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AIBU?

Advice please from teachers

70 replies

Hydratinghydrangea · 25/07/2017 21:21

I'm thinking of changing career. I'm 37 with two children both in primary school. I'm seriously thinking of becoming a teacher and looking for input from existing teachers.... what's the pay actually like for a newly qualified teacher? What training would I have to undertake? I have a degree so I'm hoping retraining won't take too long? Do you actually get school holidays off? I hear how stressful it is and how many teachers drop out of the profession because of all the admin involved. What are the hours actually like? My kids go to a lovely school and the teachers are all wonderful, I really admire how they handle that many kids and I can see how rewarding it is to them. Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you x

OP posts:
Euphemism · 25/07/2017 21:28


Training is usually a year to do your PGDE (assuming you have a degree in a relevant subject), partly at uni, partly in schools teaching.
Pay isn't terrible.
Hours are shit and worse than shit as a new teacher as you will need to plan/prepare everything.
Personally I might go in for one day in the holidays. Some people are fond of looking good by going in every other day.
The job is shit though, the paperwork is insane. The government changes the curriculum and the goalposts more often than you clean your oven. Marking, filling in pointless forms, assessment analysis etc mean hours at home are not uncommon.
Teaching, the actual bit in front of a class, is great. Nothing else is. If I could afford to I'd quit in a heartbeat.
(teaching 19 years)
PurpleDaisies · 25/07/2017 21:32

If your children are in a lovely school, the first thing you need to do is get work experience in a not lovely school to find out what it's actually like. Often people have a totally unrealistic perception of the job.

I love teaching but it's bloody hard work. It's not very family friendly and you should expect to be working every evening and most weekends for the first few years. There are lots of routes into teaching now and they generally take a year.

Are you thinking primary or secondary?

TheZeppo · 25/07/2017 21:35

You're asking at the wrong time, we're all exhausted!

Or, for those that have already broken up, the best time Grin

I'm secondary and been teaching 12 years. Starting salary is about 22k these days I think. Pay progression no longer automatic, so may take a while to open climb. Honestly? You'll work a heck of a lot.

peachlemonandgin · 25/07/2017 21:36

It's a wonderful job in July and august Grin

Seriously, I love it. Are you thinking primary or secondary?

TypicallyEnglishMustard · 25/07/2017 21:40

Primary or secondary?

I'm secondary English, and my working week hours are typically 7am-5/6pm, then a day at the weekend, but my subject produces lots of marking, hence a lot of paperwork outside of teaching hours.

I'll probably work about a week this holiday, catch up on sleep the rest of the time! The other holidays are more work heavy, catching up on marking, in school revision with Year 11, etc.

I'm with a previous poster, the bit with the kids is fantastic. But it's only a small part of the actual job. Don't expect it to fit in perfectly with the hours your children are at school. Odds are, for the first several years at least, you will be working most evenings at home.

sdaisy26 · 25/07/2017 21:41

It's about 22k for an NQT.

If you have a degree you can train in a year.

I expect I'll work 2 weeks of this hol. Usually 1-2 days per half term & 3-4 Easter & Christmas. It is still good for childcare though (dh is a teacher too so we all get the hols together which is fab).

The way I've managed to get some balance is by working 3 days per week. I work 5 evenings (7.30-10.30 ish) per week, another 2-3 hrs when DS is at preschool & then my 3 days a week at school 7.30-5 ish.

There are loads of things that make it a great job. The kids are fantastic. I work in an amazing school with a sensible slt & that makes a huge difference. I was about to quit altogether before I made the change to this job.

But I never get to see my own child's sports day, plays etc. They are in childcare 7.30-5/6 every day I work, then I work again while they're in bed. In term time it is full on and my own children don't get a lot of me. Don't imagine it's family friendly. Expectations are ridiculous and the job has changed hugely since I started 11 years ago, not for the better.

Get work experience. Not just the odd day but at least a couple of weeks properly shadowing a teacher.

