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And can you teach Classics?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by kissinbec, Jul 20, 2020.


Given this interview, should I have offered additional subject teaching?

  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
  1. kissinbec

    kissinbec New commenter

    I'd like to share a recent interview experience with you. This was for a staff vacancy that was advertised in the TES as Teacher of English for an outstanding school, (one of the largest in the country.)

    I had prepared well for the interview, organised my thinking and exchanged my ideas with a relative. I arrived early and handed over my certificates and the Receptionist refused my claims form and DBS form. Yup, ok, is this cashback?

    The interview was organised within government guidelines: which means sitting and accepting a glass of water which nobody drinks from. The questions began and everything went to plan, until...the Headteacher asked: "Why did you teach at....?" I answered: "Well, because of the context...(and hid my surprise as his question) He then said he didn't really get my career. I answered, do you mean my experience or the school contexts? I clarified that schools mean different things in different contexts. Then he said, "well teaching here would be very different, a change." I answered, that I was familiar with the school as a friend lives in the catchment area. He persisted: "it would be a big change" and I reiterated that "yes, mainstream teaching with the new government guidelines would need to follow his chain of command." Then he asked what blended learning and ICT integration meant and how would he evaluate it. I replied brightly, well from data and assessment. He didn't look convinced, so I asserted: no computers? "Ok", I said " I'll take you point, look out machines!"

    Mildy piqued by his firmness but assured that he was running through standard questions, the HOD changed tack. "And can you teach Classics?" "Um no, I learned Latin at 12....." "No, Classics, not Latin." "Sorry no." "What about History of Art?" "Well....is this for a Liberal Arts programme?" The Headteacher interrupts: "no it is for Maternity Cover only for one year."

    I'm thinking to myself, this is like a surrealist painting, when I'm not sure if what is real and what to expect.

    The interview continued: "do you have questions?" "...well yes..." and I pitched them in a friendly and positive frame of mind, but they all fell flat: "well, it would be up to you" "Errr...ok, I see."

    And so, my worst interview occurred and the feedback came three days later: "More experience in the system" to which I thought, It's not that difficult to teach GCSE English in a mainstream system when you think that is for the advertised post.
  2. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    Sounds like you had a lucky escape, in my own humble opinion.
    agathamorse, kissinbec and Jonntyboy like this.
  3. Romoletto

    Romoletto Occasional commenter

    I concur with the above poster. They don’t sound like they would’ve made for a nice working environment.
    agathamorse, kissinbec and Jonntyboy like this.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Not how I would have allowed an appointment interview to be carried out in any school where I held responsibility!

    Happy holidays to one and all

    Twitter @Theo_Griff
    agathamorse, kissinbec and Jonntyboy like this.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This sounds like the interview was at an independent school and you've said it was one of the largest in the country and outstanding. So asking people if they can teach additional subjects isn't that unusual.
    Hmmm again this implies you have no experience of independent schools and were applying to a large and successful one. While that alone shouldn't mean you don't get the post, but the kind of answers you've posted here probably gave them the impression you might not understand how very different it can be.

    It's naff not to get a post, but applying for posts in very different schools is always a gamble.
    drvs likes this.
  6. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Lead commenter

    kissinbec and steely1 like this.
  7. DrJay

    DrJay Occasional commenter

    Seems to resonate with a recent advert where this outstanding Grammar school is seeking a French, History and RS teacher who can teach KS3-5. Really? Why not throw in a fourth e.g. German so it's a four-legged wagon?

    I have seen teachers asked to teach subjects they clearly don't have clues about, leaving pupils to struggle or take their own fate in their own hands e.g. hire tutors to enable them secue the grades. I once had an Oxford PPE graduate employed to teach A Level economics and politics which she was good at but was also asked to teach philosophy which she taught very poorly, admitting that although she holds a PPE degree, she actually dropped philosophy at the end of her first year at uni. Must schools sacrifice pupils' future on the altar of funding cuts. In the case the OP presents why not employ an excellent teacher of English and if you can't find someone who simultaneously is able to teach classics and dont have the funds to hire a separate teacher of classics then axe classics as a subject until the situation changes.
    VeronicAmb, agathamorse and kissinbec like this.
  8. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Local Independent school once advertised for someone to teach Economics, Geography, RE and Philosopy all to A level. They said they’d consider applications for part time for the different subjects so I applied for the bit I could do. It was made fairly clear to me at the interview that really they wanted one person. I had the impression the HT went through the motions of interviewing for part time to please Dept Heads..
    agathamorse and kissinbec like this.
  9. kissinbec

    kissinbec New commenter

    Thanks everyone for the replies.
    It's been a tough year and recruitment has also been difficult for headteachers. However, a job description is obviously the basis for making any application.
    I'll move on.
  10. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    It is not just independent schools that try to cut corners by asking for what they euphemistically call 'cross-curricular' teachers. Asking for someone who can teach science and maths is quite common ("Well, maths is just science without the experiments, right?) but some expectations are quite bizarre; like science and geography, or R.E.!
    agathamorse likes this.

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