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Secondary teacher training or FT NHS post (in my current profession)?

(15 Posts)
CountryLovingGirl Wed 10-Feb-16 19:30:39


I am really struggling to make a decision about the above. I have been offered BOTH. I am running out of time and need to decide which way I am going to go.

Background: 20 years NHS experience in a science career (10 years of this I have also volunteered as a STEM ambassador in secondary schools). I have been part time since my eldest was born 12 years ago. I have two children, a boy in year 7 and a girl in year 3. I enjoy the job BUT I am struggling to have a life with it due the commute (up to 3 hours a day), the increased weekend working (hubby also works weekends so we rarely have a day off at the weekends together as a family) and shifts (early shifts, late shifts until 8pm and nightshifts (13hrs with an hour for lunch). We have no grandparent support (all, but one, are dead and the one left is elderly). Hubby works shifts although not NHS. He is unable to change his job.

I have considered teaching for a quite a while now. Well, actually a few years! The drop in money has always put me off but it is something that keeps coming back. I loved science at school and almost went on to do a PGCE straight after university. I have applied before, and been successful, but pulled out at the last minute (mainly, money). I am the higher earner of the two of us so pressure is on me!

Anyway, I have applied this year and have been successful (secondary biology) and I, also, applied for a post (NHS) closer to home. I have been successful! It is full time though and shifts! Means even more weekend work. I am struggling to get any time off with the children in school holidays working in the NHS at the moment due to lack of staff! Hubby gets fixed holidays.

I can't decide between the two professions. The PGCE is part time over 2 years so the bursary would be split over 2 years. A BIG drop in income for us. The bottom of the teacher pay scale is, roughly, what I get paid now though as a part timer in the NHS so I would manage once in the NQT year.. I would have more time to complete the PGCE than a full time course.

I know teaching isn't a walk in the park but, believe me, my NHS profession is causing so many problems you would not believe. It is a nightmare having two children, with no grandparents, and two parents who seem to always be working weekends and school holidays. I have spent a lot of time in primary and secondary schools recently so know what goes on. I have chatted to a few teachers who warned me about the workload but they all seemed happy (the staff rooms that I have been in have always been very happy atmospheres unlike our NHS tearoom). Morale in the NHS is at an all-time low.

Any wise words? Should I make the jump? Is there another way I could earn extra money over the 2 years? The placements are full time.

I love my career but not the way things have worked out. We used to work mainly 9-5, with occasional Saturday or Sunday morning and a little bit of on-call, but now it is like I am at work ALL the time and especially when the children are at home.

DitheringDiva Wed 10-Feb-16 21:32:59

This is a hard call, and this is coming from a jaded teacher who's initial instinct is to say "don't do it". The main "pro" for teaching I can see in your case is that you'd get the school holidays. Term-times will be a total nightmare - you'll still have to work all evenings and weekends. It'll be working from home, but the work still has to be done somehow. I think overall though, you would see your children more. However, the "cons" are many, pay being the biggest, closely followed by the fact that you love your job - I have never found a job I love, and if I did I would never leave it! I'd try a lot harder to find the same kind of job, but one that fitted in better with my family life. How do you know your new role won't be a lot better in terms of morale etc? - I assume it will be on a different site. I'm just imagining the NHS is a bit like teaching, where one school can be awful to work in and the one down the road can be lovely - I assume hospitals and other NHS places of work would be the same? I think the lack of pay, status etc. could get to you after a while, and you may wonder why you ever left your last job, especially once the children are old enough to look after themselves. I would definitely make sure you don't burn bridges, and make sure there is a way to get back into your old profession, just in case things don't work out (since they don't for 50% of teachers). Maybe consider doing the teaching, but as a temporary thing for the next 5-10 years (most people don't last much longer anyway), then go back to your NHS profession once youngest is about 16?

Could you set up as a tutor to earn extra money whilst teacher training?

seven201 Wed 10-Feb-16 21:43:41

Ooh tough one. I'm a secondary teacher and from reading your post I think you should try the closer NHS job for one year and if you don't like it do the teacher training next year. I left a career for teacher training about 5 years ago and wish I hadn't if I'm honest. Yes the holidays are great (but you still need to plan and mark then) as it time actually teaching, but evenings and weekends are spent planning, writing reports or marking - it's not ok to tick or cross work anymore, you basically have to write more than the kids to give them 'next steps' guidance that they don't bother to read. It's all in case ofsted call. The bit about morale is interesting. I've worked in one school where there was at least one member of staff crying in the staff room at some point over the day. I myself cried in the loo and outside my classroom door a few times. I've not had to do that in my current school and the staff room is quite cheery.

Thundercrackers Wed 10-Feb-16 21:44:22

If you are thinking that teaching is a good option because it is more family friendly, then seriously think again. You'd be getting to school at 7.30am most probably and then leaving anywhere between about half five to seven on a normal day. Factor in parents meetings, staff training, extra curricular stuff, marking and moderation and planning and you are looking at a very full week plus probably a day spent working at the weekend. If you love being with kids and don't mind having to put your family aside during term time, then go for it. God knows the profession is crying out for amazing women scientists! But please don't attempt it for an easy life because it really isn't. Please also consider how you would deal with the emotional pressure that comes from being closely and personally scrutinised by a system that is becoming ever more brutal. Sorry to be a bit of killjoy but I hope this is useful in some way. Good luck op and best wishes for your big decision

Thundercrackers Wed 10-Feb-16 21:48:26

Ps I think the above advice is spot on- take the nhs job and see how it goes for a year. There will still be kids needing taught the following year and you will be making a decision you know is for the best.

