This is NOT you. You might think this is you; your mother and friends may even convince you that this is you, but I’m sorry- this is definitely not you.
Was what your inner monologue said when you agreed to an innocent coffee with a nice sounding, nice looking person you met online. Silly you for expecting them to actually look as hot as they did in their pictures. (Now hurry up and text someone and tell them to call you with an ‘emergency.’)
My point? If some schools were dating, their pictures would have Snapchat filters all up in their shit. This blog is not designed to alarm as in actuality most of the deception described in here is rare, but nonetheless, your keenness to start your first job may get the better of you if you are unaware.
School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions, otherwise known as the Burgundy Book. This, naturally beautiful people, is the reason why you are ‘only’ at school for 195 days of the year; it is the reason why you don’t get paid even less. It is the reason why – as one school did, then had the cheek to brag about on twitter—you are not in on a snow day shoveling snow to clear the school site. It is also the same document that instructs Headteachers’ to: ‘Lead and manage the staff with a proper regard for their well-being and legitimate expectations, including the expectation of a healthy balance between work and other commitments.’ It actually does this. Really.
So why do you need to know? Well, as academies are not bound by STPC, (unless they choose to be) some academy Headteachers’ converted to academies for the sole purpose of shit-canning the STPC document- in short so they can pay and treat their staff however they want. Let me reiterate: most academies do follow STPC, however if they don’t, you can bet your golden hello that they aren’t going to tell you on their website. An innocent, ‘Do you follow pay and conditions?’ when you visit the school will suffice.
The school day finishes at 3.15pm, right . . . Right?
Wrong. Well, mostly right but occasionally wrong. In some academies, staff have contracted hours that far exceed the presumed. For example, you may be contracted 8.00am-5.00pm. The kids however leave at 3.00pm. So why the extra 2? The reason is usually so that SLT have the ability to hit you with intervention sessions without your consent. Imagine doing a 2 hour intervention session with your year 11s and then having a surprise year 8 book scrutiny the next day. Now, if managed reasonably this most likely won’t happen- not without a lot of prior knowledge- but personally I feel that the one grace of having such a high workload as a teacher, is that we can do it when we want: This is not a privilege I would voluntarily relinquish and I suspect you wouldn’t either. Academies that do this normally trick potential staff by only putting the kids’ timetable on their website. Then once you’ve made it past the interview and confirm that yes, you are still a firm candidate, they casually slip it into conversation. (At this point, text the friend you texted earlier with another BS emergency).
Union guidelines are exactly this- guidelines. Headteachers’ don’t have to stick to a damn thing- at least not in the way they have to stick to STPC. It’s all down to the staff to push for these to be adhered to. Whether or not a school follows union guidelines will definitely not be on their website, but if you’re clever enough, you will either acquire gossip or you can steer a conversation in that direction when you visit. A good litmus test is whether or not a school has a parents evening and a meeting in the same week. If they say something like ‘Meetings go on as long as they have to’ . . . you know what to do.
The Ofsted scam
Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure that schools are obliged to put their most recent inspection report on their website. Either way, all do so regardless. Occasionally a school will have a grade which they’d rather not show off, as it would deter (wrongly, in my opinion) potential candidates. So what they do is this: on their website they will have a tab for ‘Ofsted reports’ which will contain one from years ago and it will all be fine and dandy. The most recent one- the shit one- will be in an area that is not so obvious so you’ll naturally assume that the obvious one is the most recent one and won’t look any further. (Disclaimer: If you scroll through my blog, I have written about how we should not obsess with Ofsted grades. Deception however, is never a good start to your career!) Check the dates on any report you read.
By Omar Akbar
For more advice and guidance check out The Unofficial Teacher’s Manual: What they don’t teach you at training college. Available on Amazon £6.75/£3.99