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Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I'm an undergraduate and, due to illness, I missed an exam at Christmas.

I'm being allowed to sit it, but not until the beginning of September so I won't get my degree until Christmas. I have a place on a primary PGCE starting in September - will I be able to join the course without my degree?

I don't think so. You have to have a degree in order to start a PGCE. Is there any way you could sit the exam earlier? I suspect that your PGCE place will be held open for the following year, if you explain the problem.

Though you don't want a delay, you can gain experience through, for instance, being a classroom assistant. This will give you an advantage when you start the course.

As a trainee science teacher, I'm under the impression that I qualify for the golden hello, but I've noticed adverts for schools that say they offer the golden hello as part of their incentive package. Does this mean that it's up to individual schools to decide whether or not an NQT will get a golden hello or will all people who qualify get it automatically from the Government?

The DfES golden hello is claimed by filling in a form and sending it to your LEA in the term after you've completed induction, if you have a PGCE in a shortage subject and are still working in a maintained school. It's not given automatically (you have to apply for it), and it isn't up to the school. The pound;4,000 is subject to tax and national insurance but isn't pensionable. I suspect that the confusion comes from some schools and LEAs giving what they call golden hellos. These are just incentives to come and work for them, so will be additional to the DfES one. The school or LEA can offer what they like to tempt you, but the DfES one is set at pound;4,000.

However, there's no such thing as a free lunch: incentives are given because other teachers don't want to work there. So don't just think about the money - think why the school is so desperate. The most important thing is that you find a settled and supportive school where you'll be able to make progress in your induction year. Remember, no matter how many incentives you're offered, you can fail induction and then you won't be able to teach in the state sector again. The chances of failing are remote - about 500:1 - but I can't emphasise how important it is to choose the right school for you. Some schools are happier places to work in than others.

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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