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Career change into teaching?

(29 Posts)
LadyTennantofTardis Sat 01-Apr-17 10:21:51

I have been a civil servant for most of my working life, working in policy. I have a geography degree and an interest In careers guidance. In have thought about training for a teacher for years. I was just about to send my uni application for a PGCE when I found out I was pregnant with my second child. Since then my plan was to process my application for a 2018 start (I will have an 18 month old and 5 year old). The bursary means this is the first time I can afford a career break to do the training. From colleagues who have done some teaching, to negative comments online. I am now concerned whether this is the right thing. I am sure I would love teaching but am concerned about 70 hour weeks, having to pay for my own supplies, etc. based on the feedback mentioned before. Any thoughts?

OP’s posts: |
leccybill Sat 01-Apr-17 10:29:59

Put in this way... can you think of any other careers that need to actively recruit with constant glossy TV, radio and social media adverts?
The UK is desperately short of teachers because the current ones are leaving in their droves. Why would you quit a job with 6 contact hours a day, 14 weeks paid holiday, a good pension, good maternity and sick leave allowances, if it wasn't so unspeakably unbearable?

The actual time in the classroom is in many ways enjoyable. The other 30-40 hours a week of nonsense and hoop-jumping you will be forced to do to is intolerable.

LadyTennantofTardis Sat 01-Apr-17 16:59:00

Thanks. That's pretty much the feedback I've been getting.

OP’s posts: |
ImperialBlether Sat 01-Apr-17 17:03:08

Often the kids aren't the problem, it's the management and the government and the changes and the observations and inspections that drive everyone crazy.

rollonthesummer Sat 01-Apr-17 17:07:29

It's a miserable job and now one for young people who want to do it short-term. Search this board for the words 'leaving teaching' and you'll understand what it's like.

I wouldn't recommend it.

ImperialBlether Sat 01-Apr-17 17:19:26

One thing you need to be aware of is that after the age of 50, teachers are on most management's hit list. I taught for decades and can hardly remember anyone retiring at the proper age.

Fallulah Sat 01-Apr-17 17:28:47

I did it...ten plus years in civil service management and then more than halved my salary and took a second job as well to switch. I teach a secondary core subject.

It's bloody hard and sometimes I do resent the amount of my own time it takes up. But I had that in my old role too because I was frequently at the beck and call of a chief executive. Teaching is not the only job that's hard and sometimes I think people who've only ever done teaching lose sight of that a bit.

I don't regret it. I'm queen of my own classroom and not made to account for my every move, there are enough hilarious moments to balance out the 'oh my God why am I doing this' moments and, if you're decent at your job, the money goes up fairly quickly...more so than in other jobs (I don't work in an academy though). The caveat to this is that I was lucky to have a brilliant training course and mentor (school direct salaried but linked to a university which I think is important) and now work in a lovely school with really supportive SLT. I'm well aware that if you don't have these things, life is hell.

Get lots of experience in schools to make sure it's something you really want to do / could do. I have to say I don't know how my colleagues with young children do it.

MiniAlphaBravo Sat 01-Apr-17 17:31:43

Upsides - can be a lot of fun, can inspire young people, holidays, can leave fairly early if prepared to take work home.

Downsides - pay has fallen a LOT in real terms since the tories got in. Constant curriculum change, squeeze on funding for majority of schools (our school is a grammar but really feeling the strain, ironically), lots of pointless admin, ofsted, behavior standards can be very bad and it can be hard not to take things personally, no flexibility in holidays and expensive to take a holiday, focus on results is quite relentless despite there being lots outside a classroom teachers control... though this is possibly similar to other areas of work.... it's not ideal with young children as you have to take a lot home and there is no flexibility of hours. However when they are school aged it's great to have the holidays off with them. Low pay when training.

Why do you want to do it? Primary or secondary?

