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Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

My specialist subject is social science (sociology and psychology), but I now have a job in which my second subject is maths. Do I qualify to have my loans paid off, or for a golden hello?

You aren't eligible for a golden hello because that's only for people who did a PGCE in a shortage subject. You might get your loans repaid if you:

* work in a maintained school, a non-maintained special school, a city technology college, a city college for the technology of the arts, or a city academy in England or Wales;

* teach maths, science, modern foreign languages, English (including drama), Welsh, design and technology, or ICT for at least half of your timetable, and started teaching within seven months of gaining qualified status;

* have a contract of at least eight continuous weeks with a school or local authority;

* have QTS awarded after February 1, 2002;

* have an outstanding debt with the Student Loans Company.

The debts aren't paid off in one go. Student loans will be paid off over 10 years for full-time teachers with income contingent loans, or around seven years for those with older, mortgage-style loans. Although you can move schools, you can't stop being a teacher of those shortage subjects in the state sector. You have to fill in a form every year that gives the Student Loans Company (tel:0870 240 6298) up-to-date information to check that you're still eligible. It has to be signed by the school head. If you stop teaching a shortage subject for half your timetable, you'll have to make the loan repayments yourself. To check, ring the Teaching Information Line: 0845 6000 991.

I'm in my first year of teaching English and am being made redundant because the school is over-staffed for next year. I'm worried about finding work. Will I be as desirable to schools as "cheap" NQTs?

See this as an opportunity to enrich your CV. You have plenty of time to look for a new job and will have the benefit of experience to know what schools you'll be happy in. You'll be snapped up, because you'll still be relatively "cheap", freshly trained and enthusiastic, but you won't need the statutory induction support that an NQT needs. Market yourself as such.

Make sure that you get a strong reference that makes it clear why you're moving.

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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