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Getting a Teaching Job – A Guide for Newly Qualified Teachers (Part 1)

Securing your first teaching job is not easy. It is a journey fraught with pitfalls and frustration but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Talk Teaching gives you expert advice from a recently qualified teacher on finding your first teaching job.

Getting a Teaching Job – A Guide for Newly Qualified Teachers (Part One)

So you've just completed your initial teacher training course and you are about to enter the world of teaching only this time the stabilisers are off and you must ride the bike all by yourself!

The first hurdle to overcome, or rather the first of many hoops to jump through in your teaching career, comes in the form of job hunting and securing your first post. As this guide will explain, finding employment as a teacher is no mean feat. That's why Talk Teaching hopes to give you some guidance to help you to navigate the pitfalls of the very competitive recruitment process.

This guide aims to give you an outline of what might be encountered during the school recruitment process including the lesson observation and interview stages. We also hope to give you a number of useful tips that might save you a great deal of time when filling out those pesky application forms for your first teaching job.


Where should I look for a teaching job?

Teaching jobs are typically advertised via local authority websites whilst others are advertised through organisations including the Times Education Supplement (TES) as well as recruitment agencies (more on these later). Don't bother with sending speculative CVs. That's just not how schools seem to operate.

So I have seen a job advertised that I want to apply for. Now what?

Great! Having seen the job advertised, the next thing you might want to do is get some more information about the role. The best way to find out about the role and the school you're looking to join is to visit the school for a walk around. Call the school and they will usually offer you a time and date to visit the school, usually after 3:30 pm on a weekday.

What happens during one of these 'walk around visits'?

In my experience, dozens of would-be applicants turn up to the school suited and booted and dressed to impress. They are greeted by a senior member of school staff who walks the whole group around the school whilst boasting about the schools achievements and imparting other general information about the school along the way. The party of job applicants (most of whom are newly qualified teachers) shuffle around awkwardly, whilst simultaneously competing to outdo one another with intelligent questions in a bid to stand out from the crowd.

At this stage, it's rather difficult to stand out from the crowd and asking your tour guide questions probably does little to increase or decrease your chances of getting a job. I mean, you don't know whether the person showing you around will even be part of the interview panel. No, just because it's the head teacher doesn't mean they'll definitely be on the interview panel either. I had at least one interview where I didn't meet the head teacher until after I had secured the post.

The best thing to do during the walk around tour is to simply listen and learn about the school. Make mental notes about the types of displays you see around the school as this might be a clue about one of the school's many agendas. This information could determine the content of your application but don't feel disadvantaged if you're unable to attend a tour as I was successful in getting interviews at schools I didn't bother to visit prior to applying.

Okay. I've done the tour and I am definitely going to apply for a job. How should I approach the application form?

The application form is naturally one of the more time-consuming parts of the process of getting a teaching job. However, once you have a few under your belt for a particular local authority the process becomes somewhat easier.

Generally, the application forms are like any other – a series of boxes in which you input your personal details including work history and qualifications. Most local authorities offer you the option of either a paper form or an online application form. I personally favoured the paper application forms but that's just me.

Now, let's say you are filling out a paper application form. Should you type the application form or should you fill it in with your best handwriting? Well, it doesn't really matter either although typing obviously makes it easier for you to amend errors. For one local authority to which I applied, I always used the paper forms because I hated their online system. I would fill out the forms in block capital letters using black ink and I would always leave certain sections blank, namely the section that requires you to write the name of the school you're applying to work. In addition, I would not date the application form at this stage and I would simply write under personal statement section: Please see letter of application (attached).

The purpose of leaving these fields blank was simple: to create a master copy application form that can be photocopied and reused over and over again for teaching jobs within a single local authority. Once you have a master copy, you simply fill in the name of the school and the date for each application you submit. This saves you a great deal of time and in my case, I was still able to get interviews using this approach despite what one head teacher advised me. The precision and clarity of the form's content is all that matters here so don't worry if you're photocopying your master copy application form or printing off multiple copies.

The application form is complete. How do I go about writing a personal statement?

The personal statement is the most important part of the application process at this stage. A good personal statement sets you apart from the crowd. Any mistakes will almost certainly see your application end up in the bin so proof reading is highly important unless you want to see all your hard work go to waste.

As for the content of the personal statement, it is best written in the form of a cover letter. Below, you can download an example cover letter that helped me to get interviews before I secured a permanent post.

Keep the following in mind when writing your cover letter for a teaching job:

• Include the school's address on the letter
• Address it to the Head Teacher and use their name unless the job advertisement requires you to do otherwise
• Below the addressee's name, include a statement about the letter's subject matter
Example: Re: Post of Class Teacher is usually appropriate.
• The first paragraph must contain a sentence about why you're applying for the post.
• The remaining paragraphs must cover your career so far including your initial teacher training and any other relevant experience
• Include interests that relate to teaching
• Back up anything you say with an example of where you have proved this in the classroom.

Great! So I've filled out the application form and written a cover letter as my personal statement and I am ready to send my application to the school where I want to work. What's next?

Now it's a matter of waiting patiently to hear back from the school about whether or not your application was successful. Sometimes, the school will be so inundated with applications that they may be unable to reply to everyone so if you don't hear anything within a couple of weeks, assume that you were unsuccessful. Don't be disheartened though! I don't know of anyone who got a teaching job at the first attempt. In my case, I would get interviews and would be invited to the school for a lesson observation but fail at one of these hurdles. It's a process where you will have to slightly adjust your approach for each application you make but if you follow this guide, then you should have the basis for a strong application already. Part Two of 'Getting a Teaching Job' will take you through what typically happens during the lesson observation and interview stages of the recruitment process for teaching jobs. Watch this space!


Fill in your details below to download a FREE example cover letter to help you get your first teaching job. This is a cover letter that has been used successfully by the author. Get it now!

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    By | 16 April, 2015 | Blog

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