How Not To Get a Job Interview

Teaching jobs are getting more and more scarce every year in Ireland. The days when you could almost graduate, pick the school you wished to work in and gain a permanent position have all but disappeared. Nowadays, it seems that substituting and temporary positions are the norm for most teachers starting out. It appears that only the very lucky or well connected have chances of long term positions.

However, before getting near a job, obviously you need an interview! Getting a job interview is also getting harder than ever before. With many schools now allowing teachers to apply for jobs electronically, this means that it is easier and cheaper to apply for many more positions. It also means that schools are getting a lot more applications than normal.

Getting an interview means that you are getting a chance for a job so how do you rise above the other applications to get an interview? There are a number of places that will give you hints and tips, but here are some things to do to ensure you don’t get an interview.

1. Make spelling or grammar errors

Even one error in your application can file an otherwise amazing application into the shredder. While not every interview panel will mind the odd typo, some are unapologetic about throwing away applications with even one error. The theory is that if one is going to be careless in a job application, they will be careless in their job.

2. Make a template then send it to every school

As teachers are sending hundreds of applications, it is often tempting to make a template application and send the same one to every school. This can backfire very easily. In order to make a good template, you’re going to have to generalise the answers to a lot of the questions. Therefore, you’re not going to say anything specific about any school you’re applying for. Worse yet, it seems that there are templates out there in the world of forums and web chats that are borrowed and copied and pasted and sent to loads of schools. In any batch of 100 CVs, there are probably 50 others like it.

3. Write to the wrong person

If you’re putting in a cover letter, be sure that you address the person properly. Here are some real examples I have heard or come across:

  • Dear Reverend Chairperson – to a chairperson who is not a priest
  • Dear Sir/Madame – to a priest. (As of yet, I don’t think there are many madame priests)
  • Dear Mary – to anyone not called Mary!

4. Talk about the wrong faith 

This is probably to do with the fact that the majority of schools are under the patron of the Catholic church. However, if you’re applying for a job in a school that isn’t of a Catholic ethos, while it is admirable that you have claimed to be passionate about Catholic teachings, most of these schools see that you’ve just copied from a template and your application is likely to go into the bin.

5. Don’t read the advertisement properly

You’d be surprised how many applications come in the wrong form to schools. For example, some schools this year only accepted applications via email but still received lots of envelopes, much of which didn’t get opened. However, if you check out the advertisements on Education Posts, often a school will add a few lines to applicants asking for particular things or perhaps asking not to include certain items. If you don’t follow these instructions, you might be missing out on a school that might have wanted you.

6. Make sure your only hobbies are reading and socialising

Schools like teachers to be able to do other things other than teaching. For example, if you’re a grade 8 pianist, you could be gold dust to a school who have just lost their only teacher who could play the piano. Perhaps a school has lost their GAA coach to greener pastures and are desperately looking for a former under-14  GAA player of the year who continues to coach kids at weekends. Who knows, there may be a school who want to set up a computer club and you might just have designed web pages for your mum’s online business? All your hobbies might be relevant to a school so put them in and show how you could be used in your school.

7. Have a level 1 certificate in any sport from college and nothing else

You more than likely have a Grade 1 certificate in coaching some sport. I’m afraid that all your friends in college did the same. You’re going to have to stand out more in an application so add some details. For example, talk about what you did to get the certificate and how you’ve put it into practice. Whilst on the subject, try to get a few qualifications outside college to boost your application. Perhaps you’ve done a First Aid course or an interesting (certified) evening course?

8. Be Bland

“From your web site I can see that your school is an inclusive, welcoming and enjoyable place to work in.   This is an atmosphere that would suit someone like me.” These sentences could be about any school (with a web site). To an interview panel, it translates as: “I have merely copied and pasted the same applications over and over again. I don’t even know what school this piece of paper is going to.” Be specific about why you want to work in a school. Tell them why you want to move to their school or how you admire something that they are known for. This might take time but it may pay off in the end.

