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'Getting a job in primary is about who you know, not what you know'

When it comes to getting a job in teaching, it’s not the qualifications that matter, writes one teacher

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I had a job interview. I’d done my hair, put on my make-up and donned my Job Getting Dress (not too smart, not too scruffy, not too maternity-looking, nothing that might make me look like a threat). I gave it my best shot.

I’ve been to a fair few teaching interviews in my time. There’s usually the lesson to teach to a bunch of unknown children – and then the analysis of it afterwards, without you either looking arrogant or too defeatist. There’s the lunch with the staff, or worse, an interview with the school council.  Then there’s the hours and hours of waiting in the staffroom, followed by hours and hours jumping every time the phone so much as looks like it might be going to ring.

This time, the head waited until I was about to serve the tea at home. I was hard-pressed to be polite, I admit – in between draining the pasta and serving the sauce – and was unable to do anything more than grunt in a non-committal sort of way while she told me that I had interviewed really well, answered all the questions, but that the other person was just what they wanted.

The face does not fit

They wanted someone from not too far away, I suppose. Someone who trained locally. Someone who might even have gone to the school, back in the day. Someone who knows the right people, or the right people know them. Someone whose parents, or partner, or friend or relative know someone who knows someone else who works just around the corner. Someone who has waited their turn, played the game.

Because when it comes to getting a job in teaching, funnily enough, it’s not the qualifications that matter. I look at those person specification checklists, all fastened so nicely to clipboards, all filled in so nicely, and I want to throw them out of the window. Because let’s face it, getting the job comes down to one thing and one thing only, and it isn’t anything to do with the list. Getting a job in a primary school is all about who you know, not what you know.

Looks like, if I want to move on and get the hell out of this dead-end job, I might have to take a turn on supply. Get my face, not my certificates or my experience, out there.

The writer is a teacher in the West of England

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