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Thinking of retraining to become a secondary school maths teacher

(16 Posts)
boxoftissues Sun 23-Nov-14 11:16:33

I am a former solicitor with 10+ years experience. I have spent the last 11 years as a full time SAHM.

I am now thinking of retraining as a secondary level maths teacher. I love maths but was pushed into english at school/college due to being a girl I suspect (was in the 80's). I fell into law by accident and hated every minute of my legal career.

I have rediscovered my love of maths whilst helping my DC's with homework and exam prep.

Does anyone have any advice on what life is like as a maths teacher in a secondary school?

I live in a relatively affluent area (in London) with many excellent secondary state schools and I would be happy to teach in any of them.

Also which type of teacher training is best: University based or school based? Have heard good and bad about both.

And how competitive is it to get onto a teacher training programme?

Any advice is welcome!

Thank you.


sassytheFIRST Sun 23-Nov-14 11:22:21

You'd need a maths degree to get onto a PGCE, probably, though there are lots of non-specialists teaching maths as it is such a shortage subject.

Always a good idea to get some school experience before applying - couple of weeks' work exp in two different schools gives you a Flavour for teaching these days. It's a requirement for most PGCE courses anyway.

I love teaching (English) but many don't. It's v full-on, demands a lot from you in terms of time and energy, and the short days/long hols don't really exist. Paperwork and data are especially draining. That's why you need to have a proper look at it before you jump ship, so to speak..

threepiecesuite Sun 23-Nov-14 11:24:18

Maths teachers are desperately sought at the moment. Just look at TES jobs to see how many jobs there are, so no trouble finding work.

But being a teacher is very difficult at present due to relentless govt changes and interminable pressures by management. Actually teaching in the classroom will feel like about 10% of your job. The rest will be data, marking and looking for evidence to prove every single thing you do. Full time teaching is at least a 60 hour week just to keep up so consider carefully if you have a young family. You'll need a good support network around you.

boxoftissues Sun 23-Nov-14 11:46:06

Thanks both for your responses. I do have maths and economics A levels but not a maths degree.

None of the websites mention needing a maths degree to do maths teacher training but I will double check on that.

With two DC's, one now at secondary, I definately have realised that the time in the classroom is only a small part of the job.

When you say 60 hours a week, does that include during holidays? Or mainly term time? I know I will have to work during the holidays but would that also be 60 hours a week?

I am not afraid of hard work and I am actually looking for a challenge.

I am not looking to start the training until 2017 when my youngest will start secondary school or even perhaps 2018 so that I can be around during his first year at secondary to help with settling in issues.

I agree it would be a good idea to get some school experience before embarking on a training course. Will be contacting our local secondary schools on Monday!

catkind Sun 23-Nov-14 11:56:08

Why not do some maths degree modules through the open university or coursera or something in the meantime too? You'd find out if you still love doing maths as much as you remember, and it would strengthen your application. You might even end up with a maths degree too!

threepiecesuite Sun 23-Nov-14 12:49:33

You will have to work a proportion of the holidays but you'll still get a decent chunk of time off, although you'll definitely need it!
I usually work one and a half days in a half term, and about the first and last week of the summer holidays.
On average, I get to school at 8.10 and leave around 5- 5.30pm (meetings two nights a week, revision and mentoring the others, early dart on a Friday 4pm ish). I do approx 2 hours work per evening and more at pressure points of the year like report weeks and controlled assessment marking and moderation. Book and planning scrutinies once every 3 weeks here so need to keep on top.
In good schools with supportive management, there can be plenty of job satisfaction. In tough schools with weak and reactive buck-passing management, it can break you.
You sound as though you have your eyes open- good luck.

Iggi999 Sun 23-Nov-14 12:55:47

I am amazed if it's possible to teach maths without either a) a degree in maths or b) a degree with a lot of maths involved in it, eg engineering.
Would you want your dc to be taught by someone with only an A level in the subject?
FWIW I never work in the holidays as a point of principle, except reading/research on the internet.

boxoftissues Sun 23-Nov-14 16:54:42

Very good idea to do maths modules at OU. Will look into that. Thank you catkind.

threepiece, the hours you describe are what I thought would be the case. ie roughly 8am to 6pm which would work well for me once both DC's are at secondary school.

Having been a lawyer for over 10 years I am used to working to deadlines and having targets etc. I would imagine that in terms of pressure and stress the legal profession and teaching are on a par.

Iggi, I take your point. But I would only be teaching up to GCSE. I did pure and further pure maths at A level and also economics which has a lot of maths involved too. A degree would be ideal but I think it is possible to teach up to GCSE without degree level maths.

