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Thinking of re-training as a teacher - would love to hear from teachers who are Mums

(35 Posts)
snowflake99 Fri 01-Jul-11 10:35:12

When DS2 starts school I am thinking of retraining as a primary school teacher.
If there are any Mums out there who are also primary teachers I would really love to ask you a few questions so that I can get a better picture of what I'd be letting myself in for.

- What time do you have to be in the classroom at the start of the day and how long do you stay after school?

- Are your evenings all taken up with preparation/marking etc?

- Are you in the same school as your children?

- If not, do you miss out on their sports days, plays, etc?

- If you re-trained after having your kids, how did you find that?

Many thanks for any replies.

EBDteacher Fri 01-Jul-11 14:02:20

I teach in a primary special school (EBD, hence the name!) so some things might be slightly different. (I was in mainstream previously, but before I had my son so I never really thought about this stuff!)

We have to be in at 8.30 at the latest. It is better to be there earlier than that though as- unless you are SUPER organised- there are usually a few things to do before school. I drop DS off at his CM's almost next door to school at 8. When he goes to school I will have to find somewhere that has before school provision so I can still be in for 8.30.

Schools vary on the time people leave but at my place it is ok to walk out as soon as the last taxi has left (3.30ish) but there are either 1 or 2 compulsory meetings every week that end at 5. Again, I will have to have after school provision for DS on those days. (I currently work part time mornings only so not an issue.)

I do not usually work in the evenings but I do at weekends- maybe about 3 hours. However, we have very small classes (4-6) and I work 1-1 in the severe and complex unit so marking, planning and sorting resources takes much less time than for 30 kids. I think most mainstream teachers do work in the evenings.

Staff at my school are usually able to go things like sports days as long as they book it in advance- but we have a higher staffing ratio than mainstream so that makes it easier. Think whether or not things like that are looked kindly on depends on individual Heads.

I trained when I was 22 and had the energy! I'm sure it would be possible with family if you were really, really determined. It is an exhausting year though. My best advice is part time! It makes teaching a much more manageable job!

TickTockPillow Fri 01-Jul-11 14:27:42

I know somebody who has just done this although her youngest is older than yours:

- What time do you have to be in the classroom at the start of the day and how long do you stay after school?
Generally she is in by 7:30am. 8am is the latest

- Are your evenings all taken up with preparation/marking etc?
No not all of them. At some times of the year (eg writing reports) she is working 6pm - midnight every day after work. At other times she stays at school until 5pm and works then. All staff meetings are after school so at least once a week is until 5:30pm. She works about 5 days of the Summer holidays in school and at least 2 of the Christmas and Easter holidays (setting up the classroom, sorting books and equipment etc)

- Are you in the same school as your children?
No she isn't

- If not, do you miss out on their sports days, plays, etc?
Yes she does. She misses all of them. Very rarely she is able to swing it so she can go to an early morning event at her kids school but this is not the norm. She started teaching though when the children were a bit older so she did have a few years of being able to go to them.

- If you re-trained after having your kids, how did you find that?
She found the PGCE hard work as you are studying and doing placements so it is a fulltime commitment. She was sent to 3 schools over the year - two close to home but one miles away that required an early start and late home. On top of that there are assignments to complete and hand in and all the usual teacher things of planning and assessments.
The NQT year was tough too as you are doing everything from scratch. You have no pre made resources or planning from previous years to help you and you have to.
She says (in her opinion) teaching is the least family friendly job when your children are young simply because you cannot take odd days off and because the initial training is very intense for 2 years - more than a fulltime job would be. But in the long term, it fits in with her life now and she is home for most of the children's holidays.

TickTockPillow Fri 01-Jul-11 14:31:38

Sorry - missed out a few bits - she is now in her 3rd year and at this stage feels more settled and that it is not quite so over whelming as it was at the beginning
The point about the placements is you don’t get to choose where you go. They send you to schools to work at which may or may not be close to your house. She got allocated one miles away which made those weeks really hard as she had to leave at the crack of dawn and got home late. I don't know if that's the same with all courses though. This was a fulltime PGCE

MiaWallace Fri 01-Jul-11 14:38:47

Please be aware of the job situation before you even consider becoming a primary school teacher.

