If you haven’t read the previous blog on ‘you’ please do that first. You can access that by clicking here.
Once you’ve found a role that suits your non-negotiables, the fun starts. It’s time to do your background research. This reconnaissance mission is critical for two reasons; the first is that not all that shine is gold and the second is knowing more about a potential employer is essential in the application process.
Where to look:
- The school website.
- The OfSTED report
The above list is not an exhaustive list. Be aware that all of the above will be prone to bias; however, that being said, it is crucial to understand the context of a school before you apply.
I am candid in my research. I will direct message multiple people that work at the school and ask honest questions, ultimately moving jobs is a big deal this research is invaluable. I would also ask people who work and live in the locality of the school.
That brings me to a visit; I do not apply for a role unless I have visited the school during school hours. The ‘visit’ is important because sometimes a shiny website and certainly an OfSTED judgement can mean very little in the grander scheme of thing. Remember you are committing to applying for a position which will take your time and more importantly, your energy. For that energy, I want to know that the organisation is one that fits with my own core purpose. H
While researching, create a vision for the organisation. Vison is where the school see themselves the final destination, it is typically dictated by the headteacher and senior leadership team, but evidence of the vision should be seen in the artefacts around the school and in classrooms but also in the pupils. How does the ‘vision’ translate to the pupils? This is why it is favourable to visit a school during working hours if you can’t see what you thought you’d see (from your research) do not be afraid to clarify and ask why? Or what that part of vision means to the person taking you on your tour. Understand your walk with the headteacher, you are likely being judged; believe me your questions are always valued.
It is essential to hold to your values here. If you feel that any of your values don’t marry up closely with the school’s, I wouldn’t bother applying when you have a clash of purposes; eventually, this can only end in tears for all involved.
- Find a job which fits your specification. Where, what, how much?
- Download the Job description.
- Open the website and read the job description and look for the content of the role. What will it entail? I went for a behaviour-based role in London a decade ago and fond the job description said nothing at all about the behaviour structure in the school. After scouring the website, I found the role was centred around restorative practices; this changed the way I wrote my statement.
- Pull out the threads in the website and from your visit, what is this school about? What do they actually believe?
- Make sure you answer the above questions in the language of the website.
This is Part 2 in a series Part 1 can be found here.