Perfectly placed

16th March 2007 at 00:00
What is the ideal school for you? Sara Bubb offers some guidance

What's your idea of a perfect school to work in? It might not be the same as one you would like to have gone to as a pupil or where you'd send your own children. It's important to know what your ideal is because you need to find somewhere that suits you.

This won't be easy and you may have to compromise at first, especially as the few vacancies there are tend to be in places that people with more choice avoid.

There are 25,179 schools in England, at the latest count, and 2,261 of them are private. So the first thing to decide is whether you should go into the independent or state sector. There is still some mistrust and prejudice leading to limited movement between the two, so you need to be aware that you may find it hard to get a job in a state school later if you start off in an independent.

Many private schools are lovely places to work, but some are appalling. You should check that the school teaches the national curriculum in the same way as a state school, and that it keeps up to date with developments. Some can be rather conservative and tied to tradition, and you may not want to risk that hindering your development as a teacher.

Induction is optional in the independent sector, though good schools encourage it. It will certainly help you through your first year and make you a better teacher.

The range of state schools is vast: there are community, foundation, specialist, faith schools and academies. New applicants need to first think through the contractual implications of the different types, as well as the likely support available. For instance, faith schools prefer teachers to be of the faith, but may not rule others out. Advertisements often say something like: "Applications are welcome from practising Catholics and others who feel they can make an active contribution to the aims, values and activities of the school."

Faith schools are either voluntary aided (VA), which means that the governing body is the employer, or voluntary controlled (VC), which means that the local authority is the employer and they have less autonomy.

As you see, read and hear about schools, build up your vision of the best place to work - for you. What suits one person, may be hell for another Sara Bubb is an education consultant specialising in induction. She answers questions on our forums at

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