TES Careers expert Professor John Howson answers your questions on the state of the teaching jobs market across the UK. The questions cover everything from where the jobs are, the best time to apply and what are the most sought after subjects.
The job market in Bristol
Sue: I'm in my final year and will start applying for jobs soon. I'm in Bristol and everyone says jobs are very oversubscribed in that area. I have family so I do not want to move. I'll be happy to get any job really, I don't want to be/can't be too fussy. But what happens if, for example, I apply for a job in March and get it, ready to start in September, then a better job/nicer school/nearer to home comes up a month or two after that? Am I stuck?
John Howson: In the present market apply early and think yourself lucky if you find a job quickly. The present market is not one to wait for the perfect job in the ideal school. I know of those who do play the market and accept a job and continue applying. Like those house buyers who gazump others, there is probably nothing legally wrong, but morally it is not acceptable to many. However, it is your career and you have the right to do the best for yourself, but ditching a school can get you a bad reputation in a close knit community.
Are there more teaching jobs in London?
Guest: I am currently finishing my final placement in my fourth year of a teaching degree. I plan to apply for jobs in London as I really want to teach in an inner city school. I have heard that there are more chances of me being employed in London. Is this correct?
John Howson: Not any longer as Teach First have taken places that might have been jobs for those such as yourself in the secondary sector but there are still plenty of jobs in the primary schools. It might also be worth looking at other inner cities in smaller cities such as St Pauls in Bristol or Handsworth in Birmingham or even areas such as Oxford since the city has the worst KS1 results in the country. Teaching in an inner city school can be very rewarding but also very hard work and needs lots of stamina.
When should I start looking for jobs
Herts Trainee: am currently doing my PGCE Primary in Hertfordshire and am really enjoying the course - it took me a long time to get on a course due to my initial insistence on doing the GTP. I bit the bullet and got on the PGCE first time and it is clearly what I am meant to do. My husband and I are relocating to the Reading area after I qualify and I am really worried about finding a job. Hopefully the jobs will start coming up around March and April time but is there anything I can do now to get my foot in the door?
John Howson: I am glad that you are enjoying your course. By all means contact your old school and make it known to the head you will be looking for a job. Check whether Reading, Wokingham or any of the other former Berkshire LAS have a primary pool system and if so what is the closing date. School rolls are rising in the Thames Valley so there will be a demand for primary, especially early years, teachers. For more information on the pool system read our guide to the recruitment maze
Where are the physics jobs?
Jenny: I am on a Physics PGCE course at the moment. I believed there was a national shortage of Physics teachers but see very few jobs locally. Do most schools advertise after Christmas? I will apply for science jobs but physics is my preferred choice!
John Howson: Most jobs for September will appear after Christmas and especially between March and May. Many schools ask for a science teacher – physicist preferred but selective and independent schools tend to ask for physics teachers. The Secretary of State points out in the White Paper that half of secondary schools don’t teach all three separate sciences at GCSE. But, even in the present job market, you should find a job if you are flexible about where you can work.
Sean T: I have an honours degree in Business Marketing and Management from. I then completed a PGCE in Secondary Business Education. I also have Qualified Teacher Status from England. However, I am now an NQT and I would really be interested in teaching Geography now instead of Business Studies. I have very little experience in Geography, except that I studied it at GCSE level and I also taught some key stage 3 Geography during my PGCE training year, so I'm just wondering what are my chances of securing my first teaching post as a teacher of Geography?
John Howson: Frankly, very poor. There are many PGCE geographers still looking for teaching posts and why would a school employ someone with no subject knowledge beyond GCSE where the post required the teacher to teach at least that level and possibly beyond to A level? You might do better applying for a humanities post, but even then I doubt it. If you are serious, enrol in a distance learning degree in geography and when you have completed it successfully you may be in a better position.
Where’s the best place to find jobs?
Lucy: I qualified as a primary school teacher in June. I am beginning to apply for jobs now, but they are few and far between. Can you advise me how to apply for jobs and where are the best places to look. I did the GTP and my strengths are maths and science. I live in Wandsworth in south London.
