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Is it really such a terrible time to go into teaching?

(89 Posts)
paperdreams16 Wed 04-May-16 22:27:26

Hi all,

Looking for some honest advice and hoping it's okay to post this here! Since I was very little I have always wanted to teach. I was set on doing my degree in Primary Education until the last minute when my English teacher convinced me to do English Language and Literature (I now hold a 2.1 in the subject from fairly well respected university)

Towards the end of my degree I set about applying for PGCEs and was accepted onto one for primary education last year, which was meant to start at the beginning of last September. For various reasons, I decided to postpone the year and now currently work as a TA in a special school. I fully intended to reapply for PGCE courses starting this September and have completed my application, but haven't sent it yet. I'm seriously considering giving up on the idea of teaching at all. All I seem to read or hear these days is 'don't go into teaching, it's a mess' and all the teachers in the school I work in say that the hours they are putting in is absurd.

I have always wanted to purse a career in education, but working in a school has opened my eyes to the politics of it all. The children at our school are fantastic and I care deeply for them, and I and the other TAs are so excited when they make progress. The teacher, higher leadership etc however only seem interested in the children meeting their targets and getting it down on paper. I don't know if I want to work in an environment where the actual teaching comes second to the endless paperwork, policies etc.

So, is it worth doing a PGCE or should I abandon it entirely? I am still receiving emails about completely my application but assume I am running out of time to make a decision. I'm young (21) and have only recently achieved my BA so am looking at potentially applying to graduate schemes come September instead of looking at QTS. I've had my heart set on teaching forever but it doesn't look like something worth going into at this time. Are there any perks, or is it really so awful now?

Thank you, this turned out a lot longer than expected blush

jclm Wed 04-May-16 22:31:49

Well you're in the right arena to get the best advice. And all the teachers are telling you not to go into teaching...

There are many many careers related to working with children in the classroom eg speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational psychology etc.

Have a session with a careers advisor and maybe spend a bit longer looking at other career paths and work shadowing or volunteering before making a decision.

rollonthesummer Wed 04-May-16 22:52:33

If I could speak to my twenty one year old self, I would tell her not to do it. I loved it for 10-12 years but hate it now. I know very few teachers who don't hate it.

ElegantDream Thu 05-May-16 00:12:24

Don't do it.

SisterViktorine Thu 05-May-16 07:03:04

Well, on the positive side there will be plenty of jobs. In fact if you wanted to go straight into a Headship for your NQT year that would probably be fine.

flutterworc Thu 05-May-16 07:13:20

At the right school it is still a great job, just high stress and workload. Mine is borderline - it's a high performing school, so the 'threat' of OfSted is reduced, but expectations still very high. Unfortunately these schools are few and far between. I've been teaching 12 years and probably wouldn't train now (iykwim) but am not ready to jack it in just yet. From what I gather, private education isn't as pressured, which is one way to consider moving, but if I was to put money on it, I wouldn't want to bet I'd still be at it in ten years - and I'm only 35.

ceebie Thu 05-May-16 09:46:19

I can't really comment because I havn't started my PGCE yet either. I nearly walked away from applying, but in the end I decided that I have to walk my own path and discover for myself whether it's right for me or a terrible decision. Worst comes to the worst, I'll be a shop girl before Christmas while I re-think my career!!! (I'm 40, btw). But I'd regret it if I didn't give it a go. I seems to me that the vast majority of teachers will tell you no to do it (and with good reason, I have no doubt), but there are a few out there who love it despite all the hard work and politics (my sister being one).

I have always been a believer in being able to move on from something if it's not right, or if it was right but its time for something new - so that's what I'm doing now, and that's what I'll do again if I need to.

melonribena Thu 05-May-16 10:12:07

I've been teaching for 13 years and honestly, I'd do it again!
The paperwork, data, ofsted etc make it a very very tough job, but for me the enjoyment I get from actually teaching and building relationships with the child I teach outweigh it. Just!

Tatiana11235 Thu 05-May-16 10:20:59

Exactly the same here OP.
I was looking forward to studying towards PGCE but all the negative comments about teaching have put me off big time. I am looking to teach 14+ and adults though.
I have finally applied last week and got invited to an interview in my first choice uni.
I thought I'll have to find out for myself just how horrible it actually is. If I hate it then fair enough, I've got plenty of experience in another field to fall back on to.
At the end of the day, PGCE is a good qualification to have. Once you have got no one will take it from you and who knows what school system is going to be like in a few years time.
I'd say go for it smile

MrsGuyOfGisbo Thu 05-May-16 16:52:07

In fact if you wanted to go straight into a Headship for your NQT year that would probably be fine.
Not so farfetched grin.
Someone I trained with was made HoD in a core subject the year after her NQT in a highly sought after school in SW London...
I was in a a school (leafy suburb) for the first time today today where nearly half the staff are agency supply teachers, long and medium term, and some like me in for odd days. As I left the school they asked me if I would stay till the end of term shock
Needless to say, morale is low there. I was really shocked ta the lack of work in the kids books 9non core subject - mostly just a title and date for various 'lessons' gong back to November sad

JeanPadget Thu 05-May-16 18:03:10

I teach in a small, unfashionable independent school within walking distance of home. Small class sizes, polite kids and I love it. I remind myself every day how lucky I am. No way would I ever go back to a comprehensive.

noblegiraffe Thu 05-May-16 18:13:29

Article starts: "Ministers are in talks about funding a new school leadership college that would parachute graduates fresh out of university into headteacher, deputy and assistant headteacher positions after just two years of training, TES can reveal."


