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Making the trasition from state to independent

Discussion in 'Independent' started by happy_workaholic, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. Dear Theo
    I have worked as an English Teacher in the state sector for 11 years and would like to make the transition to Independent Ed.
    I have had several management posts in the state sector such as HOD and Faculty Leader. Will this experience help me get a foot through the door? I am not seeking a management post and would be very content to be a classroom teacher. Would they be put off by my current lack of ambition (i.e. management to classroom teacher)?
    Also, what kind of questions am I likely to be asked at interview?
    Many thanks!

  2. Elsie Teacher

    Elsie Teacher New commenter

    It is easy to move from state to private, but not the reverse. I worked in the state sector (primary) for 5 years, then independent for 3 and now, because of my previous state experience, I have been able to return to state education.
    In my experience the <u>pros</u> for independent were: smaller classes; motivated & polite pupils**; supportive parents*; broader curriculum- ballet, sailing, Lamda etc; longer holidays; Isis inspections rather than full Ofsted; sense of pride in the school and it's fantastic results - great public image; family atmosphere.
    As for the cons: no pension, pay increases only when the head 'felt like it;' no regular Inset provided by the LA - felt very out of touch; pushy parents;* expected to do above and beyond- before and after care, lunch duties, often at school in the evenings, weekends and running holiday club in August; no set budgets- had to beg for resources which were very limited at my school, independent experience not counted as far as state pay scale goes; not allowed any time off , as the cost of supply came out of the head's daughter's wedding fund!; forced to struggle in on snow days; had to wear a suit all year and all weathers; had to suck up to parents as they were 'customers,' and so sugar coat the truth about their kids; attention seeking pupils** because they hardly see their working parents and get fobbed off with expensive gifts rather than parent time; told I could not get pregnant while working there!!!
    This was an extremely prestigious school with huge termly fees. I left 5 years ago but still feel bitter about the experience. I had 3 1/2 days off during my 3 years there and the head called me into her office to accuse me of excessive absence. I had gastroenteritis and a sick note!
    With the help of the NUT, I walked out. If you are determined to go private be aware:
    a larger school would be safer with a head/ manager who is not the owner;
    be prepared to organise your own pension;
    your pay may seem attractive at first but might not increase steadily each year;
    the state system does not recognise the years spent in the private sector, should you wish to return (Your payscale will be frozen;)
    sense of isolation - no cluster meetings ( Private schools are in fierce competition with each other!); no LA training or resources, no LA consultants, no Uni students.
    I'm so happy and relieved to be back in the state system, which is so supportive. It felt like coming home!!!

  3. Although the previous poster makes some valid points, I feel as though there is another perspective to be heard.
    These are very much individual school concerns rather than factors common to the sector. The Inset we are provided with is in house rather than the LEA but we are part of a very generous pension scheme and receive pay increases in line with the mainstream sector.
    This is not something we do.
    As you will already know, this is illegal and not something that many schools would endorse.
    This is a generally sound piece of advice, particularly if you're looking at prep schools (see the thread regarding school closures on this forum)
    I haven't found this and have been making contacts with other schools in our area to share good practice.
    Of course, good schools in any sector will make you feel supported and valued. It is not something exclusive to the mainstream sector.
    Not always true. It is true that there are some mainstream sector heads out there with a chip in their shoulder about the independent sector. They seem to assume that the job is somehow 'easier' and that inependent colleagues could not succeed in a mainstream position. However, the majority of mainstream heads will want what the independent heads want - the very best teachers available for their school. If that's you, you'll be able to secure a position.
  4. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I feel that I must respond to the view given by the previous poster.
    I have spent 14 years working in the private sector - in fact my whole teaching career has been in 5 different boarding schools in 4 different countries, so I feel that I have some experience of the independent sector.
    Yes you can find schools that treat you like dirt. Unfortunately you can also find them in the state sector. Having a useless head is not something that is an exclusive preserve of any system.
    My question would be to the previous poster, if the school was as bad as you describe it, then why stay there for 5 years? Surely a single year without a pay increase would have alerted you to things not being quite right?
    Every school that I have worked in - and they have also been somewhat prestigious, without blowing my own trumpet - have been very particular on salary structures and benefits. They have all followed whatever the national pension agreements have been - in the UK this was the standard teachers pension that the state school teachers receive. Resources have been excellent. My current school does not have a budget for departments or activities. The philosophy is quite simply order whatever you wish to enhance your teaching - there is no cap.
    When applying to a school do your homework - and do not be fooled by a schools reputation. Once you have been in enough schools you will get to know people who have taught in or know about most of the schools on the circuit. Use these contacts for information. However before you get there here is some advice:
    A schools fee structure will have nothing whatsoever to do with your salary structure and neither will a schools reputation. Make sure you know what it is before accepting a position.
    If a school does not feel right - for whatever reason - do not go there. Do not accept whatever an independent school may be offering you just to get your foot in the door. You may end up with your proverbial foot being crushed.
    You are expected to work longer hours in the private sector and especially in boarding schools. This is offset by enhanced pay and longer holidays. If it isn't then ask yourself why you want to work there.
    No school I have been in has ever asked me to sugar coat information for the parents. In fact the schools - and the parents - are more interested in the truth. They may not like it, but that is not the same as not wanting it. Schools thrive on good exam results and these do not occur by building up a false picture of little Johnnies abilities, only for him to fail at exam time.
    One final note of advice. Do not join an independent school because of the salary, the housing or the perceived "easy teaching". The first two will instantly discount you and the last one will hit you for six when you do start teaching. Teaching in an Independent is not more difficult or easier than a state school, just different. Behaviour is not a problem which means you really have to be able to teach the subject well. If you cannot then a hard time will be had by all.
    Good luck.
  5. Very wise words...... as per usual.
  6. Thank you for your informative replies. Your personal experiences have given me a lot to think about.... :0)

