We're a couple, we want to work in the same school - how do we manage this?

29th November 2013 at 00:00

We're a couple, we want to work in the same school - how do we manage this?



We're a couple working together in China, we want to work in the same school back in the UK - how do we manage this? Joint cover letters, praying for a school to have vacancies in both our fields, speculative letters before the job season?


Joint applications, to get a job in the same school?  This would be considered very unusual for both maintained and independent schools in the UK.  Teachers are appointed individually, on their individual merits, not as a package.

Generally, schools will expect you to see an advertisement and apply for it. In most schools, one of the main tasks of the Head's Secretary nowadays is to weed out speculative letters before they even get to the Head. 


After all, they are hardly likely to say 


Oh, we need a teacher of R.E. and one for Maths.  Let's not bother to advertise to get a full field of applicants, let's just interview those nice people who wrote us a letter a few months ago, in case they haven't got the sense to look out for our advert.  


There may well have been occasions in the past where speculative letters worked, but nowadays schools are becoming more and more conscious of the need to have fair and open appointment procedures.  Which means person specifications and open recruitment via wide advertising, usually in the TES.


Some people believe that schools appreciate having couples on board.  Certainly it is true in many cases for British International Schools in far-flung places, where appointing a couple can lead to greater staff stability and a reduction of housing costs and other overheads.  So since that's where you are now, you may think that it is the norm back here in the UK too.


However, for teachers in the UK this is not usual.


An exception might be boarding schools, in particular for boarding staff where a married couple running a boarding house can be advantageous for the school and its pupils.  And there may be the odd boarding school in the back of nowhere where they can see advantages for housing etc. in having couples. 

But frankly, there is such an emphasis on success (however you define this) that the vast majority of schools would be anxious to have the best person for the job.  For each separate job that they have.  Appointing a couple as a package might not provide this best person for each job.


A further consideration for a school could be that a joint appointment could be open to legal challenge


If, for example, I were the most appropriate applicant for a R.E. teaching post, but they appointed you, a second-choice applicant (sorry - this is just an example!) because you were the husband of the person that they wanted to teach Maths.  EU law, it seems to me, could say that this was discriminatory because the appointment was not given to me because I was (a) not a man (b) not married to your wife!  As a Head I would be very wary about risking this.

Most married teaching couples work in different schools.  They often think this is preferable.  You need to look forward to Togetherness on your holidays!


Here are some articles in the Professional Advice Hub that could be useful for you.

First, start preparing to find out about all the vacancies

Get the TES Jobs App   

How to set up a Job Alert

Writing speculative letters and sending CVs to schools, just in case . . .  

Returning to the UK after teaching abroad  


When you are ready to start applying, come to the Jobseekers Forum and ask me for advice on how to write an effective application. I'll be delighted to help out.


Best wishes