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I'm thinking of training as a teacher... please help me with the age group choice.

(39 Posts)
elfycat Mon 25-Apr-16 21:40:24


I have a 2:1 degree in English Literature (and will be taking my masters with the OU this September - but let's consider that my hobby). My youngest DC is in reception and finally I feel like I can think about my ongoing career.

In my previous working incarnation I have been a nurse - operating theatre speciality. I don't want to do the shifts and the commute to hospitals, and my nursing friends are all saying 'hell no'. I want reasonably family friendly hours (my sister is a teacher - I know that there's more to it than just classroom time) and I like 'teaching', though recently this had mainly been teaching my hobbies to adults. I liked teaching when it was part of my nursing role too.

I'm trying to decide if I would prefer to teach primary school (?KS2) and teach the full array of the curriculum to a single class. I like a multitude of subjects from sciences to history to art (more the history than any skill at painting myself), ICT, geography etc.

Or secondary school where I can focus on the subject I am passionate about. My reservations are based on my own school experience where the students really tested the boundaries on discipline. particularly in this subject (and Music).

I've been close to filling out the application form for the whole of last term. But I know I'll have to pick where I want to have my placements. I just need to think through my options on this, if anyone wants to share what they like (and find challenging/difficult) about their KS teaching, with me.

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toomuchicecream Mon 25-Apr-16 21:48:23

Why not get into a primary and a secondary school for a few days observation/work experience/volunteering? That will tell you better than anything else what would suit you.

Personally, I loved teaching upper KS2 but am now having an absolute ball in year 1 - I never, ever thought I'd teach children that young. At one point, I thought I'd like to teach my specialism (Maths) in a middle school in a neighbouring authority so I could teach it to years 7 & 8 as well as years 5 & 6. Currently, I can't imagine anything I'd like less - the thought of hormonal, sweary teenagers like I've had at home is enough to make me give up teaching altogether. But other people would be suicidal at the need to repeat the bleeding obvious and give 1 step instructions all day, whilst simultaneously being incredibly patient and smiling like a Blue Peter presenter, which is now my daily reality. Horses for courses.

elfycat Mon 25-Apr-16 22:00:42


Good idea. I might make a couple of phone calls tomorrow. Ask if I can shadow an English teacher at the secondary school (might need a DBS..? I'm DBS-able but I know it all takes time and might be a faff for a few days).

Years ago I ended up CRB'd at my sister's school and would 'volunteer' on my nursing days off and annual leave, to be an extra classroom helper (DM was also a volunteer. Mrs was my unmarried sister, Miss was my mother and with me the HT gave up and let the children call me by first name my name, but only because children do that to nurses in hospitals. 3x Miss/Mrs Surname was getting daft). I liked the KS1 kids.

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elfycat Mon 25-Apr-16 22:03:59

Hmmm, might volunteer as a parent helper/reader a day per week in DD's school for the rest of the year (in addition to trying out the older school).

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noblegiraffe Mon 25-Apr-16 22:11:06

When are you thinking of applying for? If this September then you'll have to bin the masters, you won't have time for both.

Definitely get into schools to observe.

elfycat Mon 25-Apr-16 22:15:08

The masters is part time, and in my hobby area - so a different budget for time entirely. Also my DH works away 50% of the time, so I have a lot of quiet evenings to fill and I don't watch TV

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HumphreyCobblers Mon 25-Apr-16 22:18:10

A PGCE is so full on I think you wouldn't have time for a Masters too. It takes up your whole life to be honest, there is no way I would have been able to do both at the same time.

elfycat Mon 25-Apr-16 22:18:41

Absolutely loving the juxtaposition of the Blog of the Day, next to where I'm typing this... 'I can't be a teacher any more'. grin

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BetweenTwoLungs Mon 25-Apr-16 22:24:41

Trust me, on a pgce your spare time will be filled. There is only one 'budget for time' as a teacher - as a new/trainee teacher it will involve lots of evening and weekend work and you will be so tired. The last thing you will feel like doing is more assignments - trust me.

