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If you are a teacher please advise me on the following

(21 Posts)
spokette Wed 03-Jun-09 10:29:32

Thinking about a career change and teaching Maths, Physics and chemistry at secondary level is an option with which I am toying.

At the moment, I work flexibly. Is this possible as a teacher or do you have to be at school 0830-1700 hours irrespective of your teaching load?

If you have primary age children, how do you cope with inset days which occur on days you have to work if your partner is also working?

How do you deal with things like doctor and hospital appointments for yourself or your DC?

Does being a teacher mean that you never get to attend things like your DC's sport's day, nativity play etc?

How much preparation work do you have to do in the school holidays as well as in the evening and at the weekend?

How much extra responsibility do you have and are you paid for those or just expected to do it?


londonone Wed 03-Jun-09 11:13:54

Teaching is generally very inflexible. Because you get the long holidays you are not generally allowed time off during term. Some heads are more flexible than others but basically you are expected to sort things out out of school hours. Docs and hospital appointments you are allowed time off for yourself but for children again it depends on the school policy etc.

The workload outside of school hours can be enormous in the first few years, it can get better but during term time teachers work some of the longest hours around.

Tommy Wed 03-Jun-09 11:18:54

you can manage your own time outside of the school day - eg. a colleague used to get to school at 7am (her DH used to drop her off on the way to his work) and she would do her prep and marking then. She usually pretty much after the bell went at 3.30pm

I prefered it the other way round and would stay at school until 5.30 or so but then not take work home.

It can be flexible with the hours but not the holidays etc

It can be flexible for part time working as well - most tacher mums I know work part time

scaryteacher Wed 03-Jun-09 11:21:14

I taught in the state system for 5 years secondary.

Flexible working doesn't seem to happen - if you are part time you have a bit more flexibility.

I worked from 0830-1830 as it fitted in with ds's prep school, but before he stayed for tea and to do homework, I left at 1700. You can leave at 1600 everyday if you want and school has finished and there are no meetings/clubs/afterschool lessons to teach.

Inset days - my Mum had him. Dr and hospital, you are allowed time off for you, my Mum again would take him to the doc, or otherwise, other teachers have to cover you.

You do not get to attend things at your child's school unless they are in the evening, or you have an extraordinarily understanding HoD.

I worked 60 hours a week normally including 25 hours per week teaching time. The rest was after hours either at school or home. I taught after school 4 nights a week, and only got time off in lieu for one lesson. They were supposed to pay me but screwed up my timetable and toil was easier than rewriting the timetable, and more use to me than the money.

Also be prepared to pay for your personal textbooks and to subsidise the school with pens, pencils, laminating, video recording etc for your classroom. I quit teaching to move abroad, and my husband reckons it's more financially advantageous for me not to work.

However, great job, adored it, but I'm not sure having not taught for 3 years, if I'd go back to it. It took me 12 months after stopping, to not wake up at 0500 worrying about the planning.

Hope that helps.

spokette Wed 03-Jun-09 13:28:52

Thanks for the replies so far.

I am so use to flexibility in my current job and it is the inflexibility which worries me about teaching.

I am finding it difficult to reconcile having to care for 5yo twin boys with being a teacher but I know that there are thousands of teachers who have done it.

saadia Wed 03-Jun-09 13:35:19

This is all very interesting for me as I'm due to start part-time Primary PGCE in September. By the time I finish dss will be nine and seven.

I have friends with children who teach and they all say that it is hard but do-able. I guess in my case dh will have to take time off for inset days and doc appointments etc.

fivecandles Wed 03-Jun-09 16:56:32

I work part-time 9 (which means being in for 8.30) until 2.30 so I can do a little bit or sorting before picking up my own kids from school at 3.15 (they're at a school 5 mins away). I do the equivalent of a 4 day a week but spread over 5 IYSWIM. This sort of option should be possible at schools or perhaps the possibility of working mornings only. I can sneak out for the occasional school thing but only if I happen to be free and because my dcs' school is 5 mins away. It's also because I work in a 6th form college which allows you to be off premises if you're not teaching. Have you thought about 6th form?

slayerette Wed 03-Jun-09 17:06:37

I work part time at secondary level. I am lucky though in that I have a very unusually understanding and accommodating Head of Department who lets me take time off to see DS's school plays, etc. However, at my last school, they were far more inflexible - to the extent that the school policy was that staff were only allowed to take one day off every eight months to care for a sick child - if more time was needed than that we were expected to arrange alternative care shock

