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Honest answers please - Am I making a terrible decision?

(23 Posts)
webcob Tue 11-Apr-17 12:20:54

I have just been offered a place on a PGCE in primary education this September but I've been looking through some of the threads here on Mumsnet and am now wondering - am I mad?

I'm overwhelmed by the negativity in teaching at the moment so primary teachers - honestly, is it worth it?

I thought I was going into this with my eyes open to the bad sides of the profession. I worked as a TA full time last year and absolutely loved it. I had to give it up for financial reasons and have worked in Marketing this year but it's just not the same. I loved having a job that felt like it mattered, I loved that each day was fun and interesting and different and the children were so wonderful. I know the workload is terrible - I worked in a Year 2 class during SATs and they were being moderated and I saw first hand how hard it was for our class teacher but I felt prepared and happy to take that on in order to be able to look back at my career and feel like I've done something with my life. Despite the workload and the stress, I can't see myself doing anything else!

However, after reading some of these other threads, though, I'm suddenly terrified that I'm making a mistake. Is it really this terrible?!

I'm sorry for the rambling message, I'm just about to officially hand in my notice at my job and go to do a bit more TA work before my PGCE so I suppose I'm panicking and asking for your advice before it's too late to turn back.

TL;DR - is primary teaching really as awful as everyone makes out on the news etc? Does anyone out there still love it?

GraceGrape Tue 11-Apr-17 12:23:09

What are your home circumstances? IMO you can only manage the job properly full-time if you have few responsibilities at home.

MaisyPops Tue 11-Apr-17 12:24:49

Secondary teaching here but its a great job

Your first few years are tough and youll get fed up with endless changes and youll get fed up with peolle telling your how to do your job because thye went to school once.

But no day is the same, you'll laugh so often, you get to work with brilliant kids.
There are peak times like SATS and GCSEs where youre exhausted but there are other perks (and no, i dont mean the holidays).

QueenieGoldstein Tue 11-Apr-17 12:25:40

I love it but it's hard going at the moment with the retention and recruitment process. I've been teaching for over a decade so am pretty well embedded with plans etc so it works for me as I know how to streamline my workload.

Would I go into teaching as an NQT now? Probably on balance yes but I'm very much a vocational teacher, if I wasn't then in all honesty I probably wouldn't. If you have always wanted to teach then go for it but don't let it break you, have an exit plan just in case.

Good luck.

user1483387154 Tue 11-Apr-17 12:26:56

I was a teacher for 12 years and left the profession 3 years ago. I would not go back into it again full time, I would do supply teaching but never take it on again long term.
There is very little work/life balance as a primary school teacher.

webcob Tue 11-Apr-17 12:30:22

Thanks for such quick responses smile

GraceGrape - I am 23, I got married last year and would be looking to start a family in the next few years. This is something else that does worry me tbh, I know teaching isn't always family friendly during term time. But DH is incredibly supportive and wonderful - there's not a lot he wouldn't do to make me happy - and financially we would manage the PGCE year ok.

MaisyPops - thanks for that. It's nice to know there are some positives! What subject do you teach? I considered secondary English but I don't think I'm cut out for moody teenagers!

SarahMused Tue 11-Apr-17 12:32:36

Depends. Do you want an all consuming job that won't give you time to do anything else except in the holidays? You will rarely be bored but you will often feel exhausted! Look at the TES forums to give you an idea of the reality.

GraceGrape Tue 11-Apr-17 12:36:04

It is really hard to do with young kids. I work part-time and am up late every night after putting them to bed to finish marking/prepping. It works out well in the school holidays of course.

I think the training and NQT year are very hard work. Also, bear in mind that most schools, especially academies, these days will be interested in you as a young, cheap teacher but not so much as you rise up the pay scale. Maybe do it now for a few years until you start a family, but have other, long-term options?

MaisyPops Tue 11-Apr-17 12:36:22

I teach English.
Moody teenagers are no bother once you get used to them.
English its the marking that kills me. Our new gcse spec is tough (and in my opinion has been designed to make it difficuly for lower ability students to pass however had they work).
Based on time primary and secondary, i think your planning takes longer in primary (seems to be lots of printinf things for books, 3 different tables with lots kf different activities etc) but marking in secondary is the killer for me. 2 classes in a year group means 60 exams (at 8 pages a paper).

GraceGrape Tue 11-Apr-17 12:37:10

Also, I never, ever do anything socially during the week unless it is in the holidays, so depends how important this is to you.

QueenieGoldstein Tue 11-Apr-17 12:47:22

Socially I only really socialise with other teachers as non-teachers don't get that going out at the weekend during term time is just not an option as weekends are spent working (at least part of each day if not all at the beginning of your teaching career)

70ontheinside Tue 11-Apr-17 21:14:53

2 of my friends were primary teachers who loved their jobs.
One did not return to work after baby number 1.
One did, inbetween babies. She's not coming back after number 2.

