FAQ Independent sector
1. Where are jobs advertised for the independent sector?
In the TES above all, although as for maintained schools, part-time and short-term posts (eg maternity) are often put in a local paper. It’s a good idea to set up a TES JobAlert here on the TES Connect, to get the details of all appropriate jobs sent directly to you as soon as they are advertised.
2. Can I do my NQT induction year in the independent sector?
Yes, if the school offers NQT induction under the ISCtip scheme. At the end of the year (assuming you complete it successfully), you are qualified to teach in both independent and maintained schools and to register with the General Teaching Council in England or Wales. You can find out more about the induction year in indy schools by going to the Independent Schools’ Council website.
3. What will I get paid in the independent sector?
It all depends!
The independent schools do not have to follow the teachers’ payscales, so each school will offer (a) what it can afford and (b) what it needs to pay to ensure that it attracts and keeps the best teachers. And sometimes (c) what it needs to lure them away from other schools, so you can often negotiate.
As a rule of thumb, a big successful school will pay above the MPS, and a small, possibly struggling one, may pay below. Here on the Independent Forum Welcome thread there is a longer discussion of pay in the sector, with a link to the payscale of one independent group as an example.
4. Is there UPS in the independent sector?
It all depends!
Most big schools will match – and exceed – the UPS, but without the “going through the threshold” documentation. In some schools their “Extended payscale” for classroom teachers with no extra responsibility can go well above £40k.
5. Are there TLRs in the independent sector?
No, generally not. But this doesn’t mean that positions of responsibility do not receive extra pay, as they do. It’s just not called TLR, as the independent sector is not too keen on all these acronyms.
In big schools, staff will often get paid extra for fairly minor responsibilities, and the flourishing Prep Schools tend to have more responsibility payments than there are TLRs in cash-strapped maintained sector primaries.
6. What’s a typical independent school contract?
No such thing! As the schools are all independent, they all have their own. Generally the bigger and more successful schools offer conditions of service which equal or improve on the maintained sector Teacher’s Pay and Conditions. They have to, to attract and keep their staff.
However, you should be aware that a few smaller, less flourishing, schools do not match the Burgundy Book; teachers have on occasion been very distressed to learn that they do not get, for example, the same maternity or sick pay as they were used to in the maintained sector.
It’s a bit tricky to ask at interview what their maternity leave entitlement is (!), so if this is important to you, find out from the Bursar before you apply.
7. Will I still be able to be in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme in the independent sector?
In most schools, yes. And as your salary may be higher, this overall can add up to a better pension when you retire.
But some smaller schools do not offer this, offering instead a much less good scheme. This is very important to know before you accept the post, as you will need to arrange a top-up pension if you work in one of these schools. The Teachers’ Pension Scheme is generally considered one of the best schemes in the country, so it’s good to be offered this.
8. How many hours per week, or hours per year, will I have to teach in the independent sector?
There is no legal maximum (other than that set by employment law). There is generally no “directed time”, and the 1265 hours concept has rarely been heard of. You will not be expected to count up your hours!
However, teachers often have more free periods than in a state school, and a typical independent school has 160 – 170 teaching days per year, not 190 as in the maintained sector, so overall you are likely to be better off, timewise.
9. How many parents’ evenings and after-school meetings can they give me in the independent sector?
As many as they like/need/want! (subject to employment law). However, a typical independent school has 160 – 170 teaching days per year, not 190 as in the maintained sector, so you usually end up winning, timewise.
Also bear in mind that parents’ evenings in an indy can be a different kettle of fish from your current school. You will probably get 99.9% attendance, for a start! Your school will generally provide you with a (free) meal (mine gave sandwiches from Waitrose or M&S, fruit, biscuits), and keep you well supplied with coffee throughout the evening.
10. Will I get PPA in the independent sector?
Yes, generally, although it usually won’t be called that, as the independent sector is not too keen on all these acronyms.
It may well be more generous, too. In my school staff have 80% contact time (this includes a club), so their ‘PPA’ is 20%, not 10%.
