Disclaimer: In order to keep things professional I won’t be naming the schools involved with iday here – if you’re interested to find out please contact me directly.
After the intense day of interviews, on the CPD day (see previous posts) we were told the outcome of our preferences over breakfast. We were called over one by one to have a chat with the ladies from Engage, who informed us of which two (or in some cases one) schools we would be visiting over the next two days.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to visit the two schools I had listed as my top two choices. It’s a very pleasant feeling to know that the schools I felt I connected with best, and that I was most interested in seeing in person and possibly working at, felt the same way about me!
Later in the afternoon we were given information from our consultants – when we would arrive at the school, what type of lesson they had asked us to teach, what else was planned for us, etc. I had two full days planned for me, so it was time to do some planning of my own.
So off I went back up to my hotel room to plan two short but engaging lessons.
On the morning of the first visit, four of us were picked up from the hotel by a nice Mercedes van driver to drop us off at one school and some other candidates at another close by.
It took us about an hour and a half to get to the school, which gave us plenty of time to discuss what we thought might happen that day and nervously compare lesson plans. Upon arriving at the school, we were greeted by the same person who conducted the interview, and shown into a conference room.
We talked a little bit about the school and the plan for the day, then it was off to the lesson. This school is a very large school – around 2000 students – but it hides it very well. The buildings are well designed, so that when students are in class it’s all very contained.
I was lead down to the science buildings, and into the somewhat small staffroom (I say small, but the teachers at this school have their own individual classrooms that they teach from and therefore store things in – here in Aus we teach in many different classrooms so we keep our resources in our staffroom). Here I meet the Head of Science, who’s class I am taking that morning. He leads me out to meet the class, and I’m off and running with my short, sharp lesson.
After the lesson I head back up to the conference room. We had another little chat, then we were taken for a tour around the school. We were shown the different faculties, what the different buildings were, the sporting facilities, etc, and encouraged to ask any and all questions along the way.
I was impressed by how well resourced the school was – not just for science, but for any subject the students may wish to do. We were told there were plans in place to start building a vocational education centre to allow for those students who did not wish to continue on an academic pathway to stay at the school for their post-16 years and complete their education in areas such as construction, hair dressing, etc. This really impressed me. It was extremely clear how much the school truly cared for the students, and how they wanted to accommodate all potential pathways to ensure each individual student had success.
After the tour, it was back to the conference room again. Here we met with a number of other staff – some of the deputies etc as well as some other international staff. We discussed things like support, behaviour management, etc, but it really felt as though they were trying to sell their school to us.
We were barely asked questions about ourselves beyond the usual ‘where are you from’ (the Irish contingent, as they were affectionately termed, had a long, fast conversation about this one!). It was a nice change of pace from the interviews on Monday.
After they left, we were served a delicious lunch, and given some time alone to compare our thoughts and experiences so far. We all had a very positive vibe about this school. Even though it was a large school, it had a definite community feel, and we all agreed we could be happy working there.
After our lunch, we were taken to the faculty staffroom (science for me of course!) and given time to chat with the staff we would potentially be working with. This was honestly a bit of a let down – most of the staff seemed uninterested in talking with us, so much of the time was spent either sitting in silence or asking very specific questions in the hopes of starting a conversation.
Eventually one member of the staff took pity on us and chatted about anything and everything. He even led us up to the prep room for science – the largest prep room I’ve ever seen! It was like two classrooms joined together, completely filled with anything you could possibly want for a science lesson. T
his was start contrast to any other school I’ve seen, where the prep room looks and feels like a broom cupboard. Once again we were returned to the conference room, where we were given a last chance for questions before heading home for the evening. Overall, it was a very positive day.
Once again we were picked up from the hotel in the morning. Two of the Irish girls were going straight from their school to the airport, so they bought their luggage with them. After another hour-and-a-half drive, we pull up outside our second school.
Immediately I was struck by the beauty of it. The buildings were built in 1913, and have kept their charm through the years. We are greeted in reception and again shown to a conference room.
Same as the first school, we were met by the person who conducted the interview on iday (it is definitely a good thing to see a familiar face when first entering a new school!).
Today was going to run a little differently to the previous day, so we start out with a tour of the school led by year 9 student leaders. They show us around their school, and again I am impressed.
This is a much smaller school than the last (about 1400 students), but not any less well resourced. It is unique in that is has a forestry and a farm (complete with ducks, pigs, goats, sheep, reptiles, rodents, and soon a Shetland pony).
The idea of having such unique resources excites me – I’ve never had animals or a forestry to work with before and I can already see how I can link them in to pretty much any unit for any year level.
We are told that the school plans to train the staff to make sure everyone is comfortable and able to access the forestry and farm, in the hopes that they are utilised more often. It strikes me as odd that anyone wouldn’t want to use them! The sporting and post-16 facilities are perhaps not as expansive as the first school, but I imagine that has a lot to do with student needs at each particular school.
After the tour, we are taken back to the conference room and given a few minutes to prepare for the interview. This one has me a little nervous – it was with the principal, science head and the deputy who interviewed us at iday. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. They asked all the standard interview questions, and I gave my standard answers. We even laughed at times, and I felt like we all went away happy.
One thing that struck me in the interview was how strict they were as a school on behaviour management – it made me feel like I need to pick up my game, but in a good way!
After the interviews we were taken to the canteen and told to order what we like for lunch (I had a pulled pork burrito), and we ate back in the peace of the conference room, again with time to ourselves to think and compare.
After we had eaten, we were collected by the science HOD and again shown around a little bit before going off to teach our lesson. After the lessons it was back to the conference room for a quick chat before heading back to the hotel again. Overall, it was also a very pleasant day.
The hardest part about the school visits was actually waiting afterwards for the outcomes. The future of our careers, and lives, in England would be determined by whether or not either of the schools we visited and taught at liked us enough to want to employ us.
We deliberated for a long time over which schools we all preferred, but really it would be irrelevant if only one, or neither, school wanted us with them. We went out for a celebratory dinner with a few drinks (celebrating the fact that we survived the week!) and actually received a call from the Engage ladies to inform us while we were out.
I was fortunate enough to be offered positions at both schools! I was so happy with that – it meant I had presented myself well and impressed all the right people. Now came the hard part, deciding between the two.
In the end I went with the second school. While there was absolutely nothing wrong with the first school, I just had a better feeling from the second one. It just felt more comfortable to me, and I feel like it could present me with possibly better opportunities for my career.
So the overall outcome of the week is that I am now moving over to England with a position at a school I really like the look of, having already spent a day and taught a lesson there.
I really could not ask for more from a recruitment company!