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...To want to quit my job on a whim and do a PGCE instead?

(55 Posts)
MeantToStopAtTwo Sat 11-Jun-11 15:06:46

A brief bit of background:

I work for the longest-established and leading player in my industry. It is a job which many people think they want. Until, that is, they actually get it. Then they slowly come to see what a horrible environment it really is. Because they know they are at the top, the company feel that they can treat their staff like utter *$%@ and everyone will still bow down to them. Some particularly nasty things have happened recently with various people being made promises which were not delivered. Morale is just dreadful and people are resigning left, right and centre. A woman who was promoted to management earlier this year mysteriously disappeared practically overnight and there are all kinds of rumours flying around about what happened to her.

I applied for another job with a relatively small newcomer to the industry who seemed great and were thrilled to have found somebody with my experience. It would have involved a pay-cut but I would have gladly taken it for this company. Trouble is, four others from my present company also applied and I have just found out that I've lost out to my best friend there (which of course is great news for her as she really wanted it also).

I spent yesterday evening scouring job ads and there are no other comparable opportunities around at the moment. It's all either very part-time stuff or would involve a huge demotion. I'm suddenly feeling terribly down and physically sick at the thought of having to continue to go to work everyday at my current organisation for what is likely to be months yet. People tell me I have lost my spark and I am worried about the effect this could have on my poor children.

A good friend suggested yesterday evening that I should do a maths PGCE. She works at our nearest university and is pretty certain I could still get a place for September. Despite the significantly lower pay, it is true that I would be very well-qualified for this and it does have many advantages, like that I could spend summers with my children. I am suddenly very, very tempted. Yet, it's not something I ever imagined myself doing and would very much a spur of the moment decision. I've not even been thinking about it for 24 hours yet. However, if I'm going to do this, I need to get on with it.... like right now! My friend says I should get an application in this week to be in with a serious chance.

What to do? What to do? What to do? Oh help, I feel so stuck! Big decisions like this should never be made on the spur of the moment, right? I am just so worried that whatever I choose to do will end up being the wrong decision and that I'll suddenly wake up too late and think, 'What the hell have I done?!!!'

cjbartlett Sat 11-Jun-11 15:08:42

I would scour the threads by teachers on here before you make up your mind
it might be just as challenging and demanding as your current job but for much less pay

MeantToStopAtTwo Sat 11-Jun-11 15:13:39

Thanks, that's a really good idea cjbartlett. I shall do that right now.

I'm aware that, if I do decide to go ahead, the decision would most likely be irreversible and I would have a lot of difficulty getting back into my current field (unless, I suppose, I implied that I'd just been spending time out with my children).

arionater Sat 11-Jun-11 15:14:11

An application is not a definite decision though - if you can spare the time to put in a reasonably serious application now, and get a place, you can then continue to think about it for a bit. If you are offered a place, and accept it, and then later withdraw, the worse that will happen is that you'll lose a small-ish deposit - and not all deposits even ask for that. (Whereas if you don't put the application in now, you'll probably have to wait for next year.) You may end up deciding not to pursue this particular course/place, but find that the whole process is useful in deciding what you do want to do.

arionater Sat 11-Jun-11 15:15:07

Sorry, that should say - not all courses ask for a deposit.

redllamayellowllama Sat 11-Jun-11 15:15:41

Don't make the mistake if thinking it's an easy option and it will mean you have excellent holidays. Teaching is a slog, PGCE and NQT year are bloody hard and put strains on relationships. You have to have a genuine desire to want to work with young people. If you can get through the slog and you love working with young people, then it can be incredibly rewarding. I enjoyed working with like-minded people and loved the vitality that young people brought to lessons. But it is hard. Maybe get yourself to a school for a few days and observe to get a real sense of things.

escapeartist Sat 11-Jun-11 15:15:44

I am a teacher and my DH left his high paying banking job 2 years ago to do a PGCE. We struggled a bit financially but he LOVES his job and we love the freedom it gives us.

I think, if you like children, teaching is THE best job in the world. There are also lots of opportunities to move upwards and also "sideways" in the sense that you could go into educational consultancy etc etc.

I say look into your options - when my DH was applying we found that you could only get places for a PGCE once you were already in the GTTR system, which closed in December. However, things might be different with your local uni, or Maths which is a shortage subject.

