Independent Sector FAQs

TheoGriff
2013-07-30 01:00

Independent Sector FAQs

 

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  job alert to get the details of all the relevant  jobs sent directly to your email inbox, and get the TES Jobs App.

 

Get the TES Jobs App   

How to set up a Job Alert

 

Can I do my NQT induction year in the independent sector?

Yes, if the school offers NQT induction under the IStip scheme. At the end of the year (assuming you complete the year successfully), you’re qualified to teach in both independent and maintained schools.

Read more on  Doing NQT induction in an independent school

 

What will I get paid in the independent sector?

It all depends! Independent schools don’t have to follow the teacher pay scales, 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 state sector, and a small, possibly struggling one, may pay below. Read my article on how much you will earn in the independent sector for more details  

How much will I earn in the independent sector?

 

Is there an upper pay scale in the independent sector?

Most big schools will match – and exceed – the UPS, but without the 'going through the threshold' documentation. In some London-based large schools the extended pay scale for classroom teachers with no extra responsibility can go up to nearly £60,000.

  

Are there TLRs in the independent sector?

Generally not. But this doesn’t mean that positions of responsibility do not receive extra pay, they do, it’s just not called a TLR.

In big schools, staff will often get paid extra for fairly minor responsibilities, and the flourishing prep schools tend to have many more responsibility payments than there are TLRs in cash-strapped maintained sector primaries. 

 

What’s a typical independent school contract?

There’s no such thing. As the schools are all independent, they all have their own contracts. Generally the bigger and more successful schools offer conditions of service which equal or improve on the maintained sector’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 maintained sector; teachers have on occasion been very distressed to learn that they do not get, for example, the same maternity or sick pay they were used to in the maintained sector. 

This is an important point. People have been working at a small independent school for four or five years, had a life-threatening condition diagnosed and discovered that whereas in the maintained sector they would get 100 working days full pay, followed by another 100 days half pay (and bear in mind that there are only 194 working days in a year, holidays you continue to get paid, but it isn’t included in the 100 days), in their school they are only eligible for statutory sick pay, which is less than £90 a week for only 28 weeks.  

I would advise you to find out exactly what is on offer before you accept, before you are interviewed, in fact before you even apply.  The way to do this is to e-mail the Bursar at the school.  Of course you may feel a little hesitant about contacting a school where you are going to apply, asking about conditions of service including maternity or sick pay.  Very understandable.  But it could perhaps be done more discreetly if you happened to have a second e-mail address (or your partner does) with a name that is not the nice professional name on the e-mail that you use for applications and other official business.

 

Will I still be able to be in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme?

In most schools, yes. And as your salary may well be higher, this can mean a better pension when you retire. 

But some smaller schools do not offer this, offering instead a less financially rewarding scheme. You need to find out about pension provision, as you may find you have to arrange a top-up pension.  

I would advise you to find out exactly what is on offer before you accept, before you are interviewed, in fact before you even apply.  The way to do this is to e-mail the Bursar at the school.  Of course you may feel a little hesitant about contacting a school where you are going to apply, asking about conditions of service including maternity or sick pay.  Very understandable.  But it could perhaps be done more discreetly if you happened to have a second e-mail address (or your partner does) with a name that is not the nice professional name on the e-mail that you use for applications and other official business.

 

How many hours per week, or hours per year, will I have to teach in the independent sector?

There's no legal maximum (other than that set by employment law). There is generally no ‘directed time’, and the 1,265 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, with 20% free time rather than 10%, and a typical independent school has 160 – 170 teaching days per year, not 190 as in the maintained sector. 

 

How many parents’ evenings and after-school meetings will I have to attend?

As many as the school likes/needs/wants (subject to employment law). Also bear in mind that parents’ evenings in an independent school can be a different kettle of fish. You will probably get 99.9 per cent attendance from parents, for a start!  And 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 and biscuits throughout the evening. 

 

Will I get PPA in the independent sector?

Yes, generally, although it usually won’t be called PPA. It may well be more generous, too. In my school staff had 80 per cent contact time (this included a club or other co-curricular activity), so their ‘PPA’ was 20 per cent, not 10 per cent. But again, a smaller school that has money problems may not be able to offer as much. 

 

Will I be expected to work weekends and holidays?

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 etc and everyone had a great if muddy time.  Not every weekend, I hasten to add!  

Don't panic, however!  Most staff in my large day school did no weekends at all, those who did may have done just one or two a year, as volunteers.

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 in half term, so they were partly in learning time and partly in the holiday. 

Some trips were more leisure-based, especially sporting. Skiing 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 were 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 as you see, many teachers in the independent sector see co-curricular visits out of school time as a plus, not a minus!

 

What’s the sick leave and sick pay entitlement?

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, but smaller schools may not.  

I would advise you to find out exactly what is on offer before you accept, before you are interviewed, in fact before you even apply.  The way to do this is to e-mail the Bursar at the school.  Of course you may feel a little hesitant about contacting a school where you are going to apply, asking about conditions of service including maternity or sick pay.  Very understandable.  But it could perhaps be done more discreetly if you happened to have a second e-mail address (or your partner does) with a name that is not the nice professional name on the e-mail that you use for applications and other official business.

 

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, but smaller schools may not.  

I would advise you to find out exactly what is on offer before you accept, before you are interviewed, in fact before you even apply.  The way to do this is to e-mail the Bursar at the school.  Of course you may feel a little hesitant about contacting a school where you are going to apply, asking about conditions of service including maternity or sick pay.  Very understandable.  But it could perhaps be done more discreetly if you happened to have a second e-mail address (or your partner does) with a name that is not the nice professional name on the e-mail that you use for applications and other official business.

 

Can I transfer eligibility between one school and the other to qualify for enhanced maternity pay?

Generally not, unless you’re moving between schools within the same independent schools’ group.  Some schools may allow this, but in general this is one area where independent conditions may fall below those in the maintained sector, where continuous service can usually be transferred between schools. 

Roughly speaking, very roughly, you generally need to have been employed in the same school for about four 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. 

 

What’s the paternity leave and paternity pay entitlement, and the adoption ditto?

Never less than the legal minimum, which is exactly what the maintained sector gets.   

 

How much notice do you have to give to resign from a post in the independent sector?

Some independent schools stick to the three 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 that fatal day!

 

Does Ofsted inspect independent schools?

No, not normal Ofsted inspections, except for the very few independent schools which are not in the main Independent Schools’ associations.  

Most Independent schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate under pretty similar conditions to Ofsted. 

If you’re interested in a particular school, you can find the most recent inspection report online on the ISI website.

 

Do I need to be in a union in the independent sector?

In every type of school, maintained or independent, academy or free school, 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 school.  All unions will support you, although the ATL has a dedicated independent school section

 

Join a Union. Yes, now!

 

For further information see my other articles

 

An overview of the Independent sector

How much will I earn in the independent sector?

Moving from state to independent

Teachers talk about what it's like working in one Indy School

Doing NQT induction in an independent school

Best wishes 

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Meet Theo on line on the Jobseekers,  Careers Clinic and Independent Forums, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.