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To do or not to do - school visits and job applications

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by BYusuf, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. BYusuf

    BYusuf Occasional commenter TES Careers peer advisor

    When applying for teaching and leadership positions in schools, I am aware of differing opinions when it comes to visiting the school.

    Some believe that it is a necessity since it helps you to gain insights about the school and whether or not it's the right place for you. Others believe that school visits should be avoided as it means that you are being checked out which may ultimately work against you.

    What are your thoughts and opinions?
  2. PatiencePeace

    PatiencePeace New commenter

    I think its good to go for the sake of experience and would help you relate better to the employers. It outweighs the potential pitfalls by showing commitment and confidence.
  3. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    It's good to visit the school prior to submitting the application as you can actually identify whether or not this school is the right one for you.
    You get to meet members of the SLT, the HOD and teaching colleagues. It's also good to get yourself 'known' and your application 'pushed' up the list so when it comes to shortlisting you have a greater chance of getting selected for an interview.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Things may be changing but I know a few years back people were actively encouraged to visit and some people suspected they lost out if they didn't.

    However they can be informative as to what a school is like, bearing in mind it is just a snapshot and people need to be on their guard trying to 'make an impression' as they might - but the wrong one! ;)

    People are also somewhat confused that this is (generally) an unfamiliar practice in the Independent sector.
    DML878711 and BYusuf like this.
  5. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    Read the job advert carefully - if it says 'visits welcomed' or 'visits encouraged', it means they want to you visit! Some may state certain times/dates that they have arranged tours etc on.

    I think it is valuable to go and visit schools before applying, particularly as an NQT, as it gives you a feel for the place. Obviously it's better to go during school hours if possible, so you can see what the pupils are like and how the atmosphere feels.

    I got my current job despite not visiting prior to interview. I made it clear in my application letter that I had done some research on the school though, by looking on the website and reading their Ofsted report.
    BYusuf and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. Bumblebee435

    Bumblebee435 New commenter

    In my experience (job seeking since May), I have been shortlisted when I have visited schools before sending in an application, and overlooked when I haven't visited.

    I've also visited schools (having done lots of internet & ofsted research on them) and subsequently decided not to apply because I was put off by the negative attitudes of staff and/or disrespectful attitude of students! On the other hand, I visited a school today not expecting much and was genuinely and unexpectedly impressed.

    There is only so much you can tell about a school by looking online.
  7. BYusuf

    BYusuf Occasional commenter TES Careers peer advisor

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, Bumblebee435. It is very true that there is only so much that you gain about a school through online research. Every school is a community and you can only get a sense of what the community is like, by experiencing it first hand.

    It is interesting to note what you said about successful/ unsuccessful shortlisting linked to whether or not you visited the school.

    All the very best with your job hunting.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  8. BYusuf

    BYusuf Occasional commenter TES Careers peer advisor

    Thank you for sharing your experiences, rosiecg. That is good advice for NQTS and anyone who wants to get the feeling of a school.

    Your experience in successfully getting a role in spite of visiting the school differs to that shared by bumblebee435. It therefore highlights that every school is different in this regard, as I am aware of some schools that will not shortlist applicants that do not visit their school. That aside you made an excellent point about demonstrating the school research that you had undertaken and highlighting this in your application.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. BYusuf

    BYusuf Occasional commenter TES Careers peer advisor

    Thank you Lara MFL 05 for your contributions, which mirrored the key points that were later shared.

    You made a valid point about the visit merely providing a snapshot of the school...

    Regarding your comment about the independent sector, where does the confusion lie? People assume that this happens in the independent sector?
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Yes we've had people in the past saying about asking to visit an Independent School and been confused that they've been told No and that this is not usual practice.
    BYusuf likes this.
  11. BYusuf

    BYusuf Occasional commenter TES Careers peer advisor

    Ah... Even though it is not usual practice, surely potential applicants can still be allowed to visit in order to get a measure of the school?

    No wonder they are confused.
  12. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Years ago, in my innocence, I approached an Independent School for a pre-interview visit as this was becoming 'the thing to do in the State sector. They were quite abrupt saying that should anyone be invited to interview, there would be ample time to look around the School on the day itself.
    Which is quite true and from reading posts in previous years I believe this is much more common in the 'Indie' sector.

    Thinking about it, many Independent Schools may view people just 'looking round' as disruptive to students' learning and believe their reputation should be enough. Plus I know the local Independent Schools do run 'Open days' for the general public to view the schools.
  13. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Visiting might well work within an LA, as distances are usually manageable. But if - as in my last school - we are recruiting from a much wider geographical area, a visit may well cost two working days for a candidate; that's excessive in top of an interview day. We'd hope that the application pack plus website plus inspection reports would be sufficient to help a candidate to decide to apply. On the day we'd expect an extended tour for each candidate led by a senior student; interview and test lesson; also some social time with current staff including lunch. The latter session is explicitly not part of the interview/selection process.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers Occasional commenter

    I've found that on visit days, things can be a bit more relaxed and you might glean more about what the school is truly like than on a more formal interview day. Came in terribly handy once to learn that both the head and HoD saw no issue with being intensely bigoted on more than one issue in front of me; definitely not a school I cared to be part of! I doubt the situation would have had chance to arise at interview.
  16. vinnie24

    vinnie24 Lead commenter

    When visiting any school going into the staff room is always important and will give you a lot of information about that school.

    I have been in staff rooms where the vast majority of teachers looked under 30. This is usually a bad sign (and it was for this particular school) as having few older teachers about tells you that teachers may not stay long at that school so maybe it's a school to avoid.

    If the staff room is virtually empty at break or lunchtime that is also a warning sign. Any head/slt worth their salt would want their staff to get together as it promotes friendships, good teamwork and collegiality. Desirable in any decent workplace. In many schools teachers stay in their own departments. Maybe okay for the department but not for the whole school imo.
    Gsr25, Jen26, DML878711 and 3 others like this.
  17. missRV

    missRV Occasional commenter

    I always try to visit a school before submitting an application. Its good to get a general feel for the place..... Its as much about whether you wanting them as them wanting you.

    I withdrew my application at interview many years ago. I hadn't visited the school before applying (as an NQT) and the school didn't feel right for me during the tour and listening to staff. It was a waste of time for myself and for the school who could have interviewed another candidate.
    annarg and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  18. ld7675

    ld7675 Occasional commenter

    I'm jobhunting at the moment and all of the adverts say visiting is actively encouraged. I've looked at two schools and at both have found myself sitting with the headteacher in an informal interview situation where I've been asked about my experience and what I am looking for in a job, really have been checked out! I have felt able to ask them if it is worth my while applying and if I am the sort of applicant that they would consider, which avoids wasting time for me - if they are just looking for an NQT then I wouldn't bother applying after that conversation. I wouldn't apply without visiting as I think the gut feeling about the people and place is really important.
    Landofla likes this.
  19. ld7675

    ld7675 Occasional commenter

    Another thing I am looking for if you are needing to go after school is to go fairly late - how many cars are still in the staff car park and how many teachers are still hard at work late-ish in the day? If it's all of them then it could be a sign of needing to be seen to be working all the hours.
    vinnie24 likes this.
  20. SilverMayFall

    SilverMayFall New commenter

    I have been on a couple of school visits which has involved a tour with the HOD as part of a group. The next couple of informal meetings are with the headteacher of the school. Is there anything different I should expect from this type of visit? I'm conscious that it will be different to previous ones.

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