Lots of pgces now include modules/assignments which contribute towards masters degrees which you then 'top up' in you first few years of teaching. Would you consider doing things that way round?

I teach upper primary and adore it. The marking load for English secondary has got to be the highest there is - worth bearing in mind.

noblegiraffe Mon 25-Apr-16 22:24:43

Seriously, you can't do a PGCE and a masters at the same time.

It will take most of your evenings and weekends.

wasninah Mon 25-Apr-16 22:46:14

Don't forget to check out EYFS....
I started doing a Masters when 0.6 then went full time - it was really draining. Agree this would be a non starter during training.

BossWitch Mon 25-Apr-16 23:02:15

How do you feel about teaching English language - grammar in particular? It's worth bearing in mind that the English curriculum has swung this way of late and looks set to continue to do so. I'm a literature specialist and I am finding it very difficult to generate any enthusiasm for teaching fronted adverbials. If you do go for secondary it is worth bearing in mind that the only real (as I see it) literature teaching now is at a level, and pretty much all English teachers fight tooth and claw for a level lit on their timetable. As a new teacher you may not get it for a couple of years.

You definitely need to get in to a few different schools and see what's going on. Try to see more than one type of school per age range - different areas, local authority, academy, ofsted 1 and ofsted 3, etc. You don't know what you might end up with on your teacher training placements or where you'll be working, so you ideally want to see it all for yourself before you commit.

Personally, I would like to rewind 9 years and slap the pgce application out of my hands and never have been a teacher. Not that I've not had some great times in teaching, but because I now detest what it has become, what it has on far too many occasions done to my mental health, and how fucking impossible it is proving to get myself out of it. Good luck to you if you decide to do it - but I can't in good conscience recommended it to anyone anymore.

elfycat Mon 25-Apr-16 23:21:29

I'm learning loads about SPAG with my y2 DD BossWitch. Not learning about grammar and punctuation, but rather learning about the current levels of passed-down-from-government-stupidity. And that stupid acronym usage is as prevalent in teaching as it was in nursing.

I can do it, but it's not my favourite areas of English (more literature and creative writing).

Is this going to be an 'out of the frying pan...' moment?

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BetweenTwoLungs Tue 26-Apr-16 06:48:10

Teaching is really really hard. In terms of your daughter, are you happy for her to be in childcare before and after school? Some days I can get out at 4 (if I do work at home when I get in) but other days it's 6 or 6.30, and that's on days without performances or parents evenings.

If you enjoy creative writing then primary has lots of opportunities for that. You still get to teach English daily but there's lots of other things to do too.

I love teaching primary but it is no easy option.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Tue 26-Apr-16 07:23:30

I really wouldn't try to do a masters at the same time. It might seem like a hobby, but OU modules are demanding, the estimated hours (generally 16-18hrs for a 60 point undergraduate module) are not an underestimate, that is how long it takes. What do you think that you will do when you have PGCE deadline, OU deadline, child's birthday party to organise and you're recovering from the flu? Something has to give. I see lots of students who think that they can do everything and they can't. Either they suffer, their health suffers, their family suffers or their work suffers. Enjoy your hobby as a bit of relaxation while doing the PGCE and pick it up as a masters once you have finished your NQT year. There's no point in doing two courses badly.

G1raffe Tue 26-Apr-16 07:28:32

You really can't do a pgce and masters! In terms of workload your pgce year and first few years teaching will have you working most evenings and weekends in term time. (Of course good holidays for balance!)

t4gnut Wed 27-Apr-16 10:49:55

Teaching is one of the least family friendly jobs there is. You will never be able to make it to the school for those assemblies, open days etc, nor drop off or pick up. At Secondary you can expect to put in a good four hours an evening on marking and prep, plus at least 1 day at the weekend.

As the profession currently stands seriously reconsider.