DitheringDiva Thu 11-Feb-16 07:15:32

Just another thought, a lot of my relatives work for the NHS, and do a lot of unsociable hours (they're doctors), and they all employ nannies. Could you do that to avoid the worry of childcare? I know my first thought if someone said that to me would be "but I want to look after my own children" - however, from my experience the only way you can do this is if you either be a stay at home mum, or have a low paid 9-5 job. Interesting professional jobs (like scientist, teacher) are rarely 9-5, and nearly always impinge on family life.

Fedup21 Thu 11-Feb-16 07:41:02

I wouldn't leave a part time job that paid the same as a full time teaching post. The way the progression through the pay scales have changed-you could quite well end up being stuck at the bottom forever. Performance management in some schools = 'did 100% of the children in every class you teach reach their (wildly exaggerated) target and were 100% of your lessons outstanding? No? Oh dear, try again next year and you can stay on m1/m2...'

How many hours do you work now? What is the average for a secondary school teacher? 55? 60?

I wouldn't recommend teaching to anyone at the moment.

CountryLovingGirl Thu 11-Feb-16 19:32:56

Thanks for the replies.

Yes, I really need to stick it out. I was chatting to a teacher the other day who advised me not to give up my career as I may regret it once the children are older (and, my eldest is 12). I have looked a childcare website tonight and that seems ok.

I actually worked at the same hospital before (for most of my career) but wanted to work in my hometown (we were closed down so I ended up with a long commute). Although I liked it there, the morale has seriously taken a nose-dive due to shifts. I think most mum's are experiencing the same thing but we are unlucky in the fact we have no grandparents around (r other family). They are taking on more staff so I hope this helps and I have very good friends working there.

I work 22.5 hours a week at the moment but commute can be another 2.5 to 3 hours on top. I then do out of hours work (on top) about 2-3 times a month and that means driving to and from work during the night (I don't get any sleep most of the time) and then have to work the next day! New job is 37.5hrs but I am at the top of the scale. We don't take work home with us either (do a bit of CPD, that's all).

I have considered doing a part time PGCE FE or HE in the evening, or even distance learning, so that is something to explore as a safety net. I live local to a university that offers the course for our profession so a qualification, like that, would come in handy if I spotted a job there one day!

If we take a career break we go to the bottom of the pay scale (for the lowest grade). I don't think teachers do though, do they? Things change so rapidly and they expect you to start again if you leave.
I have long service holiday allowance but it's only about 6.5 weeks. If I could take 3 weeks in the school holidays and odd days, to make me part time, in the other school holidays then I would be quite happy with that!

CountryLovingGirl Thu 11-Feb-16 19:34:14

I think I will give it a year and see how it goes. Worried about NHS privatisation as that will make things worse!

CountryLovingGirl Thu 11-Feb-16 19:40:21

Commute is 2.5-3 hours a day btw

CountryLovingGirl Thu 11-Feb-16 19:44:14

New job commute is doable in less than 1/2 hour each way (won't be during rush hour so that will help). I will save MASSIVELY on travel time.

CountryLovingGirl Thu 11-Feb-16 19:48:24

You do a fantastic job, by the way! Undervalued and underpaid!

It was a secondary biology teacher who inspired me to go into science (and she still sends me a Christmas card each year even though I left school many years ago - and she is retired).

Great teachers are always remembered xx

Haffdonga Thu 11-Feb-16 20:00:26

If you leave your current NHS job you may well never be able to get back into it. But if you don't take the teaching option now you would always be able to do it next year or the year after or the year after that. (With your skills and experience you would be SNAPPED up as a teacher.)

Disclaimer: I'm another jaded ex teacher.

I would advise you not to stick with your current job and see if there's any way you can make it work better (Negotiate hours?) . Teaching is not a family friendly job, so if that's why you want to make the move you're making a mistake. Have you factored in the number of evenings you'd be expected to work as a teacher? Have you factored in the fact that you'd be doing your planning, marking and prep for dreaded inspections in your weekends? Have you factored in the stress and management bullying that happens when a lot of unhappy people are put under a lot of pressure? Have you factored in the sheer grind of trying to make people who frankly don't give a flying fuck behave well enough in your lessons to allow other students to understand the finer points of photosythesis? It can be soul destroying.

rollonthesummer Thu 11-Feb-16 23:03:13

If we take a career break we go to the bottom of the pay scale (for the lowest grade). I don't think teachers do though, do they?

Am pretty sure pay portability has been scrapped totally in teaching, so even when you move to a new school without a break, you don't necessarily get paid what you were on before.

Leslieknope45 Thu 11-Feb-16 23:10:01

To anyone else I would say don't do it. But to someone in the nhs I would say go for it.
I work everyday 7am-5.30 at work and maybe another 1-2 hours at home. I do a few hours on a Sunday.
I probably do 1 day of work for every week off for a holiday- so in the summer I do just over 1 week of work.
It is awful September- may but May half term onwards is THE DREAM

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