Advice needed please! RE: teaching

(63 Posts)
Doodledumdums Tue 09-Jul-13 22:11:22

I am considering doing a PGCE next year, but I am really undecided as to whether I would be better suited to teaching Secondary English, or Primary? I have an English literature degree, and I think that I would enjoy exclusively teaching English, however, I am quite an anxious person, so I am not sure whether secondary children would terrify me?! I also love little children, and am very enthusiastic and happy, so I think that possibly this would make me a better Primary teacher? I really don't know! I'm leaning towards secondary, but family and friends are adamant that I would be a great primary school teacher, so i'm not sure!

I was also wondering if someone would be able to give me a realistic idea of whether a PGCE and then an NQT year will be remotely possible with a small child? I have a six month old, who will be about 20 months old when I start my training. I know that it will be really hard work, and I am absolutely prepared for this, but is it actually possible? I have an amazing support network, so childcare while I am training will not be an issue, but obviously I don't want to commit to doing this if it means that I am unlikely to be able to spend any time with my DS for a couple of years!

Eeeek, help! Any advice would be greatly appreciated smile

saadia Tue 09-Jul-13 22:24:50

It is certainly do-able, especially with supportive childcare but it really depends on how badly you want it. I trained as a teacher when I had two school-age children and now that I am an NQT I really feel that, at times, I cannot give them as much time as I would like. Dh is around for them a fair bit at the moment but this will not always be the case and then I will consider leaving teaching, or at least reducing my hours.

Teaching really takes over your life (I am Primary btw) but at the same time it is of course extremely rewarding and if you love it then you won't resent all the extra hours that much.

ninah Wed 10-Jul-13 17:26:05

My advice would be to get experience in primary and secondary, either voluntary or as a TA. That will help you decide and provide the material for your personal statement.
Yes of course it is possible with a small child; you have childcare in place.

neontetra Wed 10-Jul-13 17:30:40

In my experience primary teaching takes over your whole life more than secondary, though others may have differing experience. Having sampled both, I'd always go for secondary from a work-life balance point of view. And in many schools the kids aren't that scary! Good luck.

overthemill Wed 10-Jul-13 17:37:31

I think secondary is harder re planning and marking and parents evenings. Primary is more manageable once you've got the hang of planning. Behavior management is harder ime in secondary. I'm an English teacher who was secondary now middle, so yr 5-8. I love it and much less work in evenings now I'm.settled in.

I know someone who did GTP while pregnant as a single parent and although hard, she did it! I'd advise getting experience both age groups and try to get GTP place. Good luck!

Much more work load in primary. And you can't just focus on one subject ... you will be teaching rugby, or music, or French, or whatever is your bête-noire.

Doodledumdums Wed 10-Jul-13 21:01:15

Thank you for your replies smile

I think that you are all right, and that getting experience in both Primary and Secondary is a good idea. It is just so difficult to do because I will be going back to work FT soon! I guess that is going to be the only way to decide for sure which route is best for me.

A GTP is a great idea, but I only have a 2:2, so I am not sure it is possible with such a low grade? (This isn't entirely my fault, I got glandular fever during my finals and had to miss a really important exam!)

I hope that doing some work experience in schools will make things a little bit clearer for me. This is such a big decision!

Arisbottle Thu 11-Jul-13 18:53:23

I know very few primary school teachers either on here or in real life who are not over worked. I would choose secondary for workload issues alone.

Arisbottle Thu 11-Jul-13 18:54:47

You may have issues in secondary teaching with an 2:2. You might struggle to get on a PGCE course and some schools won't employ teachers with less than a 2:1.

EliotNess Thu 11-Jul-13 18:58:12

i think you being anxious rules out primary and secondary tbh. I am a supremeely confident person but just SOMETIMES mt " to do " list scares me shitless

Doodledumdums Thu 11-Jul-13 21:23:04

Yes I think possibly a 2:2 might make things a bit difficult, but I do know a few people who also got 2:2's and are now secondary teachers (one is primary), so although it is perhaps more difficult, I think it is possible.

