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Moving from a state school into a private school...advice please!

Discussion in 'Independent' started by betty73, May 17, 2011.

  1. Hi, I'm hoping for some advice!
    After 5 years teaching in a state school I have just gotten a job in a private school starting in September.
    Does anyone have any tips, advice, stories etc that will help with my transition into the private sector? I'm so excited and it's a gorgeous school but i'm not quite sure what to expect! It would be great to hear from anyone working in the private sector, especially if they have experience in state schools and can compare them!
    Are the parents different, are expectations for staff and students different? What are staff relationships with pupils generally like? Do you have to dress differently for work? What is it like working Saturday mornings and what impact has it had on your family life?
    So many questions!
    Thanks in advance!
  2. v12


    Some are very pushy, some are very nice - the big differencce I found was that I knew none of the parents when I taught in a huge comprehensive, but know all the parents in my current school.
    Hugely. Children will be respectful and thoughtful and most will try to please (some might not!) Staff are professional, hard-working and prepared to put in 'the extra mile'.
    Much more pleasant - in the boarding house, it's a very relaxed atmosphere (as a rule) and in the class a mutual respect will endure (although, not necessarily all the time).
    We tend to dress very smartly here - men in sports jackets and ties with polished shoes, women in smart twin sets (if that is what they are called!) the SMT tend to wear suits (hence their collective name of 'suits') - I, and a few of my colleagues, wear tweed in the winter and stripey blazers in the summer which is always appreciated by parents and children - after all...along with the occasional wearing of hoods and gowns, it's what they pay for!
    That's good for me - I play organ in chapel on Sundays as well and it's no great hardship.
    They are used to the long hours, and my annual trips to the Ardèche and the CCF weekends - but we benefit in so many ways with a lovely cottage in the grounds, reduced fees for the children and a lovely working environment with lunches and breakfasts thrown in for good measure. Oh. And obscenely long holidays!
    So many answers!

  3. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    You know how in the state school there's always quite a few teachers who always seem to be absent or whose teaching you know to be rubbish but nothing can be done? Not in private. Everyone pulls their weight.
    Forget about starters and plenaries, SEAL, PLTS, AFL, NC levels - you don't need to follow them. That's not the same as suddenly declaring they're not useful (they are good concepts in small doses) but they won't be followed by anyone, so you can pick and choose.
    You know how every classroom has an interactive whiteboard, a desktop, and free money grows on the trees? Again, not in private! You may well be shocked by how little money there is (depends where you're going) and how much you need to make do. Little budgets. Things change very slowly, because people hang around (it's a nice gig!) so they keep doing what they've always done. It can be frustrating at times. Don't feel like you have to modernise everything straight away, and don't throw away all the old textbooks and past exams that will be kept in cupboards. Think and adapt - you won't have a budget to buy new ones.
    Same with the payscale. After M6 you may find it difficult to progress naturally without a bit of a fight, so get ready for that in 12 months' time. And get ready to accept that you may not progress as fast as you'd have done if you'd stayed in the state sector.
    Parents. To be honest, I've had parents who made me cry in the state sector, and I've had some who (almost) made me cry in the private (I'm a sensitive soul, really!). They push your buttons in different ways. I'll take an arrogant parent who wants the best for their child over an arrogant parent who doesn't care about their child any day. But do let SMT take the flak to start with - that's what they're paid for, and they'll have more experience of dealing with this (my headteacher was fantastic the first time it happened).
    Student relationship. To be honest, kids are kids and if you don't put limits, they'll push your buttons to try and find them (in a much more gentle way in the private sector). I set out my expectations in the same way as I've always done (though my expectations for quality and punctuality of work are much higher now), I still have seating plans and still give detentions, though it's hardly needed. Beware that you'll be expected to give your time to pupils a lot more, particularly around exam time - pupils themselves will expect that of you. Fine if they're normally hard-working, not fine if they expect you to do it all for them, which they sometimes do. After all, they're after the best possible result, you clearly know more than them, so why should you not do the work for them? In their (and sometimes their parents') mind, it's a logical calculation.
    I smartened up my wardrobe slightly, but not that much to be honest, my workplace is pretty relaxed.
    All in all I'd say it depends on what regime you were used to. I was already working very hard and going beyond the minimal expectations, so it wasn't that much of a shock to the system.
  4. Thank you so much everyone for your replies! I'm going to be working in a senior school, it's very small with only 120 students and about 8 children per class! (which sounds like heaven to me after 5 years struggling with classes of 30+!)
    I teach a creative subject and so it's nice to think that a lot of the box ticking nonsense won't necessarily apply in the private sector! It will be lovely to be in control of what I teach and how!!!
    I have another question...what are Ofsted inspections like in private schools? My new school is due to have Ofsted any time soon so what should I expect? Do I need to do anything differently in a private school?
    Thank you again for all of the answers, it's nice to hear so many positive things!!! [​IMG]
  5. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