I have also taken a massive pay cut to get the degree of flexibility I have now - I get paid by the lesson so am not required to do anything over and above my teaching, planning and marking. It's worth it to me but I never dare work out how much I'm paid per hour! Not a lot, I suspect.

janeite Wed 03-Jun-09 17:07:58

It is of course possible to do part-time but in terms of flexi-hours it's not really possible within the normal school day. I teach full-time in secondary and prefer to get into school early, be home by 5-ish if possible except on meeting /activity nights and then work at home in the evenings. Others choose to do it differently and it's fine for individuals to choose what works best for them, so long as they are in school between the required hours.

I have missed out on most assemblies, parent and child literacy activities etc etc but tbh the girls have also just known that it's unlikely I'd ever be able to attend and got on with that. INSET days, I'm lucky in that dp was generally able to stay with the girls when they were younger but some teachers take their children into school: individual schools will have different policies on this.

I disagree with the poster who said that you will be financially subsidising resources etc. That really shouldn't be happening and, other than the occasional packet of pens and paper and ink for my printer, I get reimburded if I need to buy any resources outside of the 'normal' stuff (balls of string, a plastic sword, a blonde wig etc!!!).

happilyconfused Wed 03-Jun-09 22:59:26

At my secondary, if you want to teach A levels then you have to be prepared to work one twilight a week ie teach until 5pm - the payback is that you can then negotitate the last two periods off at another time during the week.

I miss sports days and assemblies etc. DH looks after kids on their INSETs.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 03-Jun-09 23:14:46

I work full time as a science teacher. There is no flexibility wrt the school day. I miss sports day. School plays tend to have one afternoon and one evening performance, and DH (or my mum) goes to the afternoon one and I go to the evening. I would get time off for hospital appointments, but unless I were off sick would be expected to make evening doctor's/dentists appointments. DH has much more flexibility than I, so he can cover INSET days (usually) and daytime events. I have the holidays, and the combination works pretty well.

I do ridiculous amounts of work in the evening, but I am currently teaching out of my specialism and it requires a lot of preparation.

I am paid for extra responsibility (but not enough wink).

Litchick Thu 04-Jun-09 09:35:21

A couple of Mums in my DCs classes are teachers and they very rarely get to plays, assemblies, concerts etc. I guess once the timetabling is done at the schools where they work they can't just change it except in very unusual circumstances. Their children are thriving and don't seem to mind.
That said, both Mums enjoy it very much and the holidays are wonderful, though don't always co-incide perfectly as ours is an indie school and they teach in the state system.
Although not a teacher myself, I have had very inflexible jobs in the past and it is hard - but not undoable.

Karam Thu 04-Jun-09 12:09:04

1. Yes it is inflexible. If you teach full time, then you are expected to be there most of the time (but some schools are more flexible on this than others - One school I taught in let us go home on our frees, the second school I taught in demanded we were all there until the end of the school day). If you have children at school, then it is likely that you will need before and after school childcare. You are not entitled to time off for things like sports days etc. For that reason a lot of mums I know work part time (mornings only, beginning of the week etc) as then they are able to attend most things. But if you're part time, they do tend to expect you to take doctor's appointments in your own time (and often after school if you work full time).

No, I can't have the day off if my child has got inset / hospital appointments etc. For us, it would always be my husband who has time off for such things or the children go into childcare.

In terms of missing events, I have found that once you have been at a school a couple of years, and have got a good reputation (for being flexible and supportive among other things) you have more freedom over your timetable etc. I now state the days I want to work and they pretty much write the timetable around me. I am therefore in the position of being able to avoid working the days that my DD is off school (friday pms)and the days that most of her school events are on (wed / thurs pm). By avoiding doing those hours, I have missed very little, but if I can't attend then usually her dad or nan does so someone is there. But yes, it is part of the job that you don't get that time off. My term times are also different to my DDs, so all of that has to be made up too and again I cannot take time off for that.

2. In terms of work, I'm employed three days (Mon - Wed). I pretty much work from about 4pm to midnight on Sundays and the evenings when I have got to work the next day (usually 7pm to midnight) and Dh puts the children to bed. I don't do much in the holidays though - usually only 2/3 evenings a week.

