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Has anybody retrained as a teacher from wildly different career?!

(52 Posts)
crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 10:28:21

Has anyone retrained as a teacher from a completely different career path?!

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 10:30:16

I have the relevant GCSE / A levels and bachelor degree.

But I'm looking for advice from anyone who has taken the plunge.

I'm in a lucrative role but one that I have no passion for and am being drawn more and more to teaching.

NoIDontWantToBuildASnowman Thu 31-Oct-19 10:44:00

I’ve just started my PGCE after running my own business for ten years.
I’m 10 weeks in and i am loving the change. Having ‘real world’ experience means I’m miles ahead of my classmates in some things, like standing up in front of a room of kids and taking charge, which petrifies some of them!

Have you done some School observations? Going and spending a week in a school observing the lessons and chatting to real teachers will give you a lot of insight into the realities of teaching and all the accompanying work.

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 10:57:42

Thanks so much for your reply!
If it's not too outing I'd love to what about your pathway to securing the PGCE year- any funding etc / when you had to apply.
I have lots of close family and friends who teach so hopefully securing some observations won't be too hard but I am securing more information before I start committing to the idea.
Yes I do certainly think my consultancy/ sales head will help and I will have transferable skills!
I'm just worried about the finances to train and the NQT starting wage!

NoIDontWantToBuildASnowman Thu 31-Oct-19 15:52:12

No worries, so I applied in March, and one of my chosen courses was already full but my first choice had spaces. They got back to be within a week and called me for interview. I had to do a brief lesson plan outline, a language test (I’m secondary and languages are a part of my subject), and discuss an article with my fellow interviewees. Then the actual interview was things like what kind of school do I see myself teaching in, which set texts would I pick and why, why did I want to be a teacher, how would I deal with an instance of poor behaviour, and how are my time management skills (!). All fairly normal, and nothing really phased me.

Funding: I applied for the postgraduate loan, which covers my fees, and my subject is a shortage subject so I get a decent bursary to support living costs. I also receive help with childcare as I have two under 3s, which is very welcome. And Im also worried about the NQT salary!

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 15:54:13

Go into the staff room board on here-there are plenty of people who have retrained.

What subject/phase are you thinking of?

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 16:58:04

Great feedback and tips everyone thank you!

I'm torn between English at secondary school or primary school teaching.

One of the reasons to get out of my corporate senior STEM role is to enjoy a greater work life balance now I have children. I envisage primary school (anecdotally from close family and friends) to fit in better with work life balance than a secondary school teacher. But I'd miss out on training bursary's potentially (but I need to think long term)

MooseBeTimeForSummer Thu 31-Oct-19 17:01:04

I know a Solicitor that did.

moobar Thu 31-Oct-19 17:03:19

I'm no longer a solicitor as of today but I am going for an interview for a post graduate teaching scheme tonight.....spooky!

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 17:53:54

I envisage primary school (anecdotally from close family and friends) to fit in better with work life balance than a secondary school teacher.

Can I ask what specifically you’ve heard that makes you think that?

Perhaps that’s a question to ask (work life balance between primary/secondary) on the Staffroom board.

HopeClearwater Thu 31-Oct-19 17:58:09

I envisage primary school (anecdotally from close family and friends) to fit in better with work life balance than a secondary school teacher. But I'd miss out on training bursary's

1. You’re just wrong about primary school work-life balance. You’ll do far less marking in secondary.
2. The plural of bursary is bursaries. You WILL need to know this.

BobbinThreadbare123 Thu 31-Oct-19 18:00:25

Yeah I did. Went back to something related because teaching was appalling. Go in with your eyes open and unimpeachable spelling and grammar.

KondoKonvert Thu 31-Oct-19 19:43:41

I retrained as a primary teacher and there was no work-life balance. I have never worked so many hours in my life. I gave it up when I had kids and I dread going back.

IsItChristmas Thu 31-Oct-19 19:53:15

It's a very demanding job. I was teaching undergraduates in a university for two years and then accepted a slightly less well paid job that doesn't involve teaching (it later led to promotion so I'm not worse off in the end).

I feel like I have two lives instead of one now! Teaching is rewarding but utterly exhausting. There is no work-life balance in teaching, absolutely none!

Pinkflipflop85 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:02:28

If you end up in the wrong type of school then there is absolutely no work/life balance in primary school and it certainly doesn't fit around family life!

Thankfully I now work in an amazing school, but a few years ago I was in a different school that nearly ruined me. In at 7am, worked through my lunch break and left at 6pm. Saturday morning was catching up on more work. Kept sunday as a family day but I was always behind because of it.

