Niamh Cullen is principal of Harcourt Terrace Educate Together National School since it opened in 2018 and has worked in Educate Together since 2005.
Niamh has also worked with newly qualified teachers for many years. She trained as a mentor with the National Induction Programme for Teachers in 2007 and has mentored teachers in all school settings and classes. Niamh is an Associate with NIPT and facilitates induction workshops, Cluster Meetings and PST Training. Between 2015 and 2017, Niamh was seconded to the Teaching Council.
Niamh is passionate about supporting supporting teachers, in particular NQT’s. This is one of the reasons we like to call her our NQT Queen!
What are the key things a principal looking for in the hiring process especially when it comes to NQT’s?
First to say that we know you are NQT’s and we don’t expect you to have buckets of experience. I do look for/am interested in:
- someone who has read the ad properly and sends the correct items in the application.
- You! – so let your personality and interests come out in the application.
- your final year research project- does it match with the needs of our school?
- Team player
- Someone who sees the whole-school picture -we are all in this together
- Someone who knows the curriculum and is prepared
- Someone who is willing to learn
What experiences would you say would make an NQT stand out for you either in an interview or when they are working in a school?
- Flexibility – especially in developing schools
- Hard worker – prepared and ready to teach
- Someone who knows the children and their interests and invests in their relationships with the children
- Professional behaviour
- Sense of humour and fun
- Join in a team / nights out
- Can say no if they need to
- Asks for help
- Tells me if they made a mistake – together we can sort it out-if I don’t know, I can’t help
- Willing to learn
What is your favourite thing about teaching and working in an Educate Together school?
The feeling of belonging and feeling valued as a staff member.
The sense of equality between children and staff, using first names for staff really helps with this, and the child-centred nature of Educate Together schools. When we find a decision difficult to make, we always do what will be best for the children. I also love how the children’s voice is so important, we ask for their opinions and we want children to be active in their own learning.
What are some other factors you would need to consider for an interview or job in an Educate Together school?
- Be careful on your application to have the school name right.
- Educate Together schools don’t have a Rev. Chairperson – this is important – address the letter properly
- Learn about the ethos and the Learn Together programme
- Be careful to highlight how you would teach to the ethos of Educate Together schools, rather than to one particular faith.
- Meet up with someone who works in an Educate Together school and find out more about them .
What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to a teacher or final year student as they embark on the job hunting process?
- Don’t get disheartened -it can take time to get your dream school/job
- Learn about the school before you apply – don’t be generic in your application form
- Talk to a staff member if you can before an interview
- Get out and sub as much as possible – you will learn so much including the kinds of schools you like/don’t like.
What is the key piece of advice you would give to an NQT at the start of the year?
- Be the kind of teacher you wish you had in school
- Get on top of planning early-don’t let it build up. Try to use Thursday to do all your planning for the following week, either stay late or do it at home and then you can enjoy Friday with your class and you can prioritise yourself and your family time over the weekend.
- Read the important school policies
- Invest in getting to know the children and their families and your colleagues. Relationships are crucial!!!!
- Pace yourself. Do something nice for yourself every week.
- Remember we know you are newly qualified -we don’t expect you to be perfect!
- Ask for help
- Remember everyone struggles from time to time.
- Be flexible and use every situation as an opportunity for learning. See how others work, try new things, but don’t compare yourself to others – you are unique, you do you!
A huge thanks to Niamh for sharing her insights. We are delighted to have Niamh back with us on March 10th for our CPD webinar series. See further details below!
By the end of this webinar, you will:
- Know what principals are looking for, instead of worrying about what it is they want.
- Have clear, practical guidance on how to put your best foot forward in interview, instead of panicking about what to say.
- Have an understanding of what it is like to work in an Educate Together school, instead of wondering what the difference is.
- Feel empowered to take the next step in your journey to becoming a teacher, instead of feeling unsure of what to do next.
Okay so we’ve all been there – a job post comes up on your screen that you hadn’t seen before and the deadline is that day!
You quickly rush the application to get it in before 3pm and pray to Beyonce (she’s like God, right?) that it’s acceptable!
What an exciting time of the year! Your main lessons and topics are complete and the pupils are getting excited for their summer holidays. It can be a challenging time to keep pupils engaged in classroom lessons due to exciting events on the horizon like school tours or sports days, so I like to keep things light and fun and still try to ensure the learning is taking place.