3. Yes, where I am we are expected to get lots of extras ourselves. I have my own laminator, cutter etc just because these things are difficult at work. I also own my own copies of the school text books etc. Work provides pens and paper etc, but beyond that most staff just buy everything else they need themselves. (I spend a mini fortune in Staples every August!) I don't do a lot of extras now, but when I taught in secondary schools I was expected to be far more involved in the general life of the school (but I taught in high achieving schools, where the demands were higher - one school for example had saturday detentions, which of course the staff was expected to cover). The extras are part and parcel I think, particularly if you want to be an outstanding teacher or work in a very successful school. I find I'm always recording tv programmes for work, buying books or posters I think would be useful - so I constantly think about work even when I'm not there, and never get financially reimbursed for such things - that is just the norm of what teachers do.

That said, teaching is the best job in the world and I wouldn't do anything else. I love my job and so I think it is worthwhile. For me, teaching is a vocation so I don't mind the downsides, but if its not for you, then they might matter more.

spokette Thu 04-Jun-09 13:18:12

Thanks for all the comments.

Karam, thanks for the comprehensive description and you are right, teaching is a vocation. So many people have told me that I should be a teacher because I would be good at it because I am patient, knowledgeable and enthusiastic so there is a lot of things for me to think about.

scienceteacher Thu 04-Jun-09 19:12:31

It is difficult to work "flexibly" in a school, as you are tied to a fixed timetable. It is possible to work part-time, and you can request specific hours (though may not get them).

In most schools, you have to be in about 5-10 minutes before the pupils in the morning and stay for 10 minutes after the end of the day.

If your own children have days off school that don't match with your holidays, you have to get friends/family/childminder to care for them.

You make routine appointments for yourself during the school holidays or after school.

Whether you can take time off for your own child's school events really depend on the attitude of your headteacher, but you aren't entitled to go. If you do, someone else has to cover your lessons which isn't good on them or your pupils. If your school has parent-teacher meetings during the workday, then they usually reciprocate if the same system works in your child's school.

I do very little work at home or in the holidays. I do a little bit of holiday work in the Easter holidays and May half-term, but not much. The only preparation I do in an evening is to do internet searches for resources which I am watching TV. I don't mark at home.

In my school, I have small areas of responsibility but I don't get paid for any of it. It is a case of mucking in when there is a job to be done. In my department, we carve up departmental tasks according to what we enjoy doing or are good at. I tend to do the IT work and in turn, my colleague does more of the display.

In general, responsibility comes gradually and it is up to you to accept to do it. When it is offered to you, it is often something you feel ready to do.

Hulababy Thu 04-Jun-09 19:22:29

I worked as a teacher for 10 years, about 3 years after DD was born. For those years I worked PT 3 days a week.

At the moment, I work flexibly. Is this possible as a teacher or do you have to be at school 0830-1700 hours irrespective of your teaching load?

I had to be in school for my teaching days. I couldn't swap and change days as lessons are timetabled. I wasn't able to come in late/go home early either, even if free lessons were then.

If you have primary age children, how do you cope with inset days which occur on days you have to work if your partner is also working?

Find someone else to look after them - parents/family or friends, or parents of their friends. Or DH has to take a holiday or try and work from home.

Some teachers are able to take their child into school although this is no common esp at secpondary.

How do you deal with things like doctor and hospital appointments for yourself or your DC?

After school finishes or holidays. Hospital appointments are fine, if ones you have little control over. You get the time off, full pay.

Does being a teacher mean that you never get to attend things like your DC's sport's day, nativity play etc?

Depends on your school and head. In the secondares I worked at then no, you couldn't have time off generally. In some schools, if they have a teacher spare you can sometimes get away with it. generally no though IME.

How much preparation work do you have to do in the school holidays as well as in the evening and at the weekend?

I used to work for good hour or two most evenings, about half a day at a weekend, plus at least half of school holidays.

How much extra responsibility do you have and are you paid for those or just expected to do it?

Depends what you take on. I did lunchtime club which was unpaid. I didn't do after school clubs. At one school I was at, once a week I had to do supervise bs duy for 20 mins after school finishing time. There was one meeting a week after school which, if on my work day, I had to attend. Parents evenings and INSET - officially only had to go in for my normal hours/days but if requested for other days I would go if I could, but was paid for my time.

