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Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I'm about to finish my primary PGCE but I haven't got a job yet, despite having done well on the course. I was told that getting a job would be easy. Initially, I was selective in what I applied for because I wanted to make the right choice. But now I'm panicking as there seems to be nothing suitable around here for KS2, and the "thousands of jobs" all seem to be in the south. What should I do? Should I take anything and hope for the best, or keep looking? I really don't want to complete my induction year on supply.

Don't worry. You will get a job, and probably in the sort of school you want to work in. There are only three points in the year when teachers can hand in their notice. The big one is at the end of May, and this gives rise to huge numbers of job adverts in June and July. Schools get really desperate.

Make sure you're on all the mailing lists for the local authorities in your area, and read The TES. Some schools don't even advertise but use personal contacts with colleges, so check the noticeboards there as well.

I don't know how many jobs you've applied for already, but if you've been turned down you might need to look at your application form again. Are you doing all the right things? Does your application form look as good as you can possibly make it? Is your supporting statement focused but with lively examples of how you meet the person specification? Are your referees writing positive things about you?

You also need to research your local schools to find out which ones you'd like to work in. Look at Ofsted reports and league tables, but most of all keep asking people about schools. There's no harm in approaching schools directly with your CV, just in case they have a vacancy.

How long can I do supply for? I did some in September 2001 after my PGCE and before my baby was born. I now want to get back into teaching but I can't commit myself yet.

You can only do four terms on short-term supply before doing induction, but these are calendar terms and the clock starts ticking as soon as you do your first day's work. So, as you worked in the autumn term 2001, your four-term limit will be over at Christmas. You'll need to do induction after that. You could do this while working part-time, but you need to be in a settled job for at least a term.

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

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