Your career and pay questions answered

Q What constitutes a reasonable delay between a school receiving notification of achieving a Schools' Achievement award, and actually passing it on to the staff? We are still awaiting notification, let alone payment, several months after the event.

A I don't know whether there is any formal definition of "reasonable delay" in this type of case. You should ask your staff representative on the governing body when the matter was last discussed by the governors and what decision was reached about payment. If the matter has yet to reach the governors, then ask your staff governor to have it put on the agenda of the next meeting. It makes sense for you to be kept informed if there is a reasonable explanation about why you haven't been paid. If there isn't you may wish to seek the help of your professional association.

Q I want to study to become a teacher while I am at home bringing up a young family. I don't want to study full-time at first and, ideally, would like to start slowly and build up my hours of study as I go along. I have a degree in mathematics and statistics and would mainly like to teach gifted children in a secondary school. Any ideas?

A few years ago I would have said that your chances of finding a course to suit your needs were minimal. However, flexibility is now the name of the game. These days there are a number of providers, including the Open University, which has PGCE courses that can be tailored to your needs. Many can be taken as distance learning qualifications and all are designed to meet the standards required from trainee teachers at the end of their courses. They also allow for the accreditation of any prior learning, where appropriate. The standards require you to be able to teach more than just "gifted" children. Whether you can find a job teaching just this type of student it is too early to predict. However, you may find as you learn more about teaching that there are other challenges that appeal to you.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Send your career questions to him at

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