9. Photocopy your applications badly

If you really feel you have the best template application and you’re going to send it to schools, you’re going to be using a photocopier if you’re posting applications. Whatever you do, make sure your application doesn’t look like it’s been photocopied. Fingerprints, coffee stains and other smudges do nothing to make your application stand out in a good way. Some people send applications on different kinds of paper, which is risky but sometimes effective. While it goes without saying a loud pink paper with glittery writing isn’t going to go down well, a muted cream or off-white good quality paper might make a panel member look twice at the application.

10. Handwrite your letter of application

For some odd reason, there was a rumour going around that teachers should handwrite their cover letter to show off their teacher writing. The problem is that it is very hard to write a handwritten letter well and conventions differ greatly from a printed letter. While that doesn’t seem to be a problem, the difficulty is that most people can’t remember the correct way to write a handwritten letter these days and this can lead to all sorts of confusions. A final reason to avoid handwriting letters is that when you’re handwriting 200 cover letters, even the best handwriting becomes scrawly eventually.

Of course, the best way not to get a job interview is not to apply for jobs! I always recommend that teachers put a lot of effort into the schools they would most prefer to work in. Five really good applications, I believe, are better than hundreds of templated photocopies.

Coming Soon: Back to School Webinar

We’re delighted to be running a Back to School Webinar near the end of August.

Last year we held two super webinars for teachers heading back to school. The first was centred around COVID19 mitigation measures and what teachers could expect. The second was all about infant education.

The webinar will take place on 26th August from 7:30pm. It will consist of 3 parts with 6 of our top sellers chatting with the Mash Team about everything from Special Education Teaching to setting up a Side Hustle as a teacher.

Why not save the date on your calendar here:

Numicon At Home Kit

I recently purchased this kit for use at home. We have a nearly seven year old who seems fascinated with number and learning his multiplication tables presently so I thought I would make good on this interest!

The Numicon model is used in many classrooms in Ireland. It is primarily used in the Infant classes but can be used at any age or setting. Numicon aims to give children a positive experience with early number, number ideas and number relationships. My boy really enjoyed simply playing and interacting with the numicon shapes and building different structures with them. For that alone, they are great play tool! But, they are also based on pedagogy of learning maths and work really well with helping children visualise what a number looks like in objects which in turn impacts on future use with number sense and mental maths.

What I really liked about this kit is that all the resources come in a draw-string material bag and a Book of activities which are essential for parents that are not teachers. It also comes with the basic set of 32 Numicon Shapes, 32 Numicon Pegs, Feely Bag, Numicon Zig Zag Book, 3 Threading Laces, Baseboard, 2 Picture Baseboard Overlays and 0-10 Numeral Cards.

I really liked the Numicon at home kit. It does what it says and will be a great investment for your home or SET setting.

Numicon At Home kit retails for €69.99 and is available from all good educational stockists. I purchased this product myself. This is not an advertisement. 

Something BIG is coming to Mash

Just wanted to let you know that some big changes are coming to

Over the coming days, we’ll be transforming our site with a whole new look and feel, changes that will not only make it easier to find the educational resources you’re looking for, but also see exactly what you’re getting. And by adding some new payment options and improving security, we’ll be making our check-out experience much more convenient too.

However, there is a small downside. To make these improvements, we need to take Mash offline for 2 days and you won’t be able to buy any products from us during this time.

To minimise disruption, we’ve scheduled the changes to occur from 13th to 14th July, our least busy summer holiday period, so on the off chance you’re looking for educational resources during this time, we apologise for any inconvenience.

We promise the changes will definitely be worth the wait, so please bear with us, we’ll be back up and running by the 14th July.

Euro 2021 Sensory Football Match

With Euro 2021 underway, I thought I’d share a few ideas of how to bring the game into the classroom with a virtual sensory football match.

Re-creating a football game is an excellent way for sensory explorers to learn about the game of football and other cultures.

This activity can be done using any combination of teams. For the purpose of this post, I have chosen Italy vs Spain.