Yes you may have a point eliot, although it isn't volume of work which makes me usually makes me
anxious, I think it would be things like angry parents and ofsted inspections!

ninah Thu 11-Jul-13 22:37:40

GTP is no more
look at schools direct

Ofsted and parents are just as scary at primary as at secondary ... arguably worse at primary, because the work load is greater at primary (so many more opportunities to fail) and parents much more closely involved; they'll be there every day with complaints, if they are that kind. And Ofsted, with its new agenda, is looking to fail YOU. shock

Doodledumdums Fri 12-Jul-13 10:04:30

Hmmmm, maybe it is not for me then sad

Having said that, anxiety holds me back in everything I do, so this wouldn't be much different! It would just present a different set of things to be anxious about, but i'd learn to live with it, i'm used to doing that!

Think I need a very long, hard think about this.

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 10:09:49

If you love little children and are enthusiastic and happy, then have you considered Nursery Nursing?

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 10:11:01

I think you might also find that those teaching secondary with a 2:2 are possibly in shortage areas like physics and maths.

Doodledumdums Fri 12-Jul-13 10:23:02

Financially nursery nursing won't work for us as I am the main breadwinner, and as far as I am aware, it doesn't pay well. As much as I am sure I would love it!

Yes possibly on the whole the teachers with 2:2's are in shortage areas, but the ones I know are English and Art teachers, so I don't think it is always the case.

Eyesunderarock Fri 12-Jul-13 10:29:00

Then you need as much experience in schools as possible, including looking at planning, the expectations for lessons, the non-teaching elements and the workload rather than just helping out.
Getting over your anxiety with adolescents, have you thought about helping out with scouts or guides? Or equivalent teenager-based activities?

IrenePollack Fri 12-Jul-13 10:40:56

2:2 shouldn't hold you back - it really depends on the quality of the university you went to. A 2:2 in Eng Lit from a decent university will make you much more employable than a 2:1 or even 1st from somewhere which only took 3 Cs to get into. Remember that in teaching a lot of the people responsible for employing you know all about qualifications and the disparity between degrees.

Doodledumdums Fri 12-Jul-13 11:15:18

Eyes I did run a drama group for 11-14 year olds while I was at University, but I guess that was quite a few years ago so probably won't help. Volunteering at a Guides group or something would probably be very beneficial. As would getting lots of experience in a school. I have contemplated trying to get a job as a TA for a while, but I am not sure whether we could financially cope with me doing that for a year or so and then going on to do a year of studying, we rely quite heavily on my salary at the moment.

Irene I did go to a good University (I needed AAB to get in there), so hopefully that would help. To be honest I think that is one of the main reasons that I got my current job!

Doodledumdums Fri 12-Jul-13 11:16:17

(Excuse my bad grammar in the above post!)

BackforGood Fri 12-Jul-13 11:44:47

NOt only would it be a good idea to go and do some shadowing in both Primary and Secondary to get a better 'feel' of what the job is like, I think you'll be likely to find it's a requirement on the application.

Doodledumdums Fri 12-Jul-13 13:05:49

Yes it is a requirement, they stipulate a minimum of two weeks, but i'm intending to do a lot more.

mumandboys123 Fri 12-Jul-13 18:02:03

it seems odd to me that you're trying to make a decision about something you seem to have no experience at - why not just spend a few days in both environments and see what you think? I have gone into teaching at gone 40 but I spent a day a week volunteering in a local school (not a good one) for a year to get a feel for it because I knew it was a huge change and one I had to be sure about - for me personally, for my family but also for the children I would be teaching. Perhaps it's an age thing, but school's are not the same places they were when I was of school age and it came as a dreadful shock. But I kept at it and realised I could do it - and do it well - and I've just finished my PGCE with a job to go to in September. Don't write anything off until you've seen it in action!

