what should you look for in your first teaching position?

15/01/2019

The job market as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) is extremely competitive and finding the perfect job straight away is unlikely to be easy. However, there are a number of tips that can help you secure the right job. We look at:

  • choosing the type of role you want
  • selecting the right school for you
  • thinking about your future career 

Temporary or permanent teaching job?

Firstly, it’s important for any applicant to have an understanding of what they want from the role. It is expected for employers to have a checklist of things they expect from their employee, but this is a two-way process. In order for your first teaching job to meet your expectations, you must have a clear understanding of what these expectations are. 

One of the first things to consider is what type of job you’d like your first role to be: a permanent contract or a supply teacher position. While a permanent position offers more stability and support, which can be critical during the NQT induction period, it is less flexible than a supply teacher role.

Educators may find that their first teaching role is not everything that they thought it would be and whether it’s the local area or the teaching itself there is no shame in admitting that it’s time to move on. Becoming a supply teacher enables you to transfer easily and if, on the other hand, you are enjoying your working environment, it could always lead to permanent position.

Choosing your school.

It’s important to consider the type of environment you want to work in – would you prefer a school in an urban or rural area, for example. Applicants should then spend a significant portion of time researching schools in the area before committing to a role. Conduct online research and read the most recent Ofsted report to get a feel for the school’s strengths and weaknesses and whether their ambitions match your own. 

Similarly, it’s also a good idea to visit the school before accepting a teaching position in order to get a feel for the environment. It may be that you first visit the school when invited for an interview, but even if this is the case, it’s important to ask plenty of questions. Crucially, would you be comfortable working here in your first role? Could you see yourself working under the headteacher and what support is available to newly qualified teachers? If you don’t have definitive answers to these questions it will be difficult to secure your dream first teaching role. 

Your future career.

Although only just starting your first teaching job, NQTs should still take a relatively long-term approach to deciding which school is right for them. Think about where you may want to be in five years’ time, for example, and whether the role that you’re about to take can help you get there. Assess what opportunities are available for career progression, whether the school has a good track record of continuing professional development (CPD) and what support it can offer should you wish to move into a middle leadership position. 

When deciding what to look for when it comes to applying for your first teaching post, it’s important to remember that life as a teacher is about more than just education. Wider school life is a key aspect of being a teacher, so find out what extracurricular activities are available and whether or not you’d be interested in getting involved. There may also be opportunities for teachers to be involved with existing parents associations to ensure that the student’s home and school life are in good order. 

Of course, once you’ve assessed what it is you are looking for in your first teaching role, it is then up to you to secure such a position. During the application process remember to stress your own unique selling points, arrive at interviews on time and well prepared, and show that you are willing to develop your existing teaching skills. Securing your first teaching job is a daunting, but hugely exciting time, and by knowing what to look for you can set yourself up for a long and rewarding career in education.