    OFSTED won't inspect you, however the ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) will, I've not been inspected by them before but there doesn't seem to be the hellish frantic years long prep that you get in a state school.
  6. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Yes, and although ISI inspect to the same standards as OFSTED, they often seem to have a broader concept of what constitutes good teaching, and seem less besotted with paperwork (although a certain minimum, including examples of pupils' work, is required).
  7. I dunno about that. We're in the middle of a standard inspection (2 days compliance and observations last week then 3 days in the middle of June) under the new cycle and the paper work is horrendous; policies, risk assessments galore, planning, work scrutiny etc. I agree with the bit about what constitutes good teaching though.

    That said, 11 years ago I quit the state primary sector to raise a family. I had a proper toys out of the pram moment, chucked away all my resources and said I would never teach again, mainly because I found the literacy hour, numeracy hour etc far too prescriptive and against every child-centred method I had been taught at college. 3 years later I was bored and hated my office job. I applied for a part time maternity cover post at a local independent primary and have never looked back. I've gone from a part time, temporary contract to being full time and on SMT.

    When I first started I was horrified by how little some members of staff seemed to do. Thankfully things have moved on and that is no longer the case, planning is more formal etc. Staff tend to arrive and never leave, which can mean a few dinosaurs, with equivalent teaching methods! Also I agree with the comments about money. Things in small independent schools can be very tight indeed. I am only paid at M6 plus a small amount of extra for my SMT position. We have only got whiteboards in the classroom in the last few years and they were funded by PTA money. Resources can be limited.

    The children are lovely, few have any behavioural issues, and any they do have are so minor as to be unnoticed in a state school. I can actually teach them instead of being a social worker. Parents are generally very supportive although they can also be very demanding and 'pushy'.

    I love my school and would never even consider going back into the state sector again.
  8. I think the advice and insight posted on this thread has been great but I would also add as a negative that there is less protection in indie. By that I mean even if you are a member of a union it can be pretty tough if a member of SMT takes against you.
    I have recently seen a colleague go through a tough time and basically they were told by the HT that he could do what he liked, it was his school and he didn't recognise the unions. The colleague could not fight this.
    I do enjoy working in indie but will go back to statein the not too distant future as I worry about the loss of career progression, salary and professional development.
    That sounds quite negative but I don't mean to. Just thought that some of the less desirable elements of indie need to be mentioned with all of the good stuff.
  9. Hi, I think you have really muddied the waters with your post. Please decide what sort of school it is.
    Is it totally Independent or is it some mish-mash?
    Generally, because of their " Charitable" status most Indys get away with murder on the classroom floor. But these are hard economic times, and whilst teaching something creative in a special school may be a good move, I wouldn't do it into a local Indy school at present, as they can get an unqualified person in to do your job if they want.
  10. Hi, I don't know of you meant that to sound harsh or not....I'll go with hoping you didn't mean to![​IMG]
    The school is totally independant BUT it is a special needs school and so it is inspected unlike others in the private sector. Not sure why the rules are different!


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