Coronavirus: FAQs for teachers wanting to move jobs

Recruitment editor Grainne Hallahan tackles the key questions that teachers have about changing jobs amid the crisis

Coronavirus impact on teacher recruitment: FAQs for teachers planning to change jobs

If you’re concerned about your career prospects during the coronavirus pandemic, don’t give up hope. Having spoken to schools both in the UK and overseas, it seems that for many the recruitment process is still very much happening, albeit in a different format.

We've rounded up many of the main questions that teachers are likely have in order to provide some clarity on what to expect if you're hoping to find a new job in the year ahead.

The impact of coronavirus on teacher recruitment

Will my scheduled interview for a school in the UK go ahead? 

It’s likely your interview will still go ahead, although it might not take the form you would normally expect. 

If you haven’t had any communication from the school, and your interview was arranged before the school closures were announced, then you should contact the school for further instructions.

Consider getting an online portfolio of materials together. If you are currently teaching remotely, you could record a lesson and make it available to your interviewee.

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What happens if I have to do my interview over a video call? 

Although a video interview might seem a little strange, it is a totally normal way of appointing teachers in international schools, and nothing to be afraid of.

For tips and suggestions on how to prepare, we have this guide for you to read: 10 tips for acing the remote job interview 

A school has cancelled my interview, what should I do now?

Although it is disappointing that your interview has been cancelled, you shouldn’t let this put you off applying for other jobs.

Contact the school and let them know if you would be interested in reapplying if they were to advertise the role again in the future. 

I’ve seen a role advertised, is there any point in applying? 

Absolutely. Even though schools are facing difficult times, budgets will still be funded, and planning will go on for September. 

Hannah Boydell, head of HR at Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire, believes applying for a role during school closures is no different than at any other time. “For many schools, the recruitment situation hasn’t changed,” she says. “I would always encourage anyone whose interest has been piqued by a role to apply.”

However, due to the unusual conditions, Boydell does warn that, now more than ever, you have just one chance to get it right. “It is good for the candidate to reflect and review on their experience because the interview process is a golden opportunity that cannot be replicated or easily rehearsed."

Boydell also warns of other changes. "Because of the pandemic, schools might find they end up restructuring, or even having to ask for different start dates," she says. Being flexible and aware of this will likely do you no harm in your chances.

How will teaching interview lessons take place now schools are closed? 

Interview lessons are pretty much impossible now that schools are closed. However, you might be asked to provide a video of your teaching, or to describe how you would teach a lesson on a given topic, or to describe a lesson you have taught in the past. 

I have a job lined up for September. What should I do now?

Like many teachers, you might be changing jobs in the new academic year. For now, you should assume you’ll be starting the new term as normal. However, it would be wise to make contact with the school to discuss how your induction will work if schools remain closed throughout the summer term.

I’ve resigned but have changed my mind 

For many reasons you might decide you would like to retract your resignation. However, this isn’t something you have an automatic right to.

Your employer has to agree to the retraction, and this might be difficult if your position has already been filled.

The best approach is to contact your headteacher and ask if it would be something they would consider, and then put your request in writing.

Boydell says that the likelihood of your retraction being accepted is dependent on many different variables.

“If the role has been interviewed for and given to someone else, then it’s logical to presume you’ll have less of a chance,” she explains.

“However, if you teach a shortage subject, or your head knows there will be a vacancy occurring through retirement, for example, then you might be luckier.”

Essentially, Boydell says, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Will fee-paying schools be making redundancies as a result of school closures? 

It might be the case that redundancies will happen if fee-paying schools lose revenue as a consequence of closures. In this instance, you might be offered furlough.

According to Gov.uk: “If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to Covid-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.

“If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

“To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80 per cent of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.”

You can read more details about furloughing here.

Boydell cautions that it is important to note that “while a member of staff is furloughed, he or she could be asked to return at any time that is going to suit the employer.”

She adds: “The grant is a significant lifeline for employers. Teachers in fee-paying schools might not be furloughed because employers will expect remote teaching to be in place (therefore not making the role redundant for the time being). Support staff roles are more likely to be furloughed.”

Is my new international job safe?

With international schools sitting empty, some candidates will naturally wonder if the job they were due to start in September will still exist. We’ve heard from schools and teachers who are all still planning for the next school year, and there’s nothing to indicate that schools are looking to tighten their belts.

Of course, the only way to find out if your job is secure is by contacting the school. If you are worried about being able to travel, it might be an option to start your job remotely.

Should I notify the school that interviewed me if I  am diagnosed with coronavirus? 

If you have a test confirming you have coronavirus, you will then have to conduct contact tracing, and, as a result, may have to tell the school who interviewed you that you have contracted the virus.

You can read here about how contact tracing works.

How can I perform a school visit if that school is on lockdown? 

Now that the government has advised people to stay at home, you won’t be able to visit schools any more.

Instead, you might want to search for the school on Google Street View, view the photographs in the image gallery on the school website, and download the school newsletters to read.

This will provide you with a taste of what the school is like even though you can’t get there.

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