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Considering retraining as a teacher - would love some feedback straight from the horse's mouth

(10 Posts)
StuntNun Sun 28-Apr-13 12:47:26

When I finished university in 1998 I got a place on a PGCE course at Manchester Metropolitan University but my DH got a PhD place at St Andrews and being newlyweds there was no way we were going to spend a year apart so I didn't get to do the course. Fast forward 15 years, I have been made redundant from my job in the pharmaceutical industry and I am considering retraining as a teacher on the OU's flexible PGCE course. Between my redundancy pay and DH's salary I can afford to have some time out of work and do a PGCE. It's a big financial outlay though and I have a few questions; if anyone has time to give me some feedback I would really appreciate it.

* Are there jobs in secondary education (I'm in Northern Ireland)? Obviously I wouldn't want to do the training and end up out of work for an extended period.

* What experience would be helpful? My DS1 starts high school next year, would it be a good idea to join the PTA or become a governor? Would volunteering in my DSs' primary school, e.g. playground supervisor, be useful experience for applying for a job in secondary school teaching?

* My first degree is in Biochemistry with Biotechnology and Microbiology and I expect to complete a second (BA) degree this year in Mathematics with Statistics (assuming I do well in my exams next month). How do I choose which subject to teach in, Biology or Maths, or is it possible to qualify to teach both subjects?

Bajas Sun 28-Apr-13 12:55:46

Hi stuntnun

I would suggest training in Maths as there are usually more jobs than in Biology but there are very few jobs being advertised at all in secondary teaching in N Ireland at the minute.

Usually there are tons at this time of year and they're pretty thin on the ground. Keep an eye on the Belfast Telegraph on Tuesdays and/ or the Irish News on Thursdays to give you an idea of the jobs available.

You will need a period of classroom observation in a secondary school (usually 1 or 2 weeks) for your PGCE application to be considered. This should be in a classroom rather than PTA etc. If you contact your local school or have any teacher friends you will probably find a school to offer you the experience.

Good luck!

TooManyDicksOnTheDancefloor Sun 28-Apr-13 13:24:41

Hi stunt, I'm a secondary biology teacher. I don't know about N Ireland but I live in Leeds and when I went on maternity leave there were over 40 applicants for my maternity leave cover. When I went on mat leave with my first daughter (5 years ago) only one person applied for my job! Jobs do seem to be a bit thin on the ground these days, although saying that, a good teacher will always find work.

Although you may specialise in biology, you will teach science up to GCSE so will have to teach chemistry and physics. There is more of a shortage of chemistry and physics teachers so you would be better off training in either of them if you can. A physics teacher will always find work.

TooManyDicksOnTheDancefloor Sun 28-Apr-13 13:26:28

Also, if you train in one subject you can actually teach anything if you have the experience. A school would snap you up if you told them you could teach science and maths.

Passmethecrisps Sun 28-Apr-13 15:57:59

Hi Stunt.

Secondary computing teacher in Scotland. I am not sure about the job market in NI but subscribing to TES weekly will give you a good overview of what is out there and what the pertinent issues are. To give the other side of the coin - my maternity cover received just one applicant.

I would try to get some classroom observation under your belt as hard evidence of your interest.

I will ponder some more and pop back later if I have better ideas.

Passmethecrisps Sun 28-Apr-13 16:00:25

Oh, quick thought. Do check the rules re multiple qualifications. The situation toomany is describing is not the case in Scotland. You need to be degree qualified to teach to exam level.

MagratGarlik Mon 29-Apr-13 21:37:44

It may be a deciding factor for you, that if you are training in maths and have a first class degree, you will get a £20000 tax-free bursary. If you've got a 2:1 you'll get £15000 and with a 2:2 you'll get £9000. Also as your degree is biochemistry, you may be able to classify as a chemist rather than a biologist, in which case the same bursary would apply. It would make life considerably more comfortable whilst training and gives a big indication as to where the job shortages are.

MagratGarlik Mon 29-Apr-13 21:38:28

*I meant skills shortages of course, not job shortages!

mumandboys123 Mon 29-Apr-13 22:36:01

I am training currently in a shortage area - am in the North West. I am limited to where I can work as am a single parent and my children's school doesn't open until 8am. There have been two jobs advertised since January that I could get to on time - fortunately, I have been able to secure one of them (didn't get an interview for the other). So yes, there are shortages but those shortages don't seem to exist around here!

QueenofWhatever Tue 30-Apr-13 10:44:46

I'm in England, so don't know if it applies in NI but I've just been accepted onto the new Schools Direct scheme. This is for older career changers like us gimmers and the bursaries, especially in Maths and sciences are very generous.

I would look at the (very confusing) Teaching Agency website and also contact the universities directly. will tell you where places are still available for this September, but you'll have to be super quick.

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