Writing speculative letters and sending CVs to schools, just in case they have a job
This article deals with schools in England and Wales. For posts in schools outside the UK, in some circumstances, the points raised may not apply.
At one time it was possible to write a letter to a school, asking if they had a suitable vacancy for you, and actually to be invited in for a chat, or at least offered a formal interview. I myself once walked into a school in a Liverpool suburb one afternoon and asked to see the Head. When I got into her office, I said that I was interested in teaching MFL, and did she have any vacancies for a part-time post. After chatting to me for a few minutes she offered me a job, to start the next day, teaching R.E. on a FT permanent contract.
No good for me, of course, but the point is that she was so desperate for a R.E. teacher that she was prepared to offer it to someone who walked in off the street, with no proof of qualifications (and indeed, no qualification at all in R.E.), and who was pushing a pram with a 4-month-old baby in it and a three-year-old hanging on.
But that was then (40 years ago) and this is now.
Nowadays, I am afraid to disappoint you, speculative letters and unsolicited letters of application very very rarely get you anywhere. In fact, one of the roles of the School Secretary is normally to weed those letters out of the morning post before she hands the pile to the Head. So the Head generally doesn't even get to see them.
Why is that?
Well, they are not likely to say We need a teacher. I know! Instead of advertising and getting a good range of applicants, let's just ask that nice lady who wrote to us a few months ago to come along!
And even less likely are they to say: We need a teacher. I know! Let's go to all the trouble of pulling out her address and contacting that nice lady who wrote to us a few months ago asking us to let her know when we had a vacancy, in case she hasn't got the sense to look for our advert!
Schools are anxious to get a good selection of applications, so that they can pick and choose for the interview. So instead of going to a filing cabinet full of unsolicited applications, they advertise.
They are also very keen to be fair to all, and to be seen to be fair. After all, if you were hoping for a vacancy to teach History to come up in your local school, you would be distinctly annoyed to learn that there was a teacher leaving, but that the job had already been given to someone else without advertising. So they advertise.
Some schools advertise on their own websites, or on the Local Authority website, if they are still in a LA and not an Academy, as very many are nowadays. TES is a favourite place, of course, especially as it has special offers such as "Run the ad until filled", which is attractive to schools. The best thing is to get the Jobs App and set up a Job Alert, so that you have your finger right on the pulse and hear about a suitable job straight away.
Get the TES Jobs App
How to set up a Job Alert
So, is it worth sending a speculative letter? Although there will always be someone who assures you that this is how they got their job, my view is that it is not. The only time that it could be useful would be if they had a sudden urgent need for a teacher (their member of staff taken seriously ill, for example) and your letter just happened to turn up.
Or if you were willing and able to teach a high-demand subject that the school was having problems in covering. Such as R.E. in a Liverpool suburb 40 years ago.