MuddhaOfSuburbia Wed 27-Apr-16 10:58:29

I'm a parent of y7s and had another big one go all through secondary (different schools, different teachers)

I would say-if you like literature and creative writing, don't teach secondary

The joy has been rinsed out of the curriculum and all my kids (who are capable, two predisposed to like English, one very creative) found/are finding it their most boring subject


I feel dead sorry for the teachers who are/have been enthusiastic and hard working

But I fear the days of English being kids' inspirational/fun/enlightening subject are over, at least for now

It's a tragedy. Seriously.

mercifulTehlu Wed 27-Apr-16 11:04:11

Teaching at the moment is awful. Sorry, but it is. If you do decide to go for it then you're a brave woman. It certainly shouldn't be difficult to find a job once you're qualified though - huge numbers of classes across the country, even in 'good' and 'outstanding' schools, are currently being taught by supply teachers and unqualified cover supervisors. 50 000 teachers are reported to have quit teaching in the last year. Somebody was quoted as saying that entering the teaching profession in the UK atm would be like running into a burning building past all the people who are fleeing out of it. It was the only job I ever wanted to do, since I was 12. Wish I hadn't.

Sorry to be so negative, OP. Hopefully if things get bad enough, something will have to change, and the next generation of teachers might have it better.

rollonthesummer Wed 27-Apr-16 11:15:34

I hate to be negative but I am leaving the job because it is just so not 'family friendly hours'! I've taught ks1 and 2 for nearly 20 years and I'm done in-I wouldn't recommend it as a job to my worst enemy. I never see my kids and the only way I'm staying afloat is by working part time.

But.... if you dead set on it. Go and shadow a teacher, not to hear readers for 2 hours every week, but a whole week-full time. Talk to the teachers at that school about the job and the workload and the expectations and really listen.

I have seen too far many new teachers full of 'I'm not afraid of a bit of hard work' or 'my mum was a teacher so I know what I'm getting into' to have quit or be failed by February in their nqt year--totally broken (most ending up on medication).

If you must train-go into it with your eyes fully open.

Letseatgrandma Wed 27-Apr-16 11:17:05

The fact you think you can do a PGCE/nqt year with a masters in your hobby time makes me think you haven't researched this at all well.

YvaineStormhold Wed 27-Apr-16 11:34:13



I'm still on meds and I left full-time teaching two years ago.

ScarlettDarling Wed 27-Apr-16 11:47:15

I love teaching...but I work part time. Ever since having my dc I've worked 0.6 and it's perfect.

I teach in y2 and I honestly think it's the best age to teach. The children are young and funny and enthusiastic, but they have a level of independence which they don't have in EYFS, which I taught for a long time. In my twenty years of teaching I've only taught ks1 and EYFS and I'm so happy with this age range.

There are loads of great things about teaching which are rarely mentioned. The fantastic relationships you develop with the children, the pride in seeing them 'get' something tricky, the fact that no two days are the same, the creativity you need to use everyday...and the summer holidays!!

You can't go into teaching half heartedly. Your pgce will be really full on, especially as you have children of your own to juggle. The first few years are difficult and of course, the way the government keep changing EVERYTHING doesn't help the workload. But, if you are committed it could be a great move. If you've worked as a theatre nurse you clearly know a thing or two about stress so there's no reason why you shouldn't thrive as a teacher. Good luck!

MrsBenWyatt Wed 27-Apr-16 19:35:32

"Family friendly hours" hmm

Honestly, as everyone else has said, doing a masters, a PGCE and being a parent would be impossible. During my training, I worked and slept - that's it (and there wasn't much sleeping going on).

elfycat Wed 27-Apr-16 21:39:25

By 'family friendly' I meant no night shifts or on calls. At least there is wrap-around childcare Monday-Friday. There's no one at 3 am when you need to go in for an emergency operation.

And I do appreciate the PGCEs are full on, but I'm already booked onto (and paid) the first masters module starting October. I might volunteer in school as a helper next year, and take that year to decide if I want to become a frazzled teacher, rather than a frazzled nurse.

My area is planning to change the 6th form to colleges rather than at the schools over the next few years. Perhaps in another couple of years I could take a PGCE and teach Literature.

Thanks all for your input.

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