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Your job and career questions answered

In sickness..

Q My entitlement to full pay while sick is nearly up. I understand that I can claim statutory sick pay once I go on to half pay. If I am not well enough to return to school once the half-pay period lapses, what happens then? Do I get nothing?

A I am sorry that you have been off sick for a long time. The number of days you are entitled to receive full pay depends upon your length of service as a teacher, not the time in a particular school or local authority. There are national minimums, but local authorities have the discretion to extend the period in some cases.

Statutory sick pay is only available for the first 28 weeks of any sickness, and forms part of the sick pay most teachers receive. You will only receive statutory pay for the period from the end of your full pay up to the end of the 28 week period. Once your half pay is exhausted, you would be eligible to apply for state incapacity benefit. If this is a possibility, talk to your professional association about seeking infirmity benefits or even a possible pension on the grounds of ill-health.

The law regarding fitness for work is somewhat antiquated these days, and does not always take in to account that you might be capable of say, marking and preparing work, but not standing in front of a class.

First-time teacher in the UK

Q I did a PGCE in languages some years ago, but have never taught in theUK - I went straight overseas and taught in an EFL school, becoming a director of studies. I now want to work in London. What are my options ?

A If you want to teach in the secondary sector, you may be hampered by the fact that you have never used the skills acquired during your training.

However, some schools, particularly those with large numbers of non-native English speakers, may welcome your additional expertise gained from working with those learning English.

As an alternative, you could consider the further education sector where you might be able to combine both EFL work and foreign language teaching.

With a background such as yours it is worth making the first move and contacting recruitment managers in the areas where you would like to work to see if they know of schools that would welcome your special talents.

Don't give up at the first barrier

Q I finished a primary PGCE last summer but have not yet found a teaching post. I am reluctant to take on supply work, but wonder whether it is worth holding on. Or should I cut my losses and find a post outside teaching?

A Some teaching posts do become available during this term and the start of term in January, often because of maternity leave arrangements. However, there have been relatively few jobs advertised this term. Possibly, schools are conserving their finances until they know what the position will be next year. Although you are reluctant to undertake supply teaching, it does offer the chance to keep up the skills learnt during your training and can prove to a head that you have the aptitude for teaching.

Don't give up, but you may need to consider posts that require you to travel outside your local area.

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