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How does primary teaching work around family life?

(23 Posts)
YummyorSlummy Tue 22-Sep-09 11:19:50

I'm considering becoming a primary school teacher after I have completed my OU degree and am wondering if it fits well around kids?
Can your child usually get into the same school you teach at? Are you allowed to take ttime off to attend any school plays/sports day etc? And if you do your lesson planning/marking etc at home can you leave the classroom shortly after the kids do? Sorry a lot of questions!

LadyGlencoraPalliser Tue 22-Sep-09 11:30:56

I'm not a primary teacher, but I am also finishing up an OU degree and planning to apply for a secondary PGCE next year.
I am a governor at our local primary school though and run afterschool clubs there twice a week, so I spend a lot of time at the school out of school time.
I can categorically tell you that no teacher leaves our primary school before 5pm and usually it is nearer 6pm. You might think you can do planning and marking at home after the children are in bed, but there are also meetings you have to attend, planning to do with colleagues and so on not to mention that fact that all the teachers at our school run at least one afterschool activity themselves.
And no, they are not allowed to attend school plays or sports days.
Not trying to put you off, but that is the reality, as any teacher on here will tell you.

mumofboy Tue 22-Sep-09 11:32:59

I think it very much depends on the school, but having done other jobs I'd say it fits in with being a mum really well.

You do have to attend meetings after school, in my experience at least 2 a week, and these usually finish about 5pm. You obviously can't take your children to the meetings. If you're early years or KS1 you'll also have to clear up and set up so you'll need to be in school to do that. You also need to be in school before the children are to get ready for the day. You'll probably need to lead on a subject too and often that will involve work in school after hours. At my school the culture is teachers work 8am-6pm and then some more at home. In my last school it was 8.20am-5.30pm, it was a lot more relaxed.

However, there are obviously the holidays which are great and you can work locally which means you can cut the travel time out. It's not an easy job, there's always more to do but I don't think there is any better job to have with a young family.

Good luck!

mankyscotslass Tue 22-Sep-09 11:33:12

I'm not a teacher, but a close friend is, on a jobshare.

Usual criteria apply for school places, so unless you live in catchment for the school you attend it's unlikely you will get your DC into the school you teach at. Although for independent schools that's not the case.

She has to juggle with her jobshare to get to school plays/sports days, and can't get to a lot of them. Her head is as helpful as she can be, but at the end of the day she is needed to teach her own class.

She is an experienced teacher, so now is able to do most of her marking/planning at school, she gets home around 5/5.30 ish. There are meetings after/before school she needs to attend too, and she sometimes has to work at home in the evenings and at weekends depending on whats on.

She loves her job, gets a lot from it, and is a fab teacher, but is honest enough to say to others that if you are looking for a job that is family friendly, apart from the holidays it may not be the job you want. She says you need to do it because you love it!

Tambajam Tue 22-Sep-09 11:49:40

You will only be able to get your children into your school if they fulfill the admissions criteria and usually that will mean you need to leave near enough. There are advantages and disadvantages to them attending the same school as the one you teach in.

Usually you will need some sort of morning childcare anyway as you often need the mornings to set up and meet with colleagues. Some schools do staff meeting in the morning and it's a key time to meet with support staff or even have a chat with a working parent. Not many primary school teachers are on site later than about 8.20am.

It would be unlikely that you are able to attend your children's plays/ sports days if they are at a different school. I have heard of people occasionally being granted unpaid leave or a kind headteacher letting someone pop off for a couple of hours and making temporary staff arrangements but if you work fulltime and have a class it's extremely hard.

How soon you can leave depends a bit on your Key Stage. I would say that you might manage a 4pm departure on 1 or perhaps 2 days of the week (with work to do at home later). Usually you have one day of staff meeting ending around 5pm. One day of a Key Stage meeting or planning meeting. 1-2 days of meeting with another colleague e.g. the SENCO to do IEPs, your mentor if you are an NQT, a senior manager who has done an observation and is giving feedback, a classroom assistant or someone you are team-teaching with. And then perhaps one evening when you need more time to get resources together e.g. a good rummage in topic cupboards, making resources you can't take home easily or time to put up a display.

I know I am sounding a bit negative but I think it's important to know combining teaching and family life isn't as easy as it might appear. You also need to find time at home to do marking and preparation and initially that could mean 1-2 hours every night and a few hours at the weekend.

