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Retraining as a teacher.

(170 Posts)
WhiteCat1704 Sat 05-Jan-19 11:46:48

I'm a qualified professional with years of experience in my industry. I have a job that pays well and, at the moment, is flexibile. Unfortunately my business is getting sold and there will be a round of voluntary redundancies. I'm considering taking it and training to be a chemistry teacher (worked as industrial chemist for several years and my diploma is over 50% chemistry).

The 26/28k tax free bursary makes retraining an attractive prospect.

I have a young child and if I stay in my industry and want to mantain my level of pay I will have to travel extensively. 10-15 weeks of travel within a year used to be my pre-child average.

I don't want to do that. My child will start school in couple of years and I want to be there. Prospect of long holidays at the same time as DC makes it very attractive too.

My question is..would you do it?
I would be looking at over 40% pay cut and that's really putting me off..On the other hand the salary would likely build up so it could be temporary..

I have read a range of opinions..some people say it's long hours and not a family friendly career but coming from a job where so much travel is required I find it hard to believe..

OP’s posts: |
ElizabethinherGermanGarden Sat 05-Jan-19 11:59:15

I would say that you can do it around family life, as long as you are not an 8-hours-a-night sleeper. It is a 50-60 hour week.

If you work in a secondary school, it will be likely that you should count on being in the building from 8am (and know that many of your colleagues will be in earlier). There will be at least one meeting a week directed time, quite likely more, for which you would need to be in the building until 4.30-5pm. You will need to do at least 3-4 hours per day in addition to classroom hours, so if you think through your timings and how you will manage to organise your day, and how you will manage the weekend work, you will be okay. Don't forget also that there will be evening commitments on a fairly regular basis - usually 3-4 per half term, although some will be 'optional' eg Christmas concerts.

There will be some periods of the year that are much busier than others and some times when you get a more normal life.

People do it! It is a great job if you find the right school and you find you have an aptitude for it. Good luck!

Passthepigs Sat 05-Jan-19 12:01:36

You need to get into a school and do some observations and see whether it really is for you.

Teaching isn’t something you go in to just because it seems convienient around your DC. You need to be really passionate about it to be able to hack it when so many teachers are leaving the profession.

Piggywaspushed Sat 05-Jan-19 12:02:37

You might be able to negotiate a slighly higher strating salary given your experience, but I doubt you'll ever make up the shortfall.

Tbh, I can't see any valid motivations for you in your post (perhaps you are just being practical). Your reasons are motivated , if I am right by a) a bursary (will that be enough to keep you in the job after training??) b) holidays and work life balance (lots of people will tell you that's a myth : it can work for some,inlcuding me but it wasn't why I chose the career) and c) lack of current job security.

None of these motivations tell me that a) you like children, or people b) you want to give something back to society (generally speaking the number one motivation cited by teachers c) real love of communicating your subject to the next generation or d) a respect for the tremendous dedication and commitment required to succeed.

Teaching is stressful ( the third most stressful job, apparently!), can be demorlaising and , in all honestly, the people I often see struggle most are more mature entrants (usually becausee of having DCs at home but also because of the change of lifestyle and working conditions, and sometimes tinged with a hint of arrogance about 'real world experience'). How do you see your industry experience contributing to chemistry teaching? Could you teach other sciences? Have you any experience at all in schools?

Lastly, do you have a degree? You mention a diploma.

Sorry if I sound abrupt! Just trying to dig down to your real reasons.

WofflingOn Sat 05-Jan-19 12:16:53

Passthepigs, that used to be the case, but it’s not working. Passionate, dedicated teachers who go above and beyond are crashing and burning. The system is entering meltdown.
I think what might save the profession is an influx of teachers who see it as a job, and are more dispassionate. Better at drawing lines where their responsibility ends, and holding managers to account. Hearts are failing, time to go for business brains perhaps.

Passthepigs Sat 05-Jan-19 12:20:51

You won’t be there for your child starting school. In term time you will barely see your child, however you will be home in the holidays which means some quality time together and childcare is easier!

