Evaaeri
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Hello fellow teachers,

I'm an overseas qualified teacher of English (non-native but with QTS) with over 10 years experience of teaching secondary English in UK schools. I've always wanted to teach in a good independent school but due to my background I've always doubted myself a bit, worrying that I won't be seen as good enough to teach there. Maybe it's a self fulfilling prophecy or maybe it's elitism but while I haven't had major problems securing employment in state schools, I've been unsuccessful getting more than one interview in an independent school.

I'm a consistently good/outstanding teacher and when I'm given a chance to teach top sets I get excellent results. I'm often the only person with Masters (non-UK but still) in my department, and usually the only examiner, the only person who attends conferences or Teach Meets. Yet more often than not, I'd be timetabled to work witch EAL students, often in bottom sets, withdrawal groups, clubs etc - in one school 70% of my teaching timetable was EAL 'support', in another I tough Option Support instead of GCSEs.

Now, I respect EAL students but I don't know more about teaching them just because I'm an immigrant yet many seem to assume so. I don't want to be pigeonholed as a 'literacy catch up teacher' just because I'm not a native speaker. My interests lie in exploring alternative ideas, designing whole-school curriculum etc and I constantly feel that I'm not in the right place. I'm not saying I'm too smart to teach bottom sets but while some teachers love this kind of challenge I don't want to spend my life just doing crowd control, breaking fights and teaching ABC. I've changed schools a few times and it doesn't seem to have helped.

For a moment I was considering doing another degree in Philosophy, Ethics and RE so that I can change my subject to one when one's first language is not as important but then I've decided to apply to Oxford to see if I can get a place on one of their Master's courses. I did. Now, I'm wondering what's the best career move for me - should I accept the Oxford's offer in Msc Learning and Teaching in hope that it will open doors to a different teaching experience? What would you do? Would you go for the Msc? Would you change your subject? Would you leave teaching altogether (I really don't want to but will consider it). I wonder what you think.
Last edited by Evaaeri; 1 week ago
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04MR17
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(Original post by Evaaeri)
Hello fellow teachers,

I'm an overseas qualified teacher of English (non-native but with QTS) with over 10 years experience of teaching secondary English in UK schools. I've always wanted to teach in a good independent school but due to my background I've always doubted myself a bit, worrying that I won't be seen as good enough to teach there. Maybe it's a self fulfilling prophecy or maybe it's elitism but while I haven't had major problems securing employment in state schools, I've been unsuccessful getting more than one interview in an independent school.

I'm a consistently good/outstanding teacher and when I'm given a chance to teach top sets I get excellent results. I'm often the only person with Masters (non-UK but still) in my department, and usually the only examiner, the only person who attends conferences or Teach Meets. Yet more often than not, I'd be timetabled to work witch EAL students, often in bottom sets, withdrawal groups, clubs etc - in one school 70% of my teaching timetable was EAL 'support', in another I tough Option Support instead of GCSEs.

Now, I respect EAL students but I don't know more about teaching them just because I'm an immigrant yet many seem to assume so. I don't want to be pigeonholed as a 'literacy catch up teacher' just because I'm not a native speaker. My interests lie in exploring alternative ideas, designing whole-school curriculum etc and I constantly feel that I'm not in the right place. I'm not saying I'm too smart to teach bottom sets but while some teachers love this kind of challenge I don't want to spend my life just doing crowd control, breaking fights and teaching ABC. I've changed schools a few times and it doesn't seem to have helped.

For a moment I was considering doing another degree in Philosophy, Ethics and RE so that I can change my subject to one when one's first language is not as important but then I've decided to apply to Oxford to see if I can get a place on one of their Master's courses. I did. Now, I'm wondering what's the best career move for me - should I accept the Oxford's offer in Msc Learning and Teaching in hope that it will open doors to a different teaching experience? What would you do? Would you go for the Msc? Would you change your subject? Would you leave teaching altogether (I really don't want to but will consider it). I wonder what you think.
Firstly I think this is a really hard dilemma you've got here and thank you for sharing and providing the context for this.

I have a few questions really.
Is the area you live particularly EAL-heavy? And do you intend to stay in this area?
A change of school/region could mean you're in a school with virtually no EAL provision (due to the student composition) and so you would not be pigeon-holed as such.

In terms of the question in your thread title, I think a Masters from Oxford would certainly enhance your application. But I think you should think carefully about whether it is your qualifications that is limiting your applications to independent schools or something else. In many cases not getting a job is just something to do with the successful candidate. Perhaps they had a particular thing that they wanted or already had a connection with the school (which wouldn't particularly surprise me at an independent school)?

My other question is why is it you want to teach in an independent school? Is it simply the clientele of the pupils or is there another reason? There are plenty of state schools in which you can find well-to-do, well behaved and often rather wealthy pupils and families in much the same demographics as an independent school - so don't discount these either.

