It may not be rocket science – or even A-level physics – but taking the right first step in a career is crucial. The right choice builds solid career foundations, but get it wrong, and life in your first year of teaching suddenly becomes a whole lot harder.
There’s no getting away from it, finding the right school does take a little effort. If you do your homework though, and with a little help from your friends at Hourglass, you should go right to the top of the class!
Where do you want to be?
Location is a good starting point. Being close to family and friends may provide a valuable support network during your ECT induction. Conversely, a change in location could be liberating – the perfect start to the next phase in your life.
If you’re in a large town or a small village, your location will have a direct impact on the demographic of a school. It will also have a bearing on your daily experience. Think about what your commute will be like? Is there suitable accommodation close by? Can you see yourself fitting in?
‘Inner city’ schools often make headlines. These days the stories are as likely to be about successful leadership, accountable teachers and rich cultural experience rather than bad behaviour and poor results. For some ECTs these schools offer a stimulating, structured and worthwhile learning experience and an excellent start to life as a teacher.
You’ll never guess what…
You can tell a lot about a school from its local reputation. It’s sensible to start with the most recent Ofsted report and what it has to say about the area of the curriculum you’re most interested in. Googling the school is also a good idea. One of our teachers discovered that a new head caused consternation by imposing new school uniform standards – and enforcing them through isolation and detention penalties. Whilst the coverage was colourful at times, it allowed the teacher to get a flavour of the school, its values and behaviour management. Whether you agree about the issues or not, when you’re choosing your ECT school, knowledge is power, and the more you know about what you’re getting into the better.
Before you set foot in the school, the chances are that the information you can gather is second hand. When you meet staff members – particularly at interview, it’s important to take advantage of that opportunity. Ask the questions not covered by Ofsted. How do teachers view their workload? What support can an ECT expect? How are students assessed? What are the marking policies in the department? It might even be worth knowing if members of the department socialise together at all.
Keeping an open mind
There’s no doubt that job hunting can be daunting. There are lots of factors to consider. Remember to take a deep breath and use the self-knowledge and experience you’ve already developed. Weeding out unsuitable jobs with good research and common sense means you’ll be able to focus on the really promising opportunities.
Don’t forget, your Hourglass consultant will be able to guide you through this process. We have spent years getting to know our schools and their people.
Most importantly, we know which schools are best for ECTs. And we’re here to help.