It is a strange time when you are completing your teacher training.  You are likely to have only just started your main placement and you are already looking for your first teaching job.  January is not too early to apply and May is not too late. So, even though you feel the panic to apply but you do not know where you want to work or in what sort of school – wait – plan your approach.  Here is some advice.

First, decide on an area that you would like to work and research the schools in that area.  You can check out the Ofsted report and the desktop data online.  The headline data doesn’t really mean that much in reality.  Some outstanding schools are awful to work in, whilst some schools that require improvement have a wonderful staff ethos.  Look at the average salary of the school.  If it is between £20k and £25k then the staff is young and the Head probably encourages quick turnover to keep staff budget low.  £35k plus and the staff is well established – and whether this is a good thing depends on the school.

The data will give you a taste of the school but it is not everything.  Google the school and see what news reports come up.  Does the school celebrate its successes?  Are there signs of a whole experience – not just academic achievement? Are there any negative reports about the school’s students? Does the head teacher turn up in more reports than the students? Decide what matters to you when you read these reports – maybe you want an inspiring manager who is an education thought leader.  Then, Google the local area and see if the school is mentioned in house sales advertisements.  This is usually the best indicator that this is a school that people want to attend.

Apply for a lot of jobs.  You are a trainee teacher and it will be difficult for your letter to stand out from the crowd.  All new teacher letters sound the same and therefore getting selected for interview is sometimes more a matter of luck than judgement.  If you are constantly not getting an interview, ask your Head of Department in your placement school to look at the letter and see what the problem might be.

Last piece of advice: May 31st is the final deadline for existing staff to resign.  This means there will be a lot of new jobs in June.  So, if you are not part of the first group of students on your university course to get a job, don’t panic.  You may have much stricter criteria for jobs; you may be in a subject where there is a lot of competition; you may not yet have met the school you want to work in.  So, keep going, keep positive and keep applying!