Dilemma

11th September 2009 at 01:00
I am considering a move to the independent sector. I want to teach French A-level. I am drawn to teaching rather than behaviour management. Would the fact I haven't taught A-level go against me?

You mention the desire to do more higher-level teaching in languages and to focus on actual teaching rather than class control. The good news is that you can certainly do more teaching and less behaviour management in the independent sector. The bad news is that you are unlikely to get a job offering you A-level teaching when you have no experience in this area, despite the fact you mention you have TLR in languages at your current school. So you have to decide which you want. Teaching as opposed to policing, or teaching A-level.

You haven't said if you are limited to just one geographical area or could move. If you are restricted this will make it harder for you to find an independent school job. You won't see any key stage responsibility advertised - that sort of thing tends to be shared out internally among staff. Teaching and learning responsibility posts don't exist as advertised posts, although carrying a responsibility would normally get extra pay.

Possibly, one way to get A-level experience would be to teach an evening class in your local FE college, if your contract allows you to do extra work. But it would be a big commitment doing that with no experience on top of a full-time teaching job.

Why not try moving to an independent school that caters for pupils up to the age of 16. When you get there you might have the opportunity to offer AS French for an accelerated group of Year 11s. That would be a start.

- Theogriff is the resident independent schools expert on tes.co.uk, having spent many years as the head of a large independent school.

I think your degree, and the fact that you also hold qualified teacher status will be seen as positives by heads in the independent sector. The fact that you have no A-level teaching experience is not ideal, but I don't think it is necessarily a deal breaker. It is possible to teach up to GCSE in an 11-18 school, thus gaining experience of the sector and its pupils, before being gently introduced to A-level classes. The fact that sixth form teaching is split into AS and A2 levels means that the learning curve is not quite as steep as it could be: AS-level is a step up from GCSEs, but it is not as extreme a step as teaching A2. If you are a strong candidate through your GCSE experience, and TLRs to date; if you have something to offer on the extra curricular side of things, you will be considered for a position, but you may not be given the responsibility allowances someone with A-level experience might be offered. It will depend a great deal on the nature of languages teaching at a particular school, and independent schools do offer great variety. In the meantime, it would be worth familiarising yourself with the A-level curriculum and examinations, and seeing if you could observe some sixth form lessons in the subject.

- Judith Fenn is head of schools' services at the Independent Schools Council.

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