting behind the desk (feet up, drinking coffee) when teaching? What an insult. Where do you work when the pupils aren't there? You'll damage your back if you work at their tables - and then be off sick.

A desk is essential. Where do you keep your stuff? Where do you put work to mark, important documents, and so on? I'm sure your head wouldn't want you to leave sensitive documents lying around. It's common sense to give teachers the space to work and an area that they can truly call their own.

If you want to reinforce the message, try conveniently "losing" some important papers, as "you are sure you left them in the staffroom but someone must have moved them".

Are you a student or NQT? Email your questions to Sara Bubb's ANewly Qualified Teacher's Manual:how to meet the induction standards is published by David Fulton, pound;16

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