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Want to go into teaching, but no degree -- what to study?

(26 Posts)
MegBusset Wed 24-Jun-09 22:29:20

I'm thinking of going into teaching (primary school) when the DC are older, but I haven't got a degree so am thinking of getting one with the OU.

But which to go for? Should I go for something with vocational relevance (eg Childhood & Youth Studies, or Early Years) or am I better off going for a 'traditional' subject that interests me (would probably be English or History)?

Just wondering if the subject would make any difference to me being accepted on a PGCE course, or make me more attractive to potential employers...

Dysgu Wed 24-Jun-09 22:36:25

I would say, as a primary teacher, that you can take any degree you like!

Early Years may be interesting if that is the age group you are planning for but, considering the time and effort it is going to take to get the degree, I would go for something you are interested in.

Good Luck - it will all be worth it in the end but the PGCE is a tough year!

MegBusset Wed 24-Jun-09 22:44:24

Thanks. The DC are still v young (2.4 and 8 weeks!) so my plan would be to start the degree now, see if I can get a TA position in a couple of years' time then do the PGCE when both the boys are in school.

Rachmumoftwo Wed 24-Jun-09 22:48:04

The people on my PGCE last year had all sorts of degrees but the main thing we all had in common was experience working with children.

Aeschylus Thu 25-Jun-09 08:30:23

The biggest bit of advice I can give you after watching my DW go through the same thing, is get your ass into as many schools as possible, you need to be known, like etc by the heads...

you wont see this on the Goverment adverts about teaching is that there are not as many jobs out there as you like to think..

and nearly all of people on my DW's courses wanted primary school.....

are you prepared to move away to get work....

I am not trying to put you off, just be realistic, by the teachers paper, have a look at what jobs are in your area..

competition is high for primary places, however if you are good at certain subjects like Maths etc, do secondary school and you will walk into a job

abraid Thu 25-Jun-09 08:38:58

I would do maths.

frAKKINPannikin Thu 25-Jun-09 08:44:43

You can take any degree you like but something with relevance to the National Curriculum is beneficial and an 'in demand' subject even better so:


Basically anything which is a shortage subject at secondary you're likely to find is a shortage subject at Primary.

English might stand you in good stead for EAL teaching if you can load it up with a few linguistics models. As you're looking at the OU I'd consider an 'Open' degree, where you can do 50% in a specified (current) National Curriculum core subject and then pick and choose your modules from other subjects, possibly some with vocational relevance. That will help demonstrate that you're a good 'all-rounder' which is pretty vital for primary teaching.

Aeschylus Thu 25-Jun-09 08:50:57

I fear I may of put you off...

I dont mean to, just I have seen first hand how "un-like" it is to what image the Goverment portray it...

I would say if you have no experience of working with Chrildren I would not even bother, do a degree but dont PGCE, as "looking after your chrildren" does not wash in a interview...

a lot of students do not get accepted on to the PGCE first time, it is a bit like a driving test, they seem to reject people very easily...

you will be up against Teaching Assistants who are allready in the school and being sponsored by the school to do their degrees..

a lot of adverts actually state if they accept new "QTS" applications.... the PGCE is a full time course, you have to pay for...

History is a good one, but to do in secondary school I reckon..

frAKKINPannikin Thu 25-Jun-09 08:53:48

*puts teachery pedant hat on*

May have

frAKKINPannikin Thu 25-Jun-09 08:59:03

Sorry - that sounded really rude. It's just one of the things that bugs me hugely.

MegBusset Thu 25-Jun-09 13:17:05

Thanks, it's interesting to hear others' experiences.

My plan would be to (hopefully) start off as a TA to get some experience under my belt before going for the PGCE.

Maths would be interesting but I gave it up after GCSE -- presumably I'd need to do an A-level before going on to degree level?

I don't think I would like to teach in a secondary -- the very thought petrifies me tbh.

Aeschylus Thu 25-Jun-09 13:36:13

most people feel the same as you, that is why Primary is so over subscribed, and not that well paid to start with...

My DW was adament no secondary as she is only 5ft 3in, so she felt it would be uncomfortable trying to teach 6ft tennagers...

TA is an excellent way to go, as if you find a school with a good head teacher, they can sponsor you through your degree and PGCE (which is still the only way you can do it, without going to college full time) then hopefully the next teachers job that comes up you will be in...

if you are not so good at maths dont bother, go into smiths and have a look at a A level book, blows your mind, let alone a degree

daisydancer Thu 25-Jun-09 13:38:04

You can do a Bachelor of Education (BED) which is the degree and training in one. From a primary perspective, it's a good option because you will cover all the subject areas and you would be able to specialise in the subject that interests you most. It is possible to do this for secondary, specialising in one subject but management in top rate schools, (which would make your career a pleasure rather than a battle ground!) often prefer people with an excellent, pure degree, from an excellent university in their particular subject.

I am on a career break at the moment - children and things... but as a Head of Department in an excellent school, I wanted to know that the staff we employed were very well qualified and demonstrated excellent teaching skills. It wouldn't have mattered if they'd been a TA at the school for years or not. Gaining experince in a school as a TA, however, would be useful in terms of preparation for a PGCE.

So, I would second what pannikin says about the OU and core subjects, suggest that a BED would be too tricky whilst your children are small but a possibility later. My key piece of advice would be to get really well regarded qualifications, whatever the subject, and be certain that you could cope with the demands of teacher training with children.