Iggi999 Sun 23-Nov-14 18:24:30

That's fine, not trying to put you off - it just wouldn't arise in Scotland, you have to have minimum of two years at degree level to teach a subject.

boogiewoogie Mon 24-Nov-14 18:26:23

Contrary to some of the advice you have just been given, you don't actually need a maths degree to do a maths PGCE. Unless things have changed vastly since I did my PGCE, there are 2 year PGCE courses that cover maths modules in the first year, then in the following year, you attend the same lectures as those who have maths related degrees. I did mine at a university but there are various graduate training programmes available for those seeking a new profession.

I understand that there is still a shortage of maths teachers especially for secondary school. I may be speculating here but I think the staff turnover rates may be partly due to the pressures of being a teacher in terms of planning, marking, writing reports, being observed for performance and keeping records of everything and then there are also behaviour issues.

Please don't let that put you off though if you think that it is for you. It just wasn't for me in the end and I am now an LSA in FE which I prefer because of the absence of all the things that I mentioned above even though I am getting paid half of what I used to get paid.

noblegiraffe Mon 24-Nov-14 19:15:08

"You will need to take an ITT course to become a maths teacher. To train as a teacher on any ITT programme, you must be educated to degree level and have a standard equivalent to a grade C in GCSE English and maths.

Providers will often look for maths ITT candidates to have a strong background in maths. This usually means an A-level in maths and an undergraduate degree in maths or a related subject. Don’t worry if you lack confidence in your subject knowledge – this needn't stop you from applying. You can discuss this with your chosen provider both now and at the interview stage.

ITT providers make the final decision on relevant subject knowledge. If your provider feels that you have the right qualities to become a teacher but you need to top up your subject knowledge before you start training, they will talk you through the range of subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses that are available. They will either arrange a placement or help you find a course if they don't run one internally.

If you think you fit the bill and want to find out more about training for a career in teaching maths, you can register for information and advice today"

springalong Mon 24-Nov-14 19:54:35

interesting Post. I do have a maths degree, did accountancy and worked in the city for many years. For various reasons I gave that up after DS started school. Bitter hostile divorce still ongoing and I am expected to return to work. City is out - many reasons. I have always loved maths so thought get a teaching qualification but for adults ie post 16. I tried for years to get a placement - nothing doing locally not even voluntary work. (in adult education no one wants to mentor). I started last Sept at my local FE college with a placement there. My mentor left mid-year (valid personal reason) - no replacement apart from temp or unqualified; the uni offering my qualification are appalling (chaotic, poor quality) and the students - well. I thought after city traders I could manage anything. Many (not all) are in college doing maths because they have to be there so you can imagine the level of engagement. The rudeness and attitude is beyond belief and takes much of the lesson. Many have learning difficulties - they are mostly lovely but there is little time to get to know them and support them individually. And the adults trying to get on are great. I had to stop my course due to the stress of the divorce. I will start again but am looking for a new placement. I loved individually supporting my students, but lesson planning, the slant on the learning just not OK for me. I would prefer to be an LSA like a previous poster.

balia Mon 24-Nov-14 20:06:43

Think very, very carefully about it before you commit. HUGE numbers of teachers are getting out and far, far more want to but can't because of financial considerations. The only maths NQT I know is on the edge of a breakdown. 8am to 6pm is nowhere near my working day and you are missing out what threepiece said about the extra 2 hours work she does at home.

Obviously having never been a lawyer I can't comment in terms of comparison, but I very strongly recommend that you get a school volunteer placement (say once a week) before you make the decision.

Applejack2 Tue 25-Nov-14 15:28:49

You would definitely need a maths degree (or a degree with high maths content) to do teacher training.
I am not sure about post 16 though. You may be able to teach up to GCSE in colleges if you do the PTTLS course. They are desperate for maths teachers in colleges. The school route needed.

crazyauntie Tue 25-Nov-14 15:32:46

If I was you I would look in to teach first... It's there for people like you who want to change there career. Hope this helps! They will tell you the requirements. As far as I know you just need a A level in maths to become a maths teacher through teach first.

boxoftissues Tue 25-Nov-14 18:02:55

Hi all, nice surprise, I wasn't expecting any more replies!

I must admit I am slightly put off by all your comments. I can handle the stress and pressure but I looked into the pay scale and was very shocked. £22k for a newly qualified teacher and not rising very much after either. I know it's a vocation and I am certainly not doing it for the money. But I can understand the high staff turnover rate given the low pay and high stress and workload.

Not sure what to do now. Probably try and get some proper secondary level maths classroom experience. I know I would like to teach the 11 to 16 age group. Not 16+, nor adults and definately not primary school.

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