I got on my PGCE without any problem whatsoever because, in the words of my tutor, 'you know what you're letting yourself in for'. To put that in perspective, at a group interview session with other subject areas, of 30 people, 20 of us were over 35. Only myself and one other appeared at the beginning of the course - that other person had, like myself, spent more than a few hours in school. Be under no illusion - we're in the middle of a recession, people being made redundant right, left and centre. Lots of people chasing course places. I was quizzed relentlessly on my motives for career changing.

Good luck! You'll know if it's for you or not if you get some time in school - I love it!

Yes, I was wondering, in the most supportive way possible, why you are thinking of becoming a teacher if you have no experience of school life. It is not a good job if you have young children, it is not just school hours, it is not about spending time with children.

It is very long hours, very high stress and a lot of paper work. It is about doing a lot of things you do not believe in.

And, if you love it, it is probably the best job in the world.

Arisbottle Fri 12-Jul-13 21:30:22

I became a teacher to have more time with my children, worked very well for me , but I was clear what I wanted from the job and therefore made sure I had time with the children.

You will probably have more time with them in the holidays and less time with them in term time, as you try and keep up with the marking, planning, etc. At least, that is what I found. Certainly never two days together at the weekend, and no evenings. Always, 'but you are too busy on your computer to do things with me.' sad

Doodledumdums Fri 12-Jul-13 23:44:52

Well I don't have direct school experience, but I currently work with children's educational books, so I have some knowledge of the curriculum etc. I just feel that I would prefer to be on the teaching side of things rather than the side which I am currently on.

Unfortunately my current job requires long hours, involves lots of stress and lots of paperwork, so I am no stranger to these things!

I am intending to spend time in some schools before I make a decision, I have a month in a primary school lined up in September (in key stages 1, 2 and 3), but
due to finances, I am unable to volunteer on a regular basis as when I go back to work after
maternity leave, I need to return full time. It is very difficult to fit in much more experience than this at the moment because I have to return to work, which is why I am trying to ascertain whether it is better for me to focus the little time I do have on Primary or Secondary. In an ideal world, I would spend as much time as possible weighing up my
options and spending lots of time in schools, but
unfortunately I can't, so I need to use my gut
instincts at this stage!

Maybe I should put things on hold until I have spent time in the primary school in September, I guess I could hate it which will rule the idea out entirely!

Clary Sat 13-Jul-13 00:05:33

Just for info, GTP doesn't exist any more, it has been replaced by Schools Direct, similar in practice but linked directly to a school rather than administered by the uni.

I did a GTP last year with a 2:2 and my degree classification was never an issue AFAIK. I do have a lot of workplace experience tho and also a lot of experience in education/working with children. It was hard tho, the hardest year ever (except perhaps my NQT yr lol).

OP I agree, get lots of experience in schools to help you decide and help you get a place too. Key stage 3 is secondary btw. I agree it is odd if you have no school experience (apart from attending school yourself) then it seems to be odd to consider teaching. I moved into it mainly because the day a week I spent volunteering at school (for about four years) was the day I enjoyed most.

Rummikub Sat 13-Jul-13 00:20:36

I would definitely agree that you need to experience both. It's great you have organised experience in a primary school. Could you use annual leave to give you some time in a secondary? Just to experience it. Contact universities about their requirements. In my area primary PGCE is very difficult to get onto. I have seen able applicants turned down because it's so competitive. So check what the uni wants and make sure you fulfil the criteria.

Doodledumdums Sat 13-Jul-13 08:09:00

I am not sure why it is 'odd' to be considering teaching without having school experience? Everything you do you have to consider first without experience, and then you get experience and make your mind up. It is only a consideration at this stage, surely everyone has the consideration before they go out and get the experience. I am 26, so have actually spent the majority of my life at school (I know this doesn't count as experience, but I just mean that it is not an environment I am totally unfamiliar with like it would be if I was suggesting I want to retrain as a doctor for example!) I work on Primary education books, and I know that I love children, so I don't think it is totally unreasonable for me to be considering teaching. Sorry, I don't mean this to sound defensive, but I am not entirely sure why there is the implication that this is 'odd?'

