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40yrs too old for exhausting teaching career?

(29 Posts)
DoIWannaBeATeacher Fri 01-Jan-16 21:54:37

Hi all,

Can anyone point me in the direction of how and where to start and give any basic advice.

I have probably always wanted to be a teacher. I understand that it comes with a lot of shit and that shit is increasing.

I understand that it consumes plenty of hours outside of the teaching contract and that it is hard to juggle with a small family.

I understand it is poorly paid.

I have no direct experience working in a school, though have been a Governor and done plenty of observations. I have HEd and followed the NC whilst doing so. I have worked in Education in a non-teaching capacity (LA policy) for many years and have extensive knowledge of SEN, G&T and data systems (i.e. FFT & RaiseOnline) in that regard. I have volunteered for parent reading and swimming and been class rep. I have been the 'service user' of a number of schools as have moved quite a bit.

I thought I was fairly bright but the recruitment process confuses me no end. We are currently breaking even at home so I'd need a salary or bursary to pay for childcare.

I would really appreciate any advice, insight or pitfalls.

I have a degree in psychology. I would prefer primary (particularly KS2) but not against secondary.

Many TIA

FillMeWithJoy Fri 01-Jan-16 22:53:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SkibadeeDoodle Fri 01-Jan-16 22:59:24

I'd advise anyone who wants to teach to do at least 6 months as a TA first, to be honest.

If you get some experience in the classroom first, it will strengthen your application and you will really know if it is for you.

It is knackering.

sunshinemeg Fri 01-Jan-16 23:00:32

I left the profession in August 2015 after teaching for 10 years. I am sure you will get a barrage of people telling you not to do it, but I am a firm believer that teachers are born and not made. If you want to become a teacher you need to be fully armed with the facts. I suggest you contact a school in the age bracket you wish to teach and ask to visit. Request to go into a department for a week, and see everything! That means sitting in on department meetings, lessons, detentions, the works. Get as fully involved as you can to give you a real picture of what it's like. Then do the same at another school. Then if you are still interested, apply for a PGCE.

There is a buzz to being in a vibrant classroom, the banter with students, the pride when they finally 'get it'. But as you say, there are many many down sides. If you go in with an open understanding you fair better to succeed. Good luck.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 01-Jan-16 23:01:58

I wouldn't say that it is poorly paid as such.

I'm not sure how you have managed to be part of observing teachers (if you are in England) but that is a whole other thread.

If you are serious spend sometime in a classroom. to get a feel of what actually goes on.

You will need to decide on which KS you want to do they are very different.

ThenLaterWhenItGotDark Fri 01-Jan-16 23:03:08

In the nicest possible way, it would be a cold day in hell before I'd want someone who felt such empathy with the teaching profession that they'd home educated their own children anywhere near mine.

DoIWannaBeATeacher Sat 02-Jan-16 01:39:07

<It is not the same at all.>

Of course it's not. However the point is that the last time I stepped inside a school wasn't when I was being taught in one.

Thank you sunshine that is really helpful. Are schools really that willing to allow you in in that way?

boney how would you get to spend time in a classroom? I mean I'm in two different classrooms in two different schools almost weekly for parent reading. I never imagined schools just allow people in because you ask, or do they?

DoIWannaBeATeacher Sat 02-Jan-16 01:49:02

Thelater Teaching isn't a cult. Nor is school. Nor is HE. They are equally valid and legal ways of educating your children. You don't have to swear your allegiance to either or live any particular lifestyle to partake in either and you certainly don't have to have disdain for one because you do the other (though clearly you do for some reason).

Empathy has nothing to do with it.

thecatfromjapan Sat 02-Jan-16 01:50:08

Whereabouts are you based? London?

DoIWannaBeATeacher Sat 02-Jan-16 01:51:25

SW London

thecatfromjapan Sat 02-Jan-16 01:58:33

I need to figure out how to PM you.:-)

thecatfromjapan Sat 02-Jan-16 02:03:34

Hmmm. Can't find option on 'phone. I'll private message you tomorrow.:-)

sunshinemeg Sat 02-Jan-16 09:07:29

We had several people over the years who were applying for a PGCE course who visited us prior to gain experience. It's doable yes

Appervine Sat 02-Jan-16 09:23:09

We have parent helpers who come in for half days to help out, support groups during the lesson etc. (primary school) I know at least one of these is doing it with a view to doing a PGCE. Schools seem to vary in their willingness to do this so you may need to try a few. Good luck.

ConstantlyChristmaslyCooking Sat 02-Jan-16 09:42:34

I did a PGCE at around 40 with DC aged 10 and 13. It was tiring and I had to be much more organised but I passed and have been working as a teacher for the last 7 years. I recommend volunteering in a school beforehand. I spent one day a week in a school for a year ( but applied for the PGCE during that year so had done 2 terms by the time I was interviewed) and was told that was in my favour. Your experience with tracking software would be a bonus because most people don't know much about it before training.
I had some problems with the perception of younger teachers and finding my NQT post took a long time.
It is tiring but I enjoy teaching and would recommend going for it. Pm for more information if you would like to discuss it.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 02-Jan-16 10:34:09


If you approach various schools they will allow people that want to become teachers into classrooms for a period of time (always with a teacher). Most teaching courses recommend spending at least a week in a classroom environment before applying for the course.