I have just completed my PGCE and despite numerous applications I can’t even secure an interview.

I have years of experience working with primary age children, a First class degree in Education Studies and have been graded as Outstanding for my PGCE. Despite all this I have spent the morning looking for retail and office work because the chance of me gaining a job before September is getting slimmer by the day.

Sorry to be so negative, I just want you to understand how bad the situation is before you invest in a very time consuming and stressful year of training.

clutteredup Fri 01-Jul-11 14:40:24

I work P/T where my DC are - DD1 is lovely in class and loves having me. DS is a complete mare and tries to show his frinds he's stil hmm cool by behaving badly.

The hours work better, DD2 starts next year, I can bring them all in with me at 8 and take them home at the end of the day but then there is no journey or break between leaving work and in your face DC. If I've had a bad day with difficult children I would like to have five minutes to calm down and sit down and have a cup of tea - even a car journey with some music would do just to move between teaching mode and parent mode.
It's a childcare free situation if you have them in the same school but there are other issues - not to mention you become a teacher to the other parents and still reamain a parent to the other teachers. I'd say its 50 /50 pros and cons with that one.

mrz Fri 01-Jul-11 18:05:23

What time do you have to be in the classroom at the start of the day and how long do you stay after school?

In school by half past seven - I leave five ish (sometimes earlier sometimes much later if I have meetings)

- Are your evenings all taken up with preparation/marking etc? - some not all

- Are you in the same school as your children? - no and wouldn't want to be

- If not, do you miss out on their sports days, plays, etc? - I saw my daughter's final nativity but missed every other event

- If you re-trained after having your kids, how did you find that? - couldn't have done it without support from family and friends

mrz Fri 01-Jul-11 18:07:29

some weekends and holidays are also taken up with school "stuff"

mumnosbest Fri 01-Jul-11 18:32:58

I've been teaching about 10 yrs now, so have become much more efficient. Answers would have been different 5 yrs ago.
-I teach at same school as DD and DS and can't imagine a better job for a working mum.
-I get to school no later than 8:30 and leave no later than 5. When I need to I can leave at 3:45. I tend to do this 3 times a week and catch up on the other 2 days.
-I only work 1 day at the weekend and use my planning afternoon to do the rest (except when reports are due).
- Other staff are great at swapping planning time so I can go and watch assemblies or sports days but I can't go on trips sad
Child care on training days can be an isue but school is great when the kids are poorly. They know it's genuine so let me have time off.

It's taken a while to get to this point but my job has seen me through 3 pregnancies and now with my 4th. I've gone from F/T to P/T and back to F/T, can't imagine a job more flexible and convenient to family life.

On the other hand, I can't imagine doing the training and being a mum. I was 19 and full of energy and it was a tough 4 years!
Good Luck!

clam Fri 01-Jul-11 19:00:18

I have been doing it a long time, and have found most of the ways to achieve maximum efficiency. I arrive at work at around 8 (leave house at 7.45) and usually leave school around 5.30. At this time of year, I can slope off a bit earlier. But my kids are older and can be home alone for a couple of hours after school. When they were younger I had to be extremely disciplined about leaving on time to pick them up.
You need cast-iron back-up plans for child-care/illness.
Whether or not you can attend your own children's "events" depends entirely on your head teacher. My last one was sticky. Current one is fab. She totally gets it as she has young ones herself. She allows one young mum to start at 9.30 one day a week so she can take her own kids to school and mingle with other mums! If my kids have been off school for whatever (non-contagious) reason, she's said they're more than welcome to come in with me if it helps.
My own kids were in my school, years ago, and it was fine whilst they were low down and I was up in Year 5/6. As they got closer however, for numerous reasons I decided to move them. Again, it depends on the school concerned. And you and your kids.
Evening work - of course! Some times of the year are worse than others, but as a NQT and learning the ropes, you'll be snowed under.
Good luck.

