Should I jack in my PGCE?(18 Posts)
Last month I started dong my primary PGCE via the School Direct unsalaried route. I applied in the spring after I was made redundant, when my now exDP was still living with me and DD (8).
I'm finding it really tough in terms of the volume of work, and juggling it with being a single parent. I was clear I would never have retrained as a single parent, but things changed unexpectedly.
The thing is I just can't see me being able to, or more importantly wanting to be a class teacher when I finish my training. The volume of work means that my weekends and evenings will be taken up, especially in my NQT year and I would have so little time with DD. If I worked part-time, the workload would be more manageable, but I can't afford to live on £14k a year.
Another complication is that next September, DD plans to change to a school which is a bus ride away. As a teacher, I wouldn't be able to take her and get to school on time.
I start my first placement tomorrow, don"t even know which year it is yet, and have mountains of work plus a 5,000 word assignment before Christmas. So my question is do I soldier on with something I don't see a long-term future in, as it might get better, or accept it's been a mistake and stop now?
Thanks for the reply. School Direct is different and I have spent the last 6 weeks in the classroom . That's included teaching on my own, registers, small group work etc., so I don't think it's just pre-placement nerves, and I enjoy the actual teaching and have had very positive feedback.
DD is moving school to go to a private selective. I know that is controversial for some, but she is academically bright, and has been coasting for the last two years. She is desperate to go, as she 'wants to do more learning'. Her school is good (Ofsted outstanding), and it's where I've been working, but there are so many kids who need extra support (often SEN) and most classes have no TAs.
The NQT year does make me nervous, as it's so tough. If I'm finding the training so overwhelming, I do wonder how I will cope. I also have an autoimmune disorder and need to pace myself. In some ways, my course is the worst of both worlds - it has all the academic demands of a PGCE, plus all the class workload of School Direct.
10 years ago,maybe even 5, I'd have said soldier on, it will get better etc.
But with teaching the way it is now? Honestly? Jack it in now. The pressure is increasing and there's no end in sight. Working conditions and salary are constantly being eroded. I'm not a single parent anymore, (was when I trained) but I'd never manage it now.
I did GTP (so not dissimilar to Schools' Direct but paid) and NQT is proving much easier, even though I'm now subject leader and have a baby (DD was born one month after I qualified). If you get qualified it opens up other avenues such as supply and at least you will be paid as qualified. I am better off even having cut my hours by 20% post-DD thanks to becoming qualified. Maybe give it till Christmas and see how you feel. Is your ex-DP supportive of your career choice? Also, you have to be a bit canny about what work is actually required to reach an adequate standard, as in my opinion it would be impossible to actually complete everything they say you need to do... remember you do not get paid more if you come out as 'Outstanding'!
Please stick with it, and try not to overthink the future. I panicked in advance about how I would cope with work when the Dc reached school age (was in business then), but solutions emerge, and far better to be in a profession. I am also doing School Direct unsalaried, PGCE - you will manage the assignment, and in only a few months you will be QTS. NQT, yes, tough year, but, no academic essays etc then, and again - 9 months, not a real whole year. Then as others have said, you can flex, do supply/part-time, move to the indie sector, mark exam papers, private tutoring - lots of ops for flexile working you would not have in other jobs...
I think it's the double whammy of being a single parent and the demands of teaching that's the issue. I can accept the PGCE and NQT year being hard, if after that it became more 9-5. But teaching isn't like that, as we know.
Before I met exDP (he's not DD's bio Dad), I'd been a single parent for some years. I'm used to the 13 hour days, and not being able to go out, but at least I could collapse on the sofa when she was in bed at half seven, and then have the weekends.
I'm 44 next month, and the thought of spending the rest of DD's childhood working evenings and weekends makes my heart sink a bit (sorry Matilda, definitely not a dig at you!). The plan had been for exDP to help, as he worked part-time from home. However, he's gone now, and there is no more contact (which has been tough for DD). I feel a fair amount of resentment towards him for putting me in this position TBH.
DD sees her Dad every other weekend, but he's difficult, and would not help at all. I also have no family support. I'm just thinking I should go and get a job in my previous career (NHS manager), because even at a lower level I'd earn more than as a teacher, and have a better work-life balance.
It is soooo hard. And I did it before children! All the same, it'll be over before you know it. Yes, you'll lose a couple of years of evenings and weekends, realistically speaking, but the long-term gain is well worth it!
Well, that's the thing - people without kids and/or partners find it really tough. Doing it as a single parent makes a really hard thing that much harder. I'm also really not sure the long-term gain is worth it!
I've spoken with my course leader and tutor, and am now deferring for a year. I do think it's unlikely I'll go back, and I'm currently applying for management jobs.
Interestingly no-one at the University or my schools has even remotely tried to talk me round. A fair few are wondering how long they'll stay in the profession, which reflects many of the threads on here.
It does make me wonder about the future of primary education. Does it really have to be so tough to be a teacher? At this rate, it'll be done by keen, young twenty somethings with 2:2s in sports management teaching daily literacy and numeracy to our children.
I can't argue with your view. It's not wrong. In my honest opinion , I don't know how teachers / PGCE students with young families and full time courses/ positions can manage. But I'm sure that many do.
Have you posted on the 'Staffroom' section, under Education?
I'm an nqt without children (although currently miscarrying) and I would think again before training.
I'm a bit like you in that I love the classroom bit (which teacher doesn't?) and get positive feedback, but the pressure and the paperwork is exhausting. I don't have weekends or evenings to myself, but then I'm doing a job I wasn't trained for - different key stage and phonics - so I'm finding it harder than last year when I had my own class.
It neer stops. It never ever stops <weeps> even this week when I was at home because of the miscarriage, I couldn't switch off. I spent the time that I should have used to recover, trying to plan lessons and resources and went back just as exhausted and numb.
And the kicker is, even when you think you've got it right, when you go home and think about it, there is always a child you could have stretched more or differentiated more for or a better way you could have done things. I find that especially exhausting.
Gosh that was more of a rant than I expected!
so sorry twill.
I am a lone parent teacher. Full time's full on, I have just gone part time - not sure how much longer I can afford to, though.
So sorry about the miscarriage twll. And that's the thing about teaching, it just takes as much as you're willing to give. I'd worked in the NHS for years, and I was used to things relying on people's goodwill. But teaching seems even more extreme in that sense.
Be gentle with yourself, and make sure you really do take time to heal and recover, physically and emotionally.
I'm a lone parent with no help. Ds had to go to breakfast and after school club when he was younger. If you can get a permanent job it's a good salary. We have a small house and a holiday every year. I can also afford piano and drama lessons for ds. I live for the holidays! I suppose of you come from a high flying well paid job then it's different, but I think this is the most I can earn.
If you do go back...
Consider private for your NQT year.
It can work really well. It's still hard work, but the pressure is different. More manageable in your situation IMHO.
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