My own dcs were secondary age when I started teaching. No way I could have done it when they were younger.

During term time it's a prison without leave. During the holidays it's the best job in the world!

Phineyj Tue 11-Apr-17 22:08:59

Don't rule out secondary just yet - much easier to get part time work after DC (not easy, but easier).

rollonthesummer Mon 17-Apr-17 17:08:25

Primary teacher here. I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy! It's miserable at the moment and I don't know anyone who isn't trying to get out.

Prepare for 60 hour weeks, duplicating endless pointless bits of paperwork, deep marking, being told to see your children as 'data', being forced to teach to the test, management implying what you've done isn't good enough and only ever being as good as your last observation. Prepare to either be increasingly unpopular the further up the pay scale you go, or to be told there is no money for you to move up and get a rise. There are teachers left in my school over 45.

I have just written my resignation-I've had enough. Sorry if my post is negative-I just think people should go into this job with their eyes wide open. I've now done 18 years and am done in at 40-I can't do it anymore for my own health or sanity.

Good luck.

rollonthesummer Mon 17-Apr-17 17:16:40

That should read, there are NO teachers left in my school over 45.

MaisyPops Mon 17-Apr-17 18:10:16

That 45 cut off is true of some schools near me too. Oddly enough the ones that are struggling.
Schools like mine which are nice have a healthy mix still. Though most are middle/senior leaders now.

The days of staying a classroom teacher until retirement seem to he fading.

missmapp Mon 17-Apr-17 18:15:57

I've been a primary school teacher for 21 years. It is hard and the work load is not getting any smaller, but I still love the job. It is the end of the holidays now and although I know next term will be hard ( Year 6 teacher/ Assistant Head and Ofsted due) I am looking forward to get back

Yes, there are days when I feel overwhelmed, but then a child will suddenly make a breakthrough, or parent will say thank you , or someone will make me laugh. Or it is the holidays !

If you loved your TA role, I am sure you will love teaching, but be prepared for a hard slog.

prettywhiteguitar Mon 17-Apr-17 18:16:27

Not sure it's great for mums but I love being married to a teacher, as a man it's a family friendly job. The female teachers I know with families are all stressed and running from school to child care, but that's because they are married to men who can't do pick ups or drop offs for one reason or another.

Don't do it because you think it will fit in with having a family is all I'm saying. Perhaps you could look at other types of careers that require further training with children, that don't have the strict timetable and planning and marking issues.

missmapp Mon 17-Apr-17 18:16:36

Just read the last few posts though- I am 45 this year- should I be worried !!

Smartiepants79 Mon 17-Apr-17 18:22:46

I enjoy my job BUT -
I only work part time
I work with good people and a Head who is very family orientated and encourages us to put our own families first.
Full time teaching is a very time consuming and emotionally demanding job. 8-5 five days a week minimum actually on school plus time 6 days out of 7 preparing and marking.
If you find the right school it is very fulfilling and enjoyable. I think you are the perfect age to give it a good go. You have a good idea of what you're letting yourself in for and you will always wonder what if....

rollonthesummer Mon 17-Apr-17 20:17:09

This link just popped up on my FB newsfeed


user1492362793 Sat 22-Apr-17 13:37:20

I have been in primary teaching for 25 years and I am leaving because I don't want to keep on being so stressed and overworked. My children are teenagers and the only way I have coped is because my husband works at home and always does tea, takes them to sports activities etc. I am exhausted by the time I come home. I only went back full time when the oldest was ten. Could not have done it when they were smaller. I love my job and the children but the workload is exhausting.

CharliesRedSock Sun 23-Apr-17 08:33:19

I teach part time and it's ok. The children are great, it is rewarding, I enjoy being in the classroom and I really like my colleagues. I categorically could not teach full time (I have two dc).

It's interesting what someone else has said about the age of the teachers at school. I think our oldest full time teacher is in their early thirties and hasn't got children. All the teachers who have children work part time and bar one (who only does 1 day a week) I'm the oldest at 41yrs.

I started teaching around the age you are now, it was hard work (and that was years ago, it's even harder now). I think it's ok if you don't have any other responsibilities but once you have a family, despite the holidays (which are fantastic) it doesn't work as a full time job. There are part time roles available though so it is good in that respect.

I'm sorry to say that being a TA does not give you much of an idea about being a teacher really - I've been both. The jobs are completely and utterly different. Teachers do most of the core of what TAs do (working with children) but with heaps of planning, marking, preparation, accountability, data, pressure, meetings, aggravation from parents and pay related expectations on top. The one other thing is that unless you are willing to take on management roles there's a very firm pay ceiling and once you reach it you either move into management - very difficult if you are part time - or accept you are at a point in your career where no matter how hard you work you will never get a pay rise again.

Once my dc have left school I think I will be looking to move out of teaching, partly so that I am not tied to holidaying in school holidays only and partly because I will have had enough!

Not sure any of that helps, I just hope it gives you food for thought. Best of luck to you!

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