Upon completing year 4 of the B.Ed., your thoughts are supposed to turn straight to subbing worries, how to fill a standard application form and how youwill ensure that you stand out from my newly qualified colleagues, right? Wrong. Not if you were successful at interview for a full time teaching position at the end of March. The catch, I hear you ask? The first leg of my commute to work begins with a trip across the Irish Sea.
At a time when final exams were looming and assignment deadlines were fast approaching, we were sitting on the steps of our house discussing what the future might hold. A friend had told us about her experience with an agency in England and as she shared the details, it all sounded too good to be true. The agency book your flights, pick you up from the airport, ferry you around to schools with positions available and put you up in a hotel. I felt as though there was nothing to lose so my friend and I got in touch.
One phone call later and a hopping WhatsApp group was formed, flights were booked for the end of March and the wheels were set in motion. It was so straight forward that I spent the next few days wondering what the catch would be. So often, we had been warned about the dangers of teaching in the UK – the parents are impossible, the standards are too high, the paperwork is insurmountable and the behaviour is unimaginable. I decided to get some more balanced advice rather than listen to these sweeping generalisations and soon after we landed in England.
I had no expectations for the trip, which I think worked in my favour. Because of the mountain of college work and other commitments I had, I didn’t have long to prepare for the interviews and I didn’t know the names of the schools so I couldn’t learn anything about them! I just knew I had to prepare a 20-minute numeracy or literacy lesson, so I put most of my effort into that as well as reading about the curriculum. I was told that the interview would be ‘informal’ so I didn’t worry too much about it.
On the morning I arrived, I was picked up and taken straight to school. We visited four different schools with various positions available over the next two days and the only complaint I have was that it was pretty tiring! The interview process involves 3 separate steps making it quite different to the Irish system. At each school I had to teach a lesson, complete a written activity and have a short interview. Each school did this differently which kept me on my toes but because I had no expectations, it was hard to be too nervous.
I was thrilled to hear from the agency that I had been offered a position at a Catholic Primary School which seemed similar in set up to an Irish Primary School. The interesting thing about working with the agency is that they want to ensure that the school suits you and not just the other way around! I accepted the position and since then I have been excited (and nervous) for the next chapter of my life as a newly qualified teacher. One of the best things about all of this, of course, is that upon successfully completing my NQT year in the UK, my qualification will be converted back and I will have completed by induction process with a year of teaching experience in my back pocket.
Moral of the story: don’t panic! There are other ways and means of getting to where we need to be. I hope to share my other experiences and escapades with you soon.