Getting a teaching job

Introduction

Before you read on… you are advised to consult the Prospects page on Getting a Teaching Job, which contains detailed information on local authority recruitment procedures, sample CVs and covering letters and guidance on application forms and interviews.

Local Authority first teaching appointment procedures

  1. LA “pool” – you apply centrally to the LA, and if successful are invited to a pool panel interview. If successful, the LA places you or head teachers will contact suitable candidates for an interview in their school. Closing dates from January onwards.
  2. LA database or brokerage system – you apply centrally to the LA, which then holds your details on file for head teachers to browse. Available from January onwards.
  3. Applications direct to the school – you apply to individual schools. This is the only method of application in some LA areas and can be combined with 1 and 2 above in most cases. March onwards.

Applications

Independent schools tend to favour a CV and letter of application. State schools and LAs usually require application forms and ask for a supporting statement.

In both cases you have the opportunity to describe your qualifications, experience and skills. It is important to “market” yourself. Give plenty of examples. Relate your application to the school, whenever possible. Always follow the instructions given. You can call in to the Careers Centre to have your application checked.

Supporting Statement/Letter of Application

As a guideline you could break down your information into five main areas:

  1. Teacher Training Course – including specialist subject, age range taught, special projects or interests.
  2. Teaching Practices – including type and size of schools, special responsibilities, subjects taught, resources you developed, example of a good lesson, special needs, ICT, EAL, school visits, parents’ contact, inset days etc.
  3. Your “philosophy” – how you manage your classroom, the teaching styles and strategies you use. What you believe is important to a child’s education.
  4. Relevant work experience in or outside education.
  5. Leisure activities – including other skills, abilities and interests.

What should go on my CV?

A CV should cover no more than two sides of A4, be clearly laid out and should cover the following:

  • Personal details
  • Education and qualifications (in reverse chronological order)
  • Teaching practices
  • Employment
  • Other experience
  • Skills
  • Leisure interests
  • Referees (usually your course leader and the head teacher of your last teaching practice school).

Vacancies

LAs now advertise on the web, examples below. The Times Educational Supplement (Fridays) carries many adverts for state, independent and overseas posts.

Interviews

You are strongly advised to visit a school prior to an interview, although this is more usual when applying for primary posts. Read through the advertisement and your application again. Think of the likely questions you will be asked and prepare your answers. Research the school, e.g Ofsted report, handbook. Arrive on time. Answer questions succinctly and relevantly. Above all be yourself! Any visits should be made during school hours so that you can meet the children and teachers and generally get a feel for the school and staffroom.

Interviews differ widely. You may be asked to teach a lesson, or demonstrate how you would teach a specific topic. The number on the panel might range from 1 – several. The length of the interview could be 20 – 45 minutes.

Portfolio

If applying to teach primary or a practical subject, you may be asked to bring evidence in support of your application. This could include carefully-selected photos of children at work, examples of children’s work, resources you have created, or an example of a particularly successful lesson.

Successful candidates are often offered the job on the same day as the interview, so prepare yourself for this occurrence.

Remember that an interview not only provides school staff with the opportunity to question you but also for you to ascertain whether you feel the school is right for you. You should be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of your interview. If you are in doubt about any aspect of the post, ask.

Internships – a WikiJob perspective

The following article has been posted by Nik Shah from WikiJob….

Wikijob logo

So if you’re having problems like I did after graduating from university trying to land that all important first job, Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door and on to your career ladder.

I left university with a degree and a masters and I thought I’d easily be able to land my dream job. However, the one thing that nearly all companies are after from graduates is work experience, preferable industry related. I spent months looking for work and despite having or excelling the educational requirements; I more often than not did not meet their work experience requirements.

So to gain some valuable work experience, I started applying for Internships whether it was for one month or 12 months duration. However I didn’t realise that the majority of internships are unpaid. As soon as we finish university we all want to be earning a decent salary to start paying back our student loans or in some cases, the folks. At first this put me off from applying for Internships, but you have to remember that we are still young and have the rest of our lives to earn money. So the most important thing while we’re young is to gain some invaluable work experience and Internships provide that. Despite many Internships being unpaid, companies can cover travel, lunch expenses and even reward bonuses on the basis of your performances.