TitchyP Thu 31-Oct-19 21:11:31

I envisage primary school (anecdotally from close family and friends) to fit in better with work life balance than a secondary school teacher.



crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:11:49

All of the teachers I know have a much better work life balance than I do now so I'm confident that it would be an improvement!

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:12:51

@TitchyP I know lots of teachers and the secondary school teachers tend to work much longer hours

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:23:20

@TitchyP I know lots of teachers and the secondary school teachers tend to work much longer hours

Ok then!

Good luck to you.

PelvicFloorTrauma Thu 31-Oct-19 21:23:28

I was a City solicitor and then headhunter. Used to working very long hours, especially as a solicitor. I worked on deals and an 70 hour ++ week was not unusual. Retrained as a secondary English teacher last year. The PCGE year is tremendously hard. I also have 2 primary age children and a husband who works away all week. The holidays help but you are exhausted so you need a break. I find the job a lot more rewarding so I don’t mind working in the evenings and weekends. I think, however, that if you are expecting a decent work life balance you will be disappointed.

MaybeDoctor Thu 31-Oct-19 21:26:06

Yes, you are clearly right.

The teachers on this thread are wrong. hmm
Hope that helps.

P.S. I taught primary for 10 years and left because the workload was frankly incompatible with any kind of life, let alone family life. My only regret is that I didn't leave a bit sooner!

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:27:46

@TitchyP @fedup21 is there a reason for sarcastic unhelpful comments? I'm explaining what I know from a select group of people I live with and speak to all of the time. Maybe my circle of friends are a unique case but your comments are childish and unhelpful

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:29:25

@PelvicFloorTrauma thanks for your honest and helpful comments

Thethingswedoforlove Thu 31-Oct-19 21:32:25

Have you heard of NowTeach? They take on a number of career changers each year and train them in a school setting. Very good. You have a cohort arojnd you going through the same thing to offer support. You are salaried. Might be worth looking at.

seven201 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:33:56

At secondary some subjects are more marking heavy than others. English teachers are drowning in marking where I work.

I worked in industry before doing a pgce. I did my training before dc. My training year and NQT year were so tough. With young dc it will be pretty much hell!

Yes the holidays are incredible childcare wise and saves me a small fortune for nursery fees. My dd starts reception next year and will have to be in breakfast club and after school club. I also won't ever be able to go to sports day, nativity plays etc. You can't switch off from teaching when you're home, there's always some homework to do.

I'm not saying teaching is the hardest job ever. Clearly it isn't, but it doesn't generally give a good work-life balance to parents. Some schools are awful, some are great, most are somewhere in between.

MaybeDoctor Thu 31-Oct-19 21:35:24

Results of the teacher workload survey:

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:37:32

Really appreciate that @seven201

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:40:08

I wasn’t being sarcastic-I was just very surprised by what you’d said about primary teaching.

Please do post on the staff room board if you haven’t already.

fleariddenmoggie Thu 31-Oct-19 21:43:28

If you end up in the wrong type of school then there is absolutely no work/life balance in primary school and it certainly doesn't fit around family life!

^This. I have worked in the City. Many years in primary, now in secondary. I think the work/life balance is better in Secondary, but it may depend on the subject and things like the school marking policy.

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 21:49:36

Can I ask what sort of hours the teachers you know work?

You say that teachers have a much better work life balance to you-can I also ask what sort of salary you’re on?

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 21:59:30

@fedup21 they work less hours than I do currently. I've been known to miss annual leave for the huge bulk of the year and I travel extensively for work. So their hours and work life balance is better than mine.
Why is my current salary relevant? I expect to be on much less than what I am on now but can handle this change and am prepared to do this for a more rewarding role.

Pieceofpurplesky Thu 31-Oct-19 22:02:57

I gave up a job in IT 20 years ago to train as an English teacher. The marking is horrendous - probably on a par with primary marking.

Of the five trainees we have had in our department in the last 5 years only 2 are still teaching - and one of those leaves at Christmas. They all came in to teaching after a career elsewhere. They earn more money for less stress in their old jobs and as a result have gone back to them. Two of them only completed their NQT year and then quit.

For the first time on 20 years I would happily quit. I love the teaching and the pastoral side, but all that matters these days is results - questions like 'why has this severely dyslexic child done better in maths' ... kids are made to feel a failure for not being able to reach ridiculous targets. I have a year 11 form and the pupils are worked to breaking point as teachers are scared to fail.

I used to love every second and now I dread every day.

Spend some time in a variety of schools to see the 'real' picture

moobar Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:17

Previously I left home 6am, returned 8pm earliest. Monday to Thursday. 6pm home Friday. Was called out two nights minimum a week in the night. Worked at home Saturday and Sunday mornings and usually about half hour to and hour when home week might evenings.

