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Unsuccessful Assistant Head apps - Theogriff?

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by wigglyworm, May 6, 2020.

  1. wigglyworm

    wigglyworm New commenter

    All - I would welcome some guidance on whether my experience is likely to be about right or whether I'm doing worse than the norm.
    To date, I have applied for 11 Assistant headships, only been selected for one (2 day) interview and not made it to the 2nd day.
    I have tailored every application, following all appropriate guidance. My head has looked at a number of my applications but she couldn't see an issue.

    Is it genuinely this hard to be shortlisted?
    Could my age (51) be a reason? Or the length of time I've spent in middle management (9yrs)?

    I would like to work on my applications but having exhausted all the guidance I can get through my own management team don't know where to turn for application support or further help with career development. The feedback I have been able to receive was relatively generic.

    Can anyone suggest any routes I could pursue to get further support with application writing and making sure I am doing and saying what I need to?
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I've been hanging on, hoping someone else would answer here... but nobody has, so here goes. It's just that I could see it would be a long answer, and I sometimes get finger ache. :) And part of this needs to be pretty blunt. :(

    Whether or not you get shortlisted depends on whether or not (a) you meet their criteria for the post and (b) you actually show in your application that you do.

    And, of course, how well other applicants meet their criteria and perhaps even offer something extra that they didn't realise that they needed until it was presented to them!

    But the basic is (a) meeting their criteria and (b) showing it in your application.

    This means that each application must be different in that it addresses just one school and its needs and wishes.

    I also wonder if you found it difficult to show that you met their criteria . . . because you didn't?

    Assistant Headships are a pretty mixed bunch. It's not like Headships where basically, whatever they say, the job is the same, because you are at the top of the pyramid. There are so many different types of AHT, because they can be in so many different streams of responsibility and action. In fact somebody already an AHT might not meet the criteria to be shortlisted for a different AHT post . . . in their own school!

    Can you see what I'm saying? Were the AHTs all very similar in scope? Or was one AHT Learning Support, another AHT Data management, another AHT Families and Communication, another AHT Head of Sixth Form studies . . .

    OK, it may be that they were all in the same sphere roughly, and it was a pretty logical continuation of your current, successful, experience. Because the next point is that your current experience must be successful! No good saying "I have been HoD of Astrophysics for 9 years" and thinking that is appropriate for a particular AHT post if the GCSE and A-level results for your department have been consistently below those of the rest of the school.

    At this point I rush to point out that I don't know you, and am just putting forward ideas here, so don't take this personally at all. The other personal point - your age - is of course illegal to be used as part of shortlisting, and you have anyway a fair stretch ahead of you, they are unlikely to be hoping or expecting to appoint somebody angling for a Headship soon, so, no, I don't think so.

    So what are your applications like? You have had good support from your HT, so that's positive here. Did you start each preparation for each application with drawing up an E.S.? I have put a blank one in the TES Resources to save you having to bother over the formatting. It has had thousands of downloads, so some colleagues are finding it helpful! The E.S. will not only enable you to see whether you meet their criteria but also act as a good reminder of what needs to be in the statement or letter. Have you checked HERE for things not to do in an application as well as the things that you should do?

    You ask for suggestions for further support for application writing. I'll give you cautionary advice here - it is best to avoid the firms that offer - at a hefty price - application writing help. They are geared up for commercial applications, say Head of Section in BP or Unilever, and their results are pretty comical really when transferred to the education sector. I have read some examples, I know!

    I hope the above is helpful to you.

    Keep safe everybody
    Sci-Guy likes this.
  3. wigglyworm

    wigglyworm New commenter

    TheoGriff I thank you sincerely for taking the time to reply.

    I've obviously not included lots of personal detail because i don't wish to be identifiable and can assure you that I am applying for positions only for which I and my experience as a successful core subject leader with track record are suitable and within an appropriate scope of field. Fundamentally these are not scattergun applications but targeted and directed to my skills and aptitude. Which I have then matched in my application.

    I certainly don't wish anyone else to write my applications for me - that would make me shudder and was not at all the kind of route I was seeking. But being an 'older' candidate, others who might have expected me to secure interview invitations more readily have started to suggest to me that this might be a factor (albeit one that's not legal, but my application form cannot hide my past and age, however much a school has attempted to create an anonymous, level application process). It is reassuring to hear you think that unlikely.

    So, I am therefore wondering whether the competition is really this fierce or if my face doesn't fit. It is difficult for me to know how competitive such roles are, so I don't know if the difficulties I am having in moving on in a career I would dearly love to progress in is to be expected. The lack of response I received also gave me pause. It is becoming emotionally challenging to maintain the momentum for each application.

    That sense of disappointment that I have felt in not making progress prompted me also to wonder whether mentoring or other options are available for applicants seeking career development. I did not mean direct help with writing and didn't make myself clear in my first post. I realise that kind of external support is unlikely to be available but I've started clutching at straws.

    I realise a public forum cannot offer personal advice and thank you again for taking the time to write a supportive response.
    I wish you and all in the teaching community safe transit through tough times.

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