11. What about being expected to work weekends and holidays on co-curricular activities in the independent sector?
Yes, independent schools expect “a generous contribution” to their extensive co-curricular programme. But this can be a plus!
In my school, the weekend (Friday pm to Sunday evening) activities were in the UK: camping, orienteering, hiking, adventure, DoE, and everyone had a great if muddy time.
There were also a lot of foreign trips. A number of these were curriculum-based, you know the sort of thing: MFL visits to France, Germany, Spain; History to the French battlefields; Art to Paris, New York, Amsterdam, Rome; Classics to Southern Italy or Greece; Geography to Iceland or the Rockies. These visits often were often timetabled at the end of a term or half term, so they were partly in learning time and partly in the holiday. Say Mon-Mon, with term finishing on a Thursday.
Some trips were more leisure-based, especially sporting. Ski-ing in Italy or France; horse-riding in Belgium; hockey in Barbados; tennis in Florida. Or not linked to anything much: Year 8 to California, Year 9 to Florida or Disneyland Paris. This type of visit was in the holidays for a week or so.
Finally there was the World Challenge expeditions, three or four weeks to Thailand or Bolivia or Madagascar. For these, too, staff gave up their holidays.
In my experience, staff are keen to join these visits, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s fun to go away with one’s colleagues, secondly the students are well-behaved and it’s good to see them in a different context. And, of course, you get the experience of a place you might not otherwise visit.
So many teachers in the indy sector see co-curricular visits out of school time as a plus, not a minus!
12. What’s the sick leave and sick pay entitlement in the independent sector?
Never less than the legal minimum. Generally the bigger and more successful schools offer sick leave and sick pay which are equal to the maintained sector Teacher’s Pay and Conditions, but smaller schools may not. It’s always wise to check it out, and do it before you accept the job (or before you even apply), when you are also checking the pension and maternity-pay entitlement.
13. What’s the maternity leave and maternity pay entitlement in the independent sector?
Never less than the legal minimum. Generally the bigger and more successful schools offer maternity leave and maternity pay which are equal to the maintained sector Teacher’s Pay and Conditions, but smaller schools may not. It’s always wise to check it out, and do it before you accept the job (or before you even apply), when you are also checking the pension and sick-pay entitlement.
14. Can I transfer eligibility between one school and the other to qualify for enhanced maternity pay?
Generally not, unless you are moving between schools within the same independent schools’ group. Some schools may allow this, but in general this is one area where indy conditions may fall below those in the maintained sector, where continuous service can be transferred between schools.
Roughly speaking, very roughly, you generally need to have been employed in the same school for about 4 terms before the expected date of birth of the baby, to get the full whack. But check it out, as this may not apply to your school.
15. What’s the paternity leave and paternity pay entitlement in the independent sector?
Never less than the legal minimum, which is exactly what the maintained sector gets.
16. How much notice do you have to give to resign from a post in the independent sector?
Some independent schools stick to the 3 resignation dates of the maintained sector schools, giving half a term’s notice.
Most, however, require one full term’s notice for resignation, and you have to inform the school formally on or before the first day of term. Check out whether it is on or before!
Job adverts in the TES for independent schools take this into account, and therefore appear more in advance than do ads for state schools.
17. Do you get Ofsted inspecting the schools in the independent sector?
No (except for the few independent schools which are not in the main Independent Schools’ associations).
Independent schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, under pretty similar conditions to Ofsted. Has to be, to have any credibility. Boarding provision is, however, Ofsted-inspected in all boarding schools.
If you are interested in a school, you can find the most recent Inspection Report on line, often there is a link on the school website, but it’s very easy to find on the ISI site.
18. Do I need to be in a union in the independent sector?
Yes, yes and yes!
In every type of school, maintained or independent, you need to be in a union.
You can stay in the same union that you were in previously, or you can change to the same one as other staff in your indy school, where NUT in particular is under-represented as a general rule. All unions will support you, although the ATL has a dedicated independent school section, so perhaps has more understanding and experience of independent school issues.
Read more on independent schools
- You can ask Theo a question in the TES independent schools forum