I was a teacher for 9 years and I LOVED it. Primary teaching is a magic job but it is bloody hardwork. You do need to find some great childcare though and expect a long day. When you get more experienced it is easier to work more quickly but even a more experienced teacher can do a 10 hr day without breaking a sweat. The holidays certainly help though.

cockles Tue 22-Sep-09 11:55:58

It depends on the borough whether you can get your kids into the same school. In our inner London one, teachers for schools in that authority have admissions priority even if they don't live in the area.

YummyorSlummy Tue 22-Sep-09 12:10:54

Is there much chance of a teacher being able to land a part time position?
My degree wont be finished for a few years so my ds would be at school anyway probably but I might have another dc by then who would only be little. I know, I sound like an obsessed over-planner lol but if I go into teaching I'll need to get work experience etc.

Tambajam Tue 22-Sep-09 12:30:06

You could possibly get a part-time position. The most likely way would be as a jobsharer taking responsible with a class with another part-timer or with a member of senior management who needs more non-contact time. Being restricted to certain kinds of jobs makes it more likely you'll need to look in a much wider area though. Hope it works out.

sarararararah Tue 22-Sep-09 12:35:30

The way that I swung my part time hours was to work full time initially (that was before I had children) and then asked to reduce my hours once my daughter was born. I now do 3 days (0.6) which works beautifully. I know i couldn't cope with more whilst my DD is so little (she's now 17 months).

But you don't have to do that. There are often part time contracts advertised as many primary teachers do work part time. However, over the next few years I do think that it is going to be even harder to get jobs. Schools will be restricted to only essential staff as their budgets are reigned in. Although, as a NQT you will be cheap!

YummyorSlummy Tue 22-Sep-09 13:07:21

I hope it works out! Originally I had wanted to become a journalist (my life long ambition!) but thought that teaching would fit in better with ds because of holidays etc. I think I'm going to do some work experience at a school, then at a local newspaper, and then have a good long think!

LadyGlencoraPalliser Tue 22-Sep-09 13:11:11

TBH you should be going into teaching because you really want to teach more than you want to do anything else. Getting a place on a PGCE, surviving your PGCE year and your NQT year will demand nothing less.
Or so people keep telling me. grin

corblimeymadam Tue 22-Sep-09 13:28:37

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mrz Tue 22-Sep-09 18:19:41

Teaching isn't a family friendly occupation

emkana Tue 22-Sep-09 20:19:52

I left the profession because I felt I wouldn't have enough time with my own children.

RupertTheBear Tue 22-Sep-09 20:24:28

I have 12 years experience as a primary teacher and now work part time (0.6). I am able to fit in everything I need to do in my working day (7.30 - 5 ish) but rarely have more than 20 minutes break at lunch. I don't bring any work home.
However there is no way I could have done this when newly qualified, and to be honest it is difficult to fit it all in now.

Goblinchild Tue 22-Sep-09 20:52:29

To be truthful, you don't sound as if your heart is in it, you just want a job that will fit around your family. It's a very tough job to do if that is your only motivation.

corblimeymadam Thu 24-Sep-09 14:48:52

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bigTillyMint Thu 24-Sep-09 15:04:58

Belgian bun, that was in the old days - my mum was a teacher - started at 8.45 and finished at 3.45 and never brought any work home. Things are a bit different now with all the paperwork and meetings, etc!

mrz Thu 24-Sep-09 19:47:25

It depends how much additional responsibility you have over and above your normal teaching duties belgianbun.

corblimeymadam Thu 24-Sep-09 19:48:09

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corblimeymadam Thu 24-Sep-09 19:48:59

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Sassyfrassy Thu 24-Sep-09 20:18:11

I'm a teacher with a 1 year old and 4 year old who has just started school herself.

I leave the house just before 7 and get to school an hour and a half before the children start. After school I stay until 4.10 and then leave to take the bus unless I've got a meeting. I always do work at home in the evening after the children have gone to bed. It's working quite well for me, partly I'm sure because DH is at home taking care of house and childcare.

piscesmoon Thu 24-Sep-09 20:26:28

I don't do it full time.
When I have done it full time I got to school at 7.30am and left about 5pm, if no meetings,I then cooked the meal-tried to be a bit sociable and then worked until bedtime. I spent most of Sunday working.
The holidays are long, but part needs to be spent on planning and there is all the catching up that you need to do with things you haven't had time for in the term.
It is a very rewarding job but don't do it because you think it fits in with family life.
Unless your DCs are in the same school you never get to their sport's day etc. You can't take them to orthodontist appointments or anything that happens in school time.

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