letthembe Fri 01-Jul-11 19:20:03

I am in my 17th year of teaching (primary), I am FT and a member of the SLT. My DH is also in his 17th year of teaching (secondary), also FT and SLT. We have two DC (7 and 8) at a different school. It is a process of management and forward thinking to make sure our children aren't at after school club too late every night. We work most evenings, Sunday nights and days in the holidays. Every head we have worked for (total of 6 between us) since the children were born have been excellent about us attending our DC's appointments and school events. In for 8 - 8.15, leave any time between 3.30 and 6.30. Again, it's all about balancing things to suit you but there is some flexibility.
Yes, the holidays do make up for a lot...

Euphemia Fri 01-Jul-11 20:13:21

The people who have been on other threads slagging off teachers for having "13 weeks' holiday a year" should read this one. They really have no idea.

StitchingMoss Fri 01-Jul-11 20:27:02

snowflake, I would echo what Mia said, the job situation for NQTs is utterly dire at the moment (will depend on where you live too, some places worse than others).

If you have been teaching a long time so are efficient in what you do then you could get away with being in school 8-5, however as an NQT the workload is horrific - I don't know how I would have done it with small children sad.

I personally wouldn't work in the same school as my kids - had friends whose parents did this and they absolutely hated it - and so yes, you will miss all of their special school events.

Sorry to be negative sad.

mrz Fri 01-Jul-11 20:37:13

I have to say I don't think teaching is a particularly family friendly profession.

StitchingMoss Fri 01-Jul-11 20:39:03

Agree mrz, I think it is an incredible misconception that teaching is family friendly sadly.

Mum2be79 Fri 01-Jul-11 20:39:33

- What time do you have to be in the classroom at the start of the day and how long do you stay after school?

HAVE to be there no later than 8:15am - half an hour before school starts. All teachers though are in school by 8am and most stay until 5:30pm.

- Are your evenings all taken up with preparation/marking etc?

Not all. Mainly because I INSIST on a work/life balance. Having said that, a teacher's job is NEVER done. There is always something to do but it's about time management. When I do, it's about 2-3 hours on an evening and up to 4-5 hours at a weekend.

- Are you in the same school as your children?

I don't plan to be (expecting my first Jan 2012). A colleague has her son in Reception and he's coming into my class in Sept when he begins Y1. I think my colleague's okay but I am nervous!

- If not, do you miss out on their sports days, plays, etc?

Teachers with children tend to miss out on all of these regardless if the child goes to the same school. I have colleagues who NEVER take or pick their child up from school. HTs are usually not lenient enough about attending plays and sporting events yet moan when our parents of children at the school don't turn up! (That's because like teacher's they work and have unsympathetic bosses who don't give them the time off!)

- If you re-trained after having your kids, how did you find that?

N/A Although a parent did a PGCE an her kids aged 8 and 6 suffered slightly as she was either preparing lessons or doing assignments. It was for only a year though.

As a last note - just because we have 13 weeks 'non-contact time' (school holidays) doesn't make it a family-friendly profession. Lots of teachers (myself included) go in during the holidays and we spend a lot of time during the evenings and at weekends preparing lessons, marking etc, etc instead of spending valuable time with our families - as most others do because they rarely take work home. Also bear in mind the public perception of teachers for the past few years (spurred on by current and past governments who all claim we're not good enough) and the pension issues. It's probably not the worst jobs to go into but certainly not the best. If I knew in 1997 what I know now, it would not be my first choice. Also research has shown that teachers have less life expectancy after retirement and pay more in life insurances. As we're unable (likelihood) to retire until we're 66, we'll be lucky to get 2/3 years. And finally, I pay more life insurance than my chemical engineer husband.

IndigoBell Fri 01-Jul-11 20:39:46

Surely with this huge baby boom and all these extra classrooms required (at least in London) - there has got to be more teaching jobs being created?