I will use annual leave to do school placements, but I only have four weeks which I can use, (in addition to the four which I have already arranged) so I just wanted to try and decide whether to focus my time on Primary or Secondary, because if I do decide to do a PGCE, I imagine it would be better if I had more experience in the one which I decide on, rather than a few weeks in one and a few weeks in the other if that makes sense?

EliotNess Sat 13-Jul-13 08:09:52

christ no - get in a school they have changed massively a LITTLE bit since you went!

EliotNess Sat 13-Jul-13 08:10:16

oh ffs you have been to school so you know what its like to be a teacher

You are talking drivel

Doodledumdums Sat 13-Jul-13 08:25:17

Where on earth did I say that?!!!

EliotNess Sat 13-Jul-13 08:35:45

I am 26, so have actually spent the majority of my life at school (I know this doesn't count as experience, but I just mean that it is not an environment I am totally unfamiliar with like it would be if I was suggesting I want to retrain as a doctor for example!

Being a pupul is NO WAY indicative of experience ffs

Eyesunderarock Sat 13-Jul-13 08:38:40

Oh, go ahead.
What's the worst that could happen?
At the very least you will have a new experience.

Eyesunderarock Sat 13-Jul-13 08:40:06

'I am 26, so have actually spent the majority of my life at school (I know this doesn't count as experience, but I just mean that it is not an environment I am totally unfamiliar with like it would be if I was suggesting I want to retrain as a doctor for example!'

Bit like thinking you could be an aircraft engineer because you are a frequent flier with EasyJet.

EliotNess Sat 13-Jul-13 08:42:00

and you say yourself you are anxious - thats the bit that worries me, YOu have to be mentally very robust to be a teacher.

Doodledumdums Sat 13-Jul-13 08:42:40

Eliot I have already said that I am going to get experience working at a school, I am well aware that being a pupil is vastly different from being a teacher, I just meant that the school environment is not one which I am totally unfamiliar with. How is that drivel?! I said nothing about knowing what it is like to be a teacher! All I did was defend the implication that it is odd that I am considering teaching, as I don't understand why it is odd.

Why are you being so rude?! All I did was ask for some advice from people who know more than I do. If you have nothing constructive to say, or my thread angers you for some reason then why comment?! I haven't posted this in AIBU, I am not looking for a fight or to be made to feel like crap, I was just after some advice.

I started my secondary PGCE with no school experience. Took me aaaaages to adjust to it. But it did come!

I've taught English for 11 years. Be aware that the marking load is crippling.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 09:29:54

The OP is getting a hard time, schools are full of teachers who chose their career on the basis of enjoying school/ having watched Dead Poets society/ the holidays. They mostly do well .

I became a teacher having no real school experience other than being a pupil and wanting to not work for 12 weeks a year . I am still a great teacher and gave got exactly what I was looking for.

I imagine there are a fair few pilots who chose that career path because they have flown in a lot of planes .

The anxiety and 2:2 concern me a little , with a 2:2 you are more likely to end up in a tougher school if you choose secondary which will open you up to more anxiety .

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 09:31:08

Misread the example, I bet lots of aircraft engineers have been inspired the the planes they have flown in.

Eyesunderarock Sat 13-Jul-13 09:34:46

I'm all for people trying out new things Arisbottle, and at least if it doesn't work out it won't be a catastrophe.

