It’s that time in the school year when we make most appointments for new teachers to start in September. The normal way of doing interviews in teaching is to have all the shortlisted candidates together in school for one day. This causes some surprise for people who have not been in teaching, as in other fields people are usually interviewed one at a time. During the interviews, we always ask candidates to do a sample lesson, and we get students to feed back on this so their views can be taken into account. Then there are tours of the school, sometimes presentations, and always a formal interview with myself and governors and other senior staff. It’s a gruelling process.
Already this spring we have appointed very promising teachers of geography and mathematics. Today, we are interviewing for a head of Citizenship and PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education). PSHE has now been made compulsory from September 2010, and although we have always covered it at Bennett, it is now time for us to upgrade what we do. Additional time has been allocated to it in the curriculum for next year. It is a particularly sensitive post for us as a Church school – the governors and I are very clear that becasue of the nature of some of the topics covered by PSHE, the person appointed must have a very clear appreciation of the school’s Christian ethos, aims and values.
As with RE, in PSHE teachers need to keep a fine balance between offering students a range of perspectives on the one hand and caving in to the value free society I have referred to before on the other. I was recently discussing this with Greg Clark, the MP for Tunbridge Wells, who asked me if as a Church school we had problems with addressing some of the sensitive PSHE issues. I reflected as I answered the question: what is important for us is making students aware both of the mainstream Christian position, and of other Christian views, on sensitive issues, but perhaps most of all getting students to the point where they have their own principled stance of difficult moral questions. A view which is rooted in something deeper and stronger than just what is convenient or fits in with fashionable perspectives is what we aim for.