Two weeks holiday a year maximum and split. On those spent 4 to 5 each day emails and on phone to office just to contain it.

For me it's about DD. My friend and SIL both are primary teachers. They leave at 8 and are home 5 latest. They do not work Friday afternoons or weekends. They do not work holidays. Yes they work hard and it's a demanding and hard job but it's a better family balance to what I am used to.

suze28 Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:32

I was a clinical research associate prior to having my children. I then did the primary PGCE when they were 8 and 10. The hours needed for that and to manage the first few years of teaching were huge. It's the sort of job where there aren't enough hours in the day.
I love my job and don't regret my career change however it's tiring, relentless and incredibly challenging.
Volunteer in a range of schools before deciding and listen to the reality of what the teachers are telling you.

crispycrisis Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:35

Thanks so much for your insight @Pieceofpurplesky

Scarydinosaurs Thu 31-Oct-19 22:05:47

Secondary English has a crazy marking workload. Primary workload varies hugely between schools. You basically need a good headteacher who understands that ‘well-being’ is not donuts in the staff room.

helloisitmeyourelookingfor Thu 31-Oct-19 22:21:09

I used to be a sales manager in a previous life, I now teach SEN but have worked in a mainstream primary and have friends that are secondary teachers

Work/life balance (in my experience) gets better the longer you teach -planning in your first couple of years can be incredibly time consuming as you have no back catalogue so to speak, everything is done from scratch and can take an age

Marking depends on your school's marking policy but in primary can be 90 books a night, 4/5 nights a week -it's not a quick job

If salary is a major concern then look at secondary -anecdotally there are more TLRs available in secondary than primary

Having experienced the extended working week in sales, the lack of holidays one year I got 4 days off in the school holidays in total and the inability to attend school events due to staffing constraints and commission period deadlines, I find I have a much better balance in my life.

More importantly I'm doing something I'm passionate about

Could I earn more in sales? Absolutely -but life isn't all about money

fedup21 Thu 31-Oct-19 22:23:06

Why is my current salary relevant?

What a shame you didn’t answer either question.

Having a poor work life balance is often recompensed by a large payoff which is why I was interested to know your current situation.

Not being sarcastic though, I was just interested to know your thought process; I hope you enjoy the career move.

TitchyP Thu 31-Oct-19 22:25:25

OP, I apologise. My comment was childish. 21 years working with children can occasionally make a person behave childishly.

A good work-life balance depends heavily on the school you find yourself employed in. If you have young children please bear in mind it's unlikely you will ever see them in a class assembly, nativity play or sports day unless you work at the school they attend.

Please ask this question in the staffroom section of the board where you will gather many honest opinions from a range of teachers.

capsule Thu 31-Oct-19 22:25:50

My friend and SIL both are primary teachers. They leave at 8 and are home 5 latest. They do not work Friday afternoons or weekends.

Your friend and SIL are very lucky! These hours bear no relation to the hours that most primary teachers work.

SleeplessWB Thu 31-Oct-19 22:42:19

As a secondary teacher I disagree that the work-life balance is poor. I work long days (leave house at 7:30am and have a rule to always be home by 6pm), I also always do some work at weekends and in the holidays however there is surely no comparison to only having 20 days annual leave or waiting for international conference calls at 9pm as my sister was this evening? I spend every school holiday with my children and that easily makes up for limited time with them in the week.

IJustWantToWearDungarees Thu 31-Oct-19 23:33:49

I did this. Retrained as a secondary English teacher. It broke me. I have worked in many diverse careers and nothing comes close to the stress and workload of teaching.

I think it is very easy to do a comparison between a teacher's hours and those of, say, a banker, and decide that teachers have an easier workload. But what people don't factor in is that many, many teachers work during the majority of their "holidays" and work long hours at home during term time.

Also, you have to compare the intensity of the work. An office job will have periods of varying intensity during the day. In teaching, you are in full-on "presenting" mode all day, every day. It is exhausting.

I'd really advise reading extensively rather than just talking to a select group of family/friends. There is a reason the profession is in crisis and teachers are leaving in their droves. I don't know any secondary English teachers who aren't desperate to escape and find another job, but can't find anything to suit their qualifications and experience.

Kazzyhoward Fri 01-Nov-19 09:31:16

Not personally, but I have an ex-work colleague who was a chartered accountant and retrained as a secondary teacher - she says she's not regretted a thing - she was completely drained and fed up of the corporate world.

peanutbear Fri 01-Nov-19 09:43:07

I was an area manager for a large brewery and I retrained as a teacher.

I teach purely SEN and behaviour so smaller classes less paperwork as in marking, more EHC and intervention paperwork.

I love my job but the salary does not compare! I have been able to have school holidays with my children as they were growing up though and this was valuable to me.

