rocking horsebetween rocking horses and maths teachers?  

Well … let me tell you my story: 6 years ago, about this time of year I was on my PGCE and having given up a “proper” job to go into teaching I needed to be in position where I knew I had a job in September, and ideally I wanted to start work as soon as the course finished, so I started applying for jobs straight after Christmas. I thought I was extremely lucky to have been invited for three interviews (how little I knew!) all within the town I now work in. I was quite specific in the area I wanted to work as I didn’t want to live in the catchment area, but also still wanted to be relatively close (my days of driving 50 to 55,000 miles a year were over!). Bizarrely the interviews were scheduled within about 3 or 4 days of each other. I was quite apprehensive as I hadn’t taught a lesson since the end of my first placement – they went like this:

School 1. I went to the interview day, taught a lesson had my interview and then when asked if I’d like the tour asked to withdraw my application. For no reason, other than “it just didn’t feel right” – I am not a touchy feely kinda person (well I wasn’t then!) and I even surprised myself. There were 2 experienced teachers in the field of candidates and 3 other PGCEs including someone on placement at the school (who was also on my course at the university). The job I believe went to the PGCE student  and a second position was given to an experienced teacher.

School 2. My subject mentor at my placement school had previously worked there and gave me an insight, so I thought I was prepared. Historically it had a reputation for being a bit “tasty” – in fact the school was National Challenge BUT that ticked a massive box for me – I like a challenge and having run a town centre pub for several years, thought 16 year olds were going to be a “walk in the park” compared to drunken rugby teams on a Saturday night. I taught my lesson (I remember it was “ratio” and myself and a student were planning a bank job and agreeing how to split the money) – a phone went off, which I confiscated and the students were so cheeky I loved it! I met all the department and they seemed cool, Seager was so driven it was unbelievable and he reminded me of a previous boss who “got things done”. I knew as soon as I was asked to take the second interview slot (There were a massive number of candidates … TWO!!) that I was on the home stretch and then during the interview that question was asked: “If we were to offer the job would you accept” …. my response was “are you offering it to me? Until there is an offer I don’t have a decision to make” … as you can guess I was (and still am) very upfront! and lo and behold I had a job lined up.

School 3. I never attended the interview and I know that my PGCE partner from my first placement who was doing her placement at the school got the position. I always felt odd applying for it and had no qualms about not going (don’t worry I did call and tell them I wasn’t going!).

I am still at that very same school – in fact all of the department did their NQT years there, which speaks for itself as we are all extremely happy – most of the time 😉 In my time we have only had a need to recruit one teacher. He was a field of one! I never realised how much of a shortage  there are for maths teachers … of course I’ve read the reports, and the headlines, just never appreciated it – even the fact that there are more maths jobs on TES at any one time than every other subject (ALL THE TIME!!) just didn’t sink in. I also know that the “history” of a school stays with it for some time, but we were most improved school in Jan 2013, and this year (and last) have some of the best results in the town (and indeed the county!) and whilst the cohort has its “challenges” (gotta love that word) its a great place to work. Yet, the response to our recent ad for an additional maths teacher shows that the situation with maths teachers hasn’t changed that much – we’ve had a few applicants (I haven’t seen the applications). I genuinely thought that things were a’changing but it would appear not to be the case as I’ve spoken to quite a few HODs and they are struggling to recruit in pockets around the country.

The implications to the new GCSEs and the plans for the new post-16 core maths are immense – where are the extra teachers going to come from for the extra time that is going to be needed. The idea of using non subject specialists fills me with horror (we’ve never had to do it! but I can see why some schools would need to) and if by now, you haven’t sussed out the punchline … here it comes … Maths teachers are like “rocking horse poo”. Fact!

PS: the not living in catchment worked really well .. very first weekend on the job I was in my local supermarket (I may even, have had one or two bottles of wine in the trolley!)  and met one of my tutor group, who happened to spend weekends with his dad in my village (about 13 miles from school).

PPS: Quite enjoyed that little bit of blogging procrastination … my “to-do” list is staring at me … angrily!!