PGCE - would I be mad?(13 Posts)
I would love some advice. I have just completed my online application to retrain as a primary school teacher and am getting seriously cold feet. My circumstances are as follows:
10 years ago I did a secondary PGCE and pretty much hated it. Reasons being it was a bad time in my life and I was unmotivated, too young and immature(21) and did not have enough of a vocation. I have since had 2 kids (3 and 18 months) and for some years have been thinking about retraining as a primary teacher (there is no conversion I could do - I would have to do another PGCE). I also want to have another child and have been thinking that I would do the PGCE next september and then get pregnant half way through my probationary year, take a couple of years off with the baby and then start career in earnest (in a perfect world).
To be honest, I can barely remember much of the first PGCE. I don't think I worked particularly hard, just sometimes up v late at night lesson planning - but this was reflected in my performance. I think i pretty much scraped by with the skin of my teeth.
I really think i would love primary teaching - when i think about myself in 10 years as an established teacher i can think of no better career - and not for the lifestyle but because i would genuinely love to work with children etc. etc. BUT I am a SAHM at the moment (following a career as a charity fundraiser) and absolutely love it. I also feel slightly sick when I think about the work and effort involved in the PGCE and how it will affect my kids. THey are used to having me emotionally and physically available to them all the time and seem to thrive on that. Although I have some family support, it would only be for 2 days a week, so for three days i would have to find virtually full time help, wouldn't I? (they will both be at nursery 5 mornings a week)
Please honestly tell me how hard it is and how compatible the PGCE is with family life? I know it is really, really tough, but i would love someone to just make the decision for me. In the back of my mind, i have fantasies of 5 years down the line having my kids in the school that i work in and long, idle holidays to spend with them (one of the reasons I am reconsidering teaching is that i couldn't bear the thought of a job where i have to juggle childcare in the school holidays). am i a total fantasist? Should I do it now and just get on with it, or should i wait 5 years? I would be so grateful for your thoughts, and apologise for the long post...
Would you not be able to consider your secondary training? There was a thread a little while ago about the huge amount of applicants for primary jobs, as opposed to secondary. To be honest, I'd try and establish yourself in secondary and then see how you feel. If you really hate it after you've given it a good try, then see if you can manage the re-training with your family commitments etc. (I'm secondary, btw and thinking of going back after a long break.)
(I wouldn't work in a school where my dcs were pupils, either. Sorry to shatter the illusion! I think that's a BIG mistake.)
Where are you based? You mention a probationary year which makes me think Scotland. I did it in Scotland so it might be different down south.
I think it is a hard year but not impossible if you manage your time well. I got through it by really focussing on the stuff that I had to do well on - the placements and the units that were graded. The pass fail stuff I just handed in any old crap and I went to the lectures that I needed - a lot of them were a total waste of time. The ones I missed I sat in the library and studied.
I got pregnant in my probation year and took a year out. The only issue I had is that I found it very hard to get back into work and that caused me a lot of stress but I am secondary and my subject is not in demand so it might be easier in primary.
Could you find someone who has just completed it and chat it through with them?
thank you so much for your responses. i live in edinburgh, so yes, the scottish system. i totally understand what you are saying about getting back into secondary, but as i didn't complete a probationary year, unfortunately my pgce is redundant and i would have to retrain. my gut instinct is telling me to wait 5 years if i am honest, although i don't want to just stagnate.
all the other stuff i have read about pgce's and family make it seem very very difficult if not impossible and obviously my children are my first priority. if i am totally, cynically honest, my long term plan would be to teach in the faculty of a private school which my children could attend to get a family discount on fees - i know plenty of people who have done this. BUT we have the luxury of me being able to stay at home indefinitely (although it will mean things might be quite tight financially) and i just don't know if the short term pain is worth the long term gain as this stage in my life. thanks again for all the advice.
If you are not keen to get back to work and you can stay home then I would just do that. Enjoy being at home with your babies - the world of work will always be there.
How much time have you spent in primary school?
'my long term plan would be to teach in the faculty of a private school which my children could attend to get a family discount on fees - i know plenty of people who have done this'
wow that's forward planning
I hope to my PGCE and also train to be a primary school teacher. My dc are 7 , 4 and 21mth.
I am going to wait until lo is at school before i take this any further. I am also a SAHM and despite the occasional hard days i am trying to make the most of it as they grow so quickly.
However the older ones now seem to need me more than ever ferrying them to and fro to things so is there ever a right time I would look into getting some practical experience in schools whilst they are young maybe ?
I have worked with children since leaving school from newborn to 16 and think i know which age group suits me , at least you won't feel as though you are 'stagnating'.
Thanks so much. Decision made thanks to v helpful replies confirming my gut instinct. But will I be too old at 36ish to start this in 5 years time? I am looking forward to spending time with my lovely babies and hopefully having another. In the meantime will try and get some primary experience. I am sure it is v different to my secondary experience.
No, you'll not be too old at 36 ish to retrain. Well I have to say that, because I'm looking to retrain and I'm 40. I wanted to do secondary teaching from when I left school, but wanted to be older, have more life experience and have had my own kids first - done all that, so now I feel more ready and able to cope with teaching today's teens. In the meantime I've worked as a Uni lecturer (generally adults who are keen to learn), and when not teaching, I've had various roles in Computing. I have a PGCE but it's for 16+, so I'd have to start again too.
I agree with those who've suggested you wait though. Enjoy the time with your kiddies and help out at school now and then. I'm not waiting any longer coz of my age. But, you're not in that situation - you're still v young!
If I were you I would have the baby first, I teach in a secondary but can remember how much I changed and developed in my first few years. To deliberatley interrupt that process would make it more difficult.
A PGCE with kids is hard but not undoable.
If you really want to teach, dreaming of long holidays is not an unreasonale fantasy, it is one of the things that I love.
I have to say as somone who adores, loves and breathes her job to hear someone then say that they are teaching because they want reduced school fees does make me do a middle aged suck air through teeth thing. But again of that is just another reason why you want to teach there is nothing wrong in that. Lots of teachers do it.
At 36 you are not too young.
Doing the PGCE is probably the least of your worries...My husband and I are both primary teachers. We get to work between 7.30 am and 7.45 am (depending on who does the nursery drop off) and leave at 5.30pm. When our son is in bed at 7pm we then work until 8.30pm/9pm and then have dinner/ clean/ do the washing etc etc. We work for at least 3 hours every weekend - either in the evening or when the other takes our little one out for a bit.
Yes, the holidays are great, but again, we work for a large proportion of the shorter holidays and probably for a week or 2 of the summer hols, so you would probably find you need some childcare during the holidays.
If all that sounds do-able (which it is - I do it!) then go for it! If you really want to do it, you'll find a way. Good luck!
I posted a similar thread to this a while ago and have decided not to pursue a PGCE. This is mainly because after doing a bit of research and talking to several primary school teachers I discovered that on average there are 100 applications for every newly qualified teaching post. The standard is so high now that alot of headteachers are only taking on new teachers with first degrees, which ruled me out!
I'd think very carefully about doing it if you need to work after completing the PGCE as it could take a while to get even supply work. Also as one of the other mumsnetters posted on here, the days are usually 12 hours long with marking, lesson prep etc . One of my friends has actually left teaching now as she didn't get to spend enough time with her kids, which was something I hadn't even considered!
Good luck though in whatever you chose to do!
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