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Get into teaching- what's the catch?

(91 Posts)
DragonOnFire Tue 26-Nov-19 08:15:34

So I went to a get into teaching event last night as I'm a long term post-doc researcher thinking of moving to a career where I can still teach but have a bit of job security.
I was impressed with all the funding & support available and can see there is a huge effort to recruit new teachers. Felt like there was quite a hard sell from all the different training providers and I was getting all the positives about the profession.
The only question I wanted to ask but wasn't sure I'd get a genuine response was- why are we do desperate as a nation to recruit teachers? Why are people leaving the profession- is there a huge exodus of unhappy/burnt out teachers that requires a constant recruitment drive to bring new teachers in?
I'd really appreciate some honest insight from teachers about workload, management, and satisfaction? Anyone got lots of positives?
I'm looking at applying to start training in sept 2020 and would be leaving a happy career in academia because I just can't see myself progressing into a tenured role.

OP’s posts: |
winewolfhowls Tue 26-Nov-19 12:28:03

I wouldn't say teaching has the job security that it once had, sadly.

And although I enjoy teaching and weirdly even the paperwork, it's the relentless accountability for things beyond your control combined with declining understanding of what contributes acceptable behavior amongst students, other staff and parents that are killing it for me.

winewolfhowls Tue 26-Nov-19 12:29:26

I think if you are a core subject you may have more bargaining power and choice of schools, which makes all the difference in the world.

If a humanities or arts subject less so.

PotteringAlong Tue 26-Nov-19 12:35:23

Why are people leaving the profession- is there a huge exodus of unhappy/burnt out teachers that requires a constant recruitment drive to bring new teachers in?

Yes, there are. I’m a secondary humanities teacher. I love it, and love it more now I’ve dropped all my head of faculty responsibilities and am “just” a teacher, bit it's not easy

BeingATwatItsABingThing Tue 26-Nov-19 12:42:53

I don’t know a single teacher who isn’t exhausted. My partner teacher and I are on our knees already and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it to the end of the year.

Teachers all over the country are leaving and being replaced with NQTs. Training doesn’t prepare you for actually teaching and there is too much accountability for children’s learning and behaviour without taking into account all the other things that are going on with their lives. Children aren’t robots.

LaurieFairyCake Tue 26-Nov-19 12:58:13

Average turnover for people leaving the profession is 6 years

Massive amount of burn out, terrible underfunding, huge demands on workload.

Selfsettling3 Tue 26-Nov-19 13:00:51

If you search through the staff room there are lots of threads asking is teaching that bad. Ultimately you work 55+ a week with lots of responsibility but little autonomy to meet impossible targets.

cricketballs3 Tue 26-Nov-19 16:52:28

IMO its a mix of...

a) being accountable for factors outside of your control i.e. I see my GCSE students for 5 hours a fortnight but I'm responsible (me, not them) if they don't achieve their target grade even if they are living in complete chaos, poor attendance, poor behaviour etc)

b) workload

c) behaviour

d) profession is being demonised by parents, press, public (we are all lazy, uncaring, bullys)

e) not having control in our own classrooms of how to teach, what to teach

f) constant large changes to curriculum/exam specs

g) being blamed for everything in society i.e. kids doing a, b, c it's the fault of the schools

h) being expected to be parents and not teachers - kids can't use cutlery it's upto teachers to teach them

Apologies for the lengthy list however for lots of trained teachers it could be one of the above, but usually its a mix of those listed

Piggywaspushed Tue 26-Nov-19 17:12:07

It's not just people leaving to be fair. We are due a population bulge so more and more teachers are needed.

fwiw, I work with someone who has just joined the profession from HE and is struggling. Mainly because her expectations of young people are unrealistic.

CobaltLoafer Tue 26-Nov-19 17:29:08

My close friend is a arts teacher in a secondary, by and large middle class area with some pockets of severe deprivation. Shes been there for over a decade.

There are two things that she says make the job increasingly miserable:

1) the majority of kids now come in with an attitude that they are always in the right, will talk back, and parents become involved almost immediately if a child receives the advertised consequences for their actions. Related to this is a lack of skills coming into secondary level, expecting to be totally spoon fed.

2) the unrealistically high expectations of exam results, now the linear system has now made GSCEs much more difficult for a lot of subjects, and in some cases inaccessible for children with lower academic ability. Yet the teacher is still responsible for getting top results, even though the residual intellect of students hasn’t changed, and neither have the resources she has to deliver.

threesecrets Tue 26-Nov-19 18:06:36

OP- as a secondary teacher you are considered responsible for you or pupils exam results and the buck stops with you even if you have done everything you can but still have a poor cohort. It seems that in academia, lecturers are not always good but that is more accepted because they are the expert in the subject or have published so and so. Also, in university you tend to take it in turns to be head of the faculty (well in mine they did) for a 3 year term so less stress.

Phineyj Tue 26-Nov-19 18:41:53

I am in a nice school with nice kids and competent management (it's taken a few moves!) I still feel exhausted much of the time because of all the additional things that are required or you end up doing on top of the basic planning, teaching and marking. I've only felt that way since having a DC of my own though. Before that I used to recuperate in the holidays.

DragonOnFire Tue 26-Nov-19 20:32:26

Thank you everyone for your honest replies this is really helpful.
I'm so sad to hear that teaching is in this state. It has so much potential to be a rewarding and fulfilling career but I hear so much about what's wrong with the way teachers are treated. I'm really having to think hard about whether it's right for me. Your advice and experience helps a lot.

