How To Secure That Teaching Job #KTChat

On Wednesday 2nd March, we hosted our second Kent-Teach Twitter Chat (#KTChat): “How to secure that teaching job” and what a brilliant chat. We had an excellent panel of education professionals who offered their expert advice on questions we posted throughout the session – thank you again to Headteacher Graham Chisnell, Retired Headteacher Julia Skinner and SPS HR Consultant Lirette Mill for your participation!

During the Twitter Chat, we discussed 8 questions and valuable advice was offered to help job seekers improve the chances of securing teaching roles. 

For those of you who were unable to attend and benefit from our panel’s advice, below is a run through of what was discussed to help you secure future teaching roles. 

Question 1

Graham mentioned the importance of showing in your application a “genuine interest in the job” and not simply an interest in finding any job role. 

It is crucial to tailor your application form to the school as each school is unique and instils different visions and values so by personalising your application, this will help you stand out from others.

The Person Specification is a list of criteria schools use to shortlist applicants. Lirette and Graham’s advice is to ensure you CHECK this document and include in your application how you meet each point, giving examples is crucial. They will mark you against the criteria listed which reflects the importance of meeting these standards.

Additionally, the Person Specification is a brilliant way to structure your application form as it allows you to follow each point and include all that is required so you do not miss anything out. It could be the difference between being invited to interview or receiving a rejection notification so make the most of this essential document.

Julia added that the layout of an application is very important. It makes it clearer for readers if the content is well presented by being appropriately spaced out with paragraphs. 

Ensuring you spell the name of the school correctly is vital; you may seem surprised but schools see lots of applications where  information has been copied (incorrectly) from a different school application. It is worth taking extra care and time to ensure you produce a stronger application that promotes your skills and experience. 

Question 2

Ensuring your application form is grammatically correct without spelling mistakes is crucial. It says a lot about a candidate if they have spelling errors as it shows they have not checked their form before submitting. So, rule number one, allow yourself time to PROOF READ.

Graham rejects hard copy application forms if they are in poor condition such as coffee stains or animal footprints. Luckily for you, most application forms are now electronic such as the Kent-Teach online application form. However, if you do complete a hardcopy form, do ensure it is sent to the school mark free to avoid an easy rejection.

Julia tweeted that she was more likely to reject an application form if it was not specific to the school and could be used as an application for any school. As mentioned earlier, always tailor your form to the school. 

Question 3

With regards to the Reason for Application section, the Person Specification was mentioned again regarding the importance of “Providing evidence or examples” of how they meet the criteria. This again reflects the significance of following the Person Specification. 

Julia supported Lirette’s advice above by adding that applicants must meet all “Essential” criteria and the majority of “Desirable” in the Person Specification. If vacancies do not have the “Essential” and “Desirable” format in the Person Specification then try to meet all of the points listed.

Lirette tweeted the importance of “demonstrating impact you have had in your current school”. By providing examples on how well you have supported and made a difference in your current school, this will offer great potential to the school you are applying to. 

Although not essential, Julia recommends you visit the school before completing the application form so you can mention your school visit in the Reason for Application section, and we most certainly agree with this. 

Graham added, “Draw out what you love and how you fit” in the school, which you will be able to answer more easily after a school visit or even a telephone conversation. Lirette added that by visiting, it shows an interest in the school and commitment from the start of the process.

School visits contribute to personalising your application and give you that “edge” over others who do not visit. You will learn more about the school and the visit will confirm whether the school suits your teaching style. 

If you are unable to visit, a telephone conversation may be beneficial instead. Schools generally welcome interest, particularly if you wish to work with them in the future so you could start with a conversation over the phone first, and go from there! 

Question 4

The panel were all in agreement that your most recent or last employer should be included as your references. In addition, if you do not have recent experience, then volunteering or supply work will contribute to gaining the relevant experience to show you have up to date knowledge of the curriculum and assessments. 

Even if you volunteer for a short amount of time, try and keep this up regularly so you gain consistent experience to include in your application form. 

If you are unable to get a reference from your most recent reference due to them leaving, the school should be able to provide you with one as they will have records of when you were employed there. 

Lirette added that Newly Qualified Teachers, should ask their university tutor for a suitable reference.

Question 5

It was discussed that the Hobbies and Interests section of the application provides a good insight to the individual. This section can be particularly helpful if your hobby links to appropriate school activities and therefore could benefit the school. Always be honest and if possible, consider how your hobbies and interests link to the position. 

Question 6

Being passionate and enthusiastic about the job is very important, it shows your desire to teach at the school and how you wish to make a difference. Although the interview is important, Julia considers the observed lesson activity of more importance as you show how you will practically meet the job requirements. 

Graham mentioned the advantage of researching the school including the website and the most recent Ofsted inspection report to think of ways the school could improve in areas they may be lacking. This will show you are proactive and have done your school research well, which should impress them!

It is always good practice to rehearse some questions that you think they may ask you so you are more confident on the day. 

For my interview practice, I always create a memorable acronym from a list of my key competencies. These skills will begin with each letter of the acronym along with an example of how I have used that key skill in practice. This has proven very helpful as it helps me answer interview questions better and if my mind suddenly goes blank due to nerves, I remind myself of my acronym! 

Please feel free to share how you prepare for interviews. 

Question 7

Graham tweeted that by asking questions towards the end of the interview, this “demonstrates to the panel that you are interested in the school and job and that you are reflective”. 

This then posed the question, “Is it ok to ask about pay in a climate of differing pay and conditions?” 

Julia believes that if the salary is unclear in the job advert then you could ask however, ensure you do not ask a question you have already been given the answer to as this may indicate you have not read the advert properly which will not come across well. 

Graham thinks it is ok to ask for salary details providing it is relevant, for example, if it relates to how pay is used to reward performance or promotion. Many vacancies offer a salary between X and Y based on experience so this may be where you would like to ask for clarification.

Question 8

A good rapport with the children and staff, energy and enthusiasm, confidence and humility, a strong handshake; all of which Graham and Julia are impressed by during an interview. 

You should have the opportunity to speak with the school children at some point during the interview process. This will allow you to interact with them and show off your personable and social skills on all levels. Remember they will be assessing you from the moment you walk through the school entrance so ensure you are on top form! 

That concludes the answers to the questions asked and we hope you found the chat session useful. Please feel free to contact Kent-Teach if you have further questions and we will be happy to help you. 

We wish you the best of luck applying for jobs and hope this article provides you with a valuable source of information. 
For further job advice, read Graham’s blog article, “You've got the job – top tips for schools and applicants”.

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