Independent schools FAQs

Is it risky to move to an independent school in the current economic climate?

Could be! But only for the smaller schools, I believe. So a prep school with 100 pupils might struggle unless it has good reserves. Check out the fee level: if they are charging good fees compared with other local schools (say within 10 miles), then they are more likely to be financially solid. Get your sister to ring up, say she’s making a tentative enquiry on behalf of a friend moving to UK from Dublin, with five children. Which year groups have waiting lists? And what size are the classes?

What is the protocol about asking for salary information during the interview process? If not at interview, when should I ask?

Good independent schools will pay at least as much (and for fewer weeks in the year) as state schools.

You will be made a job offer (hopefully) and at that point will learn the salary. Some schools may tell you at interview, but not many.  Before the interview, work out your salary for next September. Don’t forget to include the increment if you’re still working towards M6. 

Consider this the minimum that you would accept, unless the school is so fabulous when you go there that it is worth a pay cut to experience.

Once I’ve finished my induction year in an independent school, would I be able to switch to a maintained school if I wanted?

As far as my experience has been with teachers moving from the independent sector to state, it is simply a case of finding a job to apply for, and being accepted by the school. You must, of course, pass your induction. If you fail it, then you cannot work in a maintained-sector school.

What is the size of an average independent school? 

There’s quite a bit of info on Independent Schools Council website including a school search page that finds a school, gives you the size, a link to the inspection report and other useful things. This is all pretty useful if you are investigating possible schools as a teacher.

Are there any attributes that independents look for and is there is anything I should put in my application to make me a preferred candidate?   

The first thing is that you should not be inventing anything that is untrue, nor (like an insurance policy) should you omit anything relevant that you are required to declare. A false declaration either way can make you liable to disciplinary measures including instant dismissal.

Independent schools are looking for outstanding teachers or at the very least an NQT who shows every sign of quickly becoming one. They are also looking for high levels of commitment, including offering extra interests and skills for extra-curricular activities. If you have business experience, for example, you could do a web search on the Young Enterprise and see if you could offer a contribution to that. If your experience is artistic, I would expect you to be offering a wide range of clubs in different media.

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