Wonderpants Sat 01-Apr-17 17:36:14

I've taken a career change to do a PGCE and despite me really thinking that I understood the pressure and commitment, it is such a miserable year. Some really good moments- but mostly working constantly, never switching off (every night I dream teaching), feeling constantly preoccupied and whatever you do, never being good enough!
My cohort of students were all discussing that so many of us aren't sure we actually want to work as teachers at the end of it. It is not the life I want for me or my family.
A teacher did tell me the other day that this is the toughest it will ever be- but time will tell!

Wonderpants Sat 01-Apr-17 17:36:59

As for holidays??? Ha ha ha- my do to list for Easter holidays makes me want to sob!

tinypop4 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:41:19

I would in your shoes. And this is from someone who likes teaching but largely because I work part time in an independent school these days. There is still a lot of pressure but the state sector is enough to drive anyone into madness. You sound like you have a good career- don't give it up to teach, especially not with young children as weekends and holidays are spent working.

tinypop4 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:41:39


chicaguapa Sat 01-Apr-17 17:45:38

DH is a teacher (also a career changer) and is often asked about the job by people who are thinking of going into teaching. He says it's not the job you think it is. That's not to say you won't like it and he loves it, but it's not what you think it's going to be. You're not going to be enthusing students with passion about your subject, you're not going to be turning teenagers into intrepid explorers or inspiring them to be environmentalists.

So you need to find out exactly what the job is and then decide if that's the one you want. The best way to do this is spend as much time in a school as you can. The school and SLT make an enormous difference to the whole experience too.

The perks are good but you really do earn them. If you didn't have the breaks you'd burn out. And it takes about 5 years for it to feel like you've got a handle on teaching now and for the pressure to ease a little. But DH has never looked back since becoming a teacher and loves it.

rollonthesummer Sat 01-Apr-17 17:56:16

A teacher did tell me the other day that this is the toughest it will ever be- but time will tell!

I disagree with this. I've said this before , but whilst the PGCE was tricky-working nearly full time in a classroom, plus endless lesson plans and evaluations and the essays on top, the NQT year was harder as it was your own class and the responsibility for that class was quite overwhelming. The first year after that though, even though I knew what I was doing, was harder again as I lost all NQT time (I had a day out a fortnight) and was then landed with curriculum leadership responsibilities-you are also no longer the 'new' one so it's expected you are 100% at the top of your game.

It got better for a few years after that, but tbh, since the Tories have been in power, things have changed so much-it sometimes still feels like I don't know what I'm doing and I'm 20 years in. I don't know of anyone amongst my peers in other jobs who feel like this. Family who work in IT/law/medicine/dentist etc say things have changed a bit in their role in 20 years, but not much. My job is unrecognisable and I would never have trained it if if I knew then what I know now.

Things like removing levels has made things so confusing and for absolutely no reason!

I am 41 and am old in teaching. How old are you, OP, out of interest?

MrsT2007 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:59:19

I'm an ex geography teacher and was a career changer into it too.

Having done a decade I was just utterly exhausted & disillusioned. I'd gone part time to 0.8 to be with my kids and had to lose my TLR as a result. But that didn't matter as tbh this last 5 years or so the workload is crazy. Really crazy.

The kids often make the job. And can break it too, but the incessant pressure, micromanaging and totally pointless data based rubbish just makes you want to scream after a while.

Add to that the days where a parent tells you they're going to effing smack you, or a child gives you the bird gets wearing! You realise you're in the only job in the country where staff are routinely and openly expected to take abuse.

Everything around the job prevents you actually doing and enjoying the job. Because when it's right, it's bloody marvellous, best job in the world. It just isn't right very often.

LadyTennantofTardis Sat 01-Apr-17 18:41:37

I am 37 looking at doing Geography @ secondary.

OP’s posts: |
SheSparkles Sat 01-Apr-17 18:45:14

I think to go into studying to teach with children that age is extremely unfair on them.
I know this will be an unpopular opinion!