OP’s posts: |
DragonOnFire Wed 27-Nov-19 11:55:13

Having slept on your comments, one thing that I'm curious about- how are you held responsible for your students' grades and outcomes? What are the repercussions of your class don't get desirable grades? Obviously this is an issue that doesn't always affect me in my current role. We always say the students have their own responsibility to learn. However, university students' feedback and their marks are still taken seriously and there is a lot of effort to improve student satisfaction with the teaching they receive.

OP’s posts: |
Selfsettling3 Wed 27-Nov-19 12:18:29

You can’t move up through the pay grades, in some schools your results will be shown in front of the whole school and discussed, poor school result a trigger Ofsted inspections, “support” will be given, you can be managed out or put on capability which if you don’t pass you are sacked. It all depends on the school.

BeingATwatItsABingThing Wed 27-Nov-19 12:50:02

I didn’t get my pay rise one year because I didn’t get 100% of children to at expectations in all subjects.

TheReluctantCountess Wed 27-Nov-19 12:55:46

It’s an exceptionally hard job, and once you get about five years under your belt it is very hard to find a new job as school want cheap teachers. I’ve been teaching for 19 years and I’m currently off work with stress.
My advice is don’t do it.

MrsPworkingmummy Wed 27-Nov-19 12:58:25

You are held accountable by:
- regular meetings with line management and senior leaders
- being given 'support' which means lots of lesson observations and LOTS of paperwork to fill in
- having your books and teacher planner looked at and criticised or praised
- having to write up a 2 page lesson plan /evaluation for EVERY lesson you teach
- scrutinising data to the point that children become numbers
- having to replan, recreate and print off resources for a revived curriculum

Out of a 25 lesson week, you'll be teaching 22 or 23 of them. There is ALOT of extra work to do at home and outside of the normal school day.

Don't do it OP. I'm a very successful teacher and Head of Department. It's a horrible job for little pay.

DragonOnFire Wed 27-Nov-19 14:00:00

This is really helpful. Thanks everyone.
The hard sell at these get into teaching events makes it sound like it is 'hard work but so worth it & rewarding' but they really don't tell you the realities of the job.
I've got 12 months left on my current research grant and I was going to put in an application to do a SCITT PGCE year for chemistry, starting in September 2020. It's going to be my plan C I think. I've got time to apply for grants, then I'll be eligible for re-deployment at my university.

OP’s posts: |
DragonOnFire Wed 27-Nov-19 14:07:16

I really appreciate all the advice & thanks fur answering my questions.
I'm sorry to hear this is what teachers are facing, it sounds incredibly unfair to be so directly accountable for your students grades, without recognition of your actual teaching skills.
Got a lot of respect for what you are all doing in your careers, it's a shame it's such a difficult working environment.

OP’s posts: |
MoodLighting Wed 27-Nov-19 14:14:29

Have you seen Researchers in Schools Dragon - if you're in science that might be an option, as you keep 1 day a week for research?

I'm in your shoes too but decided if I leave academia third sector or commercial research posts would be more sustainable than teaching.

LolaSmiles Wed 27-Nov-19 14:16:24

So much depends on the school you're in.

I really enjoy teaching and it was the right move for me as a career changer. I'd say I've seen the good and the bad in teaching. When you're in a bad school with unsupportive leaders and a horrible cultures it is awful. The stress is crippling and overwhelming and you can easiybe working all hours to feel you're treading water.

In a good school with supportive leaders, sensible policies, and a good culture then the job is hard and you don't avoid the external pressures but you can manage it and you're all pulling in the same direction without it taking over your life.

How are you held responsible for your students' grades and outcomes? What are the repercussions of your class don't get desirable grades?
It depends on your school.

At some schools you're given a numerical target based on flawed statistical measures, flogged to acheieve it regardless of how achievable it is, then you are held back on your pay progression if you don't get it.

In other schools, they have a discussion with you about your outcomes, what you put in place, what was successful/not, you talk about your class. If there's no concerns about your teaching etc then you would get your pay progression.

A lot depends on the culture of the school and the ethos of leadership.

DragonOnFire Wed 27-Nov-19 14:57:50

Thanks @moodlighting i have briefly looked into Researchers in Schools but they were not represented at the Get into teaching event. I was overwhelmed by all the different training providers and training routes! I will take a look.
I'm intrigued how you might view commercial research posts as more sustainable? In my experience Pharma is very fickle and working groups/development lines can be shut down overnight!

I have left academia before and I worked briefly as a Medical Writer and I left that due to constantly moving goal posts, lack of team work/competitive snakes of colleagues and no autonomy over my day. I have also experienced a terrible work environment in another academic post which I also left after a year- I know I do not cope with micromanagement and extensive overtime in any career and I will move to get away if I have to. My CV is rather telling in the posts where I have been happy and stayed for 3–5 years vs those where I moved after 12-18 months.

@lolasmiles this is really helpful too, I've had similar advice from teaching friends who have moved schools to find one where they feel happy. They were not against the profession as a career either. The advisor I spoke to at the event told me that if I didn't want to work in a particular type of school then I just shouldn't apply to those schools, as if it is that easy to know from the outside smile
I am still on the fence and I think I'll put the application in and I could even do the training year to get my PGCE and re-consider.

OP’s posts: |
LolaSmiles Wed 27-Nov-19 15:18:27

If you are training and working in the area you live then the teaching grapevine is a really good tool. It's always interesting to hear what people say and also what they don't say about different schools.

I'd have left teaching had I not changed schools. I think the school is ever so important.

Pinkblueberry Wed 27-Nov-19 15:25:40

I’m a teacher, and I love it but I do cringe at the ‘get into teaching’ adds. Especially when they mention the bursaries and starting salaries. Bursaries of 25000 - maybe if you have a 1st class honours in physics, and 29,000 starting salary - if you work in central London. These circumstances don’t apply to most trainee teachers and NQTs and is not really worth the big (misleading) mention imo.

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