Apprehensive about teaching in London?

Published on 31 October 2016 to NQTs

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Each year we attend over fifteen university recruitment fairs on behalf of the Croydon Headteachers’ Association (CHTA) to speak to students who are about to graduate about the merits of working in Croydon.  As Croydon has great transport connections many are already familiar with the borough but one of the questions we’re most frequently asked at universities outside the capital would be ‘Isn’t it much harder teaching in London?’.  Our answer to that is ‘No, not really’.  Having had these conversations a number of times I thought I’d blog here about my thoughts on this and why London (and Croydon in particular) can be a wonderful place to work:

  • London has motivated students.  Since the millennium London’s schools have seen a ‘startling turnaround’ in their standards and are now amongst the best in England.  We have invested in CPD for our NQTs and other teachers and sought to recruit, train and support the best school leaders.  Record numbers of London children leave primary school having mastered the basics of the ‘Three R’s’ and this gives them a springboard for getting good GCSE’s at secondary school.
  • London has great school buildings and Croydon has some of the best in London.  With a rising population Croydon has expanded or refurbished many of its primary schools and built new secondary schools.  When facilities are great this leaves teachers free to concentrate on teaching.
  • London seeks to recruit and retain the best staff.  With the recent teacher shortages schools in London are offering very attractive recruitment packages to new staff. These vary school by school but may include a higher starting salary, relocation allowances or payment to attend training or undertake school based work at the end of the summer term for those starting in September.  In Croydon we also pay an outer London allowance which represents an uplift of over £3,600 for those joining on M1 of the teachers’ Main professional Scale.  In September 2016 teachers at the start of their career in Croydon earn at least £26,139.
  • London offers a concentrated variety of school types and the opportunity for quick career progression.  We have a number of ‘homegrown’ and national Academy Trusts as well as maintained schools, faith schools, free schools and independent schools.  For committed staff there are great opportunities for career advancement without ever leaving the borough.  Those teachers ready for the next stage in their career will find a post in Croydon with minimum delay.
  • London teachers support one another.  Many of Croydon’s schools are now larger than average and new staff are supported by their departmental or year group colleagues with help and advice.  In primary schools there are frequently planning teams where existing staff will guide and mentor those new to the school.  Should an issue arise with an organisational or behaviour issue there is usually an experienced member of staff there to help.

And finally London has a great community mix.  Croydon is a vibrant borough, full of vitality, with over 50 languages spoken in our schools and this is never more clearly demonstrated than when schools hold ‘International evenings’ with families keen to share their culture and cuisine.  Most parents and carers are keen for their children to do well and support them to do so, just as they do in any other part of the country.  If you are apprehensive the very best way to overcome this is to try to have a chat with someone who already works in a Croydon school or arrange to visit a school prior to applying for a post.  Like many of us who, once upon a time, made a similar visit we are sure you’ll be made very welcome.

Christine Lonsdale – Teacher Recruitment Consultant, Octavo Partnership.

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