to give up my aspiration to become a primary school teacher?

(62 Posts)
bollywoodfan Sun 20-Jan-13 12:27:57

I already have a degree so need to do the PGCE primary course. I first need to do some work experience in order to apply for the course. Then I will have to pay around £9000 for the course and once completed find a job - which I've been told is not easy because there aren't alot of posts available.
I have got a DS already at school and a 1 year old DD. I was intending to wait to start my course when she is 3 so that we get a bit of help with childcare costs. I am being made redundant from current job and money is going to be very tight. I would probably have to take a loan to help with childcare costs & living expenses while doing the course.
So after all the time it will take me to actually get a job, obviously I am worried whether it actually be worth it. I currently work in the financial sector and know that performance related pay is an excuse to withold pay rises. They make the targets so high that you can't reach them - yes this is what they actually do. I feel that I will be stuck on a low salary after spending so much time, money and effort.
Obviously I don't want to go into teaching for the 'good' pay - I do actually want to do it. It has been my long term plan since ds was small, but I knew I wanted another dc so wanted to start when I could do it with full commitment and not take another break for dc iykwim.
I am nearly in tears writing this because I feel that

bollywoodfan Sun 20-Jan-13 12:30:38

Oops what happened there...
Anyway I feel that the performance related pay is the last straw and it will be too much of a sacrifice for the whole family.

scissy Sun 20-Jan-13 12:50:15

bollywoodfan - if you seriously want to become a primary teacher then PGCE (with £9000 fees) is not the only route. Have you heard about School Direct (successor to the Graduate Teacher Programme - GTP)? It tends to be more popular with people who are changing careers. There are primary places, although there may not be any close to you as it tends to be used more in secondary.

I can't really comment on the pay issue, I've always worked in the public sector so am now used to resigned to the public sector bashing that goes on with successive governments. However, at least if you're "officially" working term-time, you don't have to worry about childcare so much during school holidays, you can at least do things like planning and stuff at home, whilst keeping 1 eye on the DCs!

ShowOfHands Sun 20-Jan-13 12:56:21

I've been accepted to do school direct. I will be paid as an unqualified teacher, 4 days in a local school and 1 day in college, local school where I will be training has a preschool attached and it will just about fit in with us. DH is in the public sector (is a detective) and we are well aware of the pitfalls but we wouldn't have it any other way.

I have 2 dc, one primary age, one aged 1 and there's not way I can afford or manage the logistics of a PGCE.

aamia Sun 20-Jan-13 12:57:56

As a teacher, much though I actually love the in-class time with the children, I wouldn't have taken this path if I had known what it would be like. The actual teaching is lovely, spending time with the children is lovely, seeing them grow and learn is fantastic BUT all the paperwork, targets, low pay (for a graduate job), hours and hours of marking etc, leave you so tired and stressed that you can barely enjoy the good bits. I hate the hours spent planning stuff in minute detail, the endless paperwork, the impossible targets.

There is never enough time in a week and the government just keeps changing how they want you to do things. Ofsted now also want you to fail so they can push you into academy status. Our last Ofsted team came in and frightened the children with their manner - I will never forget the poor girl stuttering in fear while the Ofsted inspector barked questions at her, making her doubt herself and what she knew so she'd make a mistake. Or the year Ofsted frightened the Year 2 children so much they were afraid to ask to go to the toilet, staying in that class for TWO HOURS - so two of the children wet themselves during the course of the afternoon.

Mybumissquidgy Sun 20-Jan-13 12:58:01

Do they no longer lend tuition fees for the PGCE? Or the student loan etc? I know a lot has changed with the new fees but might be worth double checking.

ShowOfHands Sun 20-Jan-13 12:58:42

I can type/spell btw, just bfing....

happynewmind Sun 20-Jan-13 13:03:50

I was due to return to uni in Feb, im not going, there are no jobs in my field, its not likely to get better any time soon and I will end up with a huge loan to pay.

janey68 Sun 20-Jan-13 13:06:04

£9000 tuition fees for a one year course? Surely there must be a student loan available if you're a f/t student?

