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All newly qualified teachers in Scotland must complete a period of probationary service to show that they meet the Standard for Full Registration. While state schools may be a conventional choice, independent schools offer a unique set of advantages that can shape your professional journey in many exceptional ways. If you're a new teacher considering your probationary year, here are five reasons why you should consider an independent school.

1. Develop Beyond the Classroom 

Independent schools place as much emphasis on activities outside of the classroom as they do within, a holistic approach to development that is not limited to students. Through the diverse array of extra-curricular activities on offer, independent schools provide a platform for teachers to explore their interests, whether it be drama, sports, or music.

This personal investment not only enriches a teacher's experience but transforms them into mentors to students beyond academics. Consequently, students and teachers develop stronger bonds, grounded in shared interests.

2. Small Classroom size and tailored curriculum  

One of the hallmarks of independent schools is their emphasis on smaller classroom sizes. The lower pupil-teacher ratio allows for more personalised education, and a deeper understanding of each student's needs, which often creates a more rewarding learning experience for both pupils and staff.

Moreover, independent schools have the autonomy to design their curriculum, granting new teachers the freedom to tailor their lesson plans to match their student's needs and their teaching style. This flexibility ensures that a probationary year becomes a playground for creativity and experimentation, ultimately enhancing your teaching skills and enjoyment.

3. Support

Independent schools have a good reputation for supporting career development and progression. Lara, who had her probationary year at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh, highlights the help she was given: 

“The support was exceptional from the start. I had a mentor in the department who met with me weekly ‘officially’ but was also on hand at any time to offer advice and act as a sounding board during busy times of the year.”

Such support is incredibly valuable and helps new teachers to grow in confidence and ability. By providing mentors, regular catch-up sessions and general tips and advice from full-time staff, independent schools are pivotal in helping new teachers climb the career ladder.

4. Location

An undeniable pull of many independent schools is their idyllic settings, nestled in beautiful natural landscapes. Beyond these rural settings, independent schools often enjoy the best of both worlds by being conveniently located near bustling cities. This proximity offers young teachers access to a wealth of cultural, educational, and recreational opportunities. 

5. Learn from the best!

Working in an independent school, you are surrounded by highly experienced teaching staff who you can learn from. This was the case for Lara:

“I was surrounded by colleagues who had been at the school for 10, 15 years + which to me, told me all I needed to know about the environment I had entered.”

By spending time among these seasoned professionals, trainee teachers develop new teaching techniques and gain invaluable insider knowledge. What’s more, they are able to observe how experienced staff handle challenging issues and approach different topics.


Interested in teaching at an independent school? Visit our vacancies page here.