Q. I work in early-years teaching. I want to specialise in the Montessori method. Can I transfer to a Montessori school?
A. Montessori teaching describes itself as empowering children to learn independently at their own pace, . Teachers need to be good observers and intuitive about children's needs, so they can judge when to intervene. To work in a Montessori setting, you can study for an international diploma in early childhood – courses are available at the Montessori Centre in London, and at regional centres. You could check out local government funding.
The course is part-time and takes up to two years to complete with around six hours a week plus home study. There are written and practical exams, and plenty of teaching practice in a Montessori classroom. There is also a new Montessori foundation-degree course linked with London Metropolitan University. It is popular with graduates although the foundation degree requires four GCSEs (C or equivalent) and at least one A-level pass.
Four state primary schools have adopted the teaching as well as 600 private Montessori schools, so there are growing opportunities. The diploma is international, which means there could be the opportunity to work overseas. Check out the training section on www.montessori.org.uk. If you would like a short introduction seminar, they are run throughout the year at Montessori Centre International in London.
Q. My son is thinking of giving up his AS studies to do something more vocational, such as computer gaming. I would rather he stayed at school.
A. You mention he is studying philosophy, psychology and media studies. With these subjects it is possible (if he has GCSE maths and English at level C or above ) to apply for a university course in computing. A-levels prove an ability to think in depth and complete work on time – relevant transferable skills. So, finishing his AS studies is the best option. If he really cannot countenance this, however, he could consider a BTEC or NVQ course. BTEC can earn him up to the equivalent of three A-levels, and help him to work his way on to a degree course. You say he wants to design games rather than programme software.
He would still need to prove he had enough technical know-how to understand the software driving the gaming process so he can communicate with programmers. He would need technological competence, creativity, and the ability to collaborate. Eventually he would need his own portfolio of ideas, animations or models. He should start by looking up the PS3 game LittleBigPlanet, if he hasn't done this already, as it allows user-created content. And he should get into the gaming community via Edge magazine online.
He needs to show a passion for design. He can check out the industry skills council – www.skillset.org – which has information about job roles, a list of accredited universities, and careers advice. The industry has moved beyond leisure gaming. There's a steep rise in the application of games technologies in such areas as interactive storytelling, which is used in many fields, including education.
Careers advisers : Dr Chris Stokoe, Department of Computing, Engineering and Technology, University of Sunderland; Mark Grindle, games and interactive media careers consultant, Skillset.Reuse content