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Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

Just before Christmas I suffered a serious back injury. I've returned to school but, although I am fit to work, the long drive in is a problem. Lots of people have told me a new teacher should stay in first post for at least three years, but posts are already being advertised for September, some of which are within walking distance of my home. Could I apply?

Yes. Back problems are serious and you need to take every step you can to look after yourself. The idea that you should stay in a job three years is only a rule of thumb. I moved after my first year and it was the best thing I could've done. It'll be hard on you because you won't reap the rewards of all the planning and relationships you've developed this year. Don't feel guilty. If you stay until the end of the school year you won't be disrupting students' education. You have a good reason to move and need to snap up geographically convenient jobs. Soon there'll be lots of competition from people who've just finished training, so it's good to look now. You'll be able to give your school plenty of notice. However, don't take a job unless you think you'll be happy.

I'm working as a supply teacher in Cumbria - an area where there is no shortage of teachers. I'm worried that I may not get a permanent post by the time my four-term limit is up (Christmas). The schools I'm working for say they would be happy to continue employing me, but are the "authorities" likely to take a dim view of this?

I agree that the regulations discriminate against people who live in areas where there are few vacancies and who are unable to move, but technically you will be breaking the law (DfES Guidance 5822001 Annex C, paragraph 6) if you do short-term supply after January 2004. The DfES and the Teacher Training Agency recognise the problem and may change legislation if encouraged to do so. They are currently consulting on this matter and there may be action on this front by September. Try writing to the induction team at the Teacher Training Agency, Portland House, Stag Place, London WC1E 5TT. The TTA needs people to let it know the scale of the problem.

Meanwhile, try to get a term's supply position. This will enable you to do induction and will give you the support and stability you need.

Are you a student or NQT?Email your questions to: 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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