ImperialBlether Sat 01-Apr-17 20:34:17

You think it's unfair to teach children that age, SheSparkles?

purplepopple Sat 01-Apr-17 21:04:59

My friend career changed to being a teacher in her early thirties, she teaches secondary and loves it.
She is very enthusiastic about the salary, holidays, pension etc, all far better than her previous company who did the minimum... She also doesn't feel she works any more hours than she did before overall and has just got a promoted post (which is why I know all her opinions on it as we were celebrating last weekend!).

tinypop4 Sat 01-Apr-17 21:11:38

I think she sparkles is referring to the ops own young children who are 5 and a toddler. It's true you will have little time for them while you train and do your first couple of years - it's all consuming and might be easier when dc2 is at school. I don't think the unfair though

MrsGuyOfGisbo Sat 01-Apr-17 22:02:32

I went in as a mature career changer (50+) and have had a roller-coaster ride, but now happy and enjoying it.
Rubbish training at useless 'uni' so decided to do supply teaching to schools form the inside before taking perm job.
Great time on supply for 2 years, saw lots of schools and went back many times to a few. The one of the schools offered me a contract, and also recommended me to another school for a another contract because of a relationship the two schools have ( cannot be more specific as would be identifying) and am now perm at the latter school and loving it. As it happens, I am doing a subject which was not my PGCE subject, but they have given me training as they saw I was flexible and able to adapt easily to new situations. They value experience outside teaching and so am paid 50% more than I would be on 'scale' as NQT.
With professional experience outside teaching you can be smarter with workload and so I have no work over Easter hols.
Having said that, I would not go into this with young children - only works for me as mine are teenagers and so do not have childcare reqs or need me at assemblies/sports days etc.

DitheringDiva Sat 01-Apr-17 22:24:30

I'm on the fence with this dilemma really. I stopped teaching when my children were a similar age to what yours will be when you start. It was partly because I had a psychopath boss who micromanaged my every move - and her behaviour was fully supported by the Head who ran the school like a dictatorship (so beware of bad schools and bad management). I also packed in partly because even though I still enjoyed the job, I couldn't physically fit it in. My older DD, who was about 7 then, started to do tons of things after school, which massively ate into my evening time.
So for me the cons are: 1. you won't fit it in, even if you enjoy it. 2. bad management. 3. The stress of the responsibility - you are entirely responsible for how well your classes do in their exams, and I think this weighs on a lot of teachers (and bad managers add to the stress). If you can't let this kind of stress roll off you, then don't do it.
The pros are: I really enjoy it, but only if I've got time to do it properly. I do sometimes wonder if I enjoy it as much as I do because I like planning, and data analysis, which is a much more significant part of the job than you would think. The actual teaching element is only about 50% of the job.

I've just started back this year (my DDs are 7 and 12), working 3 days a week in a very relaxed school, very supportive management, nice kids etc., but even now, there is no way I could fit in full time. (Older DD still does tons of stuff after school)

Summergarden Sat 01-Apr-17 22:26:22

I really wouldn't recommend it. Have been in it for 9 years now and have typed out my resignation letter to hand in next month.

It wasn't too stressful to start with 9 years ago, but gradually with shift in government, changes to pay policy and introduction of capability, and more recently the school budget cuts which will have a serious impact, it's all changed so much for the worse.

I've been at the same school for 9 years and initially there was a supportive, team culture, now it's more of a fear culture that SMT are always trying to catch us out. Sadly that's a familiar tale in other schools.

My own children are pre schoolers and I'll never get this time back, I'm so relieved we have the option. Otherwise I fear I'll spend most of my 'free time' working at home for other people's children and before I know it my own will have grown up!

SheSparkles Sat 01-Apr-17 22:27:09


That's exactly what I meant- thanks for clarifying.

Like I said I know it won't be a popular opinion, but it's mine.

Eolian Sat 01-Apr-17 22:30:59

Hell no, OP. It's grim these days. Many of the people that survive the PGCE barely make it to the end of one or two years of teaching. I've been a secondary teacher for 20 years but am a supply teacher now, which is pretty soulless but at least there's no pressure, no marking, no planning, no lesson observations.

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