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Those unforgettable days in education

RICHARD FAWCETT. president of the Secondary Heads Association

"My first interview was at a public school. I remember thinking it was very different from the world I'd experienced as a grammar school pupil. I remember being walked up and down a terrace while everyone was having tea, and the PE teacher running in with her lacrosse stick.

I was interviewed by the head in the refectory area and we consumed most of a chocolate cake while discussing the job. I didn't really feel I was the person for it: they wanted me to run economics in the school as well as geography. But it was a most enjoyable experience.

It was the unexpected informality. I talked with the head for nearly an hour and got really alongside him. Had it not been for the economics, I would have gone there and my career would probably have been entirely different.

My first job was at a grammar school in Berkshire. I was appointed as an asistant teacher of geography. I remember the head's enthusiasm at the interview - that's what impressed me there.

I think what you get to know is whether you've really got close to someone, whether you've hit it off with the people and with the school.

I've had a few interviews that have not gone well. On one occasion the head didn't even speak to me. He spoke to one person most of the time, so I was quite convinced this person was going to get the job, which he did. I felt totally rejected: it was clear that I was not of any interest and minds had been made up. That's demoralising.

It's incredibly important to avoid the hasty decision. There's a phrase often used - you only get one chance to make a good first impression - and it is very worth remembering that. But it's awful if people make their minds up because of some trifling thing right at the beginning of the process. That's just wrong."

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