If you're keen, then go for it, though you're right, teaching jobs seem very hard to get into nowadays, particularly primary. My niece finished her training last summer and has only managed to get supply work since then, despite being prepared to move pretty much anywhere affordable in England. If you feel you'll be tied to a particular location because of housing/children then obviously that will be even more restricting, so I would check out these things first. But the money side of it, assuming you get a loan, is just par for the course nowadays.

simplesusan Sun 20-Jan-13 13:08:18

From what I understand, although I stand to be corrected, there is a far greater supply of primary school teachers than demand.
It is specialist science teachers that are in shorter supply for secondary schools.
Unless you have a science degree and an absolute desire to work in secondary with teenagers than that won't be for you.

Agree with aamia there are hours upon hours of planning. however you can do this at home rather than being tied to office hours as it were.

neverputasockinatoaster Sun 20-Jan-13 13:14:38


As a teacher I'd say don't do it. If I were to have my time again I'd not be a teacher. I love the contact time with the children in class, I love the light bulb moments, I love the TEACHING.

However - the performance related pay, the constant threat of OFSTED, the attitude of the general public towards me, the fatc that I have nearly been pushed over into a nervous breakdown mean I don't love my job anymore and I wish I didn't have it!

wanderingcloud Sun 20-Jan-13 13:19:49

FWIW I would caution moving into teaching at the moment. The current government isn't done making huge changes to the education system and what they have done, Performance related pay and Academy status amongst other things, have long term repercussions.

For example, Academy status means schools can set their own term times and pay and conditions for new staff. This means if a head was so inclined they could reduce the holidays and make term times longer. You could end up doing a job with very little difference in your terms and conditions from what you do now. Also, primary is exceedingly difficult to get a permanent position in nowadays. I have heard of primary schools having over a hundred applications for one post around our way. So inevitability some desperate teachers would end up agreeing to work a longer term just to have the security of a job. Currently many of our PGCE students fail to find a job and end up doing supply. I don't like being pessimistic but you need to look very carefully at the realities of the job and how much you want to teach vs how much you want the perceived perks of teaching as they may not be there by the time you're qualified.

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 13:27:05

depends how much you want it
I did GTP and found work this year, it is possible
you are thinking ahead a couple of years, why not use those years to gain the school experience you'll need and see how the land lies then? at least it will give you an idea of the realities and the chance to talk to teaching staff and monitor what's happening with eductation 'reforms', as well as giving you an idea of what age group you prefer, or if you'd like to specialise eg SEN
could you TA to begin with?

DontmindifIdo Sun 20-Jan-13 13:40:13

Just to add, you will often find during a recession, more people look at teaching, either people who have been made redundant who always fancied it and decide to do something more 'secure' (which it is compared to most private sector roles paying similar amounts, once you've actually got a job and done it for a few years), and more new graduates who realise there aren't many graduate roles out there so do a PGCE in order to do something. When most other graduate jobs are looking for unpaid internships, having to work on the minimum wage or just above as a classroom assistant for a year before doing the PGCE looks like a good deal, particularly if you don't have any financial commitments and can live with your parents while you do it.

You might find over the next couple of years a glut of newly qualified teachers appears. In some areas there is still enough shortage of teachers in order to mean most will find work, but in other areas (particularly in towns near a uni that has offered the PGCE) you'll have a lot of competition for work.

noblegiraffe Sun 20-Jan-13 13:41:02

I'm a teacher (secondary) and have a 3 year old. I've been teaching for 8 years. There is no way that I could have done my PGCE and NQT year without neglecting a child in favour of work. Evenings and weekends were consumed with preparation.
As soon as I went back from maternity leave I went part time. It's the only way you can achieve a reasonable work/life balance with young children and such a demanding job, IMO.
I love teaching, but I can't say I'd recommend the early years of teaching to anyone with young children, even before you consider the very real possibility of being unable to find a job in primary.

