14 April 2015
There's no getting away from the fact that the prospect of starting at a new school is scary, so find out as much about it as you can before you go to to interview. it might be in a rough area, but have a fantastic staff, or have high performance data, but be a highly pressured environment.
But first: you might have applied for quite a few jobs… remind yourself which one this is and make sure you research the right one - thy can be easy to confuse.
Research the school
Ofsted reports are an obvious starting point, as is the school website. But treat these sources of data carefully. If you've not read many Ofsted reports, read some for schools that you're familiar with first, to get a feel for the language used.
School websites are often horrible, so don't judge the school by their website design. Look for information about the the quality of school life - are their lots of clubs and trips? Are they good at celebrating pupils' achievements? What about support for parents? Try to read between the lines - again, worth comparing with schools that are more familiar with.
Also search the local press for coverage about the school: what's the balance of positive and negative impressions - and how reliable is the picture the press paints?
It will take several hours to research a school thoroughly in this way, but it's worth it. You may be up against a candidate who has trained or even worked there, so they will have an advantage if you aren't well prepared.
Preparing for the day
Create a list of jobs that you need to do before interview day. They will to some extent be determined by the nature of the interview process, which the school should have provided details about.
- What do you need to bring?
- What are they expecting you to do?
- Is there someone you need to send lesson preparation requests to, or to whom you could send a copy of a presentation ready to use on the day?
- Who is interviewing you - and what can you find out about them online?
- What can you discover about the current members of staff, and who are you replacing - and why?
Find out exactly where the school is and make plans accordingly. Don’t leave anything to chance. If you have to travel a long way the night before then stay in a hotel. You will be able to claim your expenses from the school. They might have a list of hotels/guest houses that they recommend.
If you can, get to the school before the students arrive and watch them come in - it's a great way to see what the children are like: how are they dressed, how do they behave, how many staff are on duty and what kind of relationships do they have with children? Don't judge, and keep an open mind: just observe and see what you see.
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