Gathering Props

Audio Clips/Recordings of the Italian & Spanish National Anthems and of a Football Crowd

(These can be recorded and then played back via a Talking Tile/BIGMack /Dictaphone/Phone or iPad App or through your whiteboard, you will find free donwloadable audio clips on the internet)

Smells & Tastes of Italy

Basil Leaves, Fresh Parsley, Dried Pasta, Pizza, Garlic (bulb, flakes, powder or infused in food: garlic bread/crackers) Dried coffee beans/granules (decaffeinated), Ice-Cream.

Smells & Tastes of Spain

Olives, Dried Rice/Rice Pudding (Paella), ‘Sangria’ (non-alcoholic fruit juice), Tortillas, Peppers, Spanish Omelette.

Table Football Game

Fans (Hand-held/Battery), Penne Pasta/Straws, Ping Pong Ball/Polystyrene Ball/Pom-Pom, Football ‘Net’ (this can either be drawn on the able with chalk or you could use small fishing nets held by the ‘goal keepers’ at either end of the table)


Whistle, Party Blower


Football Scarves/Shorts/Shirt, Flags (these can be printed off the internet or drawn – the students could create their won flags prior to the match) Bam Bams/Thunderstix/Boom Sticks/Horn/Drum/Clappers, Oranges/Satsumas /Juice, Trophy (Gold Coins/Stickers)



  1. Explore the football kit with the option for the sensory explorers to wear during the match.

  2. Divide the sensory explorers into two groups of football supporters, Italian and Spanish.

  3. Present each group with their countries flag to wave as they listen to the audio recording of the National Anthem in turn. (Option to ‘play’ along to the anthem using musical instruments)

  4. Explore the smells and tastes of each country.

  5. Build anticipation skills counting backwards from 3 to 1 giving the cue for the sensory explorers to blow their whistles/party blowers to signal the start of the match.

  6. Play the audio clip of the crowd cheering.

  7. Begin your game of table football by placing the ping pong ball/polystyrene ball/pom pom in the centre of the table.

  8. Sensory explorers move the ‘ball’ by directing their fans or blowng through straws/ penne pasta. Alternatively they could flick the ‘ball’ using their fingers/hands.

  9. When a goal is scored pass the Bam Bams/Thunderstix/Boom Sticks/Horn/Drum/Clappers for exploration.

  10. Play the game either on a timer or until everyone has had a turn on the ball then break for half time to enjoy a tasty segment of orange/satsuma or drink of juice.

  11. Switch ends of the table then play the second half of the game.

  12. The winning team have their National Anthem played as they collect their ‘trophy’ (this can be made from a cardboard cut-out covered in foil or a reward such as a gold coin, sticker, certificate or other motivating/rewarding item.


For more sensory ideas and inspiration, visit the website

Your questions, queries, comments and feedback are always welcome!






Journey into Space – A Rhyming Multisensory Story & Exploration of the Solar System Video

I was delighted to have been invited to present at the Sensory Festival hosted by Richard Hirstwood earlier this month.

I was asked to present a video of one of my stories and I chose one of my favourites,  ‘Journey into Space – A Rhyming Multisensory Story & Exploration of the Solar System’

I thought it might be interesting to share the link with you in this post as it will give an insight in how I like to tell my multisensory stories and tips of sourcing props, delivery and extension activities.

To celebrate this story, I am offering the story at a discounted price of 3.49 euros (normal price 5.80 euros) until 30th June 2021.

Here is the link to the story

Table of Contents:

Buckle Up! Story Prop Checklist
How to Tell a Multisensory Story
Journey Into Space A Multisensory Story
Developing Comprehension & Understanding
Story Map
Space Sounds  (Listening Game)
How to Make a Space Themed Sensory Bag
How to Make a Space Themed Sensory Bin
Space Relaxation  – A Guided Relaxation Space Adventure!
Create an Astronaut Role Play Area
Galaxy Art
The Space Lab
Space Design & Technology
Q & A

Your questions, queries, comments and feedback are always welcome!

