While Elaine Logan had not originally set out to teach at an independent school, she soon discovered that the thriving sector is a fantastic place to work that has given her the opportunities to grow into a career she loves. Elaine got a foot in the door at Dollar Academy by chance and has never looked back.
Now Warden at Glenalmond College, we sat down with Elaine to get her thoughts on the benefits of teaching in the independent education sector in Scotland.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in independent education?
“I had gone to Ross High School in East Lothian as a pupil and knew very little about the independent sector when I began teaching. My first teaching experience was in Viewforth High School in Kirkcaldy, the only reason I had to consider another school was that it had a falling school role and Fife Region were going to move me further north. I had just bought a flat in Edinburgh so this was less than ideal.
“I wanted to be master of my own fate and not reliant on a region giving me a job wherever they chose so when a job teaching English and Developing Drama came up at Dollar Academy I applied.
What are the biggest benefits of working in an independent school?
“The benefit of working in the independent sector is largely that all our parents value education, as they have invested a lot into their child’s schooling. This means that our pupils are motivated and willing to learn in the classroom. The focus can be on pedagogy, so we can teach pupils to the absolute best of our ability, so they can reach the best of theirs.”
What factors influenced your choice of school?
“The schools I have worked in have been first and foremost interested in developing and nurturing each individual pupil. Pastoral Care and Child Protection are the main areas of expertise I've built up over 35 years of teaching. I've been fortunate enough to work for Heads who allowed me to train in my areas of interest, to help me further my learning and bring this into my work.
“In the positions of responsibility that I've held, I've always had autonomy. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to develop the lives of children in your care. As a Head in a boarding school it is the ultimate job in terms of looking after young people 24 hours a day.”
Is there a downside to working in the independent sector or education in general?
“I've always found my work rewarding- being a Head brings enormous responsibility in terms of your pupils, parents and staff. The politics of Scottish education at the moment gets in the way of ensuring all children in Scotland are educated well.
“I'm 100% child centred and sometimes policy makers seem to forget about the children these policies will directly affect.”
How did you go about researching jobs?
“I’ve never planned anything in my career which is unusual. In the words of Robert Frost, ‘I’ve always taken the road less travelled.’”
How do you feel Brexit and the Barclay Review will impact the independent education sector?
“Brexit and Barclay will have a negative impact - Scotland is seen as less welcoming, schools are under more stress financially and pupils are leaving the independent sector as parents can't afford increased fees. This will add numbers to state schools and create even more strain on the sector. This is the toughest time I've seen in education in my career and I started when there were 3 day strikes due to discontent amongst teachers in 1984!”
Elaine is just one of the members of senior management at Scotland’s independent schools. If you want to find a role for you in the independent sector, check our school vacancies or if you’re looking for any advice on getting involved with the independent sector, don’t hesitate to contact us.