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You've got a friend...

...53 of them in fact, Elizabeth Holmes reports on the new teacher's latest helper.

RSM, TTA, RRA... the poor, bewildered NQT needs a first class degree in acronyms to untangle that lot. But untangled they must be, because all play an important part in your early teaching life.

RSM - no, that doesn't mean regimental sergeant-major - is the newest addition. It was a little over a year ago that school standards minister Estelle Morris announced a network of regional advisers to support and co-ordinate recruitment. Since then, 53 recruitment strategy managers have been employed by local education authorities to boost recruitment into their schools.

RSMs work closely with the Teacher Training Agency's (TTA) eight regional recruitment advisers (RRAs), who are geared more specifically to recruitment to initial teacher training. Together, both sets of advisers can respond to regional differences in recruitment needs.

Each LEA must bid for an RSM by putting forward its recruitment difficulties to the agency, with a strategy for future improvements and solutions. Money for an RSM is then granted.

Fiona Eldridge of the TTA has responsibilities for RSMs, and says they have a good feel for schools in their localities. "Recruitment needs vary tremendously from area to area. As well as focusing on the recruitment of newly qualified teachers, they also look at local subject and management needs."

The work of the advisers seems to have had a positive impact, not only on recruitment, but on those seeking their first appointment. While most LEAs have at least one key person with responsibility for NQTs once in post, now, many have an RSM specialising in recruitment.

Former teacher Nick Brook is the RSM in East Sussex. "It is important that people think of RSMs as available and accessible," he says. "For NQTs in particular we are prepared to do anything that will ease their way into their career, from one-to-one advice on interviews to reviewing an application in order to enhance their chances of success."

Brook has organised a series of courses to support the graduate teacher programme, focusing on developing effective classroom practice. These have proved popular with NQTs, who attend in the 10 per cent non-contact time proision during induction year.

A further initiative is the county's website (www.eastsussexcc.gov.uk) to include recruitment brochures, regularly updated vacancy information and even application forms. This, combined with similar initiatives in the education press (look at www.tes.co.uk), is making the application process easier than ever.

What an RSM can do for you lTHEY have the most information on recruitment needs in a particular authority. If you have set your heart on teaching in a specific area, the local RSM can help. They can discuss with you how realistic your goal is.

lTHEY are also available for confidence-boosting pre-interview chats and can give advice on interview techniques and the "recruitment game".

This is an important aspect of Nick Brook's job: "It would be foolish to lose potentially great teachers who fall at the first fence. Often, all that they need is advice on the application and interview processes."

lTHEY can make NQTs aware of their strong negotiating position in areas of specific teacher shortages.

lTHEY are the main link between education authorities and NQTs - an approachable, personal contact.

lTHEY can explain differences between neighbouring LEAs and help match individual needs and strengths to particular schools.

lTHEY can be contacted via LEAs. If there's one for the area in which you'd like to teach, make contact, and find out what he or she can do for you. Initiatives vary across the country, so don't miss what could be the best advice of your career in finding the right post for your all-important induction period.

The Teachers for London website is another port of call for job searchers. It can be found at www.teachers4london.com and is geared towards recruitment for a consortium of six London boroughs: Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Islington, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. It is full of valuable advice on life as a teacher in London, making effective applications, CV writing, interviews and more. As well as advertising vacancies in the six boroughs, this site invites you to register your details and the type of post you are searching for, so that schools can contact you direct. If you are considering teaching in London, check this out.

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