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Choosing the right secondary school to work in

By Mark Richards,

24 Jan 2020

Choosing between the primary or secondary school is another big decision to make.

For some, it's hardly a decision at all because you just know.

Others will agonise before plumping for one or the other. But, say you chose secondary, you still have one all-important decision to take.

You need to choose the right school for you to work in. Deciding to take the plunge and to embark on a teaching career is an important first step - a truly life-changing decision - but it's far from the only big decision you have to make as you set off on your teaching journey. Don't just take the first job you are offered This is easier said than done, admittedly, and it is very difficult to turn down an offer of employment (especially if you are a PGCE student looking for your first full-time position).

If you have had a couple of unsuccessful interviews already and then you are offered a job, it's all too easy to feel compelled to accept.

After all, beggars can't be choosers, right? Wrong.

And accepting a job at a school that isn't a 'good fit' for you is wrong too.

Indeed, it can be a very bad and costly mistake to make. All schools are not created equal It's a lovely notion for sure - and one the government would have you believe is possible - but we all know that the education that children receive in schools up and down the country is not the same.

Children do not have the same opportunities or experiences from one school to the next. Different environments - even areas of the country - present different challenges and various pros and cons. Essentially, kids are the same whether they come from (in many ways) but teaching in an inner-city school in a tough urban area is obviously going to be quite different to leafy, middle-class suburbia.

Think very carefully about which type of environment you would prefer to work in. Similarly, consider how important the opportunity to teach A level is to you.

Many teachers love it and wouldn't want to give it up.

It can be a little bit of light relief to have a small class of Year 13 students as opposed to 30 little Year 7s crowded around your desk demanding 'Is this right, Miss?' all at the same time. But is A level the be all and end all? Do you want the pressure of more exam groups? There are plenty of questions to ask yourself. Finding the right fit  The ethos and values of a school are perhaps the most important factors to consider when trying to decide if a school is right for you.

Bear in mind that although schools might say they are being completely transparent and open during the interview process, just how open and honest they really are could be questionable.

Both parties in an interview want to present and highlight their strengths, not their weaknesses. By all means, ask questions during an interview.

Definitely do your research - a school website, the letters it sends to parents, an Ofsted report - all can give clues and little nuggets of information about what a school is really like. Finally, go on instinct.

If you get a sense that something isn't quite right about a school, it probably means that there is something that isn't quite right. Working in a school that isn't a good fit is never a good idea, so you must do all you can to avoid ending up in that position.