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Secondary to primary school

(25 Posts)
Thetimes123 Fri 02-May-14 20:25:09

Dear All, advice and ideas welcome. I'm a History teacher in a large secondary school, have taught for 9 yrs. I recently had a baby and my perspective on life has changed. Have wanted to move from sec. to pri. for some time, mainly due to my falling out of love with the delivery of my subject. All our history lessons are planned for us, they're on the shared drive, so it's just a case of turn up, open power point, talk about levels and leave.
I really want a change and a challenge, plus get some of my creative juices flowing again. I love teaching and seeing little light bulb moments.
Anyhow, I've got a job in a local primary starting September as a year 4 teacher (very excited). Tips for success and what to avoid please!

Geraldthegiraffe Fri 02-May-14 20:27:12

Wow congratulations! How did you get a primary job? As in did you need to have some primary experience? I've been interested in changing but wouldn't have a clue where to start with primary curriculum/ etc.

phlebasconsidered Fri 02-May-14 20:55:53

Gen up on your maths, big style. That's the biggest difference for you in terms of knowledge. You think you know place value but you really don't. Be prepared to REALLY know your grammar. And I mean, REALLY. Be prepared to APP and go up a sub level at a whim. As for creativity, that is for your TA. You are there, in primary, to get them working in English and Maths. Be under no illusion. Be prepared to squash the foundation subjects into 1 hour in the afternoon. History will make you weep.

The lightbulb moments are there, but no more than they were in secondary in my experience, and I taught History at secondary for 9 years before swapping. The same problems exist: the relentless push for targets. In primary, the middle "doing ok" are happily left alone, whereas the HA and LA are pushed more because they are the ones whose stats matter. That's the biggest difference in terms of attainment, where we were used to pushing D's to C's.

Personally, I have found it to be much more pressured, rather than less, with a MUCH heavier marking load and a far heavier SEN prescence and EBD prescence in the classroom, with less support from SMT. All the real EBD and SEN has been weeded before it gets to primary. In primary they are in your classroom all day.

I would organise. Label all drawers, makea filing system, a big book corner. Order your cupboard to have an English, Maths, SPAG and Foundation area and spend ages sourcing stuff. You are used to a department cupboard: most primaries don't have them. Your resources are YOUR resources, and unless the staff want to, they don't share. You could end up going in with nothing to teach from. Look for short, medium and long-term plans and see what they have. If they don't have, panic, that's not good.

Secondaries have SOW and so on, primaries, not so much. You could end up regretting the moan that everything is planned for you. When you plan a PE lesson, you'll see why, or end up planning a keyboard lesson from scratch!

I have found it to be more or less equivalent in terms of job "joy", "wow" moments, and much higher in frustrations and lack of resources. And levels in Secondary were bad enough, wait till you hit primary, where we talk in terms of teeny bits of sub level.

I'm not trying to put you off, but really, prepare, prepare,prepare! It really is VERY different, and to my mind, harder in terms of marking. Alright, 30 X As plus 30 X A2 plus GCSE class every weekend takes time, but 30 English, 30 maths plus 30 topic every night, plus Big Writes, Progress Writes and APP takes longer, and there is no down time in the Summer when your classes leave. And nowhere near as much protected PPA, unfortunately.

Pluses? No moving classrooms, you get to know the class really well. You get to do art and read stories. You do assemblies with costumes again. The kids tell you bizarre things and you do have a laugh with them.

Of course, this varies from school to school. But speaking to others who have made the swap, it's pretty similar complaints.

I wish I had swapped prepared with a folder of maths / english sheets, and powerpoints. Do that, from the medium term plan, if nothing else before you get there, so you get a chance to adapt things rather than write them from scratch.

Long, sorry!

phlebasconsidered Fri 02-May-14 20:56:56

That line should read "before it gets to secondary". Sorry!

spudmasher Fri 02-May-14 21:01:48

Be prepared to do a lot more looking after parents. They like A LOT of information.
Make your class sit on the carpet on the first day of term, get a sharpie and write their name in their jumper. Occasionally, parents don't bother by the time they get to Year 4, then get annoyed that 'you've ' lost it.

Thetimes123 Fri 02-May-14 21:55:57

Thanks so much for the advice, totally clear about the extra work load, extra sen, extra pressure, especially the marking, extra parental input or lack of input....but I'm not clear about it at all till I experience I guess. So I'll be an nqt all over again.
I'm going to swot up on grammar and maths over holidays, make resources, get organised etc.

My biggest fear is that it's a challenging 'SM' school! but opportunities for me to progress to SLT.

Parents communication will be my biggest challenge coming from secondary.

For the other poster, I got the position as school is part of an academy.

Any websites, books that I should locate on my travels of new lands?

Geraldthegiraffe Fri 02-May-14 22:00:49

Times - I know we're trained for all stages. I just wondered if you did extra time in a primary school or any tips on wowing a primary that you can make the leap!

Thetimes123 Fri 02-May-14 22:10:36

Presently I teach lot of ks3, plus being part of the yr 6 - 7 transition. I also do a lot differentiation in terms of SOW. Also extra stuff like gardening club and creative lessons, and extra curricular lessons. Am also involved in pastoral at KS3. However, I'm also involved in sixth form team and ucas so I think dealing with that area has helped me too.
Biggest plus for me was my talking to the Head teacher and her sorting who you know, not what you know.

The next two terms I'm going to be released to spend days out in 'good/outstanding' primary schools so will get experience.

It will be different and challenging, but I can't let my life and career pass me by.

