Teachers' Christian Fellowship of NSW

Promotion: An elusive goal?

Most teachers will consider or seek promotion during their teaching career. Achieving that goal is more difficult then most teachers think and often I hear disappointment, frustration and criticism of current merit promotion practices.

Remember, no system is perfect and some of the issues include:

For those thinking about promotion, here are a few tips and insights into the system as practiced in both government and non government schools.

1. Do your homework

When a position is advertised find out everything you can about both the position and the school. Ask if there is someone relieving in the position, how long they have been doing it and if they are likely to be a candidate? Often schools favour a person from within the school who has already demonstrated that they can handle the position than to take a risk on an outside person. However, the relieving person may not be doing a great job and the position is really open to someone from outside. So find out all you can about the school and the position.

2. You need more than a CV.

Keeping your CV up to date is a basic requirement but applying for a position requires more documentation. Depending on the position being applied for, you will need to address criteria. Failure to address any of the essential criteria means that you are culled before any serious consideration of your application.

When addressing separately each criterion, keep the statements short making sure you don’t go over any minimum word prescriptions and use concrete examples wherever possible to demonstrate that you meet the criteria and don’t simply just know about it. One way to get around any lack of experience with some criteria is to include in each criterion a paragraph about how you would act when in the position.

Remember that the aim of the application is to get an interview so each of the essential criteria must be addressed satisfactorily and probably any other criteria as well. Most applications need a letter of application which should be brief drawing attention to the name of the position being applied for and listing the inclusions in the application to show that it is complete.

3. Choose referees carefully.

Referees are important. After a successful cull you will have an interview. Most procedures require the selection panel to speak with referees. Your immediate supervisor should be one of your referees and depending on the position being sought select someone who will enhance your application by being in a similar or higher position. Talk with your nominated referees to ensure that they will support your application and then give them a copy of your application. Too often positions are lost when the selection panel talks with a referee and find them unsupportive or indifferent to the application or haven’t seen a copy of the application. Don’t take their enthusiasm for granted. They must be able to answer the panels question and reinforce your application.

4. Think ahead

If you are seeking promotion make sure your principal knows and ask if you can fill in any relieving positions that might come up. Certainly talk with your principal about other jobs and roles within the school that you could do to help an application for promotion by allowing you to demonstrate criteria for higher positions.

Final note

Christian teachers are often caught between duty –being a good teacher – and self promotion. In a perfect world, good teachers and potential leaders would be recognised and promoted. But we do not live in a perfect world and if Christian teachers are to be influential in education then they must play the game, but play it with integrity – don’t make false claims and pray. In the end you need to be where God wants you.

John Gore