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Advice needed - unclear recruitment strategy

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by coxy15, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. coxy15

    coxy15 New commenter

    Good morning,

    I am a PE-qualified teacher that has been working at my current secondary school for a few years, in several roles but never as a PE teacher. I have taught English, Geography, Maths etc. with the odd PE class here and there, but never a majority PE timetable.

    Now, last year, the Head of PE left suddenly and I enquired about the vacancy in PE. I was advised against applying as I had already agreed to teach Geography for this year, and the school felt it was easier to find a PE teacher at short notice than a Geography teacher. I was told, not in writing, that they would appoint somebody on a temporary contract and that I was free to apply when that role came back around.

    I was recently approached by an Assistant Head to inform me that they would be advertising internally soon, and that if I was still interested I should apply. I took this as a very good sign.

    There were only ever going to be two internal candidates, myself and the temp PE guy. He opted not to apply so I was the only candidate.

    However, I have since been approached and informed that since I was the only internal candidate, they were now advertising externally. It was never mentioned previously that this might be the case, only that they were advertising internally. Am I right to assume that this means they dont see me as a strong candidate for the role? My perception is that they wanted to give me the illusion of them fulfilling their agreement, whilst at the same time hoping that the other guy would apply so they could appoint him.

    I feel quite disappointed and disillusioned with the fact that I have served the school in many roles outside of my specialism, including core subjects, and they were happy for me to do that but they seem unwilling to appoint me in my specialist subject.

    I have requested a meeting with the principal to discuss my concerns. Any thoughts on what I should do next? I am starting to actively look for opportunities elsewhere as a result of this process.

    annascience2012 likes this.
  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    It's painful when somewhere you've worked for a while doesn't seem to appreciate you. If you apply for a job miles away and don't get it there are many ways of consoling yourself.

    As far as I am aware schools do not have to advertise externally for roles below headteacher.

    Sadly, I have to agree with you.

    I would be upset too. You have to weigh up the benefits of a permanent contract(?) in a place that seems to appreciate your versatility as opposed to the benefits of teaching your specialism.
    I understood that the supply and demand situation with geographers was weighted towards picky employers. Things may have changed.

    You're upset, but don't do anything in too much of a hurry, no point in losing a job in a fit of pique. Decide what shape you want your career to take. No harm in polishing the CV and looking at some advertisements.
  3. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    "Am I right to assume that this means they dont see me as a strong candidate for the role? My perception is that they wanted to give me the illusion of them fulfilling their agreement, whilst at the same time hoping that the other guy would apply so they could appoint him".

    I suspect you are spot on - schools do this all the time (I had something very similar happen to me, for example). If I were you, I'd smile, keep your head down and look for a PE job elsewhere. And when you get one, you can say to the HT how you have to follow your real interest in teaching, which is clearly PE.
  4. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Quite possibly. However, possibly not. Your school may have a policy that they want two candidates for every job so there is some kind of competition. Or there might be another reason.

    If I were you , I would try not to assume the worse. By all means speak to the principal. But, unless that makes it clear you are not going to get the job, apply anyway. If nothing else, it will give you practice for the Head of PE role you will apply for at another school should you not get this one. But I hope you do! Good luck, and please let us know how you get on.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Well don't forget their overview is that if they shuffle you sideways, that does not resolve the fact of having to recruit for what you do currently. So in effect if you had got the job they'd have had to run two interview days. But if the temp guy got the job, then staffing is sorted. He's going to leave anyway, being temporary, so is free for the post. You are not.
    If by lucky coincidence this temp PE person had wanted to do all the stuff you currently do, then they'd have happily swapped you over, I'm sure.
    The school's commitment to subject specialism by staff member is in fact zero-they have a bigger commitment to make sure they are fully staffed across the board any which way they can, and as such, you will only ever be a small part of the picture that they are working with. Technically it's the same for any teacher.

