Top practical tips for supporting the career aspirations of staff as they prepare to move schools

Quote of the Week

“When I give a man an office, I watch him carefully to see whether he is swelling or growing. “

Woodrow T Wilson

Practical Tips

Effective job hunting 

It’s a fact of life that things change, in any profession. We may kid ourselves that periods of stability are what we need but the reality is that movement within the profession (as well as between professions) is what brings new ideas and innovation to our schools, reinvigorating the education they provide. Seeing staff move on and welcoming new staff in their place should surely be celebrated and supported the best we can. So what can schools, and in particular professional learning leaders, do for those who are expressing an interest in continuing their career development, possibly by moving on to new pastures? These practical tips will help:

  • It pays to be selective about which jobs to go for. The promise of the new can become an ordeal packed with regret if career moves aren’t carefully thought through. Advise job hunters that clarity about the purpose of a move is the first step.
  • Organise some kind of forum in which staff can work together to help identify their accomplishments. It’s common for misplaced modesty to tone down personal achievements at work and yet the last thing schools need is for those who shout loudest to get the top jobs! Being in the habit of celebrating, or at least acknowledging, the developments of an individual, makes it easier for those achievements to be condensed into great applications for promotions. 
  • Help those seeking to move to determine how ready they feel for progression in their careers. It is relatively common for us to feel as though we ought to move onwards and upwards without having full confidence in our abilities to do so. A good deal of stress can be avoided by going through any potential inner blocks to progression before taking the plunge with applications.
  • Once inner blocks have been banished through reflection/reflexion, more outward preparations can be worked on such as an up-to-date, perfectly presented CV (useful to draw information from even if it isn’t submitted as part of an application) and a portfolio or evidence of work and achievements.
  • Advise applicants to focus most on achievements and skills. These are demonstrable and can be backed up with evidence whereas little can be used to illustrate what a candidate would do should they be given the job.
  • Keep a close eye on suitable vacancies. It’s not just a matter of checking out what’s advertised. Networking and keeping in touch with colleagues in other schools can yield interesting snippets of advance information invaluable to the job hunters in your school! Just make sure that every base is covered in a varied search.
  • Ensure that those attending interviews have the chance to experience a mock interview before the big day.
  • Aim, overall, to develop the kind of atmosphere in which plans for progression can be talked about openly, rather than covertly. If there is a culture of support and of shared experience, there’s no need for staff members to feel that they cannot request the kind of professional input they may get from a mentor. The emphasis should be on collaboration and professionalism, not competition.

 The bottom line is that while we may share some goals, aspirations and education/work philosophies with others, we basically dance to our own tune, live by our own rules and take a level of risk that we feel able to manage. Keeping that in mind when pursuing professional and personal development is a great way of working with what we’ve got, rather than against it. And there can be no more efficient way of going about our working life!

Find out more

Find out how a teacher exchange scheme in the West Midlands provides high-impact, low-cost collaborative CPD 

Read CPD portfolio tips from the TDA

Try out teachernet’s CV building tool

Issues and Information 

Learning about brain injury

Sadly, accidents happen. We cannot avoid them completely, however carefully we assess risk, but it is useful insurance to constantly enhance skills and understanding through continuing professional development.

Following an incident in which a pupil suffered brain damage, St Peter at Gowts Church of England Primary School, Lincoln produced a DVD on head injury awareness, which is recommended by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The DVD has been created to convey how serious head injury can be and to explain what action should be taken. It draws on expert opinion from a consultant at Alder Hey Hospital, includes the views of staff and pupils, and is recommended for professional development use.

Find out more

Find out more about the DVD by emailing  or by writing to: CAN Media Group, Garmston Court, 18 St.Martins Lane, Lincoln, LN2 1HD

For information about brain injury visit the site of Headway, the brain injury association

This e-bulletin issue was first published in May 2008

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.