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So, how soon can I have my free laptop?

So things are going okay. You've dealt well with their questions; you've had the tour of the school, and you're confident about the afternoon's observed teaching you've got planned.Then they ask whether you have any questions. Of course you have. But what should they be?

Don't wade in with questions about laptops and other freebies. Stick to the job. But don't ask one bland and forgettable question chosen so that you can act politely impressed.

The end of the interview isn't the only place for questions.Thoughts are bound to crop up as you tour the school, and you'll look far brighter if you add an element of discussion to their question session, too.

By the end of the interview, make sure the following points have been covered - either in questions or discussion. Only then should you mention freebies. Find out what pay rises are likely and what extra points are available. Note down question headings on a card, but keep it discreetly with your other papers rather than brazenly ticking off the points.

* The vision: what are the values of the school? You should find out what part it plays in the community and what its ethos is.

* The future: what is happening to the school roll? If it's expanding, promotion may be likely. If it's shrinking and the school is heading for a merger in a couple of years, redundancy could be on the cards.

* Your brilliant career: What are the prospects for professional development? The school might have links with higher education which would allow you to do classroom-based research or to work for a further degree.

* Your subject: what are the curriculum development plans?

* The inspector called: what is the school doing to meet the recommendations in the last Ofsted report? You will have read the report on the web already.

* Miracles take longer: when is the next Ofsted? You may not want to go through an inspection just a term or two after starting your job, especially if the last report highlighted shortcomings in your subject.

* Spinning the tables: Are those exam results a fair reflection of the intake?

* Period pains: What's the contact ratio? You may find your expected 35:5 teaching and non-teaching periods ratio is in fact 36:4.

* The mixture: How do you group the children in my subject? You need to know whether you will be teaching sets, mixed ability or fast-trackers and what your range of work will be. Ask what the school's special needs (including gifted) policy is, whether it concentrates on in-class or withdrawal.

* Purse strings: how well resourced is my subject? If there's little technical support and Miss Smith always has the key to the photocopier, you may not be very happy. Look about you for signs of spending or tight-fistedness.

* His dad's coming in: What's the school's relationship with the parents? Find out whether the head is accessible for three-way parental chats.

* I see you have an Amstrad: what are the ICT facilities? You need to know.

* Paper pressure: What are the class sizes? This is particularly important at A-level in essay-heavy subjects.

* The trickiest one: what role does the head play in school discipline? You don't want to give the impression that you can't control a class, but you need to find out whether your head will be supportive and what pupil sanctions there are.

* And with your third hand: what extras in the way of sports and after-school clubs are expected? With some jobs, some of the above will be answered in a pre-interview discussion which introduces candidates to the school.

Make good use of your time with future colleagues to find out whether the job will suit you and to see what facilities there are.

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