I no longer teach as I didn't fnd it that flexible other than holidays. I wanted to do DD's school events and wouldn't hve been able. I worked PT in a prison instead, in education. This was far more flexible, but paid less and had other stresses.

I now work PT as a TA in a primary school and have little extra work to do, little responsibilities outside my normal hours and have flexibility - I get to go to most of DD's school events although will miss ballet assembly next week.

HaventSleptForAYear Thu 04-Jun-09 19:43:41

Is it really hard to find child-care for school age children or is it just that people don't want to use it?

Genuine question, am not in the UK but teach full-time in France.

We couldn't live without our childminder, not least because DS1's school don't have a canteen for lunch !

I have some colleagues who manage their time-table around school hours (usually when both parents are teachers) but it always seems nightmarish having to dash out the door or juggle to be able to attend meetings.

But then we have no family nearby to pick up the slack or take the kids when they are ill, which most people do around here.

I would say it would be unneccesarily stressful without some kind of childcare solution.

Also, even though you have those long holidays, I find I need to work at least 3 days each time "catching up" on marking, preparation, filing (!) etc.

We can use the childminder or take turns with DH who is also off in the holidays.

Good luck with the decision.

spokette Thu 04-Jun-09 20:02:19

Our problem is that there we have no family or friends nearby (nearest friend is 70 miles away and family 150 mileshmm).

Thankfully, our twins are in a school with both breakfast and afterschool club but breakfast club starts at 8am and I tend to take them because DH has to catch train at 7.30am to get to work.

So if school starts at 8.30am I would struggle to get there on time unless it was very near. One option is for DH to start work later but that would mean he would not be home until after 7pm. Added to that, he often travels away e.g. he will be going away for 10 days soon! So if one of the children was sick during term time and he was away, I would have no choice but not to go in which professionally is not ideal. If that happened now, i can work from home because I can log into work.

Boy, there is so much to think about.

The possible change in career is being driven by the fact that my company are making large numbers of posts redundant so I am reviewing my options should the axe fall my way and it is looking highly likely that it will.

HaventSleptForAYear Thu 04-Jun-09 20:15:21

Could you find out about a childminder?

I prefer DS1 to go to her after school rather than a club, because it's a more homey atmosphere - he can watch telly if he's shattered, get something to eat and drink and it's less institutional.

Also it would give you greater flexibility when your DH works away or for sickness.

There are quite often (esp. with 5 year olds) days when they are not quite recovered, but not really sick either, just tired.

If one of them got, say chicken pox, and was not allowed in school for 2 weeks, and then the other one got it afterwards, you would potentially be off work for a month, which is just not feasible (in any job I suppose, but in teaching you tend to have a lot of work that has to be done whether you are there or not).

spokette Fri 05-Jun-09 09:32:39

I have this inexplicable aversion to childminders because my neighbour was one and hell would freeze over before I left my DTS with one. I know that is illogical and most are professional but I would actually prefer to employ a Mother's help or part-time nanny. Just don't know how I would cope with ad-hoc childcare should one of the boys become ill, as this as happened in their first year at school.

You are also right about the twins catching illnesses from each other.hmm I did have to take nearly 3 weeks off from work when they successively caught chicken pox but thankfully I can log into work.

flatcapandpearls Fri 05-Jun-09 17:29:00

I think some of it depends on the school. at my previous school I was allowed to go to assemblies it it fell into my PPA or managment time. As a head of year I had more off timetable time than a standard teacher. Particularly when year 11 left and I had more time I could go to sports days and assemblies. In a management position I was at my desk so to speak from 7 in the morning intil about 6.30 at night and then a few hours in the evening. I don't do much at weekends maybe 3-4 hours unless I had a huge deadline looming.

At my new school you can have a day for a unoversity graduation and that is it. If I wondered in 10 minutes before the school day and left 10 mins after eyebrows would be raised but I could get away with it. I would however struggle to keep on top of things. I am now back to being a standard teacer I tend to get into school for about 7.45 an hour before we start. I will do some prep at home for about an hour before setting off. I am in school until about 5pm and then will do a few hours at home.

But if I needed to leave at 4 for an emergency I could, in lots of jobs you could not. I also have the holidays which are fab. We have found that in order for our family to work with me as a teacher it is necessary for dp to be at home but my illness makes me very tired so that may not be the same for everyone.

I adore my job, live and breathe it. But if I did not I would find the workload and inflexibility hard to live with.

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