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Early years, primary or secondary teaching

(18 Posts)
Piccadilly Wed 01-Jun-11 10:20:33

I want to retrain and go into either early years, primary or secondary teaching. I don't live in the UK so I don't have the issue that there are absolutely no jobs in primary teaching. I have a physics degree. Unfortunately I have very little experience volunteering in primary and secondary schools so would want to start by volunteering.

Just I think I need to decide WHERE to volunteer first!
These are the advantages and disadvantages to me of each of them as I see it:

Early years
advantage: more family friendly for my kids, no marking, less preparation, shorter training period (here), I have more experience with this age group through my own kids and my mother's work and I think that I could do it well
disadvantage: dh is concerned about low salary...

Primary teaching
advantage: apparently primary schools here are struggling with providing the necessary science expertise, so I would feel I have something particular to offer - a bit of a niche which might give me an edge in the job market; fewer discipline problems than with older kids;
disadvantage: I would want to teach in bilingual schools here as I wouldn't feel competent to teach children to read in the local language here which is not my mother tongue (I am English) - but I would need to train here so wouldn't be able to train in teaching children to read in English.
very time-intensive which would take time from my own kids.

Secondary teaching
advantage: good salary (important for dh), real need for physics teachers and particularly female physics teachers as role models, if I then came back to the UK there is also more likely to be a need for physics teachers;
disadvantage: I could imagine I'd have discipline problems, very time-intensive which would take time from my own kids.

Do you think that this is a reasonable assessment of the advantages and disadvantages? I'd be grateful for any advice from people with experience in any of these areas. Which route would you advise me to go? Or should I try to volunteer in all three settings and then see where I fit in best?

Piccadilly Wed 01-Jun-11 10:40:35

Sorry, I didn't make clear that I realise that the advantages and disadvantages I see are not to do with volunteering but with training properly having volunteered. Obviously trying to volunteer in all three settings would have lots of advantages. Just that I see that through volunteering I would also be building up contacts but if I volunteered here, there and everywhere it would give the impression that I am not 100% dedicated to that particular career. I know that once I have decided, I will be completely committed. I just need to take the decision!

COCKadoodledooo Wed 01-Jun-11 10:45:16

To be perfectly honest, if you don't 'feel' an instant affinity for a particular age group, are you really sure it's for you?

bigTillyMint Wed 01-Jun-11 10:48:36

Cock, I think you're right.

Teaching is a vocation, not a job. All age groups are hard work in different ways and if you don't love being with them and doing it, then any age group would be a grind.

Piccadilly Wed 01-Jun-11 11:14:02

I suppose it is my lack of time in classrooms that means I feel affinity to all age groups...
I love building and painting cardboard box trains with my toddlers and their friends and getting covered in mud in the woods. I really enjoyed doing experiments with sixth form girls on Engineering Days at University and seeing how self-confident they could become and when I did work experience at a science museum, I loved showing primary groups around the museum and getting into their fantasising about travelling into space.
At present, I can't see that I get on better with people when they are one age and not when they are another age ... they are people!
Does this mean I am not cut out for teaching? - or just that I don't have enough experience?

rainbowinthesky Wed 01-Jun-11 11:16:43

Not sure why you think early years will be less work and more family friendly than primary or secondary unless where you live the system is very different from here.

Piccadilly Wed 01-Jun-11 11:28:30

I had got that impression, because here it seems you can find work 20 hours a week (paid work - I realise the reality is much more) in Early Years and whilst there is obviously a lot of preparation and paper work, I have seen from family members the volume of marking work in the holidays at secondary level, whereas the early years teachers I know seem to have more "free time" in the holidays (although those holidays are shorter). It sounds like I've got the wrong impression! Please tell me about the reality!
Maybe it is just the reality that if I'm worrying about time with my own children, I am the wrong person for teaching. But, I feel I really want to go into teaching AND I guess I'm not the only one who dreams of having a bit of time with their own kids...

rainbowinthesky Wed 01-Jun-11 11:33:18

I think you need to research it a little more carefully. Teaching isnt family friendly. I have never picked up my dc from school or dropped them off and have never attended sports days, concerts, anything in teh day there. That's the reality.
Dd goes to breakfast club (often at 7.30am) and then I pick her up at 6pm from childminders. I often work in the evenings and on Sundays and a fair bit in the holidays.

sunshineatlast Wed 01-Jun-11 11:47:18

Piccadilly, I think you need to decide what you want to teach. If it is your subject Physics then secondary would be ideal. If you want to teach across subjects then Primary would be better for you.

It sounds like your dh has vetoed any younger due to poor pay?

