Wavering over whether to do Secondary PGCE or not.(12 Posts)
I got my degree in History this summer and am considering a Secondary PGCE. I've just completed 5 days in a local secondary school and I loved it. I went to rule teaching out, but its actually ended up ruling it in as a potential new career. I know I need to get some more experience in school, which I'm planning on doing after Crimbo. I have two teenage children of my own, a DD in yr11 and a DS in yr 9. I guess I'm really worried about the workload as I've been reading some real horror stories about how terrible both the PGCE and NQT years are. This is really putting me off. I'm a bit of a stress head at the best of times and I don't know how my mental health will cope with the pressure. I very nearly had a nervous breakdown in my final year, although i managed to pull it together and graduated with a First in the end (much to my surprise!). I'm also concerned about how my family will be affected if I am tied up with essay, lesson planning etc. My DH was very supportive during my degree, but he flatly refuses to cook ever, although he does do other housework, albeit a bit resentfully which makes me feel really guilty that I'm studying and not running the house. So MNers, exactly how hard and stressful is it and how did anyone in a similar position to me cope whilst doing it. I love the idea of teaching, and think it would be such a rewarding career, but some of the things i have read are really putting me off.
When I did my PGCE many years ago, I'd go into uni or out on placement, come home and eat dinner, then work late into the night Mon-Fri. Sat/Sun had plenty of work in them too, although I did take one 24 hour period off each week. One placement was much further from uni so I had nearly an hour's commute each way. A friend who has two primary aged children has just done hers. She described the year as hell on earth. She is teaching part-time now, and has said that she will finish her NQT year, then just do bits of supply. It's too full on and she feels her children are missing out. She doesn't need the money though...
I retrained as a teacher following other careers. I have a baby. I'm an NQT now and it's okay although I do have to work very hard in term time (think most evenings and at least half of the weekend). I work in a nice secondary school where the management are pretty good to the staff - that makes a huge difference.
HOWEVER my DH is helpful and does most of the cooking, a lot of the baby care and laundry, and is only occasionally moany about it (we also have a cleaner). To be honest it is your DH's attitude that would concern me. Not cooking ever - what, not even heating up ready meals or doing pasta? Not feeding the DC? Wouldn't he eat if you didn't feed him?!
I also think it's not an ideal job for someone who gets very anxious as there is quite a lot to worry about, even in a good school.
I don't want to put you off, as I really enjoy it, but that needs to be the case, to make the hard work worth it.
Surely, if you are both working, the cooking etc will be done by whoever is home and has the time to do it? Teaching is not easy and there's a lot of work to do at home unless you stay at school late to do it. It is stressful. But I would't want to do anything else. Sort your domestic arrangements and go for it!
Would you want to teach History?
History is a very oversubscribed subject at PGCE level, and the best courses are heavily competative. The jobs don't come up as frequently either. Unless you are in a high turnover area, such as London, it tends to be "dead mens boots" or, like me, mums not going back after maternity.
Also be aware that of all the subjects now under the Gove microscope, History is the one at the forefront of his beady eye. It is VERY likely that the subject will change drastically, and not for the better, in the next few years. Think less fun, and more rote-learning "Plato to Nato". The pressue will also be firmly on the departments to boost marks in the newly Baac'd subject, and it won't be pretty.
I went into teaching after other careers, but it failed to balance with having two kids within 15 months of each other, and the increasing push to teach to exam and not to teach actual, real learning was immense. Behaviour was also a very real issue and you have to be totally certain you can handle it.
I did my PGCE and NQT before kids, and I was working all hours. The NQT year was worse, in terms of work hours, than the PGCE.
I'm in the process of returning to work now, but I am swapping to Primary, i'm not sturdy enough of heart for the exam hell of Secondary anymore. And i'm lucky enough to be able to work part-time. Full-time teaching is a big job when you've got kids, though I know plenty who do it. Thing is, they mostly got to that "I'm just tweaking my Scheme Of Work" level before having kids, they weren't having to plan from scratch with kids demanding tea.
It sounds very negative, but if you want it, you'll do it. I would go for the Institute of Education History PGCE if you can, it's widely regarded as the best.
Well, I've just stopped my primary PGCE because it is such hard work. But I'm a single parent with no support, which makes it much tougher.
However the thing that really put me off was not just the workload of the PGCE, but also the NQT year and then all the years after that. Most teachers I know work in the evenings and weekends on a permanent basis. I don't think the holidays make up for that!
You could consider doing a PGCE part-time, it would certainly be more manageable.
I mentor pgce students in my school and know it can be very stressful. However it is perfectly doable if you are well organised and use the time in school well. I also think you need to get your dh used to the idea of team work and shared household responsibility or you will find whatever you do very hard and build up resentment
Teach First!? Never, not if you want to be taken seriously!
I know some people will pop up and say they had a marvellous time doing Teach First, but without exception, every graduate i've come across on the programme in school has either dropped out within a year or two, or been pretty much appalling. From what i've seen, the support both within and outside of schools has been poor, and the pedagogical teaching negligible. If you are serious about taking it up as a profession, I don't think it's the way to do it. Certainly not if you are at all nervous: Teach First students have to be independent and wiling to be thrown in the deep end with little support.
The drop-out rate for PGCE / NQT years is high, but for Teach First it's higher. A quick google throws up many students who left, once you've dug under the glossy packaging websites.
This says it better than I can.
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