You will need to be in your school for 8am at the latest, 7:30 is more realistic. You will teach until 3:30 ish and then need an hour in school to tidy your classroom, phone parents, run dententions, photocopy/prep resources for the following day.
There will also be a staff meeting probably once a week until 5pm ish and possibly twilight inset training a few times a year until 6pm ish. Plus up to 5 parents evenings a year running until 8/9pm and an open evening or two until 8/9pm. That’s all before you plan any lessons or mark any books which you would have to do once your own children are in bed or at weekends.

A typical day for me is-

Drop DS at childminder for 7:20am
In school for 7:30
Read through lessons for the day. Check cover list. Photocopy anything I didn’t get to do day before. Read emails.
Briefing starts at 8:15am.
Form time from 8:30.
Teach until 3:30 with a 10 minute morning break (I have to choose between getting a drink or having a wee because it isn’t long enough to do both). 2 break times a week I’m on playground duty so can’t do either. 30 minute lunch break where I eat fast so I can phone home for any students in my form that didn’t attend that day or reply to any emails I received in the morning.
At 3:30 I tidy my classroom and photocopy my resources for the next day.
5pm I collect DS and go home, sort his dinner then bath and bed.
8-10pm I do lesson planning for the day after next.
Sunday’s I mark 2 sets of books per week at 2 hours each. Plus any exam papers if it’s been assessment weeks. I also do any lesson planning if I’ve had an evening in the week where I couldn’t manage evening planning.

It’s relentless and exhausting. If you don’t have time to properly plan a lesson the students behaviour can be dreadful. Which then means more phone calls and detentions after school to supervise! If you don’t mark books it means it takes twice as long when you do manage it. There are very few places to cut corners.

It sounds like I’m trying to put you off, but I think you need to go into it with your eyes open. If you love the profession then the working patterns I described are much easy to stomach!

WhiteCat1704 Sat 05-Jan-19 13:17:50

Thanks for your opinions.

It is putting me off a fair amount but, as suggested, I will try to observe some lessons at a local school before a final decision.

To clarify-yes, I have a degree. I think my experience in the industry could be valuable in inspiring students to pursue the subject further. I started as a lab technician and worked in manufacturing and waste treatment and renewable generation so could really focus on practical applications of the subject in real life and career opportunities...I have ideas of what to show the students and how to make the subject accessible and interesting..

Alas min 7-5 per day with extra hours in the evening and huge responsibility for students for 24k might be just too much of a jump for me.

Thanks again for taking your time to respond.

OP’s posts: |
Holidayshopping Sat 05-Jan-19 15:33:05

I wouldn’t recommend teaching to anyone at the moment. The money (for me) is fine but I’ve been doing it forever and am top of the pay scale. None of the new people in my school are getting rises at all though now, as we just can’t afford it, so I wouldn’t bank on the pay getting any better.

The work life balance is shocking. Ok during the holidays but want to come in late or have time off so you can take your child to school, the GP, look after them if they’re ill, watch an assembly or sports day-forget it.

You are bashed from all sectors-parents, politicians, media, MN (have you read the very goady post this morning about someone who is ‘just wondering’ if teachers are weak and that’s why they can’t hack the stresses that other people just handle as part of their job?! Sadly, posts like that occur on a weekly basis on here, if not more often).

MaisyPops Sat 05-Jan-19 15:44:25

piggy's post is excellent.

I think you've not got a good enough understanding of the role and are going in with the wrong reasons, which will make it much harder to be resilient and get through inevitable stormy times.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think teachers should bound in with naive beliefs they'll single handledly save children, but I do think new applicants need to have a core sense of wanting to teach if they're going to do well.

I really like my job and would recommend teaching to people who are motivated, preferably have experience in another sector and who have a realistic idea of the job.
My recommendation would come with the caveats:
1. The school you work in makes a massive difference to your workload, balance and mental health
2. You've got to know how and when to switch off. Not every lesson will be perfect and sometimes you have to draw a line at what is good enough.

If you still consider it then get yourself into schools if possible and preferably 2 different ones in different situations.

BeholdTheNewTablecloth Sat 05-Jan-19 15:54:54

You are not beholden to go in at 7.30/8am.
You are required to be in the staffroom/on time for staff briefing which can be in the staffroom at any time from 8.15 to 8.35 depending on when the school day starts.
Similarly you are not obliged to stay longer than the official end of day unless you have a team meeting, full staff meeting or bus duty rota.
Likewise the optional concerts etc are not mandatory.
I am not saying that you will get promoted if not being seen by senior management as going above and beyond but it is your time to manage and this can be done outside of school provided you have lab technicians to support experiment set-up.
If you don't strike an effective work-balance you'll be suffering burn out after 5 years or sooner.