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 13:53:27

yes you definitely neglect your own dc
as I'm a lone parent I decided it was a risk I had to take to gain some level of financial security
I'm in a position now where there may be a chance of part time, is that a massive improvement noble? mine are 10 and 7 so not v young

FransJam Sun 20-Jan-13 14:15:56

I am another who loves teaching but hates the stuff around the edges - in particular the utter fear inspired by an upcoming ofsted inspection.
I work part time and work long days leave home 7.15, return 6ish (in comparison to school hours) but get the majority of my work done at school. I couldn't sustain that every day of the week and my dc would definitely suffer. The holiday situation is fantastic in terms of fitting in with my own dc.

I don't know much about the performance related pay but I'm not sure how they will qualify it, results won't work. You wouldn't give ten workmen a task to complete but give them a wide variety of quality of materials and tools and expect them to produce the same thing. Bad analogy I know but not all children are academically able, some have strengths in areas that don't 'count' in government statistics (art, sport, music, history, geography - basically anything that isn't lit, num or science) - some have loads of support at home, others have none etc.

Sorry OP, I have got diverted! £9000 sounds like a lot of money in the situation you are in, have you spent much time in school helping out, talking to the teachers, seeing what it entails? Get a real, honest flavour for it before you commit so much time, money and effort into it. Have a look a local government job vacancies to see how many teaching vacancies there are. HTH.

bollywoodfan Sun 20-Jan-13 14:19:07

Thanks for the replies. The reason I was planning on doing it in a few years time is so that I can build a good up a good record of work experience. I was hoping that this along with being a bit older might help me get a job compared to new graduates. I am dismayed to read comments from people who don't recommend it though, esp as you've all said that you do enjoy the teaching part of it!
I really can't think of anything else I would rather do. I work in banking and am treated like shite! Can't be worse than that, surely!

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 14:21:01

who knows, we may have a new government by then

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 14:26:31

I work as a supply teacher now - having worked full time. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of paperwork in terms of planning and assessment. It's also the constant changing of the goalposts and the fear of never being good enough - you're only as good as your last observation.

I know a friend of mine whose school is under severe pressure - she tells me about all the observations, LEA people in. demanding expectations to always be outstanding regardless of work life balance and she just wants out. I've seen how hard my teaching friends work and the pressure they're under - I've been there and it almost killed me.

Don't think I want that again - but so much comes down to the school you work in.

greensmoothiegoddess Sun 20-Jan-13 14:27:08

Christ - don't do it!! For all the reasons other teachers have said on here.

Viviennemary Sun 20-Jan-13 14:27:15

I know a few stressed out teachers who would give anything to get out of teaching. But there are others who love it but as the paperwork and stresses and Ofsted inspections loom ever higher these people will become sadly fewer and fewer. Not sure what you should do in your position. Could you get a teaching assistants job for the time being. And then you would get a better idea if teaching is really for you. But I've heard they are few and far between.

noblegiraffe Sun 20-Jan-13 14:28:12

My part-time timetable (0.6) involves still working 5 days a week, which is different to primary as they normally have job shares. Anyway, each day I usually have in school an extra 2-3 hours on top of teaching (including PPA, lunchtime and an hour tacked on at the end of the day, which might only be a half day) in which I get all my planning/report writing done, and maybe a bit of marking. The only work I take home is marking, and because I've got fewer classes than a full timetable, it's a lot less than I was doing before. So I end up with quite a few free evenings, and I never work Saturday or Sunday daytime and only a couple of hours on Sunday evening. And I very rarely work in the holidays.
I totted it up once and reckon I do 35-40 hours a week, which is a big difference to the 60-70 I was doing full time. I've got my evenings and weekends back and I also get to spend a few afternoons with my DS. I'm no longer a stressed wreck in term time.

BelaLugosisShed Sun 20-Jan-13 14:32:18

My DD is currently doing PGCE (secondary Maths though so she got a £15k bursary thankfully) the workload is very intense and for her first term she was in a school 25 miles from her Uni, now she's in one 10 miles away, she has friends who did primary PGCE last year and they have all managed to get permanent teaching posts, DD has just applied for a job starting September!
From what she's told me, the NQT year is very little pay and very hard work.
I don't see how she could have done it with children, not unless she had a SAHP as support.