  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Some excellent points made here.
    I had one teacher who was unhappy making the change from state to independent, and moved back. His complaint was that the students were too well-behaved and too keen, so there was too much preparation work to be done. In his state school he wasted half or more of each lesson "playing the policeman", which required no preparation. He was horrified to discover that what he expected to be a whole week's learning was gobbled up by our pupils in only 2 lessons.
    Nuff said.
  8. Thank you once again for your replies. I have decided to follow the Independent route and really hope it will be ALL that and more...
    Happy teaching! :0)
  9. I have to say a cause of confusion on this forum is that there seem to different types of independent school.
    Theo's old one sounds so good as do Karvol's.
    Some sound dreadful.
    Mine lies in between. I have a pension and parity of pay with the state sector. In spite of it being a boarding school I can't say the duties are that onerous for non-resident staff. There is a freedom from the mass of paperwork I had in the state sector.
    However, we do have a problem with behaviour in the prep school. This problems seems absent in many of the schools posted about. Our problem is severe enough that many staff have left because of it. It may be just down to inept management.
    Possibly, I am looking to move in the future. I suppose the key is to do your homework. I fancy a more academic school as I love to teach, not police and am not afraid of that kind of hard work.

    Good luck to all looking.
  10. Yep, it's all about doing your homework. I started in the state sector and had a very, very hapy 5 years there. By the end of it I was simply aware that the kids were going home at 3.35 pm and we still had lots to do. So I moved to an all-boys-all-boarding boarding School and spent 4, even happier years there before moving to become Head of Maths at my current School (even happier again!!).
    Bottom line is: Both Independent Schools have offered me a very significant pay rise, but I know that some of my friends who have made similar moves have ended up with no pay increase. It simply depends on which school you choose, and it also means that you need to ask about salary at interview.....they expect that!
    The work time required in my current post is MEGA compared to the work I had to do in the state sector, and sometimes I still find myself on duty in the boarding house until gone 11.00 pm. But it's great fun.
    As for moving to become a classroom teacher having been HoD. Well, that doesn't have to follow. I moved with a friend from same School to same School. She was HoD in the State School and then moved to be HoD in the Independent. They nearly bit her hand off....and we're not talking about just any school here.
    As for 'clusters' of schools. Choose to apply to one that's in one of the 'groups' (Eton, Rugby, Hayleybury.....). We spend quite a lot of time associating with others in the group, and as a HoD I have very significant email contact throughout the year. We all try to pull together to make representations on certain issues and it's just good fun as well as being incredibly useful.

