How honest should I be if this question comes up?(32 Posts)
MNHQ have commented on this thread.
Bit of background. I'm applying for a PGCE and have been browsing sample interview questions. All are either fairly straightforward or very complicated, but there's this one:
Tell us about your childhood.
I have an awful feeling that my face is going to give me away.
I had a fairly normal life. Mum, dad and younger brother, loving, secure etc etc. Apart from the part I kept secret about my grandfather abusing me.
I could just leave that bit out, but it's already making me anxious.
The thing that worries me is that people say "oh so and so is abusive because he was abused as a child" Do people think people could abuse because they'd been abused? Argh that is not making sense. Would you hesitate to employ someone, would that worry you...honestly?
The other question "what's your biggest mistake" taking his money and drinking it springs to mind, however there are many more life mistakes to choose from.
I just worry that a PGCE interview is not the time to be evasive. But then I also don't want to tell total strangers about it either.
I'm going to ask MNHQ to delete this soon if they will.
Darling, it's your choice.
Abused once, you don't have to open yourself to others . You have every right to your privacy.
None of their business.
I didn't get asked those questions. More like 'if you could teach any topic to any particular group of children, what would it be and why?'
I don't think PGCE interviewers have any right whatsoever to know about childhood abuse. You don't want to talk about it, so don't. Prepare an answer along the lines of 'i grew up in x town and the school I went to was like y and z made me want to be a teacher'.
I would try and focus your answers by linking them to education, so anything about childhood you could talk about teachers who inspired you etc and biggest mistakes think again about your own education or work experience. If you plan completely alternate answers then you can keep the things you want to be private to yourself. In addition, have you had counselling. If you found a situation where you do think you would feel comfortable going through your childhood then it may take the pressure away and lesson the anxiety
I did have counselling a long time ago when I felt similar anxiety when pregnant. The what if this is some sort of hereditary or learned behaviour. I thought that was all laid to rest though.
I think it's because I'm nervous about the whole process, so I'm looking at things too closely.
They won't ask about your childhood - it's absolutely none of their business and wouldn't have any impact on your teaching, either. You could go in prepared, though, by thinking you would say, "Parts of it were difficult, so I think I can understand that not every child has a happy time at home. I think that will make me a better teacher." They really wouldn't ask further (and honestly I can't see them even asking that.)
They might ask about your most memorable teacher (I'd pick someone who was good if it's an open question) - if they ask about a bad teacher think of something you would've done differently.
Best of luck!
OP, so sorry you’ve been through this. It’s so unfair that it is still affecting you when you are doing something so positive as wanting to work as a teacher.
I would say that someone who has experienced abuse will have extra empathy for children and will be able to work well with and understand troubled children, so that is a strength.
However, that is certainly not something you have to share with people at an interview process. That is way too intrusive into your personal life.
You may benefit from some additional counselling sessions, especially with the person you saw previously if that’s possible. Also, could you prepare a range of answers if childhood is mentioned, so you’re not caught unawares.
Good luck OP. We certainly need good teachers.
Parts of it were difficult. That's a good answer. I'll use that. I know they probably won't ask, but I'd just worry about it being asked the whole time otherwise.
Where did you find this sample question? I can't imagine it being used in a real interview - it woupd legally be very murky and potentially highly discriminatory. I wouldn't worry about it at all. If you do get asked, and are uncomfortable, I would say something like "that's a very personal question. I want to do this course / job because XYZ".
you could practice a brief sentence that ends the questioning such as "there were some very personal, challenging periods".
non descript but unlikely someone will proceed.
They mainly want to know about your experiences with children and how you can part of making a difference...highly unlikely that you will be asked this but if you are
Parts of it were difficult, so I think I can understand that not every child has a happy time at home. I think that will make me a better teacher."
I’ve never ever heard of that question being asked.
In the extremely unlikely event it comes up- stick to facts. I grew up in xxx town, with my mother, father and x siblings. I always enjoyed school, I think the things that made it a good place for me were x y z. The things I think could have been done better at school were a, b, c.
It won’t come up though.