Flisspaps Sun 20-Jan-13 14:41:44

Showy you lucky bugger - I've applied (History) but have heard nothing so far from any of my choices hmm

Passed my Professional Skills tests yesterday though grin

Flisspaps Sun 20-Jan-13 14:46:11

For PGCE and School Direct (unsalaried) you should get a £9k tuition fee loan. That's repayable once you earn over £21k pa.

Unpaid School Direct places may get you a PGCE anyway.
There are also cost of living grants and loans available, and childcare grants of up to £250-odd (for 2 children). It's certainly do-able.

With a salaried SD place, there are no course fees and you're paid BUT you usually only get QTS not a PGCE that way.

Claudiecat Sun 20-Jan-13 14:50:53

I would agree with all those posters saying don't do it. I've been teaching for nearly twenty two years and have never seen the profession dragged so low. Recent months have seen a definite bully culture springing up; although I understand that this is common now in all public sector jobs.
I teach part time in primary as I have a young child but the amount of planning, assessment, marking and general paperwork takes it to a full time job. It's got so that my child is beginning to suffer as I have less time for him. His homework/ hobbies are sometimes coming second due to work constraints. Ask yourself do you want to be in this position? They are only children for such a short time. I wish I had a job I could leave at the door but unfortunately it's all consuming.
If you think performance related pay is not part of teaching, think again. Your description in your op could be about teaching now: the setting the bar high so you can't succeed. Only last week we were told by our education improvement advisor that if your children are not progressing on paper and you are observed teaching a lesson where less than 80% do not succeed then you will be given six weeks to improve. If no improvement shown then you will lose your job. Coupled with that, SEN children are expected to make accelerated progress, so no excuses for their special needs! Harsh truths but this is sadly the reality of teaching in 2013.
I too wish I could leave the profession as its sucking the life out of me.

Astelia Sun 20-Jan-13 14:51:40

Bucking the trend here- I am a teacher and I love my job. Secondary maths for over twenty years.

The first few years are very tough but it does get easier. There are tons of different sorts of schools, the trick is to find the right one for you.

3littlerabbits Sun 20-Jan-13 15:06:19

Are there any fulltime jobs that dont take up all your time and impact on family life? My standard grad job requires me to take work home / have constant scrutinity / work in evening etc. Teaching has holidays to match those of your children so surely that makes it a bit of a better option with children? I have taught before and loved it, and think teachers do a brilliant job generally btw.

bollywoodfan Sun 20-Jan-13 15:07:19

Gosh are there any primary teachers on MN who actually like their job?

perceptionreality Sun 20-Jan-13 15:09:15

After doing some TA work long ago, I decided I was never going to be a teacher. It seems to be a profession that breeds cynicism, sadly. And I come from a family where a lot of people were teachers/lecturers and they all said don't do it.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 15:10:20

3littlerabbits Ex works in NHS. Leaves at 5pm and forgets work. Graduate job, good pay.

TheNebulousBoojum Sun 20-Jan-13 15:10:26

Most of us like the children, the teaching and the chalkface.
All the dissatisfaction seems to be with the paperwork, the changing goalposts and the fact that almost all judgements made of your ability are very subjective.
Very specific areas to hate.

TheNebulousBoojum Sun 20-Jan-13 15:12:09

Plus the continuous feeling in my case that anything and everything that I learnt more than 3 years ago is obsolete and irrelevant.

3littlerabbits Sun 20-Jan-13 15:15:33

Kim147 - clearly Im in the wrong field then smile

noblegiraffe Sun 20-Jan-13 15:16:19

My DH's job certainly doesn't take up all his time, he occasionally puts in an hour or two in the evening, but he leaves every day at 4:30. He's better paid than a UPS teacher. He gets pretty good holidays too. My parents both had decent jobs before they retired and never worked evenings/weekends. A friend who is a dentist works 4 days a week and earns a ridiculous amount of money. I really don't believe that everybody is required to sell their soul to their job the way a teacher is in term time.
That said, the holidays are a great perk, but not good enough to stop a vast number of teachers quitting through stress. And the number of teachers quitting is increasing.

sparkle9 Sun 20-Jan-13 15:32:48

I'm a teacher and would also caution against becoming one. I was paid to do my training and there is no way I would pay 9k for it now.

