This time last year, I had just secured a new post at my current school after having made the decision to go part time as a teacher and do lots of other things alongside it. I had been SenCo at a lovely independent school in Wiltshire and had learned a lot in that post, that had given me grounding in SEN procedures and fed the fire in my belly to work with young people with special educational needs whose needs weren’t necessarily being met in the classroom. I was very lucky to have found the post I did, when I did, as it keeps me in the classroom but allows me time to pursue the other areas of work I undertake.
I think it would be a very different story for me if I were doing my teacher training now. I trained as a languages teacher in South Yorkshire and was successful in securing a full time, permanent job relatively quickly at a school I had worked at before I did my training. I was lucky enough to be able to branch out and do lots of maths teaching, as well as working with students with special educational needs; both of these laid the foundations for all of my subsequent roles. But I think, if I were applying for jobs now it would be a very different story. On reading this article, Verity Worthington paints a bleak picture of applications for jobs and I don’t doubt that it is difficult for job hunters.
NQTs are in a really positive position in some ways: they are cheaper to hire than other teachers, are seen as more ‘malleable’ than veteran teachers and may be viewed as more up-to-date in their knowledge of methods and curriculum. However, the couple of years out of training that slightly more experienced teachers have gives them time to develop their identity as professionals, confidence in themselves and time to develop a better work-life balance. The cost implications for the school are relatively small but their gains may be significant pedagogically. Anecdotally, teachers on the Upper Pay Scale report difficulties securing employment as they are too expensive to employ; some jobs advertise only as M1-M6 for example. With funding cuts continuing and, in some cases, deepening, the likelihood of being able to change jobs as a regular, classroom teacher without an extra TLR does seem to be reducing.
As I wrote before, I am lucky; my post is fab and exactly what I wanted but that isn’t a given and I understand that I am in a minority. I just hope that Verity Worthington and NQTs in her position are successful in their job search, and that more experienced staff members wanting (or needing) to change jobs are able to find employment commensurate with their experience.
There needs to be a culture change around employment in schools with schools being allocated sufficient funding to be able to hire staff appropriate pedagogically rather than purely those who meet budgetary criteria. After all, it is about the kids’ educations and that should not be viewed as a liability but rather an investment.