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Applying for a promoted post

Are you ready for a promotion?

Before applying for any promotion, you should first ask yourself some hard questions and answer them honestly, based on what you really do in your current job and your current understanding. If you struggle to answer any of the following questions confidently then think long and hard, are you really ready for promotion and if not, what do you need to do to prepare yourself better?

1. Can you clearly articulate your key strengths and what you can offer to the job?

2. Can you illustrate your key strengths with examples and illustrations from your current work?

3. Do you keep up to date reading educational articles and undertaking professional development?

4. Do you have a clear understanding of your own drive, motivation, and career goals?

5. Will you be comfortable in a new position that regularly challenges you?

6. Will you be able to adapt your leadership style to different circumstances and the changing requirements of the job?

7. Can you explain how you will motivate staff and build a team?

Before Applying

Prior to filling in your application prepare your referees – usually, you will need two referees who will provide references for you. In the past, these have been confidential but in the spirit of openness in the public sector, most of these are now open references, which you can see. You should prepare your referees for them being asked to provide one, firstly by asking their permission to name them and giving them time to consider their reference well before being asked. You really don’t want to have applied for a post, named referees without their permission, and then given them very little time to write a considered and fulsome reference. Normally in schools, your headteacher would be expected to complete a reference, they regard this as part of their job, however, if the headteacher is new to the school it is perfectly permissible for a Depute Head to fulfill this function. Your current Principal Teacher (Head of Department) is usually the other expected referee for anyone unpromoted applying for a promoted post. Asking another unpromoted colleague to complete a reference really isn’t going to be helpful as it raises questions about your relationship with senior staff.

The application form

Most application forms are online these days, ensure you complete them fully and spell everything correctly. In 30 years of interviewing several hundred applicants and reading thousands of applications, I have seen hundreds of poorly filled-in application forms. With teaching a graduate profession you expect forms to be correctly filled in, but sadly my experience is one where I have read forms that were almost illegible (in the days when many handwrote forms), poorly spelled or incomplete. Online applications make it less likely to make mistakes – but don’t forget to double-check everything.

The curriculum vitae

You need to spend time on a well-written and well-structured curriculum vitae (CV). This is the one document that will be closely examined and scored by anyone reading your application. The CVs of all applicants will be checked against the essential and desirable skills, listed in the person specification, for the job you have applied for. This is why your CV should be reviewed and if necessary re-written for every job you apply for. The other thing your CV should attempt to do is highlight any experience you have which would help you cope with the job description of the post you are applying for.

If you are lucky you might have had the chance to work on some management tasks while unpromoted, all of this enhances your CV. I was fortunate to be solely responsible for two subjects at the start of my second year in teaching. I was already a Geography teacher but because I had a teaching qualification in Economics, I was asked to take on teaching Economics in the school. I had at the same time requested to teach a relatively new qualification in Geology. I had started to study two years distance learning including one month each summer holiday at Dundee University to get my Geology qualification, up to the level of an Ordinary Degree and at the same time obtain a Teaching Qualification. In Scotland teachers cannot be asked to teach a subject they aren’t qualified in (unlike many other parts of the UK) – at that time to teach a subject, teachers were required to have studied the subject for at least two years at university and then obtain a teaching Qualification from a teacher training college.

I found myself in my second year in teaching with sole responsibility for ordering books and materials for two subjects, writing two new courses, and presenting pupils for external exams in three subjects. This effectively gave my CV a head-start, in the race to be noticed.


Applicants for any post need to realise that there might be many applications for a post and probably only 4 to 6 applicants will be short-listed for interview. Probably most applicants will have the relevant years of experience to be considered for a promotion but only those with the most carefully crafted CVs have a chance of making the short-list. Your CV is the first opportunity you have, to sell yourself as a potential candidate for an interview.

Leading: A handbook for aspiring leaders (School Management 1) eBook : Cunningham, Ritchie: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

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