Dear Jobs Doctor
I've been working on a supply basis at secondary schools in North-West England for the past 18 months and previously worked at a school in Manchester for 4 years. I've now decided I'd like to work in the primary setting, how can I convince my agency that I am suitable for supply teaching in this area? Can I also work permanently in a primary school, although I trained to teach Secondary?
Martin McNeil, NQT Secondary Maths Teacher, Manchester
First of all I would recommend making an appointment to speak to your consultant face-to-face, so you can explain in detail your reasons for wanting to teach primary, rather than secondary. If you have experience of teaching the lower years of secondary, you can draw on relevant skills that are applicable to primary too. If you're more interested in teaching Reception/KS1, then any experience you can gain volunteering in holiday clubs or researching the early years curriculum in depth would be really valuable. You don't need to retrain to teach primary but when applying for permanent jobs you will be competing against teachers who have trained in this particular area. I would therefore suggest gaining more experience through supply/long-term contracts in the primary sector, which may also lead to a permanent position and this will reinforce your reasons for wanting to make the transition to primary and at the same time build up a valuable pool of resources to take with you into your future career. Try and build up your knowledge of the primary curriculum and the processes and structure of the primary setting through secondary to primary conversion seminars that are often provided by educational recruitment agencies and other educational organisations.
Whenever I start working as supply in a new school, I worry about the staffroom politics and simple things like where I should or shouldn’t sit. Any tips?
Staffrooms can be pretty daunting places. Here are a few suggestions to help you settle in:
· Try and find a friendly face to follow into the staffroom; they will unwittingly be your guide when it comes to taking a seat and ensure you’re not upsetting the status quo! If you don't manage to piggyback on someone else’s entrance, take an interest in the posters on the staffroom walls until the place has started to fill up.
· Take your own mug into school; this solves the issue of accidentally using someone else’s!
· Find out about the arrangements for tea, coffee and milk and offer to contribute
· Get to know who’s who in the staffroom and refrain from complaining about pupils – the last thing you want to do is moan about a child only to find their parent is also the member of staff you’ve chosen to share your thoughts with.
· Keep an eye on how long other members of staff stay in the staffroom and follow suit