Happy Exploring!


June Teaching Calendar – Ideas and Inspiration


June 1st – 30th    Pride Month

June 7 – June 13 National growing for Well-being Week

Encouraging people to get growing to promote physical and mental health, connect with nature, learn new skills, reduce anxiety, acquire new skills and enjoy the outdoors.

Classroom Ideas

  • Plant a wildflower garden.

  • Plant herbs on a windowsill.

  • Make a ‘vegetable scraps’ garden.

  • Start a compost heap.

June 11th – July 11th Euro 2021

  • Learn football skills.

  • Play a football themed listening game (click the link to learn more about listening games) Suggested sounds: Referee whistle, crowd cheering, football being kicked, vuvuzela/thunderstick/horn/hand clappers.

June 12 – June 18 Drowning Prevention Week

  • Talk about the dangers of water and how to enjoy water safely

June 13th Cupcake Day to raise money for Alzheimers.

  • Enjoy making or decorating a cupcake.

  • Hold a cupcake sale.

  • Hold your own ‘Bake Off’ competition.

June 14th18th Healthy Eating Week

  • Explore new foods.

  • Themed Sensory Food Tasting Session. Theme your foods (e.g. ‘Green’ food tasting (celery, peas, lettuce, avocado, mint, cucumber, grapes)

  • Discuss the benefits of healthy eating

June 19th – 25th National School Sport Week

  • Try a new sport!

  • Hold a Sports Day

June 20th Fathers Day

  • Have you made your cards yet?

June 21st World Music Day

  • Explore instruments from around the world. (if you do not have access to these instruments then the internet has a host of free audio clips)

  • Create an orchestra. Have students taking it in turns to ‘conduct’.

  • Listen to a piece of world music.

June 21st World Yoga Day

  • Get stretching! Even 5 minutes a day is beneficial.

June 21st World Giraffe Day

  • Play an audio clip of the ‘humming’ noise a giraffe makes. Can the sensory explorer imitate the sound? Record their voice and play it back.

  • Explore Self-Expression through movement.Watch footage of a giraffe. Can the sensory explorer lope and gallop like a giraffe?

June 26th – Jul 18th Tour de France

  • Get on your bikes .

  • Explore all things French! (Music, food, dance and of course, Towers!)

June 28th – July 11th Wimbledon

  • Play tennis.

  • Enjoy strawberries and cream!

Bought to you by Rhyming Multisensory Stories

Connecting Individuals with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities to LIterature, Topic and Culture

Preparing for an Interview

Useful Language & 5 Topics to Consider


“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare”

Preparing for an interview is a daunting experience. Where to begin? What topics to research? What language to use

Throughout this blogpost, I am going to walk you through some useful tips and tricks around the areas of language and popular topics to consider. Remember, you are a highly qualified individual and an interview is an opportunity to showcase YOU! I am going to show you how.

Language is the reflection of ourselves. It is an exact reflection of the character, knowledge and growth of its speakers

Positive language is vitally important throughout an interview. An interview board want to appoint someone who is positive, expressive, informed and happy. A positive teacher, using positive language has a tremendous impact on a school community. Positive attitudes in the classroom are fundamental to promoting positive mental health in the classroom, as well as building the self-esteem and confidence of the children in that classroom. A positive teacher is also significant in developing staff morale and a satisfactory staff dynamic in a school.

Examples of positive language to be used throughout an interview:

  • I was fortunate to….
  • I thoroughly enjoyed….
  • I love teaching
  • I was inspired by….
  • The initiative was very beneficial to the children
  • It may have been challenging but it was worthwhile as the children benefitted greatly
  • I am passionate about….
  • I have an appreciation for…..

Buzzwords are a useful tool to utilise throughout an interview. Buzzwords aid in presenting a candidate as someone who is passionate about teaching, knowledgeable in the area of current research and committed to continuous professional development.