Doodledumdums Sat 13-Jul-13 09:41:22

Thank you Arisbottle (smile)

Yes my anxiety is an issue, unfortunately it is something I just have to live with, and usually I just have to try and not let it stop me doing things, but I hear what you are saying though about ending up in a tougher school, this probably wouldn't help the issue! I really wish I could resit the exam I missed in my final year, it was on Shakespeare which was by far my strongest module! I only missed out on a 2:1 by one mark overall...so frustrating!

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 09:44:35

I am not saying you will definitely end up in a tougher school.

Teaching is also like acting,I know lots of teachers who are quiet and may appear to lack confidence until they get in front of a class.

RNJ3007 Sat 13-Jul-13 09:51:08

I started my SCITT for secondary MFL when DD was 15 months. I completed my SCITT and got married that academic year, did my NQT and am finished my first year post NQT with a 4yo DD and a 33w bump! It is doable as long as you time manage well and have adequate childcare.

Good luck making a choice.

Rummikub Sat 13-Jul-13 11:43:01

When I see people about career options some come in with a vague idea. I encourage that they do some research, gain experience and discuss with those in the field. So OP you are doing the right thing. Maybe as your not sure yet, go on a fact finding mission. Contact unis, try secondary and primary before you commit the rest of your leave. Would your employer allow unpaid leave? Don't rush into this decision.

Teaching is a vocation and it is important to make sure you are right for teaching and teaching is right for you. I do see people who want to go into teaching for the hours and holidays! I do discuss the realities with them.

Rummikub Sat 13-Jul-13 11:44:35

One person I had was shocked, genuinely shocked, that to be a GP you needed to go to university! Never mind 5years of it plus more training after.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 11:50:01

I would not say that teaching is my vocation although I love it. I went into teaching for the holidays and hours, I got , by and large, what I was after. I am seem as a good teacher- date I say it even an outstanding teacher .

Rummikub Sat 13-Jul-13 11:57:26

I'm glad that worked for you and its great you are an outstanding teacher. Maybe your one of the lucky ones and the desire for the holidays etc matched your skills to be a teacher. Everyone will have experienced great teachers who make a difference and those that have aren't so much.

IrenePollack Sat 13-Jul-13 14:27:27

Going against the grain here - although doing some work experience will be a condition for getting a place, I don't think it is the 'be all and end all' for finding out whether the job is for you. This is because watching classes is SO different from living the life of a teacher. There are plenty of LSAs who are guilty of believing that the teacher has a fairly simple job and these are people who observe lessons all year around. After my pre-PGCE observation period I'm embarrassed to admit that I remember saying (to my family only, thank goodness) that I thought teachers must think that their job is so difficult because they haven't done anything else since university. I was totally wrong. You have to do at least a month of teaching a full timetable to get an idea of what it's like.

I can tell from your written English that you're bright and able, and it is your communication which will help you to shine in interviews. Because of this, your 2:2 from a good university won't hold you back, or restrict where you can teach. However, anxiety could be a big issue (speaking as an anxious Secondary English teacher). It won't stop you doing the job, but the performing nature of teaching raises your adrenaline, and the fact that the work doesn't ever come to a natural end (it's a cliché, but there's always more to do, and you may never feel that you have done as much as you could - you could work around the clock perfecting things) heightens anxiety. I stay in teaching though, because with school-aged children, I can have the school holidays at the same time as them (the pay-off being working at nights and weekends throughout the term).

Sorry this is a long post! I think your main consideration is choosing between Primary and Secondary. I have a close relative who is a Primary teacher, whose father was Secondary, and she says her workload (in particular the marking load) is much lighter. She's not up until 2am marking essays. I've taught with a few teachers whose spouses are in Primary, who also say that the Primary workload is lighter. And I see from this year's marked work of my Primary-aged offspring that the bulk is much lighter. Secondary English marking is HUGE (think four hours of 30 x 11-18 year olds' work, being produced every single day, and needing to be marked every day, plus homework). It can't be done within school hours, by any stretch.

