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Would you teach in a free school?

(14 Posts)
Whatsounddoesagiraffemake Tue 02-Jul-13 21:09:20

I've been offered the opportunity to teach part time in a free school. This seems appealing for a few reasons.

- I'm just returning from maternity leave and my current (state) school can't offer me the hours I need to actually make any reasonable money

- I will earn more, and work less smile

- I can holiday with my family out of 'normal' school holidays

- I've been personally recommended by another member of staff there (who loves it but is at the 'other end' of her career)

BUT my question is: If I take the job is it going to be a backward step and make it hard for me to get a job back in state teaching if I choose to do so later? i.e. will any future head see experience in a Free School as a lesser experience than that a state school? Essentially, although it suits my family circumstances now, will my future career suffer?

Thanks for any wise words!

sheridand Tue 02-Jul-13 21:46:55

Hmm, tough one. The lure of a flexible / more suitable teaching career against entering the "Free school" minefield.

For me, no. Because it's a matter of principle, for me, that the Free Schools are taking away from comprehensive schools. Both funds and resources. Also, the QTS isn't necessary, so you don't know who you'll be teaching with. Witness the Head of the recent Free School who isn't even a qualified teacher. Plus the employment contact is up in the air, more private than public sector. I don't think you'll have the protection you would in the comprehensive sector.

On the other hand, if you are pro the idea of Free schools, and willing to take a punt on it, it might work for you.

I don't think it will necessarily prohibit you from moving between types of school, any more than the current system prohibits teachers from moving private/ comp. Although you'll still have to take into consideration the subject need / shortage in your local area, of course. You can easily explain to employers why you made that decision, so I don't think you need to worry. However, Free Schools are untested, unregulated. Of course, "normal" schools fail too, but being in a Free School that's failing, (or being successful!) would be a new experience for everyone, I'm not sure i'd be up for that post baby, i'd want familiar.

That said, all my request for reasonable part-time post baby fell on deaf ears. I'm not sure i'd have resisted the lure confronted with wee baby on one hand and close to hand career on the other.

Ragusa Tue 02-Jul-13 21:51:02

Practically - I don't know. But a free school is still a state school ....

finefatmama Wed 03-Jul-13 11:50:52

In my opinion, it won't stop you getting back into the state school but you may want to investigate whether or not you get continuity of service and how much of a departure there is from the Burgundy Book and STPCD if it's important to you.

If there were no free schools, the LEAs would have opened more schools and there'll still be less money to go round so I don't see why that is an issue. As to why QTS is not necessary, I don't think any of our teachers who are seconded from the really good independent schools have QTS but are well qualified by experience. What were your impressions from meeting the other members of staff? If the SLT have a good track record or you are pretty good at holding your own and working with a team, you should do fine.

Whatsounddoesagiraffemake Wed 03-Jul-13 20:50:34

Thanks, that's all good advice, and what I was hoping to hear. It's a KS1 position and the member of staff who recommended me is on the SLT and mentored me during my training, many moons ago. I have a lot of respect for her. As for the other members of staff they are all very qualified. I think I'll go for it and worry about the future when it happens.

For now the job suits perfectly (I don't even have to do any planning!) and getting enough money and time with my DC is more important to me than what may or not happen a few years down the line.

Now I just have to hope that my current school will let me go before my 13 weeks are up. The head couldn't have been more reluctant to find me something for next year so here's hoping! If anyone has any experience of this I'd be grateful if they shared!

Ragusa Wed 03-Jul-13 21:04:18

No experience, but good for you. You can't live your life wondering 'what if....' all the time.

Given they are v keen to have you, make sure you negotiate terms hard , especially ic you are not covered by STPCD.

Weegiemum Wed 03-Jul-13 21:39:00

How can you possibly not need to do any planning? Even as the most minor job share partner, I co-planned. Why not?

cardibach Wed 03-Jul-13 22:02:08

finefatmama that isn't true - many Free Schools are opening up in places with no shortage of places, resulting in a surplus across the 'normal' provision and the Free School. This means money is being spent that doesn't need to be and jobs at the 'normal' schools are put at risk.
I disagree with the whole idea of Free Schools, so I couldn't work in one. If you don't mind them, go for it.