Even if it did, I don’t think telling them about childhood trauma like abuse would be an appropriate response. I think your boundaries around privacy and the right to tell vs the absolute need to have to tell in this sort of situation might be a bit skewed. Which isn’t surprising, and I hope you can find someone to work through that with
They are questions for a TA post? PGCE course they want you to have got a flavour of what's it like to be in a school setting! With the amount of Teachers leaving the profession they want you to have a real experience of what it's like to handle behaviour, work with AEN/SEN kids, how you would balance workload as PGCE will be THE hardest thing you've ever done Education wise! They couldn't care less about your childhood could be from the meanest back street Council estate of South London or the nicest multi million pound house in Buckinghamshire but as long as you can convey you can handle 30+ different types of kids 5+ periods a day (Secondary I'm referring to here) then pretty you're much past the first hurdle! Try googling 'PGCE interview questions' I think Salford Uni have some great generalised ones.
I have done loads of teacher interviews as a Chair of governors. We have never asked this question (no idea why you would - we are interested in your teaching amity and who you are now.) Never asked the weakness question either (in any of my roles) as it's a terrible question where people give made up answers.
If anyone did ask those questions, I would give them a fairly bland answer. They'd deserve for asking such asinine questions.
Sorry it was Kent University see link:
Sorry think it's because I've been talking to my friends about her house buying in Salford this weekend!
I've done PGCE interviews previously. The nearest anyone has got to this question is if a person went to a faith, independent school etc and the interviewer asks what they think is the difference between that school and the school they are coming to.
I've never asked about someone's childhood.
Teachers and other school staff have a huge range of backgrounds and education is all the better for it. I am sorry this happened to you.
Ah sorry I should have explained how O ended up on a page meant for TAs. Someone on a FB group suggested we look up safeguarding questions...so after a general Google on safeguarding I ended up there.
Oh and thanks, I have the Kent ones
The safeguarding questions you get asked is a what would you do if a child disclosed type question.
Ah I see, Ok to give you some safeguarding Qs which always end in "inform the DSO".. 'what would you do if a child came to you and said I need you to keep what I tell you secret? What would you do If you walk past a classroom and see a Teacher sat with their arm around a pupil? You're in a pub/nightclub and two Year 11/12 walk in and try to order drinks at the bar...walking behind some pupils on the corridor you overhear that a year 11 pupil in your form has had sex with a year 10 pupil...you overhear a pupil in the playground telling their friend about her mums 5th special man friend she's met over the last few days and is not allowed out of her room when they are over...you see a text on a member of staffs phone from a 6th former saying had a great time last night xxx...you are teaching PE and notice bruises on a child's back/legs you overhear two different versions of how they got them...you notice that a child is always the last one out of a changing room or first in a cubicle...you learn that a y10 pupil is going out with a 19 year old and their attendance has rapidly dropped...an allegation has been made against the Head do you tell them?
Tried to think of as many as I could from back in the day but still relevant now. Hope it all goes well
I also think it's really unlikely to come up. But you absolutely don't have to disclose that you were abused in an interview. (And if you did people would be surprised and feel uncomfortable and think you were oversharing). No one will expect you to do this and you don't have to feel bad about not giving the information.
I really don't think it will come up. I've never heard of it being asked in a PGCE or teaching interview before. I was asked why I went to public school and if I thought it had given me more advantages in life than a state school would have. That was the only question about my childhood I was asked.
I have been reading interview questions for teacher training for as many sources as Ivan lately and I have not come across anything like the question in your OP.
Stop worrying, you will be fine
Please don't worry. You're more likely to be asked "what would you do if a child told you they had a secret". Even if you were asked "what was your childhood like?', you could say "I really enjoyed my childhood, for the most part, but every child has times of stress or uncertainty, so it's very important that as school staff, we have clear procedures for talking to children about those times, recording it and dealing with it, through the DSO.
If you were to be asked this question answer it in a away that links back to what you are applying for. It is very intrusive so I would be giving a standard answer about having quite a happy childhood with the normal ups and downs of family life. You can say that you recognise that many of the students you teach may have family difficulties and that these will have an impact on their school life. I would perhaps also add that my parents had tried to support me with my education and so you realise how lucky you were to have parental support as schools and parents working together will achieve better outcomes. It isn't appropriate to share your intimate, personal life with them. They shouldn't be asking the question in this way anyway.
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