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Interview at Independent Boys' School

Discussion in 'Independent' started by br0wnsugar, Feb 14, 2019.

  1. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Hi Everyone,

    I have an interview at a Boys' Independent School, prestigious and central in the community and I am nervous as hell!!
    I have worked in the state sector for the last 8 years and in education for the past 16 years, as mentor and assistant pastoral leader and this post is a teacher of English. I applied for a change of teaching and learning experience.
    I have been asked to teach for 25 minutes, All Quiet on the Western Front - focusing on structure.

    Can anyone offer advice?
    Also, can anyone offer advice on teaching and learning questions that may come up, if I get past a decent teaching experience?

    This will be a challenge but I believe I can offer the students a teaching experience that will engage them passionately and productively. I just need to do justice at the interview. I currently teach 100 minute lessons and unused to preparing for such a short observational experience.

  2. annascience2012

    annascience2012 New commenter

    Good luck! I work in a school like you describe.
    1. About the short lessons...The boys will be used to the short lessons, so don't worry that they'll feel rushed. Expect them to complete tasks very quickly as that will be what they're used to. Settle them down quickly with a "hook", rather than a starter. Could be an interesting picture or quote on the board. Then launch pretty quickly into describing the main task.
    2. At interview, if they ask about discipline/bm, know that at independents they usually don't like formal sanction systems. You keep boys behind for a chat, rather than send them to detention. I find my colleagues from state schools have to adjust to this. I also had to adjust to this when moving from state a while back.
    3. About teaching and learning, it's all about stretching and challenging, and giving individual support. Class sizes are smaller so you get to know the students more as individuals.
    Good luck! Xxx
  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I have to say that all three of the HMC schools in which I worked continue to have strong formal sanctions systems. While the chat after lessons may be appropriate for minor matters, staff are normally expected to place pupils in school detention for lateness, bullying, uniform infringement and other matters, or "on report" for academic matters. School detentions are usually run by the deputy head (some schools don't allow individual staff to run detentions) and require 24 hours notice. Parents are informed and the names of offenders are read out in assembly.

    I recommend the OP to check on the school's website for information about sanctions.
    pepper5, steely1 and jarndyce like this.
  4. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Annascience2012 - Thank you so much for your advice and guidance delivering a short lesson. Yes, the lessons are 35 minutes long so it was really having an idea of what I could do to inject some energy and show progress in that space of time.
    The advice within the interview is priceless too. For some reason Independent schools 'frighten' me simply because it is the unknown. I've always worked at state schools.

    Floriangassman - thank you for confirming the discipline system which I would think would be in place however, that isn't to say that minor infringements can be sorted out primarily with a chat with student before it escalates which is pretty much my tactics in my school. Of course, the more serious offenders are dealt with in detentions/isolation slots etc.

    One other thing, ' I wonder if either of you could elaborate on the common phrase' '...a significant contribution to the school is compulsory ...' (I am just wondering what this means within the Independent sector).

    Thank you both so much. I am filled with added confidence for Monday.

    Best wishes and hopefully, you are enjoying the half term.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  5. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    True, although I have to say I have never come across an independent school using isolation as a punishment. On the other hand, permanent exclusion may be meeted out to persistent offenders (most decent independent schools have long waiting lists, so filling an occasional pupil vacancy is not a problem). However, that is rare. In general, parents tend to be very supportive of the school in any disciplinary matters, stepping in firmly before anything gets out of hand, which is perhaps not surprising when you consider how much they are paying in fees.

    I have more commonly heard it expressed as "expected" rather than "compulsory". In general, it can mean willingness to help with games (if you are young/fit enough) and or with co-curricular activities (debating society, chemistry club, orchestra, drama productions, chess club, young farmers association, etc etc). There may also be an opportunity to help with boarding in the case of boarding schools: that is very much a contractual matter, though, and will involve a usually generous additional payment and possibly accommodation. I was a boarding housemaster for many years and had a live-in assistant who was on duty two or three nights a week, and a day man who did one overnight duty a week plus two weekends a term (accommodation and meals provided, along with an allowance).

    A "significant contribution" also implies that you should be willing to attend school plays, sports days, swimming galas, carol services, concerts and other performances (perhaps even helping with tickets or supervision), as well as parents evenings (usually in the evenings and often quite a lot of them!), open mornings, fund-raising events, perhaps even foreign tours for choirs, language groups and sports teams.

    That sounds like a heck of a lot, but you won't be expected to do everything: just a selection! But it is certainly true that staff have much more to do outside the classroom in the independent sector (which is one of the reasons why teaching timetables tend to be lighter than in the state sector) - and by and large, it is all quite fun!
  6. br0wnsugar

    br0wnsugar Occasional commenter

    Floriangassman - Thank you for the comprehensive list of 'significant contribution is expected..' (You're right, the ad did read 'expected' not compulsory - It was my interpretation based on what I have read/heard from others re; Independent type schools.

    The list is not too daunting and definitely manageable as I have grown up sons living their life and me and hubby at home, so cannot envisage any problems doing/giving extra.

    Once again, you have enlightened me no end. Incidentally, when you made the switch from state to indie did you feel daunted by the prospect of working in a completely different setting?

    Working in state, one becomes so used to additional admin tasks, mostly full timetables, teaching other subjects, not a lot of money for resources etc...and of course, half term holiday interventions, (I understand that this would happen at indie's). I'm in my 50s and so feel this may be the last chance saloon to make the switch and hopefully, end my teaching career having had the chance of teaching in different kinds of schools and end on a high!. (I've taught in comprehensives/academies/church schools and so indie would be another perspective). Let's see how the interview goes.

    Once again. Thank you so very much,
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I was in my early 40s when I moved. Definitely a very positive move and I'd not go back to state for all the tea in China. (Like you, I've done all the other kinds in state.)

    Independents vary just as widely as state schools, so go with an open mind.
    But teaching all boys is sooooo much fun, though pretty noisy and energetic!

    Best of luck.
  8. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I have never worked in the state sector although I did attend a state grammar school as a pupil (back in the 1950s). I didn't find working in a different setting at all daunting - just exciting and welcoming. It probably helped to have done PGCE teaching practice in an independent school, although it was quite a small one and nothing like the three big HMC schools in which I worked for 40 years.
  9. foxesandwolves

    foxesandwolves New commenter

    I have worked in an Independent Boys School, then the State Sector and then back to an Independent Boys School so have a good understanding of the differences. I found the 'significant extra' bit such fun - I would pay to do half of it! I ran a cookery club (so much fun), then there were concerts, guest speakers, special dinners and school plays. Try not to go on too much in your interview about State School acronyms or obsessions, such as onstant references to SEN or Behaviour. Purple pens of progress are thankfully a long distant memory from my State days. Moving back to the Independent Sector reignited in me a love of teaching. Being able to finish a sentence without being interrupted, setting homework and the whole class actually doing it and being able to be more creative again due to less behaviour management issues. My final top tip would be get the words 'stretch and challenge' in. Write 3 searching or thinking questions out and give them to anyone who finishes early on a task, or put them up on a powerpoint. If you finish early etc..... Good Luck!

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