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Am I mad to do a PGCE when my son will only be 15 months old?

(31 Posts)
cupcakeandtea Mon 17-Aug-09 12:02:45

My son is nearly 4 months old and for the past few years I've been toying with the idea of training to be a primary school teacher. I've been working in publishing for the past 15 years and as many who recognise my name will know, I've been very unhappy at work for the last few years. This is also coupled with the fact that the media is a young person's game and I'm just not interested in it anymore.

It's too late for me to start a PGCE now but I could start next September. I think this is the ideal time to get some proper work experience in a primary school and to resit my GCSE maths which I need to get a C in. However, I worry about finding the money for the course fees (approx £3k) and living on my partner's wage for the duration of the course. I also worry about finding the money for childcare as the course is full time.

I'm not doing this because it's convenient (ie good if you have children) but because its been a lifelong ambition of mine. Am I mad to be even thinking about it? Are there any other mumsnetters who have completed a PGCE with a young child?

sausagesupper Mon 17-Aug-09 12:06:32

Did mine few years ago, but certainly then the fees were paid for you, not sure about now.
I would say go for it, but be prepared for long hours. The course is not so much difficult interlectually, but difficult because it was intense and so much to get through. However, it is only one year, and if you have good childcare and support, then go for it.

sausagesupper Mon 17-Aug-09 12:08:07

Sorry, forgot to add, there is also the induction year to complete, which is more jumping through endless hoops. I have decided I do not have the organisational skills to be a teacher any more. To manage with your own kids, you need to be super organised and dedicated, e.g. spending all free periods, break times, lunch times etc catching up and doing marking and preparation so you don't need to do tooo much at home!

Harimosmummy Mon 17-Aug-09 12:14:44

Look at the options!!

i'm starting a p/t pgce secondary course in sept and i have a 15mo and a 2week old!!! grin

The course i'm doing is 2 yr flex modular course...

i don't think i'm mad grin

The interview for the course went brilliantly (was 36 weeks pg so no hiding the new baby!!! ) snd i've done quite a few placements - one school already offered me a job.

this way, i'll be back at work when the kids are at nursery.

sorry for typing.. am bf with other hand!!!


Harimosmummy Mon 17-Aug-09 12:15:36

oh, forgot, i get a bursary to train... so fees and chilcare are covered.

Roomfor2 Mon 17-Aug-09 12:16:26

I did a PGCE a few years ago and it was very stressul and time-consuming (for me, anyway). Full-time (either in college or on placement), often the placements were a fair treck from home so lots of time spent travelling (because they can't place everyone locally - there aren't enough schools!) and the lesson planning on top of your own study took ages. I had my head down for about 10-11 hours a day most weeks.

I personally wouldn't do it unless you have a lot of support around - not just childcare during the day, but in the evenings too, because you have to do all the prep work in your own time. I found that the course (the daytime part) is really just to guide you, but you have to do much of the actual work yourself outside of that time. Of course, this might have changed/be different in your subject.

It would prob be a good idea to talk to the course leader about that and how much time they would expect you to have to put in outside of scheduled lecture hours.

Roomfor2 Mon 17-Aug-09 12:19:40

Having said that, a part-time option might be a lot easier on your time! I would definitely speak to the course leaders about the amount of time you would need to put in, though.

As I said, it may be different in different subjects. Mine was science, so there was a lot of planning and practicals to deal with, etc.

cupcakeandtea Mon 17-Aug-09 12:49:44

I would rather do a full time course and friends of mine that have done a PGCE say it's a really hardcore year but worth it in the end.

To be honest, I've spent the last five years faffing about, staying in a job I hate and I think I've just reached the point where I have to follow my heart and do something I'm passionate about despite the financial implications and time constraints.

Thanks for all the advice - it's much appreciated. At least I've got a year to decide what I'm going to do!

fivecandles Mon 17-Aug-09 15:01:39

Aren't there now PGCEs where you get paid to train as you teach sort of thing?

