To support trainee teachers in applying for their first teaching jobs, we have created a series of guidance notes. These are designed to provide assistance on aspects such as: completing application forms; writing supporting statements or covering letters; locating careers advice and vacancy notifications; polishing interview techniques; and preparing to teach a sample lesson.
Appyling for your first post
There are a number of milestones through the training year associated with applications, appointments and employment.
From the very start of your training (even as you are carrying our pre-course activities), you'll need to be fostering links with schools; one of them may become your future employer.
In the Autumn and Spring terms, some schools advertise for NQT appointments to start in June or September of the following year. This is sometimes speculative; the schools are seeking "good" teachers whatever their subject. Schools will be also be seeking teachers in shortage subjects, because they are operating with a staffing deficit meaning that non-specialist teachers are currently teaching those subjects.
Some schools will offer posts as early as January for a July or September start.
The first half of the Summer term is the time when most appointments for September are advertised and offered.
Should you be offered a post, you should ensure that you have written confirmation before turning down other opportunities. If a contract cannot be given immediately, ask for a letter confirming the offer.
Should you take the first post that you are offered? It is important that you gain interview experience, and so applying for relevant positions is always recommended. You need to be clear about your criteria for accepting a post. Important considerations include commuting time, additional payments and opportunities the post might offer in future. You may be in the unfortunate position of having a "half promise" from a great school and a firm offer from a not-so-great school. You might be able to accelerate the former to make the offer firm if they know you are attending interviews for other positions.
Once you have accepted a post, you are professionally expected to "keep your promise".
Different schools and different NQT posts offer different opportunities: a small department might give you the opportunity to take on responsibilities, whereas a larger department might offer alternative associated subjects. Both of these scenarios could enhance your CV.
Teachers are required to give their employer a notice-to-leave period of three months*. This means that teachers cannot apply for jobs that start in September after the Summer half-term break. Consequently, vacancies that arise towards half-term will only be filled by trainee teachers (or other "first-time-buyers"). Many trainees obtain positions during this period.
The course finishes before the end of the school term. Many schools offer their newly-appointed trainees two or three weeks of paid work at the end of the Summer term. Some schools do expect you to attend briefing sessions at the end of the Summer holidays, and these may not be paid.
The final piece of advice is: keep your tutor informed of your current employment position, where you would prefer to teach and when you have secured a post. Your tutor will be approached directly by staff in schools, wanting to know if they have suitable trainees. Your tutor will also receive general information from schools regarding vacancies.