Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I completed my PGCE course in 1996 but decided not to teach. I worked in a communications company, then taught English as a foreign language abroad. Since my return I have been working with adults with special needs. I have decided I would like to start my teaching career but I am concerned that I've lost my teacher's status as I didn't use my PGCE within three years of gaining it. Some people say I'm not able to teach, but others disagree. Can you give me a definitive answer?

Once you have qualified teacher status (QTS) you have it for good. It can never be taken away from you, nor can it expire. Almost all PGCEs give qualified teacher status, the exception being those in post-compulsory education. So, if I'm right in presuming that you have a PGCE in primary or secondary education, you can definitely work as a qualified teacher.

You will be classified as a newly qualified teacher, even though "newly" in your case means six years ago. However, you won't have to undergo the statutory induction period as the regulations affect only people qualifying after May 1999. The downside is that you won't be guaranteed the support from an induction tutor and a 10 per cent reduced timetable. But on the other hand you won't have to be monitored and assessed. Crucially, you won't run the risk of failing induction and never being allowed to teach again in the state sector.

You have no further gateposts and can apply for jobs in England. Your school should provide induction for you and many will offer you as good a deal as "statutory" NQTs. If they don't, however, there are no regulations to make them do so.

You want to be assured that your first school will give you good induction, even without the pound;3,000 funding it would get if you were covered by the induction regulations. As someone who's been out of school for so long, you will need it. You'll also need to convince employers that you are committed to teaching and are keen to develop further professionally.

Spend some time in a school and look at educational websites and newspapers so you can talk authoritatively about what's going on. In job applications emphasise the benefits you would bring to teaching from the experience you've gained since finishing your PGCE, especially the TEFL and teaching adults with special needs.

Are you a student or NQT? Email your questions to: susan.young@newsint. co.uk. Sara Bubb's A Newly Qualified Teachers' Manual: how to meet the induction standards is published by David Fulton, pound;15

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