What keeps me awake at night - Forms make me foam and fume

10th June 2011 at 01:00
Anonymous views from education's front line

This week: a secondary English supply teacher in the South of England

Why is the process of applying for new teaching posts so unnecessarily complicated? Why the hoops, the merry dance of application formats and inane cover letter questions? Schools, of all places, should know how busy teachers are.

Sometimes you have to wonder whether the decision to create such a time- consuming and laborious pathway to finding a job was in fact a cunning way to prepare teachers for the bureaucratic hoops and administrative goose chases they will face in their daily work.

No longer is it enough to write a detailed cover letter to to accompany a full and glittering CV. Application forms have to be downloaded and completed, transplanting information from one's perfectly readable CV into a series of boxes.

Okay, so a school receiving 200 applications might find it easier to read and compare information listed in the same format. Then why not simply create one national form?

For state schools, applicants are required to fill in the relevant county's application form and safe-recruiting form. For applicants applying to various counties, this process is multiplied until you are punch drunk. If only an actual referee would rush on and blow the whistle for it all to stop.

Clearly all counties seek the same information, so why not have one national teacher application form that a candidate can fill out once per job search?

The most ridiculous question seems to me the standard, "Why do you want to work at this school?" My mental retort is: "How should I know? I've never been there." Yes, I read up on schools, but school websites give precious little real information, instead providing lots of generic buzzwords and silver-lined mission statements.

If I sound frustrated it's because, after spending hours applying for a job last week, preparing my CV, composing an intelligent letter, printing and posting it, the school called me to say it was incomplete as I failed to include the official application form.

Well, shoot me now. With four other applications in the offing, two duff computers and a chest cold, my brain thought "CV plus cover letter" meant no application form was necessary.

I give up. Clearly I must be out of practice at applying for jobs if I didn't realise that you now need application forms as well as CVs, and that emailing an application doesn't preclude you from printing and posting it to ensure the school has two copies of every mind-numbing form you have filled in. I'm exhausted, and I haven't even made it into the classroom yet.

To tell us what terrifies you or to share the unscripted events that have happened in your classroom, email michael.shaw@tes.co.uk.


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