MrsGuyOfGisbo Thu 05-May-16 18:34:51

There was a scheme like that a few years ago, and I met someone in a school who was on it. Then the scheme was scrapped. Joined-up-strategy - NOT!

OttilieKnackered Thu 05-May-16 18:43:38

I would warn against it. I've just handed in my notice (no job to go to) as I just can't hack it any more.

I've done it for six years and it's broken me. The hours, the pressure, the lack of appreciation, the constant scrutiny.

It's awful.

But it could just be me, my capabilities, my weaknesses.

But in my institution, 2/3 of the junior middle managers have handed in their notice despite an excellent recent Ofsted.

Tatiana11235 Thu 05-May-16 19:50:49

Jesus... i might reconsider going for that interview after all confused

toomuchicecream Thu 05-May-16 20:24:39

I might be going to go against the trend here. I love my job, but that's because I am in the right school. Yes, the workload is silly and I get very fed up with spending so much time working in the evenings and weekends. If I was younger and had a social life (!) I could see I would really resent it.

I suggest you think of it as something to do for 5ish years, not a long term career choice. You'll get lots of transferable experience which should stand you in good stead for another job. You might find that it ends up being something you can do for longer than that, but as long as you don't do it expecting to be a teacher for the rest of your life, I reckon it would be OK. And I suggest you also keep an eye out from day 1 for ways to specialise/go sideways so that you always have an escape plan in mind.

What a depressing way to think! Life in school is never, ever boring and every day something happens to make me laugh. And lots that makes me think too - I really enjoy the ongoing reflection about what the best way to approach something would be: can I tweak my explanation or the pupil task so that the children learn better? And that's before I get to all the stuff about making a difference etc etc etc. Just don't rely on it being an always job.

seven201 Thu 05-May-16 21:00:27

I did my PGCE about 6 years ago when I was late 20s. If I could go back and stop myself I would. I work in a good school but the ratio of teaching to bullshit crap that doesn't help the kids is just completely wrong. I think you should try graduate schemes and then if you still feel like doing a PGCE do it thenZ

jclm Thu 05-May-16 22:26:57

I find the idea of going into teaching for five years, or until you can find an exit (from toomuchicecream) interesting. In one way, you'd be able to see for yourself what teaching is like and if you're suited to it. But on the other hand, if youre only going to teach for five years, why bother training for what is essentially a dead end career? Wouldn't it make sense to start a more fulfilling and long-lasting career now?

SupSlick Thu 05-May-16 22:33:11

As far as I'm aware, all the primary places are now pretty much filled OP.

ChopsticksandChilliCrab Fri 06-May-16 02:55:42

I'd say go for it too. My story- I've been teaching maths for over 25 years and still love it. After starting out in comprehensives I moved to the independent sector and now I teach in an international school. It is all about finding the school that works for you. Some of my friends like the challenge of a tough comp, others like the cerebral approach of their independents.

The international sector has been an eye-opener to me- the opportunities to travel, live in a totally different culture and be very well paid are amazing.

purpleapple1234 Sat 07-May-16 01:19:46

As suggested by the pp train in the UK then go abroad and/or private. The standards expected of you are very high in the uk. It is a very tough job to do well. But the teachers that come out the other side tend to be very committed and excellent at their job. I believe that training and working in uk schools is like a boot camp. Also I believe that it is not sustainable as a career. So you could, as many others have done, take advantage of the demanding conditions for a couple of years than take your hard-won experience elsewhere. I teach in a private school in australia and earn twice as much in the uk, have little or no work after school and, most importantly, love my job.

MrsGuyOfGisbo Sat 07-May-16 10:16:22

Fees for PGCE are now 9k.

stopfaffing Sat 07-May-16 10:49:45

My DD has just about finished her degree and has been offered a place to do a PGCE in September. She doesn't know whether she wants to go into teaching though and I am sympathetic. I haven't told her not to go into teaching but would probably prefer her to do something else with her life.

I am a TA and could have done a "TA to Teacher" type course a few years ago but didn't precisely because I could see the reality of teaching: bloody awful paperwork and lots of constant pressure with little bits of lovely rewarding stuff in-between.

No thanks, I'll just stick to my hours 9-3 then leave to go home and have lovely weekends with my family.

On the plus side of doing the PGCE, OP, it is a good transferable skill to acquire because you could qualify to teach abroad or even do other stuff related to teaching, but without the awful soul-destroying pressure.

CrowyMcCrowFace Sat 07-May-16 10:56:59

Another vote for train, do a couple of years in the UK & move abroad.

It's teachers' version of 'Lets go down the Winchester, get a pint, & wait for all this to blow over' in the current UK teaching climate grin.

Doubt I'll be back until my dc are all safely through International Baccalaureate & off to uni - they are getting a fabulous education in an international school.

Then, if I'm homesick, I might return & do some tutoring maybe - that's going to be increasingly massive if the current cataclysmic decline of British schools continues.

So I'd say getting a teaching qualification wouldn't be wasted, OP. But think outside the box as to how you then deploy it.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Sat 07-May-16 11:00:35

Don't do it

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