Internships can give you an idea of what working life is like and whether you enjoy your chosen career path. Also if your employer sees you doing a great job they can extend your Internship to gain those extra months of experience or even offer you a permanent, paid role. Another good thing about taking an Internship shows future employers or other jobs you are applying for that you are proactive and willing to work to gain experience whilst sacrificing a wage.

Since I undertook my Internship, I have gained valuable work experience and after just a few months of undertaking an Internship my job applications for paid roles have become more successful with companies inviting me to interviews more often.

If you’re struggling to find Internships, check out graduate jobs website WikiJob.co.uk. There is a great list of both large and small companies on the site that offer a range of Internships and there is also a great deal of interview preparation material (for example, practice numerical tests) that can help you ace your interviews.

I want to get a placement

What is the difference between a placement/internship, work experience and work shadowing?

A work placement/internship is a structured form of work experience often with a focus on a particular project. The duration is usually between 8 weeks to a year. These opportunities are often targeted at penultimate year students although on occasions there is graduate provision.

Work experience can be defined as a period of time spent undertaking projects and tasks in a work setting, these activities can enhance your programme of study regardless of whether it is an integral or optional part of your university experience.

On the other hand, work shadowing involves closely observing someone at work doing a particular role, rather than taking on a working role yourself.

All of these activities can be recorded as work related learning which according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, are planned activities, which use the context of work to develop knowledge, skills and understanding, essential for the world of work. This involves learning through the experience of work, about work and developing understanding of practises and procedures.

Which is best for me?

The advantage of work shadowing is that it usually only lasts a day, giving you an opportunity to experience a variety of professions first hand, which could enable you to narrow down your career options. It is also easier for employers to organise and gives you a unique opportunity to gain a realistic insight into a profession and potentially challenge your current perception of what it involves. It also gives you the chance to ask questions to someone who is actually doing one of the roles you are currently considering, and formulate useful contacts.

You would then be in a good position to negotiate for a work placement/ experience with the organisation you have visited. By doing work shadowing you have demonstrated your interest in a role, which shows you are motivated and employers may only offer work experience to those they perceive to be truly committed. However should you decide that that type of work is not for you, at least you will not have invested huge amounts of time in exploring the role and you can learn from this experience when investigating alternatives.

It may not be possible, due to confidentiality issues to work shadow all roles or all aspects of role, especially in health or security organisations.

Work experience is usually carried out over a longer period of time. It can be a block placement over several weeks, or one day a week over several months. This allows you to get a more varied view of the job. For example in Finance, business demands vary over the year, with the end of March being the peak. Work experience gives you the chance to apply your increasing knowledge and undertake some of the activities that a profession demands. You learn by doing rather than observing, therefore, developing the skills that are needed in the workplace and gaining a sense of what it feels like to work in a team or on your own, and how your responsibilities impact on those of others. The levels of supervision would vary depending on your needs and the company’s resources, and in some cases you may be assigned to a mentor. It is a chance to gain inside knowledge and prove your potential which can increasingly lead to permanent employment upon graduation.

If you obtain your own placement/internship you may not be guaranteed any remuneration although some organisations will pay travel expenses and provide a lunch allowance whereas if you opt for a placement scheme, an allowance of between £150-200 per week is paid. For guidelines please refer to the Gov.uk article, ‘Employment Rights and Pay for Interns’ (https://www.gov.uk/employment-rights-for-interns).

The advantage of a placement scheme is that the employer is offering a well established programme and formal induction and mentoring are in place. For some companies at least 1 in five placement interns convert into graduate level employment. The remuneration is fixed so there is no need to negotiate.

How do I go about getting it?

Whether you are looking for work shadowing or work experience/placements, the principles usually remain the same. If you need to investigate a particular role, then work shadowing may fit the bill but if you need a broader overview of the world of work then, work experience may help to facilitate this.

