Advice on visiting a new school after a bad experience(7 Posts)
Would really appreciate some advice on a dilemma I have at the moment.
I teach Primary, worked in one school for a few years then left as it went into Special Measures and the workload and pressure was getting too much. I applied to a 'Good' school which looked lovely when I visited - seemed to be a fun, positive atmosphere, the deputy head who showed me around was friendly and he told me lots of things about the school which made it really appealing to me (things which turned out not to be true!)
I started there in September and found it awful. The SLT treated the staff with suspicion, micromanaging them and putting everything under intense scrutiny. There was a blame culture and if anyone was unhappy about something, they were labelled as 'negative'. I found that I was losing confidence and feeling really unhappy. I had always received really positive feedback on my teaching from Ofsted and the SLT in my last school but the Head at this school made me feel like I wasn't good enough. I resigned to leave at Christmas and they released me early from my contract.
I have recently been contacted by an ex-colleague who was in the SLT at my previous school and knows me well. She is now at another school (an academy which recently opened) and has invited me in to look around, as they urgently need a teacher and she said she heard I was available and immediately thought of me as a good fit for it.
For several reasons, I only want to work part time, which she has agreed to. I have agreed to look around but I'm not sure as I'll take it as I was so unhappy in my last school and I am seriously thinking of leaving teaching altogether. I need to discuss my availability when I go to visit, so I'm thinking of asking for 2-3 days only and near the end of the week. I would be interested to hear from anyone who currently works part time and whether you think this will make a difference to my workload (previously full time.)
Does anyone have any advice about what I should ask during my visit? I want to get a REAL feel for the school and not be sold an idealised picture of it, as many members of SLT tend to do when they need to fill a post. I want to make sure that the SLT trust their teachers and don't micromanage them but what should I ask/look out for? Any advice/thoughts would be appreciate as I'm worrying about it and I don't want to make the wrong decision. Should I give it a try or leave the profession altogether?
Why not talk to the children? After all, Ofsted do. Ask them what they like about school, what they dislike etc. Obviously they won't know about staff dynamics but you might get a vibe as to whether it's a happy school.
I have recently gone p/t (3days) and it has massively reduced my stress and workload.
Do you trust your former colleague? If so, then I'd say go for it. Be honest with your ex-colleague. I'd at least offer to do it until Christmas which will give you a good feel for the school then you can make a decision about the longer term.
I went part time at easter last year and live it. I do Wednesday pm , Thursday and Friday all day. It's great as I see my partner teacher on a wednesday and can discuss what we are doing. It's good because I have a great partner teacher and we share everything 50:50.
There is 1 other class in the school that have a job share and that is the y6 teacher and head. This doesn't work as well as work isn't shared 50:50 so 1 teacher has almost the same work load as she had before reducing her hours.
3 days a week is DEFINITELY good for your mental health and wellbeing. Of course it will make a difference.
I think, if you are looking for work, then this sounds a great place to start - I don't think any particular questions are going to help. I presume if this is a colleague you trust, then you have to trust she is being honest with you.
The idea of offering to do supply up to Christmas now, if that's a possibility, is an excellent one - you get a trial run and decide if it's for you.
I do three days a week. I do try and get everything done in the time I am at school (but as a specialist teacher I dont have the marking commitments as I only teach a few children although the planning is rather larger as it's very individualised.) I do bring a certain amount home but tend to get this done in a fairly leisurely manner on my days off. I have time for my family in the evenings and at weekends and a bit of me time too.
Supply on a short time contract sounds just perfect- try before you buy and as it's a supply contract there would not be any awkward questions from any future employers.
I would go for it.
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