I would advise you to go and spend some time in the classroom with teachers before you make any applications.

jussi Wed 01-Jun-11 16:15:13

Don't be put off. You do not need to know instinctively which age group you want to work with.I think by volunteering in all sectors would be a good idea. I didn't know which age group I wanted to teach when I started and have subsequently taught all ages from nursery up to year 6(in the same school) so have experience with all age groups within the primary sector. And, actually to a certain extent you are true regarding the time spent marking, etc. I am returning to reception year in september as I am fed up with all the additional marking, assessment , etc that is required in KS2. Of course, it is hard work in any year group but in the early years, it is more physical and higher up the school, it is more mental.
I do agree that it is not the most child friendly job and you will have to work out how you will pick/drop off children, etc. My DS is due to start school in September and due to his SN we have had to re jig a lot of things in order to ensure we can drop off and pick him up everyday.
It is hard and I have 2 DC under the age of 5 and of course you want to spend as much time with your own children as you can but you do need to remember teaching is not the kind of job you can just switch off from at the end of the day. If I could afford it, I would rather be a TA than a teacher as you get all the perks of the holidays etc without the hassle of the extra workload and responsibility.
If you are still serious about it, then of course have a go, otherwise you might miss out on what might be your ideal job.
Good luck

Piccadilly Wed 01-Jun-11 17:01:37

Thanks for all your advice and information. I suppose it´s the old story that I feel I really want to do this, but I feel guilty about the negative effects that my family would experience. I have seen how a close family member´s marriage completely broke down during the first years of teaching because of the 24/7 nature of the job. And as jussi also points out, there is also the issue of how much you need to earn to support your own family.
I think really I would rather teach across subjects but using my enthusiasm for science and background in science to offer a counterweight in schools which here are supposed to be a bit science-light (it seems to be a big issue here at present). So I think my first step is to try to find a primary school who would accept me to do a good deal of volunteering across a range of ages...
Thanks very much everyone!

SilveryMoon Wed 01-Jun-11 17:06:55

I've just decided to train to one day become a SEN teacher in early years.
I have done 6 months as a TA at a SEN school within EY and absolutely loved it.
My plan is to do a home study course for now, then when ds2 starts part-time nursery (next april), I will start an access to HE course to open the door for a degree, I will then when ds2 starts full time school, look for a job as an SEN TA and hopefully do a part-time degree with the support of the school.........
Failing that, not sure.
I am 'on the books' with a teaching agency (in UK) and have said I'm not looking to work again until next year, and they have agreed to take me back and get me some work then.

Piccadilly Wed 01-Jun-11 18:03:22

That sounds great! Good luck with it all, SilveryMoon.

youngjoly Thu 02-Jun-11 01:10:48

I wouldn't worry about not knowing which age you'd like to teach. I originally wanted to teach 'early years' as in foundation stage (reception primary school) and after a year of primary teacher training, decided to do secondary. I now teach 6th form!

I agree, go into some different age groups and see what you'd like to teach. Whilst I'm now 6th form, sometimes I do wonder whether I would have quite liked teaching juniors!

On average, a primary school teacher is said to work more hours than secondary. Although, that will depend on the type of school. If you can get into a larger primary school (with a 2/3 form entry), then the work load is more easily spread about.

I would also say that probably secondary is more family friendly than primary in many ways. I work part time, and teach mostly mornings. I have all my free periods in the afternoons so I can pick my children up from school most days. Obviously, Primary school teachers can't do this. If you work part time, it will be set days. Also, again because I'm secondary, I can sometimes swap my lessons with a colleague so that I can make Christmas plays etc. This will however, depend on how flexible your head is.

The key difference I see between primary and secondary is that with primary, you're in much more of a nurturing role. Yes, you are teaching them... but academically it won't be very challenging for you, but if you enjoy nurturing children and the relationship you build up with the children, then that may well be for you. Whereas, Secondary I think is often more academic... After 14 years of secondary teaching, I am still getting asked questions that I don't know the answers to, and finding information out. But, you only see the children for an hour or two a week, so the relationship between the teacher and the children is not there in the same way that it is in primary.

So what do you prefer - to teach a subject, or to nurture children. Obviously both primary and secondary require both elements, but where would you prefer the emphasis to be...?

Good luck!

sleepywombat Thu 02-Jun-11 01:31:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sleepywombat Thu 02-Jun-11 01:36:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sleepywombat Thu 02-Jun-11 01:40:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Piccadilly Sun 05-Jun-11 15:34:11

Thanks so much everyone for your information. It´s really useful to hear. I think most of the UK information is relevant to me - otherwise I wouldn´t have asked you all smile
It´s all been really helpful - thanks!

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