Sunday, 16 June 2013

Red Letter Day - or Week...

Firstly, I apologise. For what? Well, I've been conspicuous by my absence for far too long.

It's been a very long 11 days - and very stressful too.

Although I love what I do and find it very rewarding, it's also very stressful and tiring. Travelling between schools is difficult, but even more difficult are the working conditions (often teaching in corridors, tiny rooms with no windows - in fact, anywhere I can find a space...). This last year has made me realise where my strengths lie - well and truly in the classroom. So when a series of posts came up in my town (a rarity, as teachers tend to stay put in this town) I decided I just had to go for it.

I don't know what it's like with you, but the whole application and interview process is difficult, stressful and fraught. I managed to get through to interview stage for both jobs, but that's where it all started to unravel.

The first post was in a school in special measures (a school considered to be failing on a number of counts, and where steps have to be introduced to make rapid improvement). The teaching part of the interview went very well - at least I thought so. The interview went ok, but was rather short - the panel just delivered the questions and didn't come back on anything I said, so it was very much a one way street. It was then that I knew.

Needless to say I didn't get that one. Now it's bad enough being told you're unsuccessful, but the crushing part of it was that I heard that they decided not to appoint any of the candidates... What's all that about? Surely the candidates were shortlisted because they merited the job? Surely they were looking to appoint someone? The Inspectors would expect it.

Now as if that wasn't bad enough, I had an interview for another post on Friday, just 9 days after the first failure. There were two posts on offer - a maternity cover and a full time Upper Key Stage 2 posts (G4). This was always going to be a tricky one as I had been a governor at this school, and had also taught French there last year. It was tricky to say the least being interviewed by people I knew..

I knew I was on a hiding to nothing when the other candidates arrived. There were 8 of us, 7 of whom were under 26 (guess who wasn't...). Three candidates were still at Uni and hadn't even qualified yet!

Now I know age shouldn't be a matter of concern, and yes it means you have experience. But it also means that the younger you are, the fresher out of Uni you are, the cheaper you are and the easier to develop (read "mould and shape"). My lesson went as well as could be expected when you're asked to teach a 15 minute session on probability (I mean, what can you usefully show them in 15 minutes...), and the interview went very well. But - and it turns out that there was a very BIG BUT - one of the candidates had been on placement at the school and another was on placement there then! Guess who got the jobs...

My question is this: does experience count for nothing? At my age (and I'm really not that old, folks..) I am on the teacher scrap heap. Yes, young people will come through, but is it right that experience counts for nothing? Our present government is working hard to do away with conditions of service and expects teachers to work until at least 68 before retiring - great if you're already in a post and can just sweat it out. But what of us teachers who are not based in schools? Schools are taking on young NQTs and not experienced teachers, so what chance have we got of getting a post?

Usually I can accept decisions like this, rise above it and move on. But this time it's different. Perhaps I can feel time creaking on. I just know that this time I'm crushed. I've reached a crossroads: do I carry on trying to find my own classroom only to be passed by in favour of the new young teachers; do I pack up my bags and try to find work in another part of the country, or even abroad; or do I throw in the towel and try to find work in a completely new career...?

What is recruitment like in your part of the world? What would you do if you were me?

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