What should you look for in a school?

It's getting towards the end of summer and, if you haven't already got a job lined up, you're probably starting to think about finding work for the next year. Here are our tips for what to look for when you're deciding on the best school for you.
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Philosophy, Atmosphere and Impression

How does it feel when you talk to the director and walk around the school? Is there a sense of the values and mission of the school? Does it feel like a place you’d like to work?

Professional Support and Development

Does the school offer what you want and need? If you’re a new teacher, what kind of extra support will you get as you settle into your first full-time teaching position? If you’re thinking of longer-term professional development goals, what does the school offer? Is there an observation programme in place which focuses on your development as opposed to quality control? How often do in-house development meetings happen? Is there the opportunity of working towards a Trinity Diploma, or other higher qualification?

Teaching Beliefs and Expectations

What are the beliefs around teaching? What are the expectations of teachers? Is there a teachers’ handbook? You want to avoid nasty surprises!

Terms and Conditions

What is and isn’t included? It’s worth finding out whether holidays at Christmas and Easter are paid (and count towards your holiday allowance) and whether the school is open on local and national holidays. Also, remember that legally, schools should be paying everything on your contract (nomina) and that the amount paid on your contract will affect how much money you’re able to claim in unemployment benefits in the future.

Staffroom

If you get the chance to meet them, what are the other teachers like? Do people seem happy to be working there? Is there a mix of experiences? What’s the staff turnover like? Also, depending on how familiar you are with the area where you’re teaching, it might be worth finding out if there’s a sense of community and a social aspect to the school.

Timetables

Does the school try to help teachers in their timetable? Are there opportunities to repeat classes with groups of similar levels? Are your hours blocked or will you have a split timetable? Will you be working in one centre or multiple locations? What levels will you be teaching? Are the courses General English or Exam Preparation and what exams do the students prepare for?

Resources

What resources does the school have available? Think about both the coursebooks hte students will be following, with accompanying teachers’ resources, as well as a bank of alternative activities, such as Grammar Practice Games or Pronunciation Games. How techy is the school and will you be expected to use a lot of digital resources in the classroom? Who provides the hardware and are there back-up systems in place for if it fails? What are the photocopying and printing facilities like?

History and Future

What’s been the school’s journey thus far? What’s the vision of the future?

Students

Last but certainly not least, and probably the most important!… how many students are there? How happy are they? How long do they stay?

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