    One thing you don't pick up on is that somebody already working in PE has not expressed an interest in making themselves more permanent. Why? What do they know that you don't about how things roll in that department? PE jobs are hard to come by, no? And this person knows the ropes, knows the kids, knows the policies. He ought to have bitten their hand off for the chance to stay there. But he didn't. He must have had reasons. So by implication it reads to me that in actual fact you may have missed a bullet here.
  6. coxy15

    coxy15 New commenter

    I had a detailed conversation with the other guy, and his reason for not applying was that he has been working in an ESC for the last 15 years, and this was his opportunity to dip his toes back in mainstream secondary school. He felt that he preferred the environment/pace in an ESC. Having worked closely with the PE department, and having some PE on my timetable this year, I think I know them quite well and I wouldn't have any concerns taking the role.
  7. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Lead commenter

    I suppose if you look at it from the schools point of view. They feel that a PE teacher will be easier to find than a geography teacher. I think it's not that they don't want you but they do have to ensure they can get teachers for the subjects. They have to meet the needs of the school. It doesn't seem personal just the way it is.
  8. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    You need to leave if PE is what you want to teach. However, your experience has made you more versatile and has given you better options for the future so don't take the experience as completely negative. Also, your school want you, which is a good sign, even if it's not as a PE teacher.
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I think you need to make it clear that you are going to be actively seeking PE posts if you do not get this one. The problem is that PE teachers are relatively easy to find, whereas a geography/PE/maths/English teacher is much harder to find, so it may suit them much better to keep you as a flexible member of staff. If they think you might go, they might re-consider.
  10. coxy15

    coxy15 New commenter

    Had the meeting this morning and this was the point I made very clearly. Not sure if they were thinking they could have their cake and eat it by keeping me on and getting a PE teacher too, but I assured them that it is PE here or PE elsewhere, no other options.

    Unfortunately, I was told that the doubts they have are that my personality is quite calm and quiet, so they're not sure how well I would do with a 'challenging group. I fear that I don't fit the 'Alpha male PE teacher' stereotype that they are looking for, which is concerning. I feel I have done enough over the last few years to prove that with my personality, I can effectively manage behaviour and its a shame that I would be judged on personality, not the actual results of my teaching.

    However, they did admit fault in the whole process, that it was poorly thought out and that they could see how it looked to me. So, thats something I guess. But the job hunt is most definitely on!
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Well, they were admirably honest, I think. Not the BS you sometimes get.

    And you already feel you're not the stereotypical PE chap (which is what they want) so I think your future lies elsewhere if you're keen to be a super-specialist. Which is entirely your right!

    You know where you stand so that's something.
    agathamorse and jlishman2158 like this.
  12. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Sorry to hear what they said, though it is great that you were able to make your point so clearly. Their position does seem illogical to me - if you couldn't control a challenging group that would already be evident. The fact that you have succeeded teaching PE and other subjects shows that you have the skills needed to be a teacher and their only concern would be if you have those needed as Head of PE.

    Unless I have misunderstood and the challenging group they are talking about is PE teachers!:)

    By the way, do you think they were saying it was not worth applying, or that there was an issue you need to deal with in your application? Knowing what an employers reservations are in advance can be helpful. If I were you, I would apply anyway unless it was clear that I had no chance only to get practice in for interviews at other schools.
  13. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Do you have any challenging groups currently? I wonder if you should ask to be observed with them, so that they can see that you can manage them. It seems very unreasonable to base their concern on your personality and not observed teaching. When it comes to references, you need them to be saying that although you come across as quiet, you manage difficult groups calmly and effectively. The school you've applied to will need to know that, especially if "quiet" is what comes across at interview.
    agathamorse, jlishman2158 and Piranha like this.
  14. coxy15

    coxy15 New commenter

    They want me to interview so I am still in the process, but clearly not a strong candidate as otherwise they wouldn't have opted to advertise externally as well. So they haven't dismissed me completely but I think I'd be an outsider. However, as you say, it could prove useful to know what their doubts might be so i can plan to convince them otherwise.
    agathamorse, jlishman2158 and Piranha like this.
  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Good luck. I hope you can show them how wrong they were to doubt you!
    agathamorse, jlishman2158 and coxy15 like this.
  16. cheesypop

    cheesypop Senior commenter

    Ok so you have an SLT who are not full of bull? That’s a start.
    You often find that, as the internal candidate, you are the ‘acceptable known’. They’d be happy with you, but they want to see what’s out there. It’s a harsh reality but it is reality. It’s not always the best position being the internal.
    So... do your best. Can you offer an after school sports club? Prove you are ‘alpha enough’ for them? If nothing else you can add it to your application form when you apply for other jobs.
    If I was you I’d be showing everyone how amazing I was, while applying for other jobs. If nothing else it’d be a bigger hole to fill when you’ve gone...
    agathamorse likes this.

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