I think it would be hard but doable as long as you've got good and flexible childcare.

randomtask Mon 17-Aug-09 15:21:09

If you could do a GTP instead of PGCE you get paid (approx £14k) and choose the school you'll be training at. DH tried to do this but sadly ended up doing PGCE.

You don't have to get your C in GCSE Maths, you can take an 'equivalence test' before you start.

The bursary for an English teacher was £6k for the year, paid at £600 a month for 6 months. I'm not sure if other subjects pay more.

DH had to pay his course fees (£3k) out of his savings as we needed his bursary. We got back from honeymoon on the day his training started and thus we were renting somewhere (unable to get a mortgage without two salaries) and trying to settle DSS aged 7 at that point who was understandably unused to having a Mummy (his died when he was 3 and had been ill all of his life). So it was stressful and yes DH worked long hours and had to juggle things.

That said, DH is about to start his NQT year and absolutely loves teaching. He's happy, he's (beginning to be) organised, he's enthusiastic and just wants to start!

I'd definitely recommend a GTP though if you could get that instead as it'd mean you do one school instead of two/three over the year and you won't have the stress of working out each new mentor.

Good luck. I'd love to be a teacher but I don't think I'd cope with the stress of the training year and a family. If you think you can, go for it!

cupcakeandtea Mon 17-Aug-09 20:01:05

Thanks random. I did think about doing a GTP but I've been advised it would be too much with a small child and there's so much competition for places I'm not sure I'd get on a course anyway. However, I'll make sure I look into all options first.

Harimosmummy Mon 17-Aug-09 20:16:38

I agree... I was also advised that it was too much with young kids.

But that's not to say it's out of the question.

rek21 Mon 17-Aug-09 20:18:26

Yes, in the nicest possible way, that would be bonkers. I did my pgce 4 years ago, I had been working in the real world for 5 years before that, so I wasn't a green graduate and I have never worked so bleedin' hard. I worked a 65 hour week at least, through the entire year (half terms and holidays included). The NQT year was just the same. I have a 22 month old daughter now and I cannot imagine trying to do that at the same time. Don't get me wrong, do do it, just not yet. Give yourself another year, maybe do some part-time work as a teaching assistant to get some experience and learn the system/curriculum for a bit. I wish I had, it would have helped a lot I think.

randomtask Tue 18-Aug-09 09:27:53

Why would a GTP be harder with small children? You know where you'll be working, you'll know the hours and it'll only be one school to get used to.

DH ended up at 3 schools, 2 miles away, by the time he got used to the hours/meetings after school he'd change schools and the most stressful thing for him was getting used to staff at different schools.

DH tried to get a place but didn't manage it. I still wish he had though as it would have been easier to live with him and organise our family life. We spent the year being flexible around him.

NQT year is about to start and I'm hoping it's better as we're planning on TTC and we're buying a house 3 days before he starts that needs 2 months of work doing before we move in.

cupcakeandtea Tue 18-Aug-09 11:41:36

A friend of mine did the GTP with a small baby and she said she found it extremely hard to be working all day and then cramming the coursework in the evening and weekends. If she had done a full time PGCE she would've had more time to do the coursework but this is only one person's experience so I probably need to investigate it more.

randomtask Tue 18-Aug-09 14:45:51

DH did the PGCE and had to work all day at schools. He got some Thursdays off (which he spent at college listening to lectures plus Thursday evenings he had college too which he felt was mostly a waste of time and gave him more work to do) and still had to do all of the coursework in the evenings and weekends. I think the GTP's at his schools were the same in that they got some 'free periods' to do their coursework during school time. DH isn't the most organised but is good at working under pressure so after the first few months he got better at doing the work at school and lesson planning at home. At first he was working all hours at home, then once he'd got the hang of it it'd be the odd hour or two a few nights a week.

