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PGCE with two children under 5?!

(29 Posts)
Za1ny Wed 25-Oct-17 14:58:03


I'm considering doing a secondary pgce (English) and was wondering if it is doable with two children under the age of 5. My dd1 will be 4 and dd2 2. I understand the PGCE is very demanding but at the same time I feel that if I don't go for it now, I never will.

I'm 28 and have had my English degree for 7 years. I had a good job (not teaching related) but gave it up when dd1 was born and I am finding it so difficult to get back into work.

would it be doable considering I have children or have I left it too late?

noblegiraffe Wed 25-Oct-17 15:00:00

Do you have shit-hot childcare, a very supportive partner and will you mind not seeing much of your kids?

Changerofname987654321 Wed 25-Oct-17 15:03:21

I would wait a couple of years. Unless you are happy working 60 hours plus.

Winnsy Wed 25-Oct-17 15:08:40

It's certainly not too late...if anything I would perhaps wait until your children are a little older.

Teacher training is relentless, and your NQT year even more so. And then even once you're a few years in, it's not a family friendly job.

I'm a primary teacher and have recently gone back to work part time after maternity.
Before having a baby, I was quite happy to put in all the time/effort/head-space that teaching requires.
Now I have a 15 month old, I am finding it really hard to not see him Mon-Weds and am starting to wonder if there is something else I can do instead until he is at school.

I don't wish to sound doom and gloom, and I'm sure there are people who cope brilliantly with PGCE/NQT and a young family. I know I wouldn't be one of them though!

It entirely depends on the person you are I guess.

sunshinestorm Wed 25-Oct-17 15:13:37

I have 2 kids aged 5 and 18mo. Was planning to start a PGCE next September but have realised its not really going to be possible. Even though my DH doesn't earn that much I'm not entitled to any help with childcare to do it. My family have offered help but I don't think it will be enough given what the actual hours are. So I'm going to delay until my youngest starts school. Depending on your own set up, it may be possible.

sunshinestorm Wed 25-Oct-17 15:16:51

@Winnsy but then surely you'd find it difficult being away from him in a different job?

Lowdoorinthewal1 Wed 25-Oct-17 15:26:57

If you can afford 2 full time nursery places I think it would be logistically easier to do it now before they start school. Nursery is much more flexible care than school.

However, you will have to accept that in term time you won't see them very much at all as, even in the most balanced, sensible, school you will be there 8am - 5pm and many people are on site longer than that.

Za1ny Wed 25-Oct-17 15:38:17

Thanks for all your replies. My dd1 would be in full time school so nursery fees wouldn't be an issue and I have family who would be willing to help out. However, having read your replies, I don't think it would be practical.

ProfessorCat Wed 25-Oct-17 15:40:26

Of course it's doable. It's no worse than a full time job.

I did one with a child and a chronic, disabling illness. As long as you have childcare, you'll be fine.

They make out that PGCEs are far worse than they actually are. I enjoyed every second of mine and it was far easier than working.

physicskate Wed 25-Oct-17 16:10:22

Professorcat - you were lucky. I did a gtp (now school’s direct) and there were many weeks it was six days a week working 5am - midnight (including an hour commute each way) with half an hour break to eat in the evening. I have no idea how I survived...

Winnsy Wed 25-Oct-17 16:27:30

@sunshine Yes, I'm sure I would miss him regardless.
But I am envious of friends who work 9 to 5 (or similar) and are able to leave work at work. Their jobs are by no means 'easier' than teaching and all have their own challenges, but by my friend's own admission they get home earlier and the hours they are at home they are off the clock and get to spend that time with their child.

At the moment, I leave the house at 6.45 to drop DS at nursery at 7am, and then pick him up at 6pm. Home by 6.15pm, which gives us 15 minutes to play and chill out before bedtime routine starts.
He's asleep by 7.30, I then eat dinner, and usually work for an hour or so before being ready for bed myself.

And then there's the Sunday afternoons that I spend hiding upstairs with my laptop planning for the week ahead rather than spending time with DP/DS....

In my DPs words, Sunday to Wednesdays I am a 'write off' and he looks forward to Wednesday evenings.

Like I said, other jobs are just as difficult I'm sure. But I also know that there are jobs out there that make the work/life/family balance much easier to manage.

ProfessorCat Wed 25-Oct-17 16:29:44

Don't get me wrong, you will still have a lot to do at home. Essays, planning, marking etc but it absolutely flies by.

StillSmallVoice Wed 25-Oct-17 16:34:37

I did an MBA with a baby and toddler. It was a lot of work and you had to be organised, but I had good childcare and it was well worth it in the end.

toomuchicecream Wed 25-Oct-17 18:26:21

Don't forget it's not just the PGCE year - your NQT year will be equally hard. Can you use the next year (when your two are both at nursery/school) doing some volunteering to strengthen your application? In a secondary school would be ideal, but you could also consider voluntary work with a youth organisation ie Guides/Scouts/DofE/local youth club etc etc etc.

LostMyBroomstick Wed 25-Oct-17 18:52:56

Have you considered a part time PGCE over 2 years?

hollytom Wed 25-Oct-17 19:02:05

I did my pgce when my children were 6 and 8 and I found it very difficult. It is a very intense course, it has to be to get you ready to be a teacher in such a short time. There was someone on the course with younger children and she dropped out.
I personally would say don’t do it yet

Fffion Wed 25-Oct-17 19:53:36

I did a PGCE when I was 29 with a 10mo and a 29mo at the start.

I pretty much kept to the same hours as when I was working in industry during the teaching practice phases, and much shorter (with a day off) during the university phases. I found the course pretty easy in comparison to working for a pushy American blue chip.