Whatever you decide to do all the best of luck smile

scarlettsmummy2 Sat 11-Jun-11 15:17:23

Can I hazard a guess that you work in finance/ accountancy?

I was a recruitment consultant for a long time for a well known finance agency and often came across people in your situation. If you do work in that sector could you move from practice into industry? or vice versa??

My reservation would be that in certain parts of the country there is already an over supply of teachers so you could end up jobless or on temporary contracts. There is a scheme though called 'Teach First' where you do your teaching qualification while you are actually working as a teacher, but it can be competitive to get on to. I have a friend who went straight onto this after uni and she has just got a new job as Deputy Head of an inner city London school. She is 29.

COCKadoodledooo Sat 11-Jun-11 15:19:12

Quitting your job on a whim is one thing - entering a new career (vocation really) is quite another, imo.

You might find it tricky to get a September 2011 start at this late juncture, but if you can be flexible it won't be impossible (dh applied at a similar time 2 years ago and ended up 250 miles from home...).

Bue Sat 11-Jun-11 15:19:20

Becoming a teacher is NOT something you should do on a whim. It's such a tough job and if it turns out you're not suited to it you will be absolutely miserable. DH changed careers and became a teacher and it was the right decision for him - he LOVES his job, whereas previously he was a well-paid but miserable City worker. But he thought about it for about two years before making the leap and had been interested in kids and teaching for a long time. If you don't feel a strong affinity for those things, you could really struggle.

PotteringAlong Sat 11-Jun-11 15:21:41

Have you spent any time at all in a school (apart from parents evenings for your own children) in the last 10/15/20 years? If the answer in no you need to get yourself into a school for a minimum of 2 weeks (this will be a requirement of a pgce anyway) to observe and see what it's really Luke. Go to a variety of schools, different sorts, and then decide.

I am a head of department in a school that could well be described (by me) as all heart but no polish but could be described (by others) as rough and don't get me wrong, I love my job every single day I am there, but if you don't it will systematically destroy you and doing it on a whim because the holidays look good on paper won't see you through how bone crushingly hard it can be.

Also, have you looked at the job Market for teachers at the moment? My school have had 2 teaching staff (Inc a maths teacher) take voluntary redundancy this year with the promise/threat or more redundancies next year. Can you move? Can you cope financially if you train and don't find a job? Rung your local uni and ask how many people on their pgce course have got jobs for September. For my subject at our local uni it's standing at 5 out of 12 who are employed for next academic year. That's a lot who aren't and there simply aren't the jobs at the moment fir everyone who's training

PotteringAlong Sat 11-Jun-11 15:22:35

Massive cross post with everyone!

BerryMojito Sat 11-Jun-11 15:24:35

I would say apply. I did a PGCE about 5 years ago and love my job. It is incredibly stressful and full on during term time, but I get to spend the majority of the holidays with my children. There are many horror stories about teaching (could tell you a few myself!), but I believe you have to pick your school very carefully as the support, or lack of, that you get from the team you work with make all the difference. I would definitely advise spending some time in a school to see if you enjoy it, it is not for everyone!

NorfolkNChance Sat 11-Jun-11 15:25:39

Teaching is not a career to do on a "whim".

AllieZ Sat 11-Jun-11 15:28:40

Check out the forums on the TES (Times Educational Supplement) website, especially sections "Unemployed Teachers", "Workplace Dilemmas", "Pay and Conditions" and "NQT":
Also some threads in Health and Wellbeing, especially ones regarding mental health. I wouldn't move into education right now.

PrincessJenga Sat 11-Jun-11 15:54:59

I quit my (much better paid) job six years ago to do a PGCE and have never looked back. I love my job most of the time and don't regret changing careers. However, I'd been thinking about teaching for a long time, had done a reasonable amount of work in schools through my previous career, had a lot of friends who were teachers and I'd lived with flatmates doing their PGCEs so I knew how hard it would be. I went into it with 'my eyes wide open' iyswim.