Here are some examples of useful buzzwords

Pssstt…..find 30 Interview Buzzwords and what they mean here:

5 Topics to Consider when Preparing for Interview

  1. Know who you are and what your strengths, qualities and talents are

This seems like an obvious one, but is often one of the first questions asked in an interview and can challenge candidates.

The main reason for this is because it is a question that we often refer to as being “easy! I know everything about myself and what I am going to say”. It is only when you begin to say it out loud that this answer is difficult to structure as some information about yourself will not be relevant while other information is significant. It is one of the most important questions as if it is not answered well, can unsettle a candidate.

  • Promoting Positive Mental Health

Now, more than ever, promoting positive mental health is fundamental to teaching and learning in our schools. Holistic education is a comprehensive approach to teaching which supports positive mental health in our schools. This is where educators seek to address the emotional, social, ethical and academic needs of the students in an integrated learning format. It is important to be clear on ways in which you plan for holistic education in your classroom and therefore, promote positive mental health within your classroom and beyond.

  • Research the school and know what they value most

Knowing and referring to the achievements, values and priorities of a school is very important in an interview. An example of this may be that the school community are passionate about promoting positive mental health throughout the school. Can you add to this? What would you like to add? Have you engaged in any initiatives or programmes previous to this interview such as The Amber Flag Initiative with Pieta House? It is crucial that you make reference to the research you have done on the school and how you can be of help in further developing some initiatives and ideas.

  • Mandatory Policies

Mandatory policies are fundamental to the safe operation of any organisation, but particularly a school. Mandatory policies are policies which are among the most important documents in a school’s building. These include, but are not limited to-

  • Child Protection
  • Health & Safety
  • Anti-Bullying
  • Code of Discipline

Research these policies on the school’s website and refer to them throughout your interview.

  • The Continuum of Support

The Department of Education has set out the Continuum of Support framework to assist schools in identifying and responding to students’ needs. The framework recognises that special educational needs occur along a continuum, ranging from mild to severe. The Continuum of Support is a problem solving model of assessment and intervention that enables schools to gather and analyse data, as well as to plan and review the progress of individual students. It is important to research this framework. The resource pack is available here:

The Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy– How can we help?

The Primary Teacher Interview Consultancy was established to help teachers, at any stage of their career, in any educational setting, engage in interview preparation and guidance, to realise and achieve their full potential. The consultancy has many consultation plans which cater for those at any level of experience and self-confidence within the area of teaching interviews. We delve into all relevant topics, current research, legislation, policies and circulars. We provide for well-structured answers and a high standard of vocabulary and language, also known as ‘buzzwords’. All consultations include a copy of our ‘Sample Questions Booklet’. We are here to support you, through guidance consultations and mock interviews, to ensure that you achieve your goals. All followers receive a 10% discount when quoting ‘’ on booking, before the 1st of July 2021.

Follow us on Instagram for lots of tips & sample questions- @teacherinterviewireland

Email us at to make an enquiry/ booking

Review: Let’s Teach! Library (Prim-Ed)

If you are a fan of the Prim-Ed ‘Comprehension Box’ and are also a regular and frequent user of digital tools in your classroom, then the Let’s Teach platform will be a perfect fit for you. The Prim-Ed, ‘Let’s Teach’ library is an online interface where teachers and students can access and engage with the very popular resource, ‘The Comprehension Box’.

Once you log in for your free two week review, you have access to the three levels of The Comprehension Box and the corresponding teacher manuals. The Comprehension Box 1 (red box) is aimed at 1st and 2nd Class, The Comprehension Box 2 (green box) is aimed at 3rd and 4th Class and The Comprehension Box 3 (blue blox) is aimed at 5th and 6th Class. You then set-up your students and assign them to the appropriate level box. The Let’s Teach Library is a digitised version of the actual boxes.

Then you must register your class. Each student can be registered individually and registration requires an email address. Realistically this will have to be a working email address that the children can gain access to their login details and password generated and sent through the platform. In this case, using their Google Classroom accounts would not work, so you would need to have the parents email.