Anyway, I've written all of this because I think you could easily get into it, but these are some details which are worth considering. Good luck! smile

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 14:51:13

A 2:2 will restrict where she can teach . A selective school won't employ her, many independent won't some comprehensives which don't struggle to attract staff may turn her away.

That does not mean she won't get a job , she probably will, but there will be restrictions .

LadyMilfordHaven Sat 13-Jul-13 15:06:21

Not necc - all depends on the head and the letter of application - and the subject she is teaching. I know plenty of clever people who are shit teachers

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 15:09:35

"It all depends on the head" is exactly my point . There will be schools head teachers that won't want a teacher with a lower than average degree result . Therefore there will be some restrictions.

I am not saying that academic results alone make a great teacher , but they are part of the package.

IrenePollack Sat 13-Jul-13 15:26:16

Yes it depends on the head. But most will appreciate that a Eng Lit graduate with a 2:2 from Oxbridge will be preferable to one with a 1st from Leicester. I've worked in a good grammar that had the full range of teachers, certainly including some with 2:2s.

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 15:33:12

Is the OP from Oxbridge?

I am involved in the selection and interview process at my school . After getting rid of cvs with poor grammar or spelling , we get rid of those with an unrelated degree and then those with less than a 2:1.

This is in a comprehensive / secondary modern .

IrenePollack Sat 13-Jul-13 15:50:10

No, it's an example of the recognition of the disparity between degrees. I imagine with AAB she's been to somewhere such as Warwick, Durham, UCL or Edinburgh. I'm not saying that you're wrong for some schools, such as your own, but for many (certainly selective schools, where many teachers have been to top universities) it is not borne out. My dh is a Head of English, and on SLT, and therefore selects for his department and brings home the cvs to consult his dw

IrenePollack Sat 13-Jul-13 16:00:23

Out of interest, Aris, if you did have an application with a 2:2 in Eng Lit from Oxbridge, would you discard it due to the class of degree? And do you ever discard applications due to the quality of university from which the degree came (genuinely interested, not being pushy)?

Arisbottle Sat 13-Jul-13 16:50:58

Perhaps a 2;2 from Oxbridge could be considered on a par with a 2:1 from elsewhere. But I do think a line has to be drawn if we are to raise the status of teaching.

We have quite a few ex Oxbridge staff, the ones I have been involved in appointing have all had 2:1 or above.

If we had two very close candidates in terms of teaching ability,where they went to university may become an issue. We like to have at least one Oxbridge graduate in each faculty to work with our sixth formers.

Eyesunderarock Sat 13-Jul-13 17:27:50
Clary Sat 13-Jul-13 17:39:44

OK sorry OP, perhaps using the word "odd" is a little harsh; but it is quite competitive to get into primary or secondary school training and even harder IME to get a job; you will certainly need some experience before applying.

I guess that before I became a journalist I experienced something of the life by writing for college and school newspapers; before becoming a car mechanic you would probably have been someone who enjoyed mending your dad's lawnmower or your big sister's motorbike... do you sort of see what I mean?

IrenePollack Mon 15-Jul-13 07:35:36

That's interesting Aris. It's always been the quality of the university which has come first IME, but goes to show everywhere's different!

I would consider a 2:1 from a university which has an entry requirement of 3Cs at A level to indicate much lower academic capability on the part of the applicant than a 2:2 from such as the OP's, requiring AAB. She'll have been graded alongside students of a much higher academic standard and the work will have been pitched higher. When you think of your A level students and where they end up, depending on their ability, it's self-evident.

I hope you come to a good decision anyway, OP smile

Doodledumdums Mon 15-Jul-13 10:31:20

Thank you for all of your advice Irene your post was really informative, so thank you for taking the time to reply. smile

I appreciate my 2:2 may arguably make things more difficult for me, but will this always be the case? I mean, would it just be initially until i've gained experience? So, say I had been a teacher for 5 years and had great references, would my degree classification be secondary to my experience, and therefore mean that better schools would consider me?

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