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Returning to teaching but have no recent references

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by lantra, Sep 6, 2010.

  1. lantra

    lantra New commenter

    Dear Theo,
    I am returning to teaching after a break of 8 years. I am in the process of registering with a local supply agency and I also volunteer at my children's school. However I am struggling to provide recent teaching references for the agency. I have no problem in supplying them with personal references and did ask the head at the school where I volunteer if she would give me a reference. She told me that she was unable to give references to volunteer staff and wasn't very helpful (she has since moved on!) My last permanent post was in 2002 and the agency have said that the LEA reference is too old.
    I have tried 3 times to get onto the Return to Teaching course and each time they have been full!!! I am thoroughly frustrated as it seems to be so difficult to return to teaching!!! I feel as if I will never be able to go back!!
    What advice can you give me as I am struggling to even get on a supply list, all because of not having recent teaching references or even work references for that matter. How do other returners 'return'??? I had to leave teaching to care for my disabled son but am now able to go back part-time. It's like banging your head against a brick wall!
    Please help, thanks.
     
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I too have been struggling to return to teaching for many years and yes it's always difficult with 'current references'. Even more difficult when many of my former Heads have since retired.
    If the Head, where you volunteer, won't give you a reference, what about asking one of the members of staff? It's a common misconception that a reference <u>has</u> to come from a head (in fact often, it's a fellow member of SMT, who may write it anyway).
     
  3. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    A common misconception, but one that is also held by potential employers.
    In fact it is your current or most recent employer in teaching/child-based employment. In theory, therefore, it is either the LEA or the Governing Body, neither of which ever actually get given as a referee, of course.
    So the designated person is the Head, in their place.
    And, yes, very often the actual reference is written by a HoD, or a Deputy, rather than by the Head. Makes sense, especially in larger schools, where the Head will not have the in-depth knowledge of every teacher. But the Head will sign it and it will go out under his/her name.
    Not to give the Head as your referee will look very suspicious (and the potential employer if still interested in you, will probably ring him/her up . . .), unless, unless, there's a very good reason NOT to give the Head. Usually this means retirement or moving away, in which case you should give the Deputy or HoD, and put in brackets (Headteacher no longer works at school).
    In this case there is also a good reason (Policy does not allow Head to give references for volunteer staff), and you should say so on your form when you put down someone else.
    Not to give the Head, without a good reason, will just look fishy.
    Sorry, but that's the way it is!
    Make sure that your application follows exactly the advice that I give in the Welcome thread. With so many candidates for each post, you must give yourself the best possible chance of getting called to interview, and this works.
    taking Theo's Advice I got the job!
    Dear Theo: Executive summary works- I have an interview
    Dear Theo - I GOT THE JOB!!!!!
     
  4. lantra

    lantra New commenter

    Thanks Theo and Lara. But, what happens to returners who haven't even been volunteering in school and who haven't worked recently? Who do they turn to for a reference? There must be many other people in my position.
    One of the reasons I am wanting to do supply is to build up my experience as I have also applied for permanent positions in schools and haven't even reached interview stage. On many an occasion I have asked to speak to the Head for feedback only to be told that feedback isn't given to candidates who aren't shortlisted for interview. Highly unhelpful when you don't know whether it is a problem with your application form or lack of recent experience.
     
  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    The answer is that they start volunteering!
    Supply work - when it can be got - is also a way in. Do make sure that your application is spot on by using this forum, especially the Welcome thread.
     
  6. lantra

    lantra New commenter

    Hello Theo,
    According to the agency there is no problem with my application other than my lack of a recent work experience reference, so with the best will in the world, it wouldn't matter how brilliant my application form was. I have tried to get on a Return to Teaching course to no avail, having only 10 available places (5 primary and 5 secondary) for the whole of the region is laughable. I have been on the waiting list for nearly a year now!!!
    The fact is that as a Mum returning to work, I like many other Mums I would imagine, will struggle to find an acceptable work referee.
    It is thoroughly frustrating, it's no wonder people give up and change career. I feel very disillusioned.

     
  7. lantra

    lantra New commenter

    I also meant to add that I am volunteering at my local school so what else can you suggest that I do?
    Thanks
     
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Try looking at other schools on a voluntary basis.
    I always have to do that when I start back on day-to-day supply after filling in on a longer-term post, which I'm now having to do again. This week I'm in at the school where I did my last two term's and next week I'm going to arrange to gofor a couple of day's voluntary at a couple of schools where I've worked for the head before.
    This serves several purposes. It reminds people of my 'new availablity' -people do forget when they haven't seen you for a while. It also gives the school a chamce to meet me, see if I fit their ethos, get the know the particular of school rewards and sanctions, whether they're working creative curriculum or something else and what my particular strengths are should they need someone to do supply.'Oh Lara, very adaptable, she can put her hand to most things, let's ask her!' I then ask if I could go in on a regular voluntary basis, provided they understand if I get paid work I'll take it.
    It really is all about being pro-active.
     
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    The term 'professional jobseeker' springs to mind as it certainly seems to take up time but has paid off for me over the years.
     
  10. lantra

    lantra New commenter

    Hello Lara,
    When you volunteer in school, do you teach the whole class or work with small group? I will certainly contact other local schools as you suggested.

     
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Hi lantra,
    I generally volunteer to do anything and everything.This week I'm marking spelling tests, initial writing assessments and initial maths assessments and working with small groups helping do initial assessments -all grist to the mill for future CVs. Then we usually choose a couple of students, which I then do extra work with in-and-out of the class. This means I'm familiar with the classes when it comes to potential supply work.
     
  12. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Ask what they are planning for the Christmas concert/play. Can you help them with anything at all?
     
  13. Hi Lantra
    I have been in your situation too for the last year! I still have no permanent post but have made headway. It is possible to work on supply with individual schools even where an agency won't take you on. i sent out letters to about 40 local primaries explaining my situation and how I had spent the last 9 years. I have had contact back from a small handful, and have a bit of supply work-but it doesn't pay many bills! Working directly with schools is a winning situation for you as you get a far better rate of pay. Agency work locally is £105 daily-I can get £140+ direct. The school also avoids agency costs.
    I agree with you about the return to teaching courses-registering for any you can conceivably reach is a total lottery- there have been two possible courses (within 100 miles) I could have got on in the last 18 months-the first i went on waiting list but noone dropped out. Had I been able to leave myself on file as needing a place I may have got on to the second-but by the time I realised that was available it was also full. It seems to me that returning teachers are very much an unwanted resource!
     
  14. I am in a similar position although I have registered with an agency and they have accepted the references I have given them from my 2 most recent jobs (not teaching).

    TDA are not running courses any more either so it is really difficult to know where to start!

    Glad I am not alone!!!
    Good luck!
     

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