Carluke High School Head Teacher Personal Statement

St Aidan's High School is a six year catholic comprehensive and co-educational school covering the areas of Wishaw, Newmains, Shotts, Lanark and Carluke. The school is accommodated in a number of interconnected single and three-storey buildings which were refurbished recently, with the work being completed in 2010, and included a brand new extensive social dining area for pupils. The campus meets the needs of a modern secondary school and, in addition to well equipped classrooms, incorporates an oratory, a well-equipped library resource centre, a support for learning suite, an assembly hall, a games hall, two gymnasia and specialised areas for art, business studies, science subjects, food technology and music.

Set within a wooded area the campus is very attractive, and the sports facilities are scheduled for upgrade in the near future.

The school provides a very broad curriculum and has made significant progress in the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence. In the light of our new approaches to meeting the Personal Support entitlement of Curriculum for Excellence, and the introduction of a tutor session each day for all students, the school has adopted a new saying 'That no pupil is to be anonymous at St Aidan's HS' - an aim we strive to achieve.

Staff have warmly embraced the new approaches to Learning and Teaching from Curriculum for Excellence, with an emphasis on active learning, Assessment is for Learning Practices and Cooperative Learning - which was always a strength in the school. Over 50 members of the teaching staff have engaged in the school's Teacher Learning Community as part of their personal development. And self-evaluation is an everyday practice.

Student leadership is encouraged through membership of committees, the pupil council, class representation, as well as the higher profile roles of captains and vice-captains. Such leadership is also displayed by seniors when they become involved in 'Buddy' schemes for younger pupils, Learning Partners to support younger pupils learning etc. all of which develops these young adults into individuals we are immensely proud of.

There are many extra-curricular activities available to students, including the following : cross country, athletics, gymnastics, badminton, football, table tennis, swimming and skiing. The PE facilities are available to students every lunchtime to allow them to develop individual skills in badminton, basketball, table tennis and to enhance personal fitness levels. There is a school debating club which offers students of all ages the opportunity to develop their confidence in speech. The club attracts a range of pupils from all year groups and is well supported by English department staff in a tutorial capacity. The Art department provides lunchtime clubs for all ages, along with the many subject areas which offer supported study.

The Music department offers a wide range of activities in which pupils can become involved. Many students participate in the NLC music events regularly performing at Motherwell Civic Centre or indeed in the Spring Concert held at the Royal Concert Hall. School concerts are well renowned for their equality, often resulting in performances in local churches.

Residential events are fairly common, whether arranged as 'study camps' by the Maths and English departments, or music trips abroad to perform in Holland and Germany, social subjects visits to the battlefields in France, language exchanges to Majorca and trips to Paris, or the ever popular ski trip to Italy.

Charity fund-raising is an integral part in the promotion of school values. Regular beneficiaries include the APD in Bangalore, India, an organisation that supports the physically disabled, and we are committed to raising £3000 annually for them. Indeed a member of staff and senior students visit every second year. Our business partnership arrangements with St Andrew's Hospice sees thousands of pounds raised for it each year, through races and the Ben Nevis climb which last year raised £6500. The senior students annually host a Christmas party for the children of Victoria Park School in Carluke. SCIAF is, of course, the main focus of our Lenten charities. Other charities receive funding through our 'bucket appeals'.

The school has established strong links with the parents / carers over many years because we realise that the interest and support of parents is necessary for a complete and successful education. The Parent Council is very active and supports the work of the school in an advisory capacity as well as raising funds for the school. With the arrival of Curriculum for Excellence it is even more important to ensure that such links are close and successful. Information sessions, raising achievement days and parents' meetings during the school day or in the evening are arranged to familiarise parents with the curriculum and the school's methods of delivering it. The school website carries the most recent parent information powerpoint presentation, as well as a FAQs section to reassure parents about the new developments. The website also provides useful links to sources that will support pupil progress and learning at home. Regular newsletters are also used to keep parents informed about events, school initiatives and news, and the calendar of events including parents' evenings.

St Aidan's high school has always prided itself on its commitment to strengthening the links with the community in all the geographical areas which it serves. This is seen in the first instance in our strong and continuing involvement with our associated primaries and with the local parishes. This commitment is also reflected in our involvement in a wide range of fund-raising and charitable activities. Senior students, involved in the new Faith Witness programme, called Caritas, delivered talks on Catholic Education in parishes during Catholic Education Sunday.

As a Gold Health Promoting School, health activities, information and presentations are prominent.

At St Aidan's we also have strong links with our associated primary schools which are St Ignatius' primary, St Aidan's primary, St Thomas' primary,  St Brigid's primary, St Patrick's primary Shotts, St Mary's primary Lanark and St Athanasius' primary. St Mary's and St Athanasius' are both South Lanarkshire schools. A full programme of primary and secondary liaison runs continuously throughout the year. In the first term, the parents of primary seven children from the associated primaries are invited to attend a partnership evening in Saint Aidan's HS. This event allows parents to take part in workshop activities which reflect the everyday classroom experiences of our First Year students.

Regular meetings are held between our own teachers and that of our associated primaries. In addition, staff from various departments in the school, are timetabled to teach in primary seven classes, or to support curriculum development within the primary schools. In the summer term, members of the St Aidan's high senior management team and pupil support staff visit the primary schools to meet with the incoming first year students and to discuss individual student needs with primary colleagues. Arrangements are also made for all incoming first year students to participate in a two day visit to the school in the month of June, and a further day's involvement in a sports event, supported by the PE department and senior students. The pupil support teacher also meets all primary seven pupils for a one to one interview prior to the move to high school. Considerable care is taken in the formation of class groups to ensure an appropriate mix of pupils. Each child has two or three members of their own primary seven class within their S1 class, where possible.

