Identity crisis for teachers in free schools? Just look at this job advert for a teacher at WFLS...

Francis Gilbert's picture
I was interested to read the adverts for an English teacher at the West London Free School in the TES this week. In addition to being an English teacher, there were a number of other jobs possibly involved. I quote:

"Being able to teach Art, Classics, Geography, French or Spanish in addition to the above subject would be an advantage. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a full-time or part-time position teaching any of those additional subjects we’d also like to hear from you.

A contribution to one of the school’s general areas would be a distinct advantage.

In particular the ability:

  • to develop and lead the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme

  • to establish the CCF

  • to lead the Special Needs and Gifted and Talented provision

  • to co-ordinate IT throughout the school

  • to take on a pastoral role

  • to coach Hockey, Netball or Cricket

  • to teach a particular musical instrument"

I suppose the point here is that teachers at WFLS will clearly have to be "flexible" and won't necessarily be "subject-specialists"  -- something Toby Young, its founder, has lambasted other state schools for not having enough of. In a way, it's not surprising because small schools always have to have staff who take on a number of different roles. It makes think again that the most efficient and best use of resources would have been for the West London community to pool its resources and add to the staffing of the high-performing Acton High School rather set up a whole new school; in a larger school, it's much easier to employ subject-specialist teachers because of the economies of scale. That way there would not have been this identity crisis as to what a teacher is supposed to do at WFLS.

Overall, it reveals the central problems with the free school policy which is almost exclusively focused upon opening small schools.
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Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 08/11/2011 - 08:13

The advert for the multi-tasking teacher at WLFS also says,"We want teachers who... have a track record of outstanding achievement coupled with a deep understanding of curriculum development and teaching and learning [and] ...are either NQTs or have what they regard as the necessary experience."

An NQT (newly-qualified teacher) can't demonstrate a "track record" so is really debarred from applying. Perhaps the clue for what kind of teacher is required is in the words "what they regard as the necessary experience." In other words, the applicant doesn't need to be a qualified teacher - s/he only needs to demonstrate that s/he has what is regarded (by the applicant) as "necessary experience".

Ian Taylor's picture
Tue, 08/11/2011 - 09:47

I think you are being a little hard Francis.

It should be fairly simple to find the NQT (newly qualified teacher), who believes they have lots of relevant experience. It implies that the school does not want a qualified teacher with years of experience. Simple! This may sound like an oxymoron to some, but then this is probably because such people have not benefitted from a “liberal classical education”. (I now see that this means being liberal with the education provided. It’s also cheaper.)

They only want someone who can teach English, Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, CCF, lead the Special Needs and Gifted and Talented provision, co-ordinate IT, take on a pastoral role, coach Hockey, Netball or Cricket, teach a particular musical instrument, and have the potential for rapid promotion.

I can only think of one person with this sort of arrogance and self-importance. Having two such people in the same school might be overdoing things.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Tue, 08/11/2011 - 18:38

Yes, Ian, I suppose they want someone who is a) cheap and b) will do whatever they are told to do; in other words, a good, "liberally educated" chap.

Rosemary Mann's picture
Thu, 10/11/2011 - 18:34

Sorry, ''chap''? With all that multitasking requirement I think not.

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