Finding opportunities

There are two main ways of accessing opportunities: directly through advertised vacancies and indirectly which involves speculatively approaching organisations to see if they would consider you. Only 30% of positions are advertised, so it is well worth building contacts and making speculative applications.

Network: Make sure you make the most of any existing networks you may have eg. Family, friends, tutors, alumni and the Placement and Development Officers. Online networks such as Facebook or Linked In may help you with this.

Research: Source other contacts through professional bodies, chambers of commerce, career directories, and other general and company websites. Set below are some useful sites to get you started.

Applications

If a position is advertised then check the application process as for placements/internships some deadlines are early and can vary from year to year. You may need to complete online application forms, undertake psychometric tests and attend assessment centres including a formal interview. Research well so you match the competencies required. Identify experiences which elicit skills needed, keep to the word count, use active verbs and ensure your referees no exactly what you are applying for so they can highlight your relevant attributes. If you are trying to access the hidden opportunities then follow the steps below.

CV: You need to prepare a targeted CV. (See coaching information on I want to write a successful CV).

Covering letter: Write a covering letter outlining what you are aiming to achieve, address this to a named person. A letter addressed Sir/Madam doesn’t get you very far as it shows you haven’t done much research, and may imply that you have sent your details to a number of employers. If you get the basics right, then you’ll get better buy in from the organisations. Name dropping can also help, as if you say Mr/Mrs… from … advised me to contact you about … then this will give you immense credibility.

Phone call: Follow up your written request with a phone call, and try to arrange a meeting to discuss the possible openings.

Email: Follow up any meeting with an email thanking them for seeing you and outline what you agreed.

Beware, if the opportunity provider detects you are doing this to meet a module obligation rather than because you are really interested, they may not be so keen to co operate. On the other hand, if the module relates to what they are about, then they may be keen to assist you. Make sure you pitch it right.

Making the most of it

Email the company to thank them formally, and follow up any action points that they may have recommended to you, especially if you promised to do them!

Keep a record of all your training responsibilities and achievements.

If you’re not gaining sufficient experience say so!

Enjoy yourself network and make new connections.

Take time to reflect and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you like to do that kind of job yourself? Why?
  • What would you enjoy most -and least – about a job like this? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?
  • What were the main activities? Do you find them interesting? Or would they frustrate and bore you?
  • What were the skills developed during your work experience? Which ones need further refinement?
  • What capabilities does the job need? Do you have them? If not then could you develop them? How?
  • What have you learned about the work place? What is the culture like? Were there any politics?
  • How could you get into this kind of job? Where would you look for vacancies?

Getting started

  1. Look at your optional work related learning modules and sign up if appropriate.
  2. Identify possible opportunities for work placements, experience or shadowing during vacations. Set up a blog, or get an old fashioned diary so that you can record and reflect upon your experiences.
  3. Refer to Experience works to investigate campus schemes and opportunities
  4. Check the Headstart programme on the SEECC website for presentations on writing CVs and finding work experience.
  5. Develop your networking skills at careers fairs see SEECC website for details.
  6. If you want applications checked, arrange to see a placement and development officer.

Is a postgraduate course for me?

Overview

Undertaking a postgraduate qualification can be a great option; to study an aspect of your subject in more detail, essential if you want to pursue an academic career, or it will allow you to gain a vocational or conversion qualification to enter the career of your choice. However, there is a great deal to consider and it is important to research your chosen career diligently to ensure that the qualification is the right one to help you meet your objectives and will be respected by potential recruiters.

When and how do I apply?

Some students want to continue straight from their degree to keep up the momentum of studying, You will need to apply from the start of Autumn term for some popular vocational courses eg teaching qualifications (PGCEs), law conversions etc. Although some other courses may have places a month before they start. Many vocational courses eg journalism, counselling, teaching etc will require you to have relevant experience and if you haven’t got this you may need to consider time out before applying. Taking time out to gain experience can be ideal for checking that this is the right career for you, and for some students working for a year to fund their future studies is the only way they can do it. Increasingly students are choosing to study part-time so they can work too. If you wish to study abroad it can take 18 months for the application process so this means you will have to apply during your second year or take a year out.