St Aidan's HS is a thriving community and we are delighted to see our results improving for the young people that we serve.

Please use the 'contact us' box if you have any questions. For more information, see 'related pages', 'downloads' or 'other useful websites'. 


  • Last updated: 8 July 2016

The purpose of any interview is to find the best person for the job. But with candidates’ nerves jangling and the recruitment crisis causing increased pressure, it can be hard to make sure the right appointment is made.

So we’ve spoken to a range of headteachers and deputies from across the UK to find their top tips on how to be a good interviewer. Here are some insider tips:

Set the questions

Selecting the right questions ahead of interviews is key, according to Andy Smith, headteacher of Carluke high school in South Lanarkshire. “You need to develop a clear picture of the behaviours, knowledge and skills you would expect the successful candidate to have, and tailor the questions to ensure that you draw these out,” he says.

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“They should be clear, concise and open.” For example: “Please describe how you have improved learning and teaching in your current post and tell us how you know you have been successful.”

The headteacher might select the questions alone or in consultation with other panel members. For some promoted posts, the questions may be decided upon by a leeting panel, while some local authorities have standard question banks.

Decide which panel member will be asking each question and take time to discuss what a model answer might be. You could write down the key points you’re looking for, or ask particular panel members to take careful notes relating to particular questions (to avoid everyone scribbling furiously at the same time). And make sure you talk about what will happen if the panel can’t reach agreement.

Peter Kent, headteacher of Lawrence Sheriff school in Rugby, says: “The interview should be an extended conversation that helps you get to know the person. Tricky questions can often achieve little if they merely put the interviewee on edge.”

Get set up

It’s important to adopt a tone that is both professional and relaxed. Have water and tissues to hand, make sure phones are switched off, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door, and arrange the seating so that is not too close to heaters.

“Sit around a table, keep the panel small and avoid a sense of rushing,” says Kent.

Carefully consider where you hold the interview too. “I was once interviewed in a room with a corrugated roof,” Smith says. “Hail stones started and the interview turned into a shouting match.”

The questioning

You might want to consider how the interview questions could be rephrased in advance as candidates are allowed to ask for this.

It’s also a good idea to give the candidate an idea of the running order from the outset, and that there will be a set bank of questions for each candidate, to make them feel comfortable. Lee Card, deputy headteacher at Cherry Orchard primary school in Worcester, adds: “[Make clear] that individual responses may elicit further follow-up questions and discussions. This assures candidates that you are not drilling away at a response because it wasn’t a good one.”

You can also ease candidates in before getting to more technical questions. Sharon McLellan, headteacher of Laurieknowe primary school in Dumfries, says it is good to start with a settling in style question.

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Robin Bevan, headteacher at Southend high school for boys in Essex and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) national leadership representative, recommends using questions that don’t have an obvious answer. For example: “How would you handle a pupil who is refusing to comply with your instructions?” could lend itself to a textbook response. You could re-phrase this to: “Can you give me an example of a time when a pupil refused to comply with your instructions? What did you do and what effect did it have?” As a follow-up: “If you encountered the same situation again, is there anything you would do differently?”

Bevan is also a fan of questions that give a flavour of the individual, such as: “What do you do to relax?”, and those that require the candidate to talk at some length, such as: “Can you tell me about your favourite bit of chemistry?”

“If they come across as unenthused on their favourite topic, then I don’t want anything to do with them,” he says.

Keep to time

You might be spending a full day interviewing, with lunch and coffee breaks scheduled in, so it’s important that candidates aren’t allowed to go beyond their allocated time. “Setting out expectations at the start of the interview will help,” says Smith.

Feedback

It’s easy to fall into a trap of positively encouraging candidates. But Smith cautions against this: “Don’t give praise after responses. A polite ‘thank you’ is sufficient. You don’t want unsuccessful candidates who have been told their answers were ‘fantastic’ or ‘brilliant’. This makes feedback very difficult.”

At the end of the interview, Alan Crawford, assistant principal of Shireland Collegiate Academy in Birmingham, says it is important to be clear with candidates about when they will hear the panel’s final decision. You should also devote enough time to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates.

Involve students

Rather than relying on the interview alone, it’s good to use a number of methods to help you identify the best candidate, such as giving the pupil council an opportunity to meet the potential new recruits.

And it is highly likely that you will want to see the candidates teach. As Ralph Surman, deputy head of Cantrell primary school in Nottingham, says: “They are not going to know the children, but that doesn’t matter. I am looking to see if they would fit into the context of the school. Would they be the right kind of person to teach the kind of pupils that we have?”

You might also want to include a written task for secondary teachers based on the academic content of their subject, for example a question from a recent A-level paper.

Offer candidates a tour of the school, but be sure to show them round individually. “Otherwise,” says Bevan, “you get a fairly horrible piece of behaviour emerging – the competitive question asking.”

Trust your instincts

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It’s important to remember that interviewing is a dynamic process, and the person who looks strongest on paper might not turn out to be the best on the day. As Kent says: “We need process and rigour, but my experience is that instinct is often a key indicator in finding the right person.”

It also helps to be prepared for the unexpected, according to McLellan. “I once interviewed with a colleague and one of the candidates had a complete meltdown and was inconsolable,” she says. “Another time, I had to stop an interview when it became clear that the candidate hadn’t the first clue what we were asking. He had been away from teaching for several years – a fact he omitted from his fabulous, well-written application form.

“As for the taciturn candidate who stated, straight-faced, ‘I am very enthusiastic’… Let’s just say my colleague and I had to suppress our sudden, surprisingly synchronised, coughing fits.”

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