When the children log-in, it does require a little bit of guidance from the teacher as to how to access the comprehension cards and questions. However, once they have mastered this the rest is very easy to navigate. The children can begin on card number one and work their way through the entire box, at their own pace. Each digital box is broken down in 15 different colour coded sections, which progressively increase in complexity as you move through them. Each card has a specific comprehension skill as a focal point. The child reads the card on screen and then completes the multiple choice questions. The child receives a score of how many answers they got correct and the option to view the incorrect answers they chose. They then move on to the next card.

From the teacher side, you can keep a track of what pupil is on what card and can collect data on what percentage they are getting correct. It is very easy to interpret and to use. Mistakes are highlighted and patterns of errors easily identified. These could then be used to target a mini-lesson on the specific area of difficulty. I really love this aspect of the platform, as I do not have to wade through checklists and grids to identify the areas that need improvement.

The digital version is pretty identical to the actual The Comprehension Box which almost every school has. If I was a learning support teacher in the senior end of the school, this would be one of my tools to help children work independently on skills they require. I would re-teach the comprehension skills being taught in the classroom. I would then work on completing a card together and then assign a card for the child to complete independently (either at home or in school). This would be a fantastic way to engage their attention, integrate technology and reinforce skills that they will require through their school life. The younger children would definitely need adult support to navigate their way around the platform. However, the older children would have no issues. A child in fifth or sixth class, with an exemption from Irish and/or with literacy difficulties would gain a lot from completing the cards independently. This is a great tool that a teacher could add to their planning for Literacy.

Teachers can avail of a free trial with this link – 

Themes for June

We’re nearly there! June is a month that lunch breaks get slightly longer as we keep the children outside for a few more minutes because it’s good for them. Nothing to do with the fact that a bit of sun won’t do the tan any harm! 😂  However, inside the classroom there’s still work to be done in between the Sports Days and school trips (remember those pre-COVID?) Here are some ideas to keep your class engaged as we move to the end of the school year.

June 5th is World Environment Day and June 8th is World Ocean’s Day. It goes without saying that there’s anything much more important that environmental awareness. Our sellers agree and you’ll find tonnes of products based on the environment.

June 12th would have been Anne Frank’s birthday. If you haven’t studied the Second World War with your class, a good starting point is Anne Frank’s Diary. As harrowing a story it is, it’s really important that we learn from the past so we don’t end up repeating the same evils that were done.

June 15th is known as Fly a Kite Day in the US in celebration of Benjamin Franklin’s famous kite experiment. The name of the day almost writes the lesson plan itself in terms of what you might be able to do with your class – gather up some paper and string, put your feet on the ground and you’re a bird in flight…. 🎶 (OK, we’ll stop channelling our inner Mary Poppins) 

Fathers’ Day is on June 16th and it’s a great way to celebrate the fathers in children’s lives. With more and more diverse families in our classrooms, it’s a topic that should be explored sensitively. One of our favourite products on Mash, that does this really well, is from Ciara’s Classroom. (I think this is the 3rd time we’ve highlighted this product in less than a month!)

June 21st is World Handshake Day and in light of COVID19, we’ll have to leave that for this year at least and come up with something else – maybe World Salute Day or World Non-touching Fist Pump Day? Instead, you might give Yoga a go as it’s also World Yoga Day. You can read our post about yoga here.

June 24th is World Fairy Day so dust off those festival wings! However, this year you might want to celebrate Eric Carle’s birthday on June 25th as he has just passed away in the last few weeks. Eric Carle is most famous for his book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and it’s a standard in all primary schools with thousands of lesson plans and resources based on the book. Eric Carle’s book has given inspiration to many a minibeast hunt as well as hundreds and hundreds of maths and literacy lessons.

And finally, if you’re in school for the last few days of term, June 27th is the day the melody for the Happy Birthday Song was written. Why not end the year with the children writing a goodbye to their class in the same tune? Have a lovely last month of term, everyone!