The majority of courses will require you to apply to them individually so this means you can target your application towards that specific course. Demonstrate you have done your research and key elements of the programme that you are excited about; every university wants motivated students and can spot a student applying for the sake of applying to avoid working for another year! Nearly all courses will require students to attend an interview. For advice on applications and typical interview questions see the Prospects website (www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate_study.htm)but most universities offer advice on their websites about what they want to see in applications

Where to start

Research the career you are interested in, would a postgrad qualification be helpful or essential?
Check with relevant professional bodies; do they recommend specific courses?
If relevant experience is required plan when and how you will get it.

What can I study?

When you start researching postgraduate courses it can be confusing as there is a vast choice on offer. It can seem overwhelming trying to work out what the differences are.

In brief:

Masters in Art (MA) Masters in Science (MSc) – these can be taught or research based courses typically lasting a year looking in-depth at a topic or subject area. Students then undertake a dissertation (or research project). In most cases a 2i is required, but not always. A 2i is often necessary to secure funding from Research Councils (if funding is available).

Postgraduate certificates/diplomas (PGDip, PG Cert) – can either be a vocational qualification but often these are the like the Masters but without the dissertation element (therefore cheaper). Usually a 2ii is the minimum requirement but not always.

PG Certificate in Education (PGCE) – this is a teaching qualification, qualifying students to teach in either Primary or Secondary schools (FE option available). A taught course with placements in school, students must pass both parts to qualify. Students need at least a 2ii but this may rise to 2i. See the TDA website for more on teaching and funding training.

Masters in Business Administration (MBA) – a vocational programme and traditionally substantial work experience was required before students could enrol but this is no longer the case at all universities. See the league table on the Association of Business School’s website or the FT site for World Rankings.

Masters in Research (MRes) – a relatively new 1 year qualification that aims to prepare students for further research at Doctoral level. A 2i is normally required and the course focuses on teaching research methodology relevant to the subject area. Can be directly linked to a PhD option so on successful completion students move on to start their PhD at the same institution or choose to leave it with their MPhil. Dissertation is weighted higher than on MAs.

Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) – similar to an MA or MSc but often with a larger dissertation or research project attached. Like the MRes a 2i is usually required and can also be directly linked to a PhD option so on successful completion students move on to start their PhD at the same institution or choose to leave it with their MPhil.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, DPhil) – some doctoral programmes will have a taught element but the focus is on producing a piece of research (at least 40,000 words) that is worthy of publication. It aims to inform the research in the chosen area of research.

Where to find the courses and how to choose?

As mentioned before, do check with any potential professional body who may accredit some courses eg National Council Training for Journalists (www.nctj.com), British Council for Counselling & Psychotherapy (www.bacp.co.uk/), etc. Most postgraduate courses are listed on Prospects (www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate_study.htm), and www.findamasters.com and www.findaphd.com. If you want to pursue one relevant to your subject talk to academic tutors, and look at current journals to see who is actively researching in that topic. Talk to current postgraduates by attending Open Days and compare module choice between different institutions. Universities have their research activity rated see the results at www.rae.ac.uk. Ask universities what their previous students have gone on to do, they all have to collate these results.

Funding

Funding for postgraduate study can often be the stumbling block for many students. Courses can cost from £3,000 – £6,000 per year, maybe more for lab based courses and sometimes double for international students. Business related or conversion courses may be four times as much. Hence some students opt to study part-time so they can work at the same time. Start by asking universities how previous students have funded the course and ask to be considered for any potential funding that might be available. Some courses will have funding from Research Councils (www.rcuk.ac.uk/Pages/Home.aspx) who get their funding from the government. Other students are able to get some funding from charities or Grant Making trusts for advice on these see the specialist advice on Prospects (www.prospects.ac.uk/funding_my_further_study.htm).

Next Steps

Identify what courses might be relevant for you and think of the “pros and cons” for your situation.

Find out as much as possible about the course you’d like to do, what do the current students think, what is the university’s research history like, how have previous students paid for it?

Come and talk your ideas through with a Careers Adviser and get a plan together to help you succeed.

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