When thinking of applying for a teaching job – visit the school

Why visit a potential School?

So, you have decided to apply for a teaching job in Cambridgeshire. What should you do? If possible, always visit the school before applying. This will enable you to know whether this could be the right school for you; it will allow you to tailor your application to the school and what you have seen, and it will ensure that you have made an impression on the school (good or bad!!).

Making an appointment

When contacting the school to make an appointment, try to be flexible – schools are busy places and they may not be able to accommodate your ideal time. Try to visit in the school day: it will give you a much better idea of the school but, if that’s not possible, visiting after school is better than not visiting at all. Some schools have set times for visits: if you are unable to do any of these it is worth asking if you can come at a different time.

Before visiting the school

Make sure you prepare before visiting the school – read the Ofsted report, look at the website, ask people you know about the school. This will enable you to ask relevant questions and to make comments from a base of knowledge e.g. ‘I read in your Ofsted report that extended writing was an area for development, is this still an area of focus?’, ‘I see from your website that the school enters a lot of sporting competitions, I am particularly interested in working in a school that makes sport a high priority.’

Prepare some questions – what do you want to know more about? For example, you may want to find out more about a particular curriculum area, the extra-curricular provision, the support available for NQTs or where within the school the post is available

Visiting the School

Although not officially part of the interview process, this is the school’s first impression of you so make it a good one – be punctual, ensure clothing is professional and be confident. It is also your first impression of the school and, much like buying a house, you may just get a feeling about whether the school is right for you.  Ideally, the Headteacher in a primary school will show you round and if they are not available then the deputy or other senior member of staff. In a secondary school it is more likely that a member of SLT or head of department will lead the tour.

While being shown around consider – do teachers and pupils respond positively to visitors? Are relationships in the school positive, eg Headteacher and staff/pupils, staff and pupils? Do the children demonstrate positive attitudes to learning?

If there is not time to ask questions while going round, do not be afraid to ask for a few minutes at the end to ask them.  This is just as much about you finding out whether the school is right for you, as the school finding out about whether you are right for them.

Finally, if the school does not feel right, do not feel any obligation to apply – you are going to be spending a lot of time in the school where you are appointed so make sure it is the right place for you.  For more information about what vacancies are available right now please go to our vacancies section.