Aeschylus Thu 25-Jun-09 13:39:02

however, OU lets you do degrees no matter how thick you are...

but if it definately Primary, do something with a broader spectrum..

what about College Lecturer, that was the route my DW went in the end, after much soul searching, and start pay is 233k, compared to 16k in primary

Aeschylus Thu 25-Jun-09 13:40:21

23k not 233k

I wish

daisydancer Thu 25-Jun-09 13:43:59

In response to Aeschylus. My understanding is that if you do the GTP (Teacher training in a school - on the job, so to speak.) you need to have the degree already, I may be out of date but I hadn't heard that a school would sponsor your degree! A PGCE course is paid for by the government and I think there may also be funding of about £6,000 available for living costs. It could be that this is for shortage subjects only.

MegBusset Thu 25-Jun-09 13:55:15

I was very good at maths -- top of the year (in a grammar school) at GCSE level -- but that was 17 years ago and it's got a bit rusty since then!

"My key piece of advice would be to get really well regarded qualifications" -- would an OU degree be well-regarded enough, do you think? I don't want to spend years studying if it ends up being viewed as a 'Mickey Mouse' degree. OTOH, studying from home is really the only option for me at the moment.

daisydancer Thu 25-Jun-09 14:48:23

Yes, traditionally OU has been highly regarded. I'm sure the OU itself would be able to point you towards thier most well regarded Maths courses.

Are you sure you wouldn't be interested in Secondary? I'm only just 5ft and have a fairly gentle nature. I've taught in big, mixed comprehensives, good ones, but they've had thier fair share of hooligans! It's much better paid than primary and if you have a bad lesson one Monday morning, chances are that you'll have a couple of days to cool down and plan your next attack! It can be intensive spending all day, every day with the same children, as in primary. Secondary also gives you the opportunity to specialise in your own subject area. If you train as a scondary teacher, it is possible to teach in a primary but it's much more difficult to swap the other way.

The only problem with Maths at Secondary level is that, (I say this advisedly!)some children are more difficult to motivate in Maths than in other subjects so perhaps primary is the answer! Just remember that there are plenty of very difficult primary aged children, as there are secondary ones. When you come to choose a job - eventually, assuming you have good qualifications and become an effective teacher, you should be able to choose the school for you. It's as important as choosing a school for your child. This means that you would never have to teach in a 'more challenging' environment, whatever the age group you choose. Dare I say it... if you're not looking to change the world, there are plenty of independent schools too!!! Maths is a shortage subject, so there would be lots of choice! Good luck.

Dysgu Thu 25-Jun-09 15:26:44

Can anyone tell me what the difference in salary is between being a primary teacher and a secondary teacher, please?

I currently teach in a middle school in England so we have KS2 and KS3.

I was always under the impression that teachers of all ages (children, I mean) were paid from the same scale.

I am on UPS 2. The county is currently restructuring and we are going to a 2-tier system so middle schools will disappear. I plan on moving [back] to primary but would I be better off, financially, to go to secondary?

Sorry to hijack?

frAKKINPannikin Thu 25-Jun-09 15:41:59

More chances of promotion is secondary and salaries in management are higher.

daisydancer Thu 25-Jun-09 16:00:00

Things may have changed but I think ordinary secondary teachers are better paid. Not sure of the difference, a bit out of touch! Maybe it is all to do with responsibility points etc...

MegBusset Thu 25-Jun-09 18:46:30

Hmm. I think my own experiences of secondary school put me off as much as anything. I was bullied, had my hair set on fire, threatened to be knifed, etc. This was at one of the county's top grammar schools! I never really fit in and fear that I still wouldn't be able to relate to your average teen. OTOH since having my own kids I've found I really like young children.

janeite Thu 25-Jun-09 19:00:11

I am only 5'2 and know lots of teachers just as small, or even smaller, than me. I teach in an inner-city secondary school in one of the most deprived areas of the country and love it. Please don't let height put anybody off secondary teaching: that's just daft!

As for what subject you should do: whatever you are interested in if you want primary but I personally would recommend English or Maths. If you want secondary, then Science and Maths teachers are always in demand but good English teachers also seem to be becoming a rare breed ime.

OU degrees in 'proper' subjects are deffo not seen as 'Micky Mouse' - only a problem if you want to do The History Of Take That or Mee-ja Studies, or Aromatherapy or something!

Aeschylus Thu 25-Jun-09 19:12:18

I just think that when you are looking at a new career path, you have to look at the market, Secondary school teachers in the "core" subjects are in demand, oh and the goverment will pay you more if you teach a core subject in a deprived school.

Primary teachers are not in demand, I am sure someone may well correct me, and there may well be pockets of demand, but as a whole you are far more likely to get offered a higher salary in Secondary, and because comeptition is intense for primary posts, the salary reflects that...

however I remember reading in the conservaties elections pledge, they are planning on letting schools operate as their own "self sustaining buisness"...

so it could all change by the time you qualify....

Rachmumoftwo Thu 25-Jun-09 23:45:06

I think that salaries are all on the same scale but you get more for different things, including 'time served', subject co-ordinator allowance, more to reflect your age and life experience etc. Some of these are the same for everyone, others at the discretion of the school.

Secondary teachers have more opportunities to move up the pay scale in less time, but there is no reason why a primary teacher could advance as quickly in theory.

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