Passthepigs Sat 05-Jan-19 18:12:21

Behold- whilst that is true it is very difficult to do the job by being in the building 8:30-3:30.

I do have days where I leave at 3:40 because DS has been unwell or I’m burned out, but it means the next morning I need to get in earlier because I have resources to prep that I didn’t do the night betlre.

CarrieBlue Sat 05-Jan-19 19:36:26

Lab technicians are becoming rarer too, so factor in preparing practicals too. You’ll need to be confident in teaching physics and biology as well as chemistry, at least to gcse level. If you think teaching might be good because of a bursary and that you’ll have less (note, not no) childcare problems over summer then you really need to think again.

WhiteCat1704 Sat 05-Jan-19 20:08:26

You’ll need to be confident in teaching physics and biology as well as chemistry, at least to gcse level. If you think teaching might be good because of a bursary and that you’ll have less (note, not no) childcare problems over summer then you really need to think again.

I would not want to teach physics or biology. Why would I have to be confident in it?

Bursary would allow me to do the career change without suffering financially so it's quite good for a dramatic career change at my level..Long holidays are very attractive..It's twice as much as I have...A big difference.

If I didn't think I would enjoy working with children and teenagers and if I didn't think I could teach well and make a difference I wouldn't be even contemplating doing this.

If as a chemist you need to do physics and biology too I would rather teach maths...But given apparent significant shortages in all of those subjects I'm suprised schools could make demands like that.

OP’s posts: |
MaisyPops Sat 05-Jan-19 20:13:33

I would not want to teach physics or biology. Why would I have to be confident in it?
Because you train as a science teacher and will be expected to teach all 3 up to GCSE with the exception of triple science if your school has a triple group.
Some science teachers I know have also had to teach a level psychology where psychology has been within the science faculty vs a social science one.

It's a bit like English teachers have to teach English language and literature up to GCSE and sometimes a bit of drama and mefia studies. Post 16 we'll specialise.

Bobbiepin Sat 05-Jan-19 20:25:38

Schools don't have enough budget to hire single science teachers, so many teachers teach more than one subject, in almost every area outside English and maths. I am qualified to teach two (3 at a stretch) but for the last term I have been teaching 6 subjects. There have been redundancies for the last 4 years.

I suggest watching School on BBC iPlayer before getting experience. Being in a school will give you a good view of a classroom but not the wider politics of teaching.

WofflingOn Sat 05-Jan-19 20:26:17

Yes, there are all sorts of shortages, which means that few state schools can afford to employ separate teachers for each achievement subject. Most have to offer more than one .

WofflingOn Sat 05-Jan-19 20:27:57

I have no idea why ‘individual’ was autocorrected to ‘achievement ‘

Passthepigs Sat 05-Jan-19 20:30:36

You will definitely need to be prepared to teach physics and biology as well. Up to Key stage 3 Science is taught as one combined subject not 3 separate ones. At GCSE some schools split the components but depending on the size of the school probably wouldn’t have teachers doing only their one chosen area. At A-level you would only be expected to teach your specialism in most places.

If you do consider maths then you would be much more employable if you could do A-level but you might be lucky and find a job that doesn’t demand this. In my department there are 10 maths teachers but only 3 of us do A-level as the others don’t have the skills unfortunately. Employing someone with a decent maths degree is a nightmare!

alansleftfoot Sat 05-Jan-19 20:32:10

You would have to teach 'Science' encompassing all 3. KS3 pupils generally have science lessons, not individual subjects. At KS4 you'll usually be expected to do elements of all 3. Schools normally advertise for a Teacher of Science. You seem a little naive about what's involved, you need to get into a school to do observation for a few days. (I have 20+ years teaching experience).