StitchingMoss Fri 01-Jul-11 20:42:33

Mumtobe, I would echo what you said about making different career choices if I knew then what I know now.

Indigo, there may be a lot of teaching jobs in London but I couldn't afford to live there on my salary sad.

Feenie Fri 01-Jul-11 20:43:02

Gutted to miss my ds's first sports day this week. They constantly arrange 'Stay and Learn' sessions aswell - my area is a very SAHM one, and virtually every other mum attends. On these occasions (every 6 weeks) I have ds literally sobbing in my arms about how 'lonely' he is without me. sad

Sorry, have taught a very long time, but having a ds in Reception is evidently not the time to ask me how family friendly our profession is!

mrz Fri 01-Jul-11 20:43:18

There are often more vacancies in London than in the rest of the country

mercibucket Fri 01-Jul-11 20:45:00

I'm not a primary school teacher but do work in schools. there are no jobs now - it will be incredibly incredibly hard to find a job once you graduate. as miawallace says, please be aware of the number of applicants for every post before spending a year and a lot of money retraining. as for family friendly, if you did your training before having children and are well established in a school, it is probably not too bad, but it will be very hard work if you have a young family

StitchingMoss Fri 01-Jul-11 20:45:13

sad @ Feenie

Euphemia Fri 01-Jul-11 20:50:24

The job situation in Scotland is dire too.

MavisGrind Fri 01-Jul-11 21:09:43

I am just finishing up my PGCE and am a lone parent of 2 young children.

The PGCE is a killer in terms of hours - was regularly working a 60 hour week and placements can be miles away, I couldn't have done it without family support. I'm extremely lucky to have secured a job for September however competition for jobs is horrendous - out of my tutor group of 25, four have got jobs so far.

From my, so far limited, experience - it's not as family friendly as you'd think (although that really depends on the school) so consider carefully before you train (esp as they've cut all the funding!)

SE13Mummy Fri 01-Jul-11 22:02:33

What time do you have to be in the classroom at the start of the day and how long do you stay after school?

No later than 8:15am and am usually there until 5.45pm as it only takes me 10 minutes to walk home which means I just about get back in time for the nanny to leave.

Are your evenings all taken up with preparation/marking etc?

Not all but there are times when it feels like it. Now is one such time what with reports, assessments, progress meeting preparation...

Are you in the same school as your children?

I am at the moment but I teach KS2 and DD1 is in Y1. Change is afoot and I'm not sure if we'll both stay to be honest.

If not, do you miss out on their sports days, plays, etc?

I miss out on these even though I work in the same school. As I work four days a week I can sometimes pop in to see the final rehearsal for assembly but I miss trips and sports days as I'll be involved with my own class.

If you re-trained after having your kids, how did you find that?

N/A

Since having the DDs I've worked through my lunchtimes and tried to get as much as possible done at school so that I'm not bringing marking etc. home with me. I also set displays etc. up with the whole year in mind and train the children to use the trimmer/mount their own work etc. so that some of the fiddly, time-consuming tasks can be done as part of the school day instead of after school, by me alone. At the moment school is extremely hard work as there are lots of demands on our time and some of the pressures cannot be predicted. My DH is also a teacher, in a secondary school. He also works 4 days a week. However, for the past 8 weekends he has been in school for 7 of the Saturdays as he is involved with productions etc. (his choice admittedly). The knock-on effect of this is that I cannot get any school work done during the day on Saturdays at the moment because I have two small DDs and want to be able to spend my time with them. That translates to very late nights in the name of 'work-life balance'. It doesn't feel very balanced right now sad but we'll be able to relax by the end of the month.

It's not always like that but it is always a massive amount of work and enormous responsibility. I wouldn't bill teaching as the most family friendly job by any stretch of the imagination but it's better than lots and, for DH and I teaching is family friendly because we both love our jobs; I'd rather work my guts out at something I loved doing than something I hated.

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