Secret Teacher: competing for teaching jobs is like being on a reality TV show

The latest Secret Teacher writing in the Guardian complains that competing for teaching jobs is like being on a reality TV show…

When I first applied for teaching jobs, I didn’t have to show them I could teach – people assumed that with a PGCE under my belt I could do the job, so all I faced was an interview.

But recently things have changed: to get a job you have to become a contestant on Strictly Come Teaching meets the Krypton Factor – with a sprinkling of X Factor thrown in for good measure. It’s an all-new elimination show where each week contestants face a gruelling test of skills, ability and endurance, with the winner receiving a permanent job at a school of their dreams…

Once you’re through the auditions it’s on to the quarter finals. The camera pans to the contestants who have received the “we are delighted to invite you for interview” email. Then comes the surprise; attachments outlining the structure of the day. It’s not just a few minutes in the limelight here. The interview stage now consists of multiple mini rounds: the gentle chat in the head’s office; the trial lesson; the tour of the school; the professional chat; the student panel … and then we finally get to the interview. One school I know of actually gave teachers an A-level exam paper, too.

The chat in the headteacher’s office is normally where they scare you and tell you that if you are not up to scratch you will be sent home, but that they want you to do your best. No pressure there then.

It’s an idea to pretend that you actually have a film crew following you around on an interview day. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just about the interview and the lesson. Everything you do will be scrutinised so make sure you haven’t got toilet roll stuck to your shoe or your skirt stuck in your knickers when you come out the loo (men, check your fly).

Trial lessons are a minefield. Contestant one can have an outstanding lesson but contestant two has to follow them and teach the same bunch of children the same topic. If the class decides to turn the mini-whiteboards into score cards and award your lesson a zero by misbehaving, you’re sent packing…

Now the show turns into “Are you smarter than a 10-year-old?” The student panel can be a very enjoyable experience, but be warned the students are the David Camerons and Margaret Thatchers of the future…

I am almost expecting there to be a new round soon – the parent round, where you have to tell a mother or father why their child will never get a grade C in your subject without hurting their feelings. Or listen and nod while they tell you how they can’t deal with their child’s behaviour (but they still keep buying them the latest mobile phones)…

More at: Secret Teacher: competing for teaching jobs is like being on a reality TV show

Do you recognise these changes to teacher recruitment and do you think it has all gone too far or does this kind of process really help schools find the most suitable candidates? Please describe your own experiences and tell us what you think in the comments or via Twitter…

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Categories: Employment and Teaching.

Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Agree with this – went to one school for three half hour grillings a by a pair of different interviewers plus lesson obs etc

  2. diasporahighsch

    SchoolsImprove First hurdle is ageism. Experience often means top of the salary scale. Young & enthusiastic first – cheap to keep!

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