John Howson: Lucy, the main bulk of jobs for September will appear in 2011 but some local authorities operate a ‘pool’ system for primary school vacancies. You need to go to each local authority web site and look for teaching jobs/vacancies to see whether they have such a system and the closing date. Individual schools will advertise in the TES and TES online plus some local newspapers and other job boards, but the TES is the main place to look. Competition is fierce and jobs relatively scare so you need to check your application is as good as possible. The following article on what experts look for in a job application may help to give you some insights.
Where’s the best place to find primary jobs?
Robert Taylor: Which areas of the UK currently have the greatest demand for primary teachers?
John Howson: Probably London and the surrounding counties if you are talking about jobs for September 2011. You might find my article useful about the state of the teaching jobs market . But, many will be jobs at the Foundation Stage of the school.
Should I do a primary PGCE?
Annabel: I'm thinking of applying for PGCE primary but I'm concerned about there not being many job opportunities. From what I have been hearing and seeing on chat rooms there seems to be a lot of people struggling to find work post PGCE. Could you advise?
John Howson: That’s true, but if you study for early years then the upturn in the birth rate will ensure more opportunities with younger children than with the older age groups.
Is there an excess of teachers?
Annabel: Comments are being made that there is an excess of teachers, do you know what the excess is?
John Howson: It differs by subject, sector and region of the UK but the GTCE show a substantial number of 2009 completers had not registered as starting their Induction by March 2010 and after Christmas the 2011 cohort of completers joins in the hunt for jobs.
Will there be a limit on teacher training places in the future?
Robert Taylor: The job market sounds very bleak at present. Is anything being done to limit the number of teacher training places in order to redress the supply/demand issue?
John Howson: The government has yet to announce the training numbers for 2011 entry and I hope that they will cut back numbers to reflect the over-supply at present. However, planning the required number of places some years ahead is not an exact science and it is never good to have too few teachers so that childrens’ education suffers. However, the over-supply in some subjects and parts of the country has rather got out of hand in the past couple of years and 2011 won’t be any better in the short term unless more teachers chose to quit.
Trends in the teaching market
Robert Taylor: What are the long term prospects for the education job market? Are we heading for a Northern Ireland type situation where there are no jobs at all for new teachers?
John Howson: Key trends are declining numbers of older pupils and increasing numbers of younger ones at the bottom end of the primary schools. There will still be about 12,000 retirements each year, many of whom will need to be replaced. So, there will be jobs and the relationship between pay and funding will be very important. If the private sector pulls the economy out of recession I predict the next crisis will start around 2014 but until then, life will be hard for jobseekers. Teach First type programmes make it even harder for trainees on other routes as each two year placement takes out two teaching jobs for trainees. Teach First trainees are also cheaper.
Where are the job opportunities?
PGCE: Is the job situation very difficult all over the country and for all subjects? I'm doing a Maths PGCE at a SCITT in the South East, and get told by teachers in my department that I will get a job somewhere, but I think it is much more difficult than they think.
John Howson: Yes, it was a challenge everywhere in 2010 and will probably be so in 2011 although with 12,000 retirements expected there will be some jobs. Moving teacher training to schools will cut jobs as training places replace teaching posts in the short-run. Don’t neglect the private sector and there is always the international school job market where teachers from England are often hired. Maths trainees amounted to about 92% of the jobs offered on the main scale between January and July 2010, although there were regional differences. London and the South East remains the easiest places to find jobs; but even that is relative.
Should I give up job in retail for teaching?
Graeme55: I graduated with an education degree in 2008 and missed out on a PGCE placement in the first instance. I was unemployed for nine months then I got a job, in retail, which I hate. I hope to get on a primary teacher training course in September 2011. Do you think it is worth giving up a job I hate if the prospect of getting a teaching job is so slim.
John Howson: If you are on a retail management programme as opposed to being a sales assistant i would stay put. But if you train for early years where rolls are rising and are flexible about where you will teach by 2012 there may be some jobs around, although competition will still be tough.
Where to look for jobs
Viki: Where is the best place to start looking for jobs? I am currently on a secondary PGCE in music.
John Howson: The best place to start your job search is with the weekly TES newspaper and with our jobs website There are other job boards, the government service and local newspapers as well as schools’ own web sites and our monitoring of these shows that the TES is by far and away the man source of permanent teaching posts as it has been for most of the 100 years it has been around. The following article on the recruitment maze may also help with your job search.