I love teaching and hate the other crap that comes with it. And this crap just keeps on multiplying. And it's performance related pay from September.

Flisspaps Sun 20-Jan-13 15:39:43

DHis a teacher, secondary. There's nothing he's said or shown me that's knocked this need I have to train!

thegreylady Sun 20-Jan-13 15:45:07

I taught for 30 years I was ready to retire by the end but it was a fulfilling and interesting career and there is nothing that fits better with having dc.My own dd is a teacher and is gradually increasing her part time hours ready to go back full time when her youngest has finished Reception.
The paperwork etc has increased 1000 fold since my time but dd says that if you do the job properly you have nothing to fear from assessment.

kim147 Sun 20-Jan-13 15:47:26

Anyone mentioned pension age yet? Doing primary teaching at 68!!!

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 15:49:17

I'm a primary teacher in Scotland and it doesn't seem to be as horrifying as in England!

No SATs, no continual pressure to assess against levels, the inspection system is much more supportive of schools, no academies, no free schools, no grammar schools, no onerous admission procedures for primary or secondary, no Michael Gove. smile

Come to Scotland! Live here for three years and the fees are only £1000. You get your NQT post handed to you. Plenty work available if you choose the area carefully.

I love my job! smile

YorkshireDeb Sun 20-Jan-13 16:24:05

You've done a good sales pitch euphemia. I'm on my way. X

Mybumissquidgy Sun 20-Jan-13 16:49:41

Ooh euphemia has got me interested too! Where do I sign up?!

Euphemia Sun 20-Jan-13 16:57:37
sherazade Sun 20-Jan-13 17:00:58

I did a full time PGCE with a 2 year old and 3 year old. I didn't neglect them. It wasn't easy but it is do-able if you are super organised. There's alot of nonsense that you won't ever need once you're a teacher policies and procedures to learn/read up on/ reflect, essays to write but it's not difficult, it is just the sheer volume of work. If you are highly driven, effecient and cope well under pressure you will be fine. And it is only a year of your life.

I love teaching and don't live in fear of OFSTED. The paperwork is tough in the first year but gets easier. Go for it if its somethintg you really want to do.

ninah Sun 20-Jan-13 18:21:41

noble that's great, since this thread started the prospect of a job share looks even more likely! jobshare in a struggling school, or full time in a good school -that's another dilemma I suppose. Or maybe I should move to Scotland ...

BlackholesAndRevelations Sun 20-Jan-13 19:10:08

I think it'd be a long, hard old slog to get qualified and find a job, but if you want it, do it! And I speak as a teacher who agrees with all the other teachers saying that they love teaching but not all the other crap that goes with it. I put my heart and soul into the job, and all my time. I quickly realised when I met dp that it was unsustainable and that I'd kill myself if I tried. Fast forward about 7 years and I'm getting to that disillusioned stage that I said id leave teaching before I got to. (if that makes any sense?!) still adore teaching but with two small dc I'm finding it a drain on all of my resources, and I don't spend anywhere near enough time with them during term time (ie, no time at all). Believe me, you won't believe any of this stuff til you get in thee and start doing it. You might find you are one of the lucky ones who ends up in a school that is good to work at.

Mybumissquidgy Mon 21-Jan-13 15:55:37

Thanks euphemia! Off to have a read now smile

EcoLady Mon 21-Jan-13 16:49:33

I'm a career changer into primary teaching, having done PGCE with two DCs. It is the toughest thing ever... and now I am up to my eyes in my NQT post.

My DCs hardly saw me for a year and DH ran the home entirely. I had a student loan for fees and some maintenance, plus a small grant (means tested against DH's salary).

The work can fill every available hour and them some more. I lost 2 stone in weight and learned to manage on a lot less sleep.

