This is the first of three blog posts on finding a job in teaching.
Here you are at the gateway to your career in teaching. You are deep in your training and your thoughts turn to how you can find and secure that first teaching post.
Finding your first post can be tricky: where do you look? What type of role should you be looking for? What area of the country do you want to work in? What year group would be your dream start to your career?
Starting your search
Answering so many questions can be tricky. But what is important is that you find the right school for you. Utilising the Department for Education - a ministerial department responsible for children’s services and education in England More Teaching Vacancies website is a great place to start. This is a free-to-use service for schools to be able to advertise nationally for the vacancies they have. Using this site, you can browse jobs nationally by subject, age range or whether they are suitable for NQTs. Equally, if you know what you are looking for and where you want to be working, you can set up alerts for the roles that come out that match your criteria. By setting up an account on Teaching Vacancies you can save jobs you’re interested in, and see all of your job alerts in one place.
For each vacancy on the site, there are documents that the school can share to support you with applying: Job description, Person specification or an application form. The site also contains links to other useful information about the school to help you make an informed choice because finding the right school for you is so important.
Finding a school which is the right fit
If you find a school you want to apply to, the next step is to trawl their website and find out as much as you can about the school. Look at the school’s values – do they align with yours? What do their policies tell you about what their expectations are for staff and children? What is the best thing about the school, and does that fit with what you value about education? I also find newsletters to parents always make interesting reading and can show you the real priorities for the school.
Reaching out to a suitable school
Next up, make contact! Use the contact details shared in the advert, get in touch with the school and use the opportunity to find out more about the role/school and to arrange a tour of the school, or a chat with the headteacher, where possible. This contact with the school is important as it will help to give you a sense of whether you can see yourself fitting in at the school. Schools also want to get to know you and see whether you are the right fit for them. Crucially though, this is also a great time for you to decide whether it is a school that you want to work in because finding the right school should be top of your list of considerations when searching for your first teaching role.
Getting a feel for the school
Ideally visit in the school day. Ask yourself, what is the environment like? Are the children happy? Are they smiling? Does it give you the feeling of ‘I could be happy here’? Equally, if you are in the middle of your training, getting to a school during the school day can be tricky. Going after school can still be just as beneficial. Are teachers chatting jovially in the corridors or are they surrounded by barricades of books in the classrooms? Is the car park clearing by 4.30pm or are staff hard at work at 6pm? Every school is different and three people can walk around the same school and get a different feeling about it.
At the moment, visiting a school in person can be tricky. There are ways to get around this; some schools will host videos of their school on their website. Recruitment services, such as Teaching Vacancies, provides schools the ability to upload documents with embedded video links, as part of the job listing process, so that applicants can see the school environment without visiting in person. Or call the school and ask for an informal chat with a teacher who works there. Remember, finding the right school for you is so important (have I mentioned that yet?).
When you do visit/call – listen carefully to what you are being told. Headteachers love to talk about their schools, so listen carefully. Don’t be constantly firing questions at them (especially ones you can find the answer to on the school’s website) and don’t try and tell them all about how amazing you are. It is your chance to find out about the school. If the head wants to know more about you, they will ask you. If you do spot things that interest you as you are going around, ask a question about those things. It shows you are listening and taking in your environment.
To recap, my top four tips for securing an NQT role are:
- Start your search with the right service
- Find a school which is the right fit
- Reach out to a suitable school
- Get a feel for the school.
Now you have found the right school for you and you want to apply, it will be time to complete the application form. Keep an eye out for my advice piece on the Early Career Hub in the coming weeks with top tips on making your mark when applying for your dream role. In the meantime, visit the Teaching Vacancies service and sign-up for job alerts today to start your job-searching journey.