As other people have said, the PGCE year is tough; the NQT year is even tougher. It is only for people who really, really want to teach. After that it gets progressively easier each year (as you have more resources/experience from the previous years to fall back on) and I'm just getting to the stage where I work 8am-5pm mon-fri, one afternoon/evening each weekend and a few days each holiday (it used to be 8am-8pm minimum and most of each weekend and holiday)

Having said that, my previous experience was definitely helpful. Partly because it means I have something else to refer to with the kids (some 'real life' experience), partly because it had given me management and people skills that allowed me to get promoted much more quickly than my peers and partly because when my colleagues are whinging about how long our hours are I can remember the all-nighters I sometimes pulled in 'my old life' and not feel so bad about the stresses of teaching!

In short, it's a great career, but only if you really want to do it. If I was you, I'd see if I could do a few days of work shadowing in a school before applying (or after applying but before interviewing as time is so tight) Good luck whatever you decide.

ilovesooty Sat 11-Jun-11 16:04:02

As others have said, unless you really, really want to teach for its own sake don't even consider it. Find out more about the job. Then don't consider it. Then look at the job market. Then think very carefully before you consider it. I left teaching in 2001, work for half the pay now and nothing would persuade me to go back. Nearly every teacher I know would leave tomorrow if they had the chance - well, those in secondary anyway. Look on TES - in addition to the forums mentioned above, the NQT forum makes grim reading as well.

COCKadoodledooo Sat 11-Jun-11 16:17:56

Jenga what do you teach? Am hoping to give dh some light at the end of the tunnel re crazy hours...

jasminetom Sat 11-Jun-11 17:16:38

I agree, it is not the easy option> my husband was at the top of his career in IT when I met him, he did a GTP and says he has never worked harder. On the other hand, you do get the school holidays. Less money though for the rest of your career. If you are not genuinely motivated about working with kids, forget it, if you are very good luck, the more mature and experienced teachers the better.

TheMonster Sat 11-Jun-11 17:19:31

A PGCE is not to be undertaken on a whim.

twinklypearls Sat 11-Jun-11 17:25:50

I would have some reservations about going into teaching from a secure well paid job at this time because there are not many jobs out there. However every school that I have worked in has had an issue getting quality maths teachers, so if you are good you should be ok.

I question ilovesooty's assertion that nearly every teacher in the secondary sector would leave if they could, that is not my experience at all.

Compared to the workloads of other teachers , maths teachers do not do bad. The marking load is not that high and neither are the extra curricular demands unless you choose to get involved. However teaching maths can be difficult, lots of kids have the attitude that they just cannot do maths and can play up. There is also a lot of pressure regarding results.

You do need to get experience in a school.

atswimtwolengths Sat 11-Jun-11 17:27:32

I'm a teacher and I'd say ohhh 100% of us in our staffroom would like to leave at the moment. The cuts are massively affecting us and morale is at an all-time low. (I'm in a sixth form, not a school.)

knitknack Sat 11-Jun-11 17:27:46

Well I applied 'on a whim' (if you like, I knew I wanted to work with young people, but I'd never worked in a school in any capacity) and it's been absolutely brilliant! I was 35 when I started my PGCE and am just coming to the end of my NQT year now and i LOVE my job... YES it's the hardest, most tiring job I've ever had, but my day is mine from 3pm (in other words I can choose to stay and work or come home and work around my kids), it's the most challenging AND the most fulfilling.

... I doubt very much you'd have ANY trouble finding a job if you're going to be doing maths, I wouldn't worry about that! You'll get snapped up.

I would apply and see how you feel once you've had an interview. Ring around a few schools and see if you can arrange to do some observations - it's a quieter time of year now what with year 11s and 13s gone. If you get an offer you can see if your heart leaps or your stomach falls and take it from there...

Teaching is still full of crazy politics, but when you're working away and actually teaching, it's just you, your class and if you're lucky a wonderful TLA or two, and nobody else (well, unless you're being observed of course).

Good luck! Let us know how you get on!

knitknack Sat 11-Jun-11 17:30:28

Oh, and the trouble with looking at the TES forums etc is that I really do think that it's only those who are unhappy, or have an issue to sort out, that post - it's a self-selecting group (as is any forum)...

My colleagues and I genuinely love our job, as does my kids' dad, who is also a teacher, and wouldn't go back to the private sector for the world.

bulby Sat 11-Jun-11 17:32:10

Do not apply on a whim. One of the most difficult aspects of my job is picking up the pieces of teachers and student teachers who are doing the job because they didn't know what else to do or thought the holidays sounded nice.

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