Private vs state school (I've name changed!)(13 Posts)
Ive name changed for this post as know people on here IRL and dont want them knowing I'm looking for a new job.
I currently work in a state school but I am thinking of applying to a private school (primaries). What is the difference between them in terms of work load etc?
Lots less government interference / changing the curriculum every two minutes.
Often have longer hours each day, but shorter terms.
Can be expected to do 'prep supervision' duty.
Most importantly, you don't have to pay into a tea fund!
No experience of primaries, but at secondary you have more non-contact time (so fewer, smaller classes and time to get some marking done at school); far, far fewer discipline problems (and they can more quickly be passed up the chain to senior management); much more control over the curriculum (choice of exam specification often devolved to head of faculty or even head of department level); usually smaller schools so easier to get to know everybody. The downside is that parents (and some pupils) are very ready to complain if they feel they're not getting their money's worth.
I teach in a private primary school and, despite earning considerably less than I would in a state school (around £10k less annually), I couldn't be persuaded to go back to working in a the state system.
The workload in private is smaller: fewer children in the class (I have 10 this year!) means less marking day-to-day, fewer IEPs to write, fewer reports to write, shorter parents' evenings, etc. You have a lot more flexibility in what you teach; we follow the 2014 NC, but aren't bound by it so we can make any changes we want to. Behaviour management is easier, mainly due to the smaller classes. Trips and special events are much more interesting in private schools! As staff I also get a fee-reduced place in the school for my children. There are other little perks, like not paying for our tea and coffee, free lunches. Only little things, but helpful.
The biggest benefit though, is the shorter terms! I finished for Christmas yesterday!
There are drawbacks, however. The biggest one for me is that my employer is the owner of the school/business. He bought the school/business and appointed himself Headteacher, despite having no teaching experience whatsoever. That makes things difficult sometimes! In a particularly small school, such as where I work, you may not have a board of governors or HR department. So any grievances are difficult and awkward to address and resolve.
It's common for indys to have league fixtures at the weekend, which you may be expected to attend. There are likely to be other out-of-hours events during the school year too, like additional meetings with parents, awards evenings, open evenings, and more residential trips. Generally these things are quite good fun, though! Oh, and open days are always held on Saturdays!
As I said, despite the negatives to the job, I would never swap my cushy indy job for the stress of teaching in state schools!
Its rather unusual though for you to earn less in an independent school as usually the pay is higher.
Yes, that's true. It depends on how much profit the school is making. We have low fees and a small site, so are unable to take more than 110 children at a time, so the profit margin is not great. Hence the low wages!
I have worked in both, although only state in the uk. As a pp has said the better behaviour and smaller class sizes are the main advantages. Pay and working conditions depend on who owns the school. A private investor will probably take advantage of teachers prefering to working in an indy rather than state so may pay you less. Happened to me. But a school run by a board for no profit will probably pay over the going rate to get high quality staff. Parents are the biggest drawback, especially at primary. I am in secondary and occasionally get/hear of the odd parental stamp. But I hear horror stories from the primary school. Although I have to say that parental voice can save your bacon if management try anything tricky.
As with everything, there are better and worse independent schools. And also, different types entirely. What I love about proper public senior boarding schools I'd never find as staff in a city centre day school.
My eldest goes to a different independent to the one I work at, but similar to the ones I have worked at in the past.
The reason I rate the school she goes to highly is the staff are very happy, they are housed locally in the school, they put in extra hours on an evening (but are fed three times a day 😏), a significant proportion of them are Oxbridge graduates, the HODs choose the exam syllabi and also set and write what the younger ones do. They'look take risks on appointing staff (e.g. Employ young high flyers/ leaving the city types and then if they are any good, support getting them QTS).
Thinking back over the previous years and different independent pre preps and preps she has gone to as more relevant to you...
She has never done SATS, has always had smaller class sizes than she would have in a state school, has had a full time teaching assistant as well as teacher up to year 4 ish I think, access to extension work/dyslexia support without it being made into any "issue", nice cooked lunches that everyone eats, the freedom to set up things independently as a student (lunchtime chess club, etc) that the staff willingly help with.
Any smallest hint of bullying always seemed to get resolved very quickly and with utter compassion to all sides.
