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Be aware of the differences

QI did a general primary course that covered the age range from five to 11 and have taught a key stage 2 class for the past two years. I have seen a post for a reception class teacher that interests me. Can I apply?

AIn theory, yes, but do you feel equipped for such a change in direction? There is a lot of difference between teaching a reception class and teaching at key stage 2, even though they are both in the primary sector.

Why do you want to make the change? Have you arranged to spend any time in a reception class to check out whether it is really for you? If you are convinced that you want to make the change, it will strengthen any application you make if you can show that you have been undertaking professional development to equip you for teaching the younger age group.

You could approach the early years' adviser in your local authority for advice and guidance about your possible career move.

A slow climb to the top QHow long will it take to reach the top of the upper pay spine? I entered teaching this September.

AThe main pay scale now has six points (M1-M6). Assuming you started at point 1, as almost everybody now does, you will reach point M6 at the start of your sixth year. If you have the requisite two years worth of necessary evidence and a threshold round is open, you may apply. Details of eligibility for the current round can be found at http:www.teachernet.gov.uk_doc4780ACFB4.pdf. As nobody has yet been able to progress beyond point 2 on the upper pay spine, it is not certain how long that would take, but at an average of two years between progression might take eight years to reach U5. The earliest most teachers would reach this point is probably 15 years after entering service on point 1 on the new six point scale. This may not be all a teacher earns during this period. Leaving aside recruitment and retention allowances, there are five management allowances for extra responsibilities that many teachers are awarded. This increases the salary.

Sell yourself QI had an interview with a supply agency. They asked me for a letter of application and CV. Having taught in Scotland for the past five years, I have never had to write such a letter; what should be included?

AI would have thought that your CV would have been sufficient to demonstrate your teaching experience. If they are going to interview you, a letter of application provides a good starting point. The point to address is why do you want to become a supply teacher? The answer may be that your partner has relocated to a new part of the country and you want to familiarise yourself with the area before opting for a permanent post. You might have other reasons, such as mixing teaching and further study or family commitments, all appropriate. You can also use the letter to sell your CV by drawing attention to points that merit attention and explaining anything that might seem negative.

If you have a question for John Howson, please email it to susan.young@tes.co.uk

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