Whatsounddoesagiraffemake Wed 03-Jul-13 22:22:23

I'll be teaching a specific subject for which the school uses a scheme of work.

Cardibach, by 'normal' I was referring to standard school holidays, not bracketing all other schools as 'normal'. In my experience there's no such thing as a normal school!

I agree that there may be ethical and moral issues surrounding the concept of a Free School but I have to think of what is best for my family. At the moment that is enough money to pay the bills and enough time with my 2 DC. IMHO some things are worth setting aside my principles for, especially in the short term. I didn't want to start a debate about the ethics of my decision, more about my longterm career options. Sorry if I've ruffled some feathers, I didn't mean to. sad

Cloudminnow Wed 03-Jul-13 22:34:40

How will it allow you to have holidays out of normal school holidays and how is it less work for more money? Is it a profit making school? In terms of being a backward step it might be, but all teachers could be faced with this every time they move schools, due to getting rid of salary portability i.e. taking a new job in another school, the new school wouldn't have to honour your existing salary point (this will happen if the government's new pay policy goes through...)

finefatmama Thu 04-Jul-13 01:02:49

Cardibach, the census and demographics do not support your view in many areas where free schools are opening. it may well be the case for one or two but certainly not in most cases. I have been through the process from start to finish and will be supporting the opening of my third free school in September 2013.

in the case of a the primary, the local schools who held the same view as you do refused to accept that super primaries of 1000 children where they were putting up modular classrooms in the car park were becoming unpopular with parents, numbers two and three had more kids than each year group we proposed travelling out of borough to attend school and the parents were all for the idea of a free school and children growing up within the community. In 2 cases the local authority wrote a section to support the bid in which they admitted that they couldn't cater for all the kids.

The 2 primaries being opened in my local area were in response to parents refusing to send their kids miles down the road to the next available school. this is despite the popular schools expanding to take on one more entry form.

If free schools didn't happen, the economy would have necessitated funding cuts anyway but I think the introduction of funding cuts and free schools at teh same time is confusing things a bit.

finefatmama Thu 04-Jul-13 01:04:44

All schools and academies are charities and by definition, it is not possible to make a profit. like maintained schools, they can spend marginally less than they have received in any given year in order to hold funds back for contingencies but this is achieved largely by engaging in fundraising and voluntary funds.

cardibach Thu 04-Jul-13 22:37:19

finefatmama that may be the case in some areas, but it isn't just 'my view'. I heard figures quoted about it in PMQs, so I'm fairly confident that many, if not most, Free Schools are in areas where they just aren't needed while other areas have a places crisis and no money to solve it because it is being wasted on other areas.

finefatmama Sat 06-Jul-13 23:02:09

PMQs are all about political posturing. As we all know, that is in no way expert authority for an argument and I would not quote PMQ with any degree of confidence without reference to the source document (if it's NAO figures or ONS, then fine). the free schools application process is on the DfE website and demonstrating demand is top for getting thru the initial stage - I bet the people making these sweeping generalisations did not name the areas.

Consider the following:

School A is at 50% capacity and has 240 vacancies in Y7, there are about 1500 children in Y7 age group who do not go to school in the borough as parents would rather put their kids on a coach at 6:30am than send their kids to the school which has been in varying stages of difficulty for the past 15 years. the anti free schools brigade argue from the perspective of the school places, the free school proposers got 500 parents who signed to say that they would send their kids to a new aspirational free school.

School B proposed to open in an area where more than 50% of the children looking for this sort of provision go out of borough and the LEA supported the application. The proposers wanted 150 in each year group but 6 months later were persuaded to increase the PAN to 220. they ended up with 190. on a good day they are 40 over original plan and on a bad day, they are undersubscribed - depending on which politician or union is making the argument. Second year recruitment saw 750 applications for 200 places with many still choosing an out of school borough as the second choice.

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