hollytom Tue 18-Aug-09 18:46:03

Just finished my PGCE got 2 kids 8 and 6. I thought I was losing my mind by the end of it, so exhausted but I did it. To be frank I think your child is a bit too young at the mo, there was someone on my course with children of that age and she dropped out because she felt so guilty about not spending time with them.
I was working all day with a few minutes for lunch, coming home and then starting again from 7 til 9/10 and then most of Sunday also whilst on teaching practice and I am by no means a perfectionist. It is a bit easier whilst you are in college but you are still out all day. I think it is one of the most intense courses you can do and the only way to get through is to grit your teeth. A friend had a countdown on facebook!
I would also think about whether now is the right time anyway, 50% on my course haven't got jobs. Don't give up the dream but leave it a couple of years perhaps? I personally wanted to wait until mine were at school.

cupcakeandtea Tue 18-Aug-09 22:11:18

Thanks for all your messages. I've taken all your advice on board but I think I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway if I can get on a course. I know it's going to be a challenge but i've got a great support network around me and I really can't afford to put it off for a few more years as age is not on my side.

I spoke to a friend of mine today who is a headteacher and she's going to help me too so that will be an added bonus. I'll let you know how I get on!

Speckledeggy Wed 19-Aug-09 00:41:41

Good luck cupcakeandtea!

I am sure you will be just fine.

A new career - how exciting!

Rachmumoftwo Wed 19-Aug-09 01:03:04

It will be very hard going but as long as you keep super-organised it is possible.

I did my PGCE primary a year ago, with a 5 and 6 year old. A 15 month old may not be as understanding as older children. DH was very supportive which helps a lot, as I would be either at college or placement all day, planning or doing assignments evenings and Sundays, having Saturday as family (and housework and shopping etc.) time. My social life disappeared but you can't have it all.

It was physically and emotionally exhausting and my probation year is not much easier (better money though). But it is worth it. I love my job. I do find myself working evenings, weekends and school holidays though, so be warned!

cupofteaplease Wed 19-Aug-09 07:42:59

I have just completed my PGCE and my girls were 3 and nearly 15 months when I started. It was bloody hard work, but the year flew by and it's over now- I'm about to start my first teaching job.

Good luck!

tinymam Wed 19-Aug-09 07:59:54

A very intensive course, but its good prep for your NQT year which is just as bad (I'm secondary). I trained 5 years ago with no kids but now have a 19mo and work 3.5 days a week. Find it hard work during term time and spend a lot of the school hols working as well but love my job (most days grin).

If its what you want to do then go for it, just be prepared for long hours, good days, bad bad days and plenty of coursework and planning.

Good luck

cupcakeandtea Wed 19-Aug-09 08:27:07

Thanks for the encouragement! I was feeling a little bit down last night wondering if I was doing the right thing and of course I know its going to be extremely hard work.

I know my son will still be very young if I get on the course next September but i want to give him a better quality of life and be in a job I enjoy as he, myself and my partner will all benefit if I'm happier at work. I don't think I can quite explain just how unhappy I've been in the past 5 years stuck in a job I loathe but I'm not going into teaching as a last resort - it's something I've always wanted to do.

Thanks again - it's great to know that it's possible rather than giving up at the first hurdle!

clemette Wed 19-Aug-09 08:40:36

If you have good support, reliable childcare, complete determination and utter passion for the job you can do anything.
I start my medical degree this autumn after being a teacher for 12 years. The good thing about the PGCE is it is relatively flexible - yes you may find that you are doing lots of work every evening but you will be able to fit it in around DS's evening routine. The key is preparing your body to cope on less sleep (which, with a four month old you are doing!) When mine were very little and started the day at 5 I used to get up with them then and go into work at 6.30 - it is incredible what you can achieve in the couple of hours before the kids arrive.

Good luck!

Peabody Wed 19-Aug-09 09:27:08

I agree with Rek21.

It is impossible to overestimate the number of hours you will have to put in during your PGCE and NQT year. Realistically, you need to accept that you will hardly see your partner and child at all for two years.

If it were me, I'd do it part-time. But I wish you all luck in whatever route you pick that is best for you.

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