PurpleDaisies Fri 01-Nov-19 09:44:26

I know lots of teachers and the secondary school teachers tend to work much longer hours

Primary teacher (who has also been a secondary teacher) married to a secondary teacher. I had a totally different, very difficult career before.
Primary workload is more. There’s a perception that it isn’t, but it is. Marking is insane.

You don’t mention any work experience in schools. What’s making you think of teaching apart from the work life balance (!)?

crispycrisis Fri 01-Nov-19 12:37:36

To answer a few questions-

I earn a varied wage from 75k-120k

I work across time zones and travel a lot. An average month will see me working a few nights to take calls (and then essentially straight through the next day too). I could also do 4/5 overnight stays in a 6 week period.

The pressure from management is intense and I have a formal performance review quarterly.

I'm never unavailable. A client could in theory need to reach me at any stage.

As a graduate I was very interested in teaching. I attended borough recruiting drives and spent time in schools for brief work experience. I was then lured by a very well paid grad scheme in IT and here I am. I work in a role I have zero passion or enthusiasm for and I'd like to seriously consider teaching.

fedup21 Fri 01-Nov-19 12:53:28

Thank you for answering the questions-it gives some perspective.

It sounds like you currently work long hours but are well remunerated for it.

You’d probably be working 55/60 hour weeks in term time for £23k in teaching. So slightly fewer hours, but 1/4 or less pay.

I would love to say I had passion and enthusiasm for teaching, but I can’t anymore because by the time I am micromanaged into duplicating endless pieces of data in different formats and sorted CPD, observations, assessment and marking-I simply don’t have it in me. Hence why I’m planning on leaving this year.

Sadly, all of the career changers I know who have left well paid jobs to try teaching, have lasted about 2 years max before either taking early retirement (with already financially sound husbands) or have returned to their previous job. Most resent the micromanagement of every aspect of the role which they were unused to-having been in roles previously allowing flexibility and trust from their employer.

As long as you have properly researched it and know what to expect though, you are going in with your eyes fully open.

crispycrisis Fri 01-Nov-19 12:57:50

@fedup21 thank you, I'm here to get guidance and feedback and I really do appreciate your response.

One of the reasons I came here first (my teacher friends have no idea I'm interested) is because I wanted varies feedback. Thank you

fedup21 Fri 01-Nov-19 13:02:22

No worries at all-the profession needs more people going into it so I don’t want to discourage anyone.

Do a search for PGCE/retraining on the staffroom board as there have been some interesting and insightful posts recently.

Biscuitsneeded Fri 01-Nov-19 13:04:44

Secondary teacher here, became a teacher aged 38 and with small kids after a totally different career.
Pros: you get the same school holidays so you get to see and enjoy your own kids with no need for holiday childcare. As your children grow up you understand the system they are being processed through.
Cons: Work/life balance is pretty tricky in termtime. You can't always get to school events for your own children as you can't have time off. You will lose a portion of every weekend and most evenings to marking/planning, and this is if you're organised. It feels relentless. You come home exhausted by having kept your patience with other people's children all day and you have none left for your own kids.
Neutral: salary. Nobody ever went into teaching for the money. It's not as much as it should be given the hours you have to put in, but it's OK. I suspect I say this as someone who has a partner who earns a bit more and who is not especially materialistic, was able to get on the housing ladder before the career switch etc. Others think the pay is awful.

butterflywings37 Fri 01-Nov-19 13:34:28

I am a teacher - I leave home at 6:45am ( to get into work for 7:20am. Work through lunch and breaks.I leave work about 4:30 to get home for about 5:15 ( traffic reasons). I then do about 3-4 hours per evening at home. I won't work on a Friday night but I do work about 7-10 hours on a weekend day ( I make sure I have one day with no work).
This is how I have always worked both in mainstream primary and now in a sen school and I am an experienced teacher.

The work/life balance in term time is poor. Holidays do make it bearable but I work every holiday - never have a full holiday 'off'. This half term I have already worked for about 20 hours and need to do another day to get my planning etc ready for Monday.

However I love teaching - I love being in the classroom but don't love the politics, budget cuts (meaning low support and resources) or the workload/hours.

bookishtartlet Fri 01-Nov-19 16:38:57

I'm secondary English, have been teaching 9 years.

The school makes the difference. I'm certainly not marking and planning every night any more. I do lots of peer and self assessment, as well as assessment is for learning activities and chat to pupils regularly during class work to see if they are struggling. I only mark maybe 3 or 4 long pieces a term per class.

Certain points of the year are busier than others. I can request time to see my son's nursery play etc.

If you have a sense of humour, decent organisation and can be flexible then the job is great. The first two years were really intense, but it's paid off for me.

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