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Independent school interview prep

Discussion in 'Independent' started by jellylegs11, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. jellylegs11

    jellylegs11 New commenter

    Good evening
    I've been shortlisted for a headship in an independent school. It would be my first post in the independent sector. Any advice from anyone already in independent school? I really want this post so any advice/interview heads up would be appreciated.

    P.s. I haven't had any information regarding the interview tasks/format of the day, as yet.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Talk about marketing and admissions. How you would attract pupils.
    Talk about the importance of getting children to be well rounded people, with a caring and compassionate outlook.
    Think of all the negative images you have heard about independent schools and think how you would address those. Then work them in to any presentation and interview answer.
    And best of luck...the independent sector is a breath of fresh air after state!
    steely1, sabrinakat and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  3. speaker2

    speaker2 Occasional commenter

    Congratulations! Once you know what the tasks are, just prepare as you would for any headship interview. There is no point trying to put-on a particular persona- be authentic.
    steely1 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    The question in my mind is, why do you want to be HT of this particular school? As opposed to, why do you want to be an HT? I'd suggest you consider this as you prepare.
  5. jellylegs11

    jellylegs11 New commenter

    Thank you. Round one is Monday and I received a letter yesterday that explained the first round is interview only and then you'll be told if you are through to second stage.
    I agree it should be about why that school more than anything else and I definitely can answer the question why do you want to work here? But I know they'll ask about why I'm wanting to move to independent sector.
    I've been shortlisted for another post too but this is interviewing on 20th.
    What's the saying about buses....
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    When answering this question, remember they are convinced their school is the best anyway, so they don't really want to hear the reasons why it's a good school and what yo could gain from working there,, but what you can offer to the school, which makes you the best candidate. :)
    TheoGriff, sabrinakat and jellylegs11 like this.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    They may not. I didn't get asked that when I moved, though not to a headship.
    Mainly the school want to know why you are the very best candidate for their school and what you will do for them.
    TheoGriff and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  8. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I think it can be very difficult to parachute into a Headship role in a sector you have never worked in. Some people manage to do it but others come a real cropper because they do not fully understand the ethos of the independent environment and do not succeed in gaining the trust and respect of teachers who have much greater experience than they do in the sector. My opinion is that experience in a range of independent schools is highly desirable for someone aspiring to lead an independent school.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. jellylegs11

    jellylegs11 New commenter

    Surely this would be the same in any sector though... you are always going to get people who have worked in that setting longer than you and who think they know the school and its 'ways' better than yourself! I understand what you are saying however a good leader listens, understands and communicates in a way that respects others and their opinions and views and carefully considers their actions against these. I've been in education 17 years and 5 of those as a lecturer in HE too. Yes I've not been in independent sector but surely not every head has been prior to gaining the heads job and one private school is very different to another. Thank you though
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I disagree. Experience in a range of schools is desirable, but not necessarily in independent. The difference between one independent and another can be so vast, that experience in one is no earthly use in another. State schools are often a bit more up to date with current trends and research in education and an incoming head from the state sector could be just what a school needs.

    Clearly the governing board of the school the OP has applied to are open minded and have seen enough potential to invite for interview.
    Lara mfl 05 and jellylegs11 like this.
  11. jellylegs11

    jellylegs11 New commenter

    Thank you! These are my thoughts exactly. They've seen my CV so they obviously have seen something. Nerves are building now however!
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I can imagine!
    But the interview will be nothing compared to some of the situations you've been in as a head.

    Very best of luck.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I can only speak from my own experience where I have seen or heard of Heads who swoop in from the state sector to lead an independent school. One was quite good but another was an absolute disaster. They tried to make the independent school mirror their state school. They did not understand the balance between listening to parents’ concerns and giving in to every demand - especially if parents threatened to take their children away. The whole ethos of the school changed. It was very sad.

    When you have spent time in the independent sector, you know what it holds dear, you learn how to deal with parents - yes, who are paying, but who must respect you, the school, its policies and decisions. There are so many things you learn along the way in your career in the sector - from being a young teacher watching what others do and how they do it, from seeing the quality that can be achieved in sport and the arts, to cherishing and championing approaches in education which you believe in your heart work and have value.

    All the best with your interview.
    jarndyce likes this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This varies so very much from school to school, it is a nonsense to generalise.
  15. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I’m not convinced that following current trends in education is always the best approach. Good independent schools are fully aware of the wider world in education but, unlike state schools who are compelled to follow every diktat from the government, independent schools usually observe carefully; if they see genuine benefit in a new approach then they adapt it to suit their circumstances. If it’s just another bandwagon rolling by then they ignore it and continue with the things they know are working well.
  16. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I believe there are certain fundamental values which do underpin the independent sector. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

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