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Dear Theo - applying for posts in independent schools

Discussion in 'Independent' started by skeptucator, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. skeptucator

    skeptucator Occasional commenter

    I am currently applying for science (biology) posts in several independent schools up and down the country. The feedback I am repeatedly getting is that you must have a straight biology degree in order to teach the subject in an independent school. Is this the case?
    I have a BSc psychology degree from one of the best psychology departments in the country, with advanced specialisms in psychobiology of drug addiction, MRI scanning and medical treatments for brain damage. Surely this is biology through and through? I needed all As at A-level to go there and also did Advanced Extension Award and was one of very few in the country to receive distinction in this qualification.
    I feel as though they are looking at my qualifications, seeing 'psychology' and jumping to conclusions that I studied Freudian theory, dream analysis and other such things when this couldn't be farther from the truth.
    Is there anything I can do to help this situation? I explain in my application what my specialisms were and my passion for biological sciences... but it doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere.
    As much as I would love to go back to university for another 3 years...
  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Where are you getting the feedback from? If it is the schools themselves then you should take it seriously.
    However that does not solve your dilemma. Are you teaching biology at the moment? If so, then you could use this, along with your exam results, as evidence that you are more than capable of teaching the subject. You could also look into applying for less prestigious schools ( if that is the case ) as one of them may take a chance on you. This would allow you to gain an entry into the independent sector.
    Unfortunately, while sciences are in demand, my experience in a number of schools has been that biology positions are seldom difficult to fill with biologists.
    Good luck.
  3. skeptucator

    skeptucator Occasional commenter

    Thank you for your advice. Yes, I had been getting the feedback from the schools themselves. I do think they would rather someone with a straight biology qualification or a doctorate as it seems they are more interested than hiring a good-looking name rather than someone with teaching qualifications and experience instead.
    I've been applying for everything that comes up that offers accommodation, as I'm not tied down in any way I'm flexible regarding location but having just left university last year I cannot afford to rent. I have experience in a boarding school summer camp and really enjoyed living in and the round the clock high pressure role.
    The main reason I am enquiring is that a vacancy has opened for which I applied last year and was told that I wasn't shortlisted due to my degree subject. So I don't know what to do with regards to applying there again. After all, my degree certificate still reads the same but I have now got my NQT year nearly completed and have much more teaching experience.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Yes, the above posters have put some good points.
    Prestigious schools will want high-quality and clearly relevant subject-specific qualifications.
    Biologists are not in short supply, unlike Chemists and Physicists.
    Psychology can occasionally be considered a not-very-proper academic subject, so there may be some prejudice against it in some schools.
    The question to ask yourself is not if you now have more teaching experience, but if you are presenting yourself and your skills, knowledge and qualification as positively as you can in your application letter and executive summary. If this is done, then the lack of a Bilogy degree may be considered less important.
    Best wishes
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    The TES Careers Advice service runs seminars and workshops, one-to-one careers and applications advice, one-to-one interview coaching and an application review service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Workshops. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews.
    The next Workshop I'm doing that still has vacancies is on Friday 25th February. There is also a specialist Workshop for applications to SLT on Saturday February 19th.
    Go to https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6060678 for more details of these and other seminars.
    Look forward to seeing you!
  5. skeptucator

    skeptucator Occasional commenter

    Thank you.
  6. You may find that indy schools regard the sciences, as represented by biology, chemistry and physics, as completely different to psychology. For example in our school the psychology dept is completely different to the other sciences, with no overlap/interactions at all. If they are looking for a biology teacher they just may not consider psychology a suitable substitute for a pure biology/biological sciences degree. After all they won't know the break down of your degree. And as some posters have said above, I'm afraid there are lots more biology teachers around. So your competition is much greater for that subject.
    Have you tried applying for psychology teaching jobs?
  7. skeptucator

    skeptucator Occasional commenter

    At my current school psychology is part of the science department. Yet I know at others it is part of humanities - it seems to depend on the preferences of the department heads. Also on the choice of psychology course offered.
    I haven't tried applying for psychology jobs because I want to be a biology teacher. This is what enthuses me and I would much rather be a science/biology teacher and believe it or not, the biology curriculum has much more in common with my degree than the psychology GCSE courses do.
    I think it will just be a case of keep on trying until I hit a school who could benefit from my ability to offer both subjects, like if they know they will need maternity cover or something for psychology.


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