Got a job offer? What to do next!
A few recent posts have suggested that not everyone is sure what to do once they get the formal job offer. NQTs in particular may be a bit bemused by it all. Let's have a look at the various things that it is wise to do.
For an example of a resignation letter that you may need if this isn’t your first job in teaching, see my article:
How to resign - get that resignation letter right!
1 You receive the offer letter
Write in pen, not pencil Rec'd 17 June 2016, then initial that. You put the correct date in, of course!
If they are slow in sending the official offer letter, then ring the secretary (during assembly is a good time, as usually she won’t have hordes of teachers and pupils all vying for attention) and ask when it will come. Tell them, depending on the situation, that you need it in order to resign from your current school who are anxious to start advertising for your replacement, or that you need it in order to withdraw from interviews at other schools.
2 File it
This letter has contractual force, and is an important document, so keep it safely. I suggest that you get one of those big transparent envelopes with a press stud, and use it to keep all the documents relating to this employment. This will be your employment file.
3 Read it carefully
Check that the job is what you expected. Full-time - probably won't say, but if it is part-time it should say and should have the right proportion. Permanent - again it won't say if it is in all probability, but if it is temporary/fixed-term, or a maternity cover, it should state so. Check the salary offered, too. Is what you agreed when the post was offered verbally?
A formal reply is required - not an informal email, which has no signature on it. Something along these lines.
Dear Mr Griff
Thank you for your letter of 16 May 2015.
I confirm that I accept the full-time permanent post of teacher in Greentrees School with effect from 1 September 2015, at a starting salary of £xxx (write it in)
I shall shortly be arranging to provide you with the documents that you have requested. I look forward to joining your staff and contributing to the further success of the school.
Even if it doesn't say full-time in the offer letter, put it in your reply if it is a full-time post. Otherwise, repeat what they say: Part-time (0.6) permanent teacher of KS2, OR full-time maternity cover teacher, etc. Make it very clear what you believe you are accepting.
If it is fixed-term, they will say so, and you repeat this. If it isn't fixed-term then always add the word permanent if that was what the job was advertised at, even if it’s not stated in their letter, so that there is no misunderstanding later on.
Print off two copies. Sign one, and put in envelope. On the other copy, write in pen Sent first class mail 17 May 2015 or Hand-delivered to school secretary 17 May 2015, and initial. Then put this in your employment file with the offer letter.
Some schools send an offer letter with a tear-off slip at the bottom to accept. Send that too, but also write the letter, so that you get everything in writing. After all, signing a slip that says I accept the above post could be agreeing to anything!
5 Post or deliver the acceptance letter
6 Carry out instructions
They may have asked you to provide some documents, provide NI details, etc, so make sure that you do exactly what they ask.
Your bank details and N.I. are really important, because that’s how you get paid, and paid the correct amount after deductions (hopefully!), so do get that sorted asap so that the school can set things up in Payroll.
7 Read carefully
Read all the instructions and information that they send you for the start of term. No, you can't start three days later because you and your mates have booked a holiday in Ibiza for the first week in September (I have been asked that!). Cancel it.
I’ve booked a holiday for the start of term. Help!
8 Set up a CPD file
Get another one of those envelopes and start keeping in there details of all CPD that you do. Not just "I went on a course". Quite often schools have a regular session, perhaps as part of a staff meeting. Type up a blank CPD form for yourself, print it off and put it in your CDP file. It should have a column for the date, one for location, and then a bigger one for subject. Jot down the topic that was discussed and the date.
When you come to apply for your next post, you won't want or need to quote them all, but you may well wish to include a sentence along the lines of: "Participation in regular inset sessions on topics such as X ,Y and Z."
9 Set up an exam results file
Yet another one of those useful envelopes, call it Pupils' Exam Results, all ready to file away for future reference, all the SATS/GCSE/A level/IB results of your groups. It seems years away, it probably is, but having that folder all ready should remind you at the crucial time.
Some schools specifically ask for past results in applications. Others may not, but it's nice to be able to quote precise figures of how excellent your work has been!
And, of course, having this info at your fingertips is very useful for promotions, for pay progression, etc.
10 Set up a Performance Management File
With yet another of those envelopes! This is where you'll keep details of all the observed lessons that have been graded Outstanding. You may think that you don't need all these files yet, and you are right. But unless you set them up now, you may not think of doing it later on.
11 Set up a trumpet file
Another of those envelopes (hope you bought a nice big pack!) in which you can store the thank-you letters, the cutting from the sixth form leavers' mag where someone said your classes were the best thing ever, the email sent to you by a colleague praising your materials. Anything where you could Blow Your Trumpet!
Apart from being useful for applications, it is also something nice to sit and read when you're feeling down in the dumps.
12 Join a union
Yes, now, straight away.
You MUST be in a recognised teaching union in case there are, for example, untrue allegations against you by a pupil, or problems with your contract. It is too late to join a union when you need one, as they do not help people with issues that arose before they joined.
So join now! Join a Union. Yes, now!
13 Get your contract
Some people panic if they don't get their contract soon after their offer letter. Calm down! The law (this is part of employment law) says that you should get it no later than 2 months...after you start work! So that means by October half term if you started at the beginning of the school year..
No need to worry, as your official offer letter has contractual force. But normally you do get it before then, depending on how busy they are.
When you get it, check it (dates correct? Job title correct? Temporary/permanent correct? Salary correct?). No point in going through it and then asking them to change the conditions set out in paragraph 21, subsection (ii), because they won't. It is a standard contract that they use for everybody, they won't make an exception for you.
But do read it carefully.
If an independent school, note the resignation dates, which may be different from maintained schools. Note in particular whether notice has to be given BEFORE the first day of term, or BY the first day of term.
If a maternity contract, note how much notice you have to give them, and they you, to end the contract. You cannot change this, but be aware.
14 Sign, date and return the extra copy of the contract
Also sign and date your own copy (they give you two), add in ink returned on 23rd September2015 to Head's secretary, and initial this. Then put it in your employment file.
15 Keep your monthly salary slips
I suggest here that you get treasury tags:
and then when you get your first salary slip, put two holes in with a hole punch, and then keep them all together in date order. Put them in your employment file. When your P60 comes, add it to the little pack of slips for that year (up to March) and then start a new pack from the new tax year in April.
This way you will have everything ready for anything where you need to prove your income. Mortgage, Working Tax Credits, renting from a private landlord, etc.
I used to advise you to keep them for at least six years, but a poster has said that he was in dispute with the pensions people over the number of years that he had contributed, and was able to bring out 30-year-old payslips to prove his point.
So keep them forever!
A poster reminds us how important it is to CHECK everything:
Hope you don't mind me adding to your excellent advice of what to do after getting a job offer.
In one section, you mentioned the importance of getting a P60 and keeping all tax documents (which I do), but I would also add (from experience) that it's also worth checking that your pay slip details will be correct. i.e. That all deductions, such as pay and pensions are correct, that the employer has the correct bank and NI details for you (I have had one supply agency give the wrong NI number on one payslip a few years ago, even though I'd given them the correct number). It's also important to check that your tax code is correct if the job is not your first or only one, so that you are not paid on the emergency tax code forever! i.e. Make sure that you give the new employer your P45 as soon as possible and fill in the P46 form correctly if you haven't got it yet!
Thank you for that helpful note!
Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
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