Where do I start?

Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs.

I recently applied for a position as a music teacher and have been offered the job, as has another candidate who is also just coming up to the end of a PGCE. We were told that because we would both be acting as heads of department, we would each get one management point as well as a recruitment and retention allowance (London fringe) and pay over the summer. But we have since been informed that we won't get any management points because, being NQTs, we're not eligible for them. What should I do?

This is tricky. The school has broken a verbal but legally binding contract, so you would be within your rights to turn down the job. If I were you, I would consider doing so. It sounds as if you'd be expected to do a head of department's job without a management point, and that would be unfair. Sharing a position would be hard for experienced teachers, but for two NQTs it would be disastrous.

Under paragraph 26 of the Induction Circular, you are protected from any position that makes "unreasonable demands". Clearly, being expected to be a head of department would be unreasonable, whether the job is shared or not. The school's willingness to give this job to two NQTs shows there is no one else to take the role, and perhaps suggests poor management. This would mean your induction tutor would be someone from outside the music department who may be unable to support you well or judge your work fairly.

Remember, schools that give recruitment and retention points are likely to have problems - there's no such thing as a free lunch. The extra money might not compensate for the stress you would perhaps experience. Try to find out more about what you're letting yourself in for by reading Ofsted reports, looking at results and asking around about such factors as staff turnover.

Ask the head who your induction tutor will be, and how your 10 per cent reduced timetable will be arranged. Remember also that for two NQTs, the reduction will effectively be 20 per cent of a single timetable, something the school may not have considered. Ask how your support, monitoring and assessment will be organised and who will be your line manager in the absence of a department head.

Find out about the state of music in the school. Are there up-to-date and detailed schemes of work and good resources? Would you be expected to organise many concerts? If you're unhappy, look elsewhere. There are still plenty of jobs around.

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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