Staff at the school were also unafraid to tell the parents if they were being unreasonable. For example, over party invitations that excluded just one or two from the class. The line was a pretty hard one from the school receptionist and she basically told the parent they were being utterly unreasonable and it could be two or three or everyone. And what's more, the parents listened 😏😂 Sure the receptionist ruled that school!
The biggest things for my eldest that she appreciated were much longer hours playing sport, higher academic standards and a truly great pastoral system.
It is a different way of doing things though. My teenager claims she can spot a new into the sector teacher within five minutes of them starting their first class.
She broke her wrist the other week and so used her laptop in end of term exams. Almost all her staff had no issues, and never even checked she wasn't cheating apart from the one that's just moved from the state sector who made her use a different one. My daughter was amused. She has been used to being trusted for years with mantras like "you are only cheating yourselves" etc and was quite offended anyone would think she would.
Good luck with applications and interviews. Schools are wonderful places to work in. Important to get a good fit between the two of you though.
The work load is similar if not more, but much much less stressful if you get a good school with a good ethos.
A friend works in a prep - 6 days a week teaching 8-6
For me after 20 years in the state sector and 3 years in an indie- the indie wins.
Smaller classes (14 rather than 30 children)
Free lunch every day
A sandwich tea when you do parents' evening
Easier class management as fewer children
Children make rapid progress as you devote a lot more individual time to their learning (Every child reads everyday for example)
Longer holidays- 3.5 weeks off for Christmas
Lovely end of term gifts!
Smaller wage (I earn 2k less in the indie a year)
Longer hours 7.45am-5.30pm expected to be on the school site
More paper work- lots of compliance stuff (risk assessments, incident form, concern forms for even minor things)
Very little non-contact time in Pre-prep (1 hr off time table a week)
Prep school - works like a secondary school so you teach strict 1 hour subject lessons - not a lot of cross-curricular/topic work or having the flexibility to continue a lesson. You miss teaching Art, PE, etc because they are taught by specialists.
The parents and children ( I did work in a very nice state school before)
I teach in a prep school and find the work load to be very manageable. I don't take anything home ever.
Depending on the school, it is typical to have specialist teachers for Music, Art, PE/Games, so you would get free time during those lessons. There might even be a specialist Science teacher. Some prep schools have specialist teachers from Y3 up.
The school days may be longer, but so are the holidays. You would have to do more duties than state, and not expect to have admin tasks done by anyone else.
I worked in state secondary &6th form for 4 years before going to the prep school im in and have been for 3 years. I can honestly say, despite my reservations when I took the job- it was the best career decision I ever made. In state I always felt like I wasn't good enough- constantly pushed to doing CPD, going to meetings, meeting targets that weren't realistic for my children. Now, however, I have time to develop the curriculum in the way I want, ask the children what THEY want to learn about and what they enjoy. I feel I am looked after much better in private too- if you're off Sick you are told not to come back until you are better, rather than being told to come back when you can move.
Make sure it's the right place for you
Worked in both. Few cautionary notes:
Look into the financial position of the private school very very carefully - depending how the area you're in is - lots of the small ones are going under financially or in danger of going under financially (hit by the large senior schools expanding their age ranges downwards and parents obviously trying to get their kids into their desired senior schools at younger and younger entry points). The one I worked at last was pretty badly run as well - lots of having to work around the owners' whims (they banned glitter as it "stifled creativity" and insisted on all paper used for art to be non-standard paper sizes etc - just daft little edicts that would change constantly).
Depending on how the school is (and how strong the owners are in terms of standing up to parents) you might find you're pretty much fed to the wolves in terms of being expected to give in to some pretty bonkers parental demands (I was asked to teach multiplication a different way as one mum didn't like the way it was being taught - stuff like that). We also had some pretty daft things like one colleague was so obsessed with the idea that the parents couldn't be told anything about their kids wasn't perfect that she was found rubbing out kids' work in their books and writing in correct spellings on a lunch break! (I refused to get into that silly game of pointlessness)
Work load and hours I found pretty similar really - longer days in terms of after school duties and the like, but a bit more manageable in terms of workload so it balanced out somewhat. Kids and most of the parents were absolutely delightful.
(Not fussed about "slagging off" where I worked - school's since closed in case anyone's concerned).
Our pay started off level or just above state.... the problem was that it didn't increase in the same manner (back in the days when you went up the pay scale and that was that) so you ended up slightly worse off in financial terms.
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