I kept the childminder I had form when DS1 started, with DH dropping off at 8am, and my picking up at 4.30 or 5.30 depending on whether I was at uni or on placement.

When I had my first teaching job, they were at the childminder from 8 - 4.30, although she was flexible and happy to do from 7.30 - 6.30. I can't ever remember asking for these hours when I was teaching, but pretty standard in my previous job.

With a 50% timetable, I could plan my lessons during the school day. I had reading for assignment to do at home a couple of times on the course.

Fffion Wed 25-Oct-17 19:58:59

I agree Professor Cat

When your children are little, you have a support network. It is much harder to do anything when they are older as you have to juggle extra-curricular activities, homework and later bedtimes.

Curioushorse Wed 25-Oct-17 20:14:22


Go for it. Yes, it will be tough, but it will also be fun.....and don't forget about the holidays. My two, young children are now old enough (4 and 6) to understand that I don't really see them much during term time. But it's the holidays now. I've been able to have a glorious day with them (and, yes, I am sitting down to work now....but still), whilst most of their friends are in childcare. They understand this, and get that they 'binge' on mummy time.

Being a mum may also be an advantage, because you can't procrastinate. A lot of the people who are spending hours doing preparation in teaching (and you could spend an infinite amount of time on it) will be spending loads of time procrastinating, and thinking about what to do to make their lessons awesome. As a mum you don't have time for that. You become much, much more efficient. Yes, your lessons may not be as good as the people who've spent 4 hours planning 1 hour of teaching....but they're not going to be loads worse.

(Be aware that there is a massive difference in preparation time for different subject areas. As an English teacher, like me, there is no way you will be able to get all of your work done in school, even on a reduced timetable....but you can do it when the kids go to bed!)

SaintEyning Wed 25-Oct-17 20:33:06

I'm one half term into my PGCE. Am a lone parent to a 7yo. I have gold plated childcare as I am at school 8am-4.30/5pm and at uni one day a week (same hours as it's double the commute).

I then do about 2 hours a night of reading up on my subject / planning lessons (light right now as only teaching 4 lessons, about to increase to 8 but still minor in comparison to the real teachers..) / preparing for my mini dissertation. I love it though. Much more enjoyable than my previous civil service job and have been at home this week with DS, which has been the first time in 3.25 years that has happened.

He doesn't remember a time when I spent more than 10 days in a row with him as I went to work full time when he was one. So he's made up that we will have holidays together and he's used to being at the childminder anyway.

I'll have taken a 55% pay cut (have a v generous bursary and all the grants known to studentkind this year) but I prepared for it by downsizing and getting a lodger. It's been knackering and the steepest learning curve ever as there is just So Much to it, but I already know it was absolutely the right thing to do. And I'm no spring chicken either!

ChipsForSupper Wed 25-Oct-17 23:22:50

I hope this works out well for you. There will be as many people who reply, "yes, I did it and it was fine" as there will be people who answer, "no, nightmare personified, don't!" because it depends on so many things - your personality, your support network, among many others.

I thought I'd answer because I also teach secondary English so there are further things to consider. English is one of the subjects, because it is skills based and the subject knowledge is almost limitless, that carries an increased workload from point of view of planning and marking and you should not underestimate that.

Also, so much depends on the placement and mentor that you get. Some are brilliant and very supportive - others less so. Or you may love your placement and click immediately but, also, it may not be the school for you which will makes things more complicated.

My own experience is that I did my PGCE year as a single parent of four - at the time they were 6, 9, 11 and 14. It was the worst year of my life. It has entered family folklore as the year that nearly broke us yet that we somehow survived - just. At one point, around Easter, the only thing that prevented me from quitting was the fear of having to pay back the childcare grant. But despite the enormous damage it did to my family and my mental well-being - I did actually do it, somehow. It proved that nearly impossible things are actually possible.

So can you do it? Yes, but don't underestimate how difficult it will be. Should you? Do you really want to? Only you can decide.

Synecdoche Wed 25-Oct-17 23:31:52

I would check with the university about where their placement schools are. I had to travel 3+ hours a day for my long placement. The PGCE will be fine if you've got support and are efficient and organised, but I found the commute quite tough.

Tptbonus Sat 28-Oct-17 13:00:23

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

LipstickHandbagCoffee Sat 28-Oct-17 18:34:36

I’m genuinely surprised you’d rethink PGDE and not apply based on folk answers
Folk responding are of course expressing their subjective experience.
It’s wont necessarily be your experience,but if you are so easily put off at this point perhaps don’t apply. I think it lacks resilience to be so easily deterred. Teaching is a hard gig,but you know that? When you have kids there’s never an easy time to retrain,theres always something.if you are waiting on perfect time it won’t arrive

ShirazSavedMySanity Sat 28-Oct-17 23:03:32

I am doing a PGCE now. I have a 6 & 8 year old and an incredibly supportive DH and mum.

I’m out of the house from 6.40am - 7.30pm at uni. I don’t tend to see the children during the week. Mum arrives at my house at 6.30 as DH is out to work by then. She then collects from school and does swimming lessons/gym/Beavers etc until she hands them over to DH at 6 when he gets in from work.

I get in at 7.30, eat, then sit down at the laptop until about 10.30 then sleep.

It’s fucking hard work. It’ll get easier (!) once I’m on placement as I’m doing school Direct so I’m being placed 2 mins down to road from home so I can drop at breakfast club and collect from after school club and actually see the children.

Do I regret it? Nope. I am loving the course. I’m 34, I needed to do something for me, for us, for the rest of my life. I needed my own fulfilment and I love the course.

I waited until the children were a bit older and I’m glad I did.

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