Geraldthegiraffe Fri 02-May-14 22:20:28

Sounds fantastic. It will be an exciting year!

phlebasconsidered Fri 02-May-14 22:42:55

It could be my school you are coming to! Part of an academy, loads of career swappers and nqt's suddenly employed ( which they can do, despite sm, because they are academy) to replace the staff over 35 who are expensive and might be a bit non-compliant. 7 positions going so far and counting.. .. I hope for your sake it's not.

I would ask the school what curriculum they want to follow. Alan Peat is much lauded by many "outsyandings" and many schools use Quigley. You willneed to know, really. Academies in primary can be very different from each other. Some chains have set ideas about how to improve. I like Peat but unless the academy belief and backing is there, no joy.

For maths, an oldie but goodie for brushing up is Haycock, Maths in primary or something.

Lara2 Sat 03-May-14 11:40:54

Even Year 4 will need phonics - make sure you're saying it correctly. Nothing worse than people who say "muh" when they should be saying "mmm".
I second the bit about needing to care for the parents as much as the children. Make a huge effort to get to know them - and find out as much as you can about each child from previous teachers. If you're a primary school, ask the people who had them in Year R and KS1 - it makes so much difference when you know them and their families well.
You'll be spending all day with the same children and that will be a big change - as will be the time you spend in the classroom. I'm guessing you probably had more non-contact as a secondary teacher. It will be very draining at first - look after yourself.

Thetimes123 Sat 03-May-14 15:08:17

Phle - yes what you says sounds like my situation, I'm closer to 40 than 30 now!
Great tip about getting to know parents, and if course knowing the children well too.
I guess I'll have little PPA time, can anyone share how much PPA they get? I hope I get a good TA as they're invaluable.
I was thinking of doing my Doctorate as have a Masters in Education, but fear that understanding Phonics, Maths and Grammar will be the equivalent smile

MummaSmurf1 Sat 03-May-14 18:12:42

When I read that it's a SM school and an Academy alarm bells rang! I've worked in 2 SM schools one as AHT and for a term as an academy.
I don't mean to offend you, but do you think you'd be offered this position in a good/ outstanding school? The promise of SLT positions in future was one I heard a lot. But if I were posting on here saying I've got 10 years primary experience and I'm going to teach ks4 history for a year, then be secondary AHT I expect you'd think there's no way that's a great idea for the school.
I would advise you protect yourself from the start and gen up on union advice too - SM pressure is immense for a "good" teacher and they'll be no breathing room for you to adjust - this could threaten your QTS status if you didn't get good observations in the first term, they would start capability, which would be completely unfair to you.
Don't want to scaremonger, just have an inside view that I wanted to share.

Thetimes123 Sat 03-May-14 19:15:10

Thanks for advice, the school is requiring to improve and is part of the academy to stop it going into sm, I am totally worried that I may be out of the frying pan and into the fire. I've only ever been assessed as Good or Outstanding and am post threshold. I guess I was at the point in my career where I was thinking of leaving, had been wanting to get into primary, I can defo live without promotion, but do have experience should leadership come up.
I would recommend anyone who want to go from primary to secondary, we have a number of teachers in our school who have. I think secondary is hard, but not as hard as primary.
Gosh now I'm getting myself concerned hmm

phlebasconsidered Sun 04-May-14 09:38:52

I second the union advice. SM or RI primaries are bloodbaths in terms of staff. Within 5 weeks of sm we had capability started on 3 staff. In terms of non contact time I get 2 hours a week if i'm lucky.

Lara2 Sun 04-May-14 16:38:36

I get half a day a week PPA. Everything else has to be done in my own time. In reality I finish my planning and then the last 45 minutes of the time is spent with my early years assistants and LSA going through the planning and what's on next week.

littlesupersparks Sun 04-May-14 16:50:46

Half a day a week PPA is the same as secondary, no?

Thetimes123 Sun 04-May-14 16:58:32

I get 10 per cent PPA, I'm on a two week time table, and my free period are the first week, the second week my only free is on Friday period 2, and yep I spend that free gossiping smile

phlebasconsidered Sun 04-May-14 17:06:47

You do get a lot of non-contact once the GCSE / AS/A2 is out of the way though, you'll really miss that! None of that in Primary. Full on till the Summer Holidays.

Thetimes123 Sun 04-May-14 17:21:24

I really love the summer term without my exam classes and so having time to sort my classroom out etc.
I totally think secondary is easier.
Am really worried now about how I'll cope. Am I really out the frying pan and into the fire?

Goblinchild Sun 04-May-14 17:27:22

'I really want a change and a challenge, plus get some of my creative juices flowing again.'

That's what you said you wanted in your OP. It will definitely be a change and a challenge. grin

Thetimes123 Sun 04-May-14 17:31:01

smile Change and challenge - why did I think that would be a good thing? smile

Goblinchild Sun 04-May-14 17:35:44

I told my OH to lock me in the attic if I ever uttered those words again.

Thetimes123 Sun 04-May-14 17:57:18

So the saying about a change and a holiday isn't true then! Guess I'll be joining you in the attic smile

MummaSmurf1 Sun 04-May-14 23:49:41

I think a change can be invigorating and they'll be lots of positives. As long as you're willing to put the extra time in to help transition you may find everything's ok. The thing that makes me want to pack it all in is the hours and hours- and I work fairly quickly.
The other place to look if you haven't already is the TESforums. The NQT one will have pages about what to set up over summer etc. the primary one will have loads about getting good obvs and coping with SM. I think all you can do is keep an open mind, read loads, ask lots of questions and be kind to yourself!

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