MFL or Economics or Business Management?
Enrico: I am currently completing my PGCE in MFL in London. Can you tell me more about the job market for MFL teachers in London? Do you think it might be worth applying for locations outside of London as well? Also, I have a degree in Economics - do you think I stand a better chance applying to teach Economics or Business Management?
John Howson: Jobs for September 2011 will start appearing after Christmas. In the present market I would apply for anything suitable anywhere and in both state and private sectors. By all means apply for business studies and economics jobs and say you can also teach a language. In the present job climate it does not pay to be too selective about job opportunities.
Where are the humanities jobs?
Sarah: I'm looking at returning to teaching after a five year career break following the birth of my twins. When I left each week there were many jobs advertised in the TES jobs section, however now I’ve looked in the past month and not found a single RS or humanities post being advertised within Sheffield or the surrounding towns. Are there fewer vacancies now?
John Howson: Well, much has changed over the past five years with falling not rising rolls in secondary schools and concern about budgets. I can safely say that the TES in both paper and online format remain the key place to look for jobs, although some temporary and maternity leave posts do appear in local newspapers or on other job boards or even a school’s own web site. The next batch of jobs for September will likely start to appear once schools know their possible budgets, say around March through to May 2011. To make sure you get to know about any suitable vacancies register with the TES and set yourself up with an email job alert , which will notify you when any matching jobs become available.
Teachers as cover supervisors
Paul: What do you think about teachers being employed as cover supervisors, via teaching agencies - on a daily rate that equates to one third of a teacher's daily rate? Surely the unions have something to say about this practice which seems to be spreading?
John Howson: As long as they are working as cover supervisors and not cut-price teachers it is difficult to challenge the policy. I guess schools cannot have staff sitting around waiting for work but sometimes employing someone can be cheaper than paying agency fees; it is a matter of economics. They key is that only teachers should teach.
Local government v The TES
G Brown: I’m in London. Would you advise applying for maths jobs through the local government or through TES?
John Howson: Both, although the bulk of the jobs will appear in the TES and TES online. To make sure you get to know about any suitable vacancies register with the TES and set yourself up with an email job alert which will notify you when any matching jobs become available.
Are schools cutting back on TAs?
Beth: I am a qualified teacher, used to be deputy.head, and am now working as a senior TA for learning support. I have not been offered any work this academic year, are schools cutting back on TAs? I live in Cumbria.
John Howson: Beth, I know that it is tough to find jobs at present especially if you are expensive as a teacher. I am sorry that you have been offered no work and have taken the TA post. I cannot see it being any better after Christmas.
Moving from primary to secondary
Annette Smith: How difficult is it to become a primary school teacher after being a teacher in a secondary school for 10 years?
John Howson: In the present climate with plenty of trained primary teachers looking for jobs why would a school want an expensive secondary teacher unless you had something special to offer? It might help to talk to a local head of one of the feeder primary schools to your secondary school for advice on the local job market and whether you have any skills that are in demand. But, I fear it may be a challenge.
When to start your job search for September
Daniel: I am in my third year of teaching. It is my first teaching post. How long should I be looking for a new job for September?
John Howson: If you mean, when should you start looking then as soon after Christmas as September posts start appearing.Realistically this is likely to be after half-term with a peak around the time of the royal wedding just to give teachers something to on the national holiday. To make sure you get to know about any suitable vacancies register with the TES and set yourself up with an email job alert , which will notify you when any matching jobs become available.
Where the jobs in East Kent?
Sjb: I am a person of mature years who finished my PGCE a few years ago, taught part time for three years and the lef to follow my husband’s job abroad. It's three years since i taught now, I'm back in the UK working as a TA for pragmatic reasons, but struggling to get interviews for teaching posts. We seem to have an excess of primary teachers in east Kent.
John Howson: Sadly, that situation isn’t confined to just East Kent but is pretty universal. I fear that you may look unattractive to heads compared to newer younger and cheaper teachers. When the glut has gone away, perhaps by 2013 it may become easier. Do remind your school that you can be a supply teacher if the school needs one without them having to pay agency fees as you have QTS and can stop being a TA for the day.
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