Applying for your First Job as a Maths Teacher
Securing your first job as a maths teacher can be a daunting prospect, and can sometimes feel like a low priority in an already busy year. With a little bit of planning it doesn’t need to be too bad – and the reward of finding the right school can last for years to come.
Your Training Schools
Some people strike lucky and are offered a job they love in one of their training schools, and if you enjoy your placement it is certainly worth enquiring about possible jobs. On the other hand, don’t accept a job just because you have been offered it, or simply out of fear of not getting anything better.
Some schools start hiring from January, so you need to be ready to make applications, just in case one of your favourite schools suddenly advertises a job. Keep checking the job websites regularly – don’t be the person who hasn’t looked until July. Schools don’t normally advertise jobs all year round, due to the fact that teachers have to give quite a lot of notice. For example, teachers need to resign by May in order to leave by the summer. There are however always some jobs which appear after the normal window for recruitment, so don’t despair if time is getting short.
Use the DfE's Teaching Vacancy service to find your first job. Over 80% of schools in England use this service.
Where do you Want to be?
Think carefully about what type of school you want to work in – do your research on the schools (a bit like you would as a prospective parent), but try and keep an open mind at the same time. A school in a deprived area which has outstanding leadership could be very different from what you are expecting. A supportive team spirit in the school can make all the difference, especially as an ECT.
You also need to think about your future commute as many teachers arrive at school before 8am. Will it be practical to drive to the school or live close enough to where you will work? Is this a part of the country you want to live in?
A nationwide shortage of maths teachers doesn’t mean that there is no competition for jobs. In certain areas and schools you will face strong competition when applying for a job. This means that you shouldn’t take anything for granted and should work very hard on each application.
Quality over quantity
It might be tempting to send out 100 applications, but you should aim for quality not quantity. If you start early in the year then you can submit one or two applications at a time, making sure you put your full effort into each one. Don’t overdo the cut and paste – you need to personalise each application. Make sure you read the school website and that you have actually researched the school you are applying for.
Focus on the Details
Have you checked your application for spelling and grammar? Make sure at least one trusted friend reads it and gives you honest feedback. A spelling mistake could mean that your application goes straight in the bin.
When you get an interview, make sure you rehearse potential interview questions – if you can’t answer the classic “why did you apply” then you aren’t going to get anywhere. You will also need to make sure that you look really smart on the day – don’t leave this till the last minute.
Teaching the Interview Lesson
You will probably have to teach a lesson during the interview day (eek!) This can be a terrifying prospect, which is why you need to plan, plan, plan. Make sure you chat through your lesson with your training school mentor – they will probably be happy to give advice. Don’t forget to do everything you can to make it go smoothly – have spare copies of your lesson plan, take your slides on a memory stick, check that you understand the age and level of the pupils you will be teaching. Don’t be afraid to email the school to ask about the resources which will be in the room and about any other points you need to clarify. Then try to relax!
Could you Actually Work There?
When you go to an interview, you are also making a decision about whether you want to work in the school you have applied for. As an ECT you will still need a lot of support. You should assess how supportive the school will be and whether you think you would like working there. It is better to turn a job offer down than end up in the wrong school.
Don’t Forget that you are a Maths Scholar!
Being a Maths Scholar will give you lots to include in your application. Don’t forget to mention the CPD events you have attended and the resources you gained from them, having access to MEI’s Integral website and how you have used the resources available there, membership of five maths organisations to keep you up to date with your maths, stats and pedagogy, and the fact that being a Maths Scholar is prestigious in its own right. It will also give you more to talk about in your interview – again it is worth practicing and listing out all your relevant experiences prior to the interview day.