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PA to Head role

(15 Posts)
badgerread Fri 08-Jan-16 18:55:34

Hi all

I am an experienced PA and was employed in the corporate world for 15 years before the site closed and we were all made redundant. I started working as PA to the MD of a small (12 staff) family run business last August. It is very different to my previous role, the moral and motivation within the team is really low, everyone seems to be unhappy, it is freezing cold in the office, a stakeholder pension is offered in the contract but when I ask about it I am told, 'Oh yes, I think we have to have one in place by next June', and I get 20 days holiday with no other benefits. The role isn't what was sold to me and I'm really unhappy. To be honest I think they need an Administration Assistant rather than a PA. I'm concerned about only having 5 months in a role on my CV too?

I have seen a job advertised as PA to the Head of a local secondary school, it also has an element of HR Administration involved which really interests me. I haven't worked in a school before which on the job spec says they don't specifically want, as long as you would be willing to, 'grow into the role', it is also term time only which is a great benefit.

Does anyone have any tips they can offer to go onto my application? it is a standard County Council application form you have to fill in together with a cover letter.

Many thanks

FinallyHere Fri 08-Jan-16 18:57:26

Good luck. You sound perfect for the role. All the best

Wigeon Fri 08-Jan-16 19:01:48

I think you'll need to emphasise how highly transferable your skills are, and to try to link them to the context of a secondary school, or choose examples which you can explicitly link to the person spec / job spec for the new role. I'm sure you have developed many highly relevant skills in your past career which would be excellent to bring to this role - I think it will be about making the links really clear to the recruiters for the new role.

You might also like to talk about what attracts you in the education sector (other than the holidays!) - they might assume you might be taking a pay cut, and will want to know your motivation in changing sectors. Again, I'm sure you will have some good reasons.

Wigeon Fri 08-Jan-16 19:03:38

Oh, and I don't think only having 5 months in a role is bad since you were made redundant from the previous role and have discovered you aren't enjoying the new role. And you can say that (in so many words) if they ask you at interview.

WhatAm1doing Fri 08-Jan-16 19:06:27

Being a pa to a head is no different to being a pa to anyone else, emphasise your previous experience, you don't need to know about school stuff, they will have lots of staff who do that, show them you're the best PA there is.

NK5BM3 Fri 08-Jan-16 19:26:59

Definitely go for it. Being a PA is the job, doesn't really matter about the context. I would look at the job description and the criteria. Ensure that you can cover all or most of the essential criteria. And evidence it in your cv or cover letter.

So if it asks for experience in dealing with time sensitive issues, explain how you get things done on time. If it asks for being adaptable, again give examples.

Good luck.

PrincessClairey Fri 08-Jan-16 20:10:20

As a teacher I recommend you spend a little bit of your statement talking about the school, bugging it up etc. They LOVE that stuff. Don't dwell on it too much obviously but to ignore the fact it's a school I think is a bad idea.

PrincessClairey Fri 08-Jan-16 20:10:58

Bigging it up! Lol. Silly autocorrect.

badgerread Mon 25-Jan-16 11:40:26

Thank you so much for all your replies. I've heard today I've got an interview! It's next Wednesday so I've got a fair amount of prep time. The agenda for the day is as follows:

Tour of the school
Meet with the Central Administration team
Scenarios
ICT Skills Tests

The email also states the following, any help would be greatly appreciated!!

The purpose of the interview is to assess your suitability for the above post and give both the panel and yourself an opportunity to gain further information before making a successful appointment. It is also an opportunity to seek clarification on information which you have provided on the application form and accompanying information. The interview will also assess your suitability to work with children and may include questions relating to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Notsoskinnyminny Thu 28-Jan-16 18:12:59

I used to be a Head's PA and it sounds like the interview I had minus the presentation! For the ICT bit there was a typing and shorthand test, I was amazed that I was the only shorthand writer and one candidate admitted she was a 2 fingered typist! We then had a publisher task which I'd never used but managed to wing it. For the last task some minutes had to be presented in whatever format we wanted - his handwriting was atrocious.

The scenario I had was your classic in-tray but with with interruptions, eg a phone call with a member of staff pretending to be little Ben's mum kicking off demanding to speak to the head and then there was a fixed term exclusion - letter needs to be prepared straight away, email to subject teachers and attendance officer, LA notified, exclusion on SIMS. Obviously I didn't know what to do having never worked in a school before so I was honest and said I'd have to ask someone in the main office to assist - I don't think it was a trick question and I soon became an expert. There's always a safeguarding question and the stock answer is you'd pass any information/concerns to the designated safeguarding officer. If a pupil asks you not to tell anyone you tell them you can't do that and if, at that point, they don't give you any other details you still speak to the DSO. After all that there was a panel interview.

I was term-time +3 weeks - had to be back in the summer before the A level results came in and really its a full time job but I loved it. As long as you can think on your feet and hit the ground running you'll be fine. Good luck.

StandoutMop Thu 28-Jan-16 18:16:54

Work for a school and was going to give my advice but basically its what Notso said.

Good luck with interview.

badgerread Thu 28-Jan-16 19:55:16

Thanks so much for the info notso, really helpful! can I ask how long ago you were a Head's PA for and what industry you went from? this is first Head's PA role I've seen advertised that doesn't require previous school experience, which I've found to be unusual. I'm really looking forward to the interview but my main concern is that I have no experience at working in a school, other than helping out at my children's school.

Borninthe60s Thu 28-Jan-16 19:59:34

Buzz words/areas:

Health and safety
Recognising Equality and diversity
Safeguarding
Radicalisation....currently very big on the agenda

Notsoskinnyminny Fri 29-Jan-16 07:12:27

I had a local govt backgroundbut I'd never worked in the education dept.
I did volunteer in my kids's school but that was it. I'm now business manager in a primary school which is hard work and I'm trying to get out but after 9 years in the education sector agencies won't send me for corporate PA jobs - I wish they'd come and spend a day with me to see what I do.
Apologies for any typos my phone's done an upgrade and the auto correct has gone mad!
Just spotted post above - yes to radicalisation, Google prevent duty and British values.

MummySparkle Fri 29-Jan-16 07:34:25

Good luck OP

Scenarios were the hardest let of my school interview (I have a technician role not admin) I had a scenario where I walked into the classroom, there was a 6th former crying, a spillage on the floor, preparation for the next lesson, preparation for the last lesson, emails to be sent & the classroom was in a mess from the previous day. What order would I do things?

my head was after health and safety first, child protection 2nd and then prioritising earliest needed tasks for the day. I pointed out that if I had the job I would have tidied up from the day before before I left blush. During the panel interview I had to justify my answers and why I did them in that order.

You sound great for the role. If they ask you about only 5 months in your current job then you could say that it wasn't quite what you were expecting and you wanted more of a challenge / a chance to develop your skills in this job. Be honest about your current job, but be careful not to bad mouth it in your interview.

Oh and read absolutely everything on the school website, have a look at their most recent exam results and ofsted report. Memorise the mission statement if you can

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