But, you know what? I LOVE IT!!! I don't regret it for one second. I have learned to decide what really needs doing and what can actually wait. I got loads of laminating and planning done today on a snow day - stuff that has previously waited. The DCs know when I am available and I make distinct times just for them. They are very proud of what I have achieved ... plus they are great for resources, ideas and slave labour. smile

Go for it.

Phineyj Tue 02-Apr-13 22:50:51

I'm a career changer into secondary teaching (Economics) and have found it hard work but doable. The hours are no worse than in other demanding jobs I've done, when averaged out over the year. However, I like my school a lot and we are a good fit for each other. IMO that is massively important -- I can't imagine doing the amount of work for somewhere I hated, especially given that the salary is not overly generous when you start.

If you are really concerned about pay don't rule out secondary if there is a subject you could do, especially a shortage one. There are more TLR opportunities in secondary, I'd say (payments for extra responsibilities), plus it's more likely you'd be able to be part time if you found the hours too long to be compatible with DC. I also think there tend to be more vacancies in secondary. Work experience in finance could also be an asset in secondary especially in the SE, which it wouldn't be at primary.

Dozer Tue 02-Apr-13 22:55:44

Why not consider secondary teaching? More people earn higher salaries in secondary teaching, and depending on subject may be more jobs available.

Or alternative private sector jobs using your skills from banking?

99problems Tue 02-Apr-13 23:43:38

Oh god these posts make for depressing reading! I have got onto a Primary PGCE starting Sep and have a 4 y/o ds, so am really concerned about handling it. I'm lucky in that I live at home with parents still. I'm getting a 9K bursary that will fund it (got a 1st in my degree so get the full lot paid luckily) but I'm pretty sure graduates with 2:1 get 5k?

I know 3 people who have done Primary PGCE and all got full-time job offers before the end of their PGCEs though...

bluer Wed 03-Apr-13 06:47:25

I second the come to Scotland and teach! ! We seem to be better paid, work better hours and don't have sats etc!
However I've been flamed on another thread for claiming that anyone who says they work 90 hours a week is lying so maybe ignore me!

SuffolkNWhat Wed 03-Apr-13 07:38:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StuffezLaBouche Wed 03-Apr-13 07:44:22


TheNebulousBoojum Wed 03-Apr-13 07:57:52

So she's obviously decided that she doesn't want to be a teacher. grin

99problems Wed 03-Apr-13 09:59:56

This may seem like a stupid question bluer but does a pgce from and English university allow you to teach in Scotland?

mumandboys123 Wed 03-Apr-13 10:07:07

am doing a PGCE at the moment but in secondary. Already have a job secured for September although I count myself lucky as very, very few have been advertised up to now. I am a career changer - 20 years doing something else. It is very different and very frustrating most of the time but overall I enjoy it. I am also a single parent and am managing. It is a question of organisation which I am learning...slowly!

IJustWoreMyTrenchcoat Wed 03-Apr-13 11:32:04

I could have wrote this OP, I too am being made redundant (at the end of the year), but by then I will have a new born baby and it seems unlikely I will have the time to commit to a PGCE. I have heard the course is very full on, and on top of that I need experience in a school before I even apply.

I have always had teaching in my mind, but fell in to a job straight out of uni to pay the bills. I fear I will always just have to take a job that has nothing to do with my ambitions and goals just to get by.

99problems Do you really get a £9000 bursary for getting a first? I thought something like that might not apply to primary and only senior teaching. I have a First.... Will have to look into it. I thought I might get help if I did a PGCE in the future and had a dependent child.

Bramshott Wed 03-Apr-13 11:46:09

If you are moving from the financial sector, have you considered secondary maths teaching? Might well be easier to find a job?

SuffolkNWhat Wed 03-Apr-13 11:47:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

99problems Wed 03-Apr-13 15:58:39

Ijust yes definitely get 9000 for primary PGCE if you have a first- 11,000 if you specialise in maths at primary. The TA website gives more info:

On top of that can apply for a student loan and grant, so luckily, financially I should be fine smile

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