Being a reader is different as you are doing something and not taking full notice of what is going on in the classroom.

It may well be that as you have spent time in a classroom you can bypass this but personally I would try for a school that you have no contacts with so that you can get a view of all aspects of teaching.

SuffolkNWhat Sat 02-Jan-16 10:41:05

If you truly want to do this my recommendation is a proper trial in a school either through paid work (TA etc) or as a volunteer. A week is not long enough, 2 terms minimum I'd say and definitely Autumn/Spring for KS2 so you get to see peak SATs stress/workload.

If after that you're still interested then by all means apply, your workload will double or even triple with assignments etc but by god there is a massive recruitment/retention crisis in education at the moment so we need every teacher with a pulse in schools.

borntobequiet Sat 02-Jan-16 10:46:09

I did a PGCE at 38 and taught successfully in secondary until 60. I realised it would not be sensible to continue after that - teaching is both physically and emotionally demanding - so I retired, took my pension and now work part time in FE in a slightly different role, however one that utilises much of my experience and subject knowledge. Worked for me.

borntobequiet Sat 02-Jan-16 10:51:10

Sorry, forgot to say agree that TA /cover supervisor is probably the way to go. Cover supervisor likely to be a baptism of fire - if you can hack that you can hack teaching. BTW we has some cover supervisors whose classroom management was far better than certain teachers (and some who could teach better, too).

SisterViktorine Sat 02-Jan-16 10:57:42

If you need a salaried training post for Primary I think you will be best off looking for TA/ HLTA work first. Salaried School Direct is very competitive and you would be unlikely to be considered with a week's observation.

If you still want to do it after a year as a HLTA then it probably is for you.

SisterViktorine Sat 02-Jan-16 11:01:26

If you were interested in SEND work this agency is excellent (in my area anyway).

Sparklycat Sat 02-Jan-16 11:02:43

Good luck if you decide to go for it, I know a few career changers your age who have and yes they do find it knackering, especially the training year and nqt year. I hope I won't be teaching when I'm 40, I really couldn't sustain the energy and time levels that long, I've got 10 years to think of an exit plan!

Lizzylou Sat 02-Jan-16 11:05:38

I started my SCITT course at the age of 41, I volunteered 2 days a week for 10mths beforehand so I was well aware of what I was letting my self in for. It was very hard, juggling home and school and assignments. But I loved it, did very well and am about to start my 2nd NQT term. I am in secondary.
Get some varied(if you can) classroom experience, make notes about what you see in the classroom and if you still want to do it, do it. Good luck.

Tillyscoutsmum Sat 02-Jan-16 11:08:47

I trained last year, at 40, via Schools Direct. I'm now in my NQT year (KS2). I'm a single mum to a 5 and 8 year old. I had very similar experience (or lack of!) to you - Governor, parent reader etc at my dc's school. It was exhausting and hard work. I had a hideous first placement and came close to giving up. I love it now though smile

I got a bursary to cover fees because I got a First in my original degree. I had no either help financially though. I had some income working from home (which was pretty tough to fit in with everything else sad) As a PP said, salaried School Direct places are like rocking horse shit and are usually given to ex TA's or those who've had extensive classroom experience.

backinschool Sat 02-Jan-16 16:05:06

This is really interesting. I have spent christmas putting together my PGCE application but I still have a few doubts. I'm 37 and I'm applying to teach secondary science. I'm prepared to work hard but I have 2 DC who are 6 and 4 and I still want to have some quality time with them. I've worked in research so I'm used to long hours and working through the night but it was much more flexible. I've spent a couple of weeks in different secondary schools and I have quite a few friends who teach so they've given me the warts and all version of teaching. Most of the teachers I've spoken to have said to go for it but to be ready to be exhausted for a couple of years. The science teachers I know tend to be more positive than the history/english teachers which I think is due to the easier marking load. The teachers I know in RL have been much more positive about teaching than the posts I have read here or on TES. They have told me how difficult it is, how much work it involves and the problems with OFSTED/SMT/learning walks etc but ultimately they still enjoy teaching. I work in a FE college so I have some experience of teaching 16-19 year olds and know how draining they can be - some of them really don't want to be there and have very challenging behavior (I've had tables thrown and students threatening to punch me). At the same time I have less pressure/scrutiny than in a school and I only teach a few hours a week so the planning/marking etc is manageable and I get a break. Despite the odd difficult class I love the teaching I do and I'm looking forward to the PGCE (if I get a place) and getting into a school.

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