Finally, what feedback have you had from applications so far? Perhaps this is indicative of where the problem lies at the moment.
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Evaaeri
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(Original post by 04MR17)
Firstly I think this is a really hard dilemma you've got here and thank you for sharing and providing the context for this.

I have a few questions really.
Is the area you live particularly EAL-heavy? And do you intend to stay in this area?
A change of school/region could mean you're in a school with virtually no EAL provision (due to the student composition) and so you would not be pigeon-holed as such.

In terms of the question in your thread title, I think a Masters from Oxford would certainly enhance your application. But I think you should think carefully about whether it is your qualifications that is limiting your applications to independent schools or something else. In many cases not getting a job is just something to do with the successful candidate. Perhaps they had a particular thing that they wanted or already had a connection with the school (which wouldn't particularly surprise me at an independent school)?

My other question is why is it you want to teach in an independent school? Is it simply the clientele of the pupils or is there another reason? There are plenty of state schools in which you can find well-to-do, well behaved and often rather wealthy pupils and families in much the same demographics as an independent school - so don't discount these either.

Finally, what feedback have you had from applications so far? Perhaps this is indicative of where the problem lies at the moment.
Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

To answer your first question yes, I used to live in an area which was very EAL heavy, North London or SE London. We have moved close to Canterbury now and I’ll be looking for a different school when I’m ready (probably in a year or so). I don’t mind high EAL numbers and I want as much diversity as possible but what really bothers me is being asked to teach EAL but being unable to place them in right set, etc. In order to do this I’d have to be SLT or Head of English which is hard if you’ve taught bottom sets only and don’t have great results!

Why private? I think I’m tired of academies and the complete lack of agency, constant learning walks (sometimes 20 a week before Covid, stupid ideas such as all lessons should start with a yes/no questions etc. Many of my friends teach in independent schools or have children there so I know they have a bit more independence, are not that obsessed with OFSTED etc.

Secondly, it’s the behaviour. Even though it’s considered my strength I hate crowd control. I know that it might be a problem everywhere but I really don’t expect a GDST student to be rolling by on the floor or under the table for 20 minutes or punching everyone in the class 3 times a week. I’m also really annoyed by children who are born in London and never can be bothered to go anywhere, haven’t been to the British Museum, don’t read etc. Maybe it’s a different culture but I don’t want to be a mum of 30 or a social worker. I want to be able to teach most of the time. I know I can stretch and challenge students to get 7/8/9s but so far I’ve been unable to demonstrate on my CV that I am knowledgeable. I hope that this Masters will open some doors. As to the interviews, for years I though my degree wasn’t good enough as it’s a non uk BA and non Uk masters. I’m hoping that with this Postgrad I’ll be able to show they I have a good subject knowledge and that I can teach. It can be a private or a good state, I don’t mind.
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04MR17
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(Original post by Evaaeri)
Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

To answer your first question yes, I used to live in an area which was very EAL heavy, North London or SE London. We have moved close to Canterbury now and I’ll be looking for a different school when I’m ready (probably in a year or so). I don’t mind high EAL numbers and I want as much diversity as possible but what really bothers me is being asked to teach EAL but being unable to place them in right set, etc. In order to do this I’d have to be SLT or Head of English which is hard if you’ve taught bottom sets only and don’t have great results!

Why private? I think I’m tired of academies and the complete lack of agency, constant learning walks (sometimes 20 a week before Covid, stupid ideas such as all lessons should start with a yes/no questions etc. Many of my friends teach in independent schools or have children there so I know they have a bit more independence, are not that obsessed with OFSTED etc.

Secondly, it’s the behaviour. Even though it’s considered my strength I hate crowd control. I know that it might be a problem everywhere but I really don’t expect a GDST student to be rolling by on the floor or under the table for 20 minutes or punching everyone in the class 3 times a week. I’m also really annoyed by children who are born in London and never can be bothered to go anywhere, haven’t been to the British Museum, don’t read etc. Maybe it’s a different culture but I don’t want to be a mum of 30 or a social worker. I want to be able to teach most of the time. I know I can stretch and challenge students to get 7/8/9s but so far I’ve been unable to demonstrate on my CV that I am knowledgeable. I hope that this Masters will open some doors. As to the interviews, for years I though my degree wasn’t good enough as it’s a non uk BA and non Uk masters. I’m hoping that with this Postgrad I’ll be able to show they I have a good subject knowledge and that I can teach. It can be a private or a good state, I don’t mind.
In which case, I'd repeat what I said earlier - state-maintained schools vary considerably depending on the local context. There are schools who are not obsessive about Ofsted or constantly on SLT learning walks, but I guess sadly in the currently climate, finding that school is quite tricky. So by all means, look at independent schools, but don't limit your scope to the private sector. Kent is much more middle class and affluent than parts of London and this reflects in pupil outcomes, behaviour and also in EAL pupils.
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