  11. Ah Baxtintagel,

    You sound like you are in the gig league. Well done you.
    I am in rural obscurity. Actually, I don't mind the rural but my school is not well known.
    Is it difficult to get into the big names? Do they want the same as everyone else? I feel slightly intimidated to apply though I am very well qualified and experienced.
  12. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I don't know how difficult it is to get in the big leagues. I started in a middle ranking HMC school and my next move two years later was to one of the top co-ed schools in the country.
    I guess it is down to how good your application is and how you interview. Sometimes you get rejected for posts by schools and you have no idea why. It may just be that they think you will not stay there long enough, or you are single, married, x, y, z... You get the picture.
    The one thing that has been common to all my interviews is that they have been whole day affairs with only me being interviewed. I have had to teach a lesson ( in one school two! ) and then been interviewed by at least 5 different people. Luckily, I have only once had an interview where I was not offered the job ( I didn't like the school when I went there and more or less did what I could not to get it, without being offensive or rude ).
    What is more important than anything else, in my opinion, is that you "fit" the school. Of course you have to be an excellent teacher and at the top of your game - or at least with the potential and drive to get there ( no NQT is at the top of the game, no matter what ) - but you have also to fit the philosophy of the school. I prefer schools that are grounded in the philosophy of Kurt Hahn and apply only to those schools which I think follow this philosophy. This might limit me but I don't mind as I know the interview day will be fine.
    So there you have it. Apply and feel confident about yourself. I wouldn't just apply to anywhere as you have to market yourself to the school and the position.
    Good luck.
  13. Wise words from Karvol
    When I made my application to my first Independent I did feel a little intimidated by the 'Public School' label, but in retrospect there isn't any need for this.
    When looking through applications for posts in my Department none of me, the Director of Studies not the Head are as bothered about previous Schools as we are about qualifications. Sure experience in other schools is incredibly important, but it's what you MAKE of the job you have rather than the job itself that matters.
    First question we have: Do they know enough Maths to cope with out kids? If the answer is no, obviously they won't get an interview.
    Second question:Does there seem to be a rounded person behind the words? Is there enough to capture our interest and want to know more? This is important because you have to give rather more than just teaching to many Schools! If the answer to this question is no, then interviews are unlikely EVEN IF qualifications are in place.
    Third question: Do we think that teaching is likely to be at least a medium term option for this person. We have to ask ourselves this because some are just coming out of the City and are looking for something fairly temporary. Also, if the applicant is just after a house or free(ish) education of children without anything to back it up, the answer will be no.
    If the applicant gets through these things then we will interview. Sometimes we will do all on one day. Other times we may see each individually. There are lots of factors which help us make this decision.
    At interview we will only appoint if there is:
    Good communication without bluster
    Plenty of natural presence in front of a class, if not necessarily technical prowess (given that we sometimes take people straight out of Uni, unqualified)
    Good potential for contribution to extra-curricular activities
    Fully subscribe to Saturday teaching (yes some do apply and the try to ask to have no lessons on Saturdays........yeah right!)
    Fully subscribe to boarding and sometimes parents meetings on Sundays!
    Yes OK....this is a lot. But I wouldn't want someone to get into a job like this without realising that they would be busy and that expectations would be high.
    Incidentally I moved from All-boys-all-boarding to a very large Co-Ed boarding School. There was certainly some interest in whether or not I would be happy teaching girls, though it's only interest and very few assumptions are actually made in the end.

  14. I was in a rough state comprehensive for nine years. When it went into Special Measures I decided I had had enough of the difficulties and behaviour and I applied for a post in an independent school in a different part of London. They were very welcoming and although they asked about how I would cope with the difference, once they saw my lesson all fears were dispelled. They appointed me and I shall be eternally grateful to them. The Head was astute enough to see beyond my previous school's rating and saw all qualities I could bring to the school.
    As a single parent it can be difficult organising childcare around all the extra curricular activities but other than that, it really is my perfect job. I could not be happier.
    It can work, you know.
  15. Yes indeed. Independent Schools are acutely aware that there is a great deal of genuine teaching talent in the state sector and would often like to scoop that up!

  16. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    And often do!
  17. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Bump this thread - it is worth reading
  18. This has been well worth reading. I've spent 5 years in the state sector, have worked as an Asst HoY and a KS3 Coordinator (science). Decided that the time was right for this year to be my lasdt in my current school, started looking on TES, then some independent schools appeared. I am now the designate Head of Science at an IAPS school near me in G London, and am genuinely very excited by the prospect. I am aware of the problems facing some prep schools, but feel I am taking a genuinely positive step forward for me. I did my homework, and once I'd got over the culture shock the school provided for me (am secondary trained, so am used to pupil populations of 1000+, not around 2-300!), decided that this was the best route for me right now.
  19. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Well done! My very best wishes to you. You'll love it.
  20. I have just been appointed in an independent school. I start in September and am thrilled - I just loved the ethos and the feel of the school. The staff were friendly, the pupils were interesting, the results are great! I'm really looking forward to the change of scenery. I'm really keen to be getting involved with the extra curricula life of the school as well, as I don't do anything at my current place. This thread is definitely worth a read before applying and interviewing in an independent school - it certainly makes you think about the issues there might be! Thanks everyone!

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