Arkos Sat 05-Jan-19 20:38:11

I teach secondary in Scotland. I'm in about 845... usually leave around 4.15.
I have an hour for lunch.
I get most of my marking done in my free periods. I have a lot of lessons prepared already... years of materials.
It's not an easy job but I refuse to let it own me. I'd say that many staff get in and leave at a similar time.

astuz Sat 05-Jan-19 20:46:21

I agree with PP, I'm a chemistry teacher, you'll definitely be expected to teach physics as well. I've managed to avoid biology up until last year, but last year I even had to teach biology - it's because departments are running on the absolute bare minimum of teachers, so timetabling is impossible unless teachers teach all 3 sciences. It's utterly ridiculous from the point of view of getting good results, since biology and physics have totally different content to chemistry - they're as different to each other as German is to French, but that's the way things are in science departments now.

I'm moving to a new school where the computer science department is part of science, so I suspect I'll be expected to teach that as well next term.

If all this kind of thing is putting you off, then don't do it. I regret going into it. I was in a good research job in the pharmaceutical industry before I came into teaching. I'm glad I left research, and I'm glad I did volunteer work abroad for a couple of years, but when I came back I so wished I'd explored other jobs in the pharmaceutical industry (marketing, medical information etc.).

MaisyPops Sat 05-Jan-19 20:49:06

Same but within English. I've dabbled in drama and media and even some ks3 humanities depending on timetables.

Lulutheboss Sat 05-Jan-19 20:57:50

Hi OP,
I have been a Chemistry teacher for the last 15 odd years. I trained as a Science teacher, specialising in Chemistry. In my first school, I taught all three Sciences to GCSE. We all did. I also taught A level Chemistry and Biology. In my second school, again, we all taught three Sciences to GCSE and because of shortages, I was roped into teacher triple Physics. That was challenging!
I am now in my forever school, where I teach Chemistry and Biology to GCSE, again because of shortages in Biology staff.
So, your question about why should you teach all three Sciences is very relevant.
I spent most of my time crying before I arrived at my current school. I hated teaching because of all the aforementioned crap that other posters have stated. Teaching is not family friendly in the majority of schools. You’d better believe it!
However, if you choose wisely, you will find a good school with respect for staff wellbeing. I have a fairly decent work life balance now, partly because I have a bank of resources that I can use and tweak accordingly. Our head encourages us not to mark books! I generally don’t work in the evenings and we don’t have meetings for the sake of it. Maybe one department and one form tutor meeting per half term.
I would definitely advise you to get into some schools and see for yourself. Watch the School documentary on the BBC. It’s pretty accurate.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do. You are welcome to PM me with any further questions.

LoopyLoonyLuna Sat 05-Jan-19 20:58:13

You may want to consider teaching in a private school where you may be able to teach straight away and learn on the job. It’s not easy but the classroom management is generally much easier than state and class sizes tend to be much smaller. I know quite a few people who have gone into teaching as a second career in this way and are happy with the move. Others have tried it and gone back to their old careers.
If your kids are in state schools you will get longer holidays than them which is handy (particularly at the end of term) or you’ll generally get a discount on fees for your children if they attend your school (up to 90% at some schools!)

Personally - I get into school at 8.15 (my kids do breakfast club) and leave at 4.15 (my kids do clubs or late stay) the rest of my work I do at home (probably another 4 hours every day). It is a knackering and often very stressful job and I sometimes miss events at their schools but I do get to spend all their holidays with them rather than having to stick them in holiday clubs (also big money saver). I love our long summer break together! I also enjoy the actual teaching bit and (most of) the kids I teach!

helterskelter3 Sat 05-Jan-19 21:06:59

I made the transition after having children and took an even bigger pay drop and I don’t regret it for a second. It’s definitely long hours but if you’ve worked at a senior level in industry, it’s not a million miles away. The school holidays make a huge difference when you have children too (saves thousands depending on how many kids you have!). I am in for 7:30am latest and leave at 5:30. When you’re new to teaching you will take A LOT home with you too, but it’s mainly (for me) resource making, which is time consuming, but not difficult.
I find the pace of the day challenging; in most meetings/time in office etc. there is downtime where you’re either daydreaming a bit or having a chat, there is no respite! You are performing from 9am to 3:15pm and your job is to keep 30 kids engaged and learning, that’s exhausting! You’ll probably find working with data and targets easier and less daunting from working in industry too. That said, being a novice, when you’re used to being an ‘expert’ is quite strange. Anyway, it’s been fantastic for me and I really feel like I do a job that matters.

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