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Work or train first?

I recently completed a master's degree in management; I also have a first in economics. I am confused as to whether to pursue a PGCE starting next September, or to apply for one of the posts I see advertised in further education colleges that ask for "a degree and willingness to undertake a qualification". Would it be more financially sensible to work and train at the same time, or to do the training first? Can I accept a place on a full-time PGCE course and still look for work?

From your question I deduce that you are considering teaching in the FE sector. If you need to stay in your present location, the work plus training option may be the way to go. If you are more mobile, consider a PGCE course. The financial consequences of each route are complicated. More important is to have secured work, and is it likely to be available for more than one year? Ethically, once you have accepted a place on a course you should stop looking for work, but I am sure many would-be lecturers continue to seek work and use the course as a backstop.

Market on the up?

Is there any sign of the job market for primary teachers improving this year? I started my undergraduate initial teacher training course in 2002, when there was still a shortage, and I am concerned that I won't find a teaching job this summer.

There is no sign yet of any upturn. The first indications will come from the outcomes of the local authority "pools" that will be recruiting this term. I think this will be a difficult year for the primary sector. There are indications that schools will be using cover supervisors and higher level teaching assistants rather than teachers, or spreading out the non-contact time previously only available to a small number of staff in their efforts to meet the workload agreement. Students who started their course when there were stories of teacher shortages, weren't told the whole picture. Your training is valuable so talk with your careers service about other roads that are open to you until the job market for primary school teachers improves in a few years' time.

Should I get more?

I've been appointed to manage a school access unit. Although I'm a qualified youth worker, I have been appointed at point 10 on the unqualified teacher scale. Should I be seeking additional payments for my managerial responsibilities; and how should I go about getting qualified teacher status? I have a diploma in youth and community education.

Point 10 is the top of the scale for unqualified teachers. It is about Pounds 5,000 less than a qualified teacher would earn in the same position.

As there is provision to pay additional amounts for managerial responsibilities, I don't see why you should not be paid them. What was said when you applied for the post? If the unit counts as a school, you may be eligible to train at work on the employment-based training programme providing your diploma fulfils the minimum academic requirements and you hold the appropriate English and mathematics qualifications. Otherwise you would need to enrol on a part-time or distance learning training course and undertake teaching placements in appropriate settings.

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

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