Acopyofacopy · 25/07/2017 21:41

I retrained as a secondary teacher via school direct, so I actually got paid during my training which was full time, on the job with one afternoon of training sessions per week.

Being a teacher means that you are in effect locked away in school every day. You need to be there before the kids get in and you leave long after they have gone home. My children found the before and after school clubs very tough. I did not have any time or energy for play dates or clubs and one day of the weekend was taken up by planning and/or marking.

You can look up teacher pay for your LEA, search for "teacher salary main pay scale in X", you will start at the bottom.

I think being a full time teacher is much more than a full time job (after hours parents evenings, planning, marking, compulsory professional development courses, team meetings). You need really reliable childcare and/or a flexible partner. Teachers are not flexible. Days off sick, either for you or for a child, are a big pain in the backside.
The pay is ok but not great.
You do get nearly all of the holidays off (but remember: INSET days means kids off, teachers in school for training). You will need some time in the holidays for planning, though.

I found full time work incompatible with family life and will be part time from September. If my work/life balance doesn't improve I will consider going back to my old job.

jmh740 · 25/07/2017 21:42

I'm a ta when I finished my degree I planned to do a pgce but babies got in the way I started volunteering to get some classroom experience with a view to applying again to do a pgce but I've decided I'm happier as a TA.
Starting salary locally is 24k the teachers I work with are at work any time between 7 and 8 work till 6 and then take work home each day they usually do a lot of work planning marking etc over the weekends. Most of the teachers spend at least a couple of weeks in school over the 6 week holidays. All our teachers run after school clubs at least one night a week. It's a hard job and they are putting in lots of hours. I love working with children and dont have the huge burden of responsibility the teachers have.

Copperspot · 25/07/2017 21:44

Not a teacher but a TA (y4)

Our teachers are in between 7.30-5/5.30
Lots of afterschool / lunchtime commitments such as IEP meeting / prepping lessons / supervising redcard club (detention) / disco / parents evening / trips / etc.
Plus the fact the school is running on buttons atm so a lot of supplies are bought with teacher's money.

My best friend has just done her first year and was in tears last week wanting to hand her notice in. She was just drained.

Definitely agree about looking at a 'not nice' school. At my primary, we have a designated support worker to deal with children who need her. Think kicking off, throwing furniture, swearing at staff, violence, etc.
Plus your children with SEN, those who don't speak english well / barely, those in dv situations at home, those who only get fed at school, etc.

BUT everyday there is something great, and 99.9% of the kids are fab most of the time
But definitely have a look around schools and go into it with your eyes open.

leafv · 25/07/2017 21:46

I'm a secondary science teacher. I have done a PhD and a PGCE, the PhD was easier.

Teaching is very rewarding but the PGCE year is very hard, NQT year is a little easier, by year 3 I wasn't finding it too bad. However just when you thing you've got things sorted so holidays can actually be holidays the goal posts change, like new GCSE grades with no guidelines or new curriculums etc.

I haven't met one child I genuinely disliked but there have been several parents. You wouldn't believe how nasty and rude some are.

I work in a nice school but have had bruises from things being thrown at me by children.

I work from 8-5 most days. During my PGCE year I worked every evening, weekend and at least 50% of the holidays. During NQT I worked a couple of evenings a week and one days at the weekend, plus 50% of holidays. Year 3 I just worked one day at weekend and probably 25% holidays.

Things I didn't think about were open evenings/parents evenings/ progress evenings. I have one nearly every other week as year groups are so big that they are split over two different evenings. This is working until 8pm for parents evening and 9pm for open evening.

Pay is easy to find out. You start at M1, just google it.

Hope that helps Grin

Bokky · 25/07/2017 21:47

I'm a similar age to you, with a DD, and have just re-trained as a primary school teacher. Feel free to PM me if you need any info. So far, I don't regret changing career but have yet to start my NQT year. This time next year, my opinion may have changed!

Dandelionrarrrr · 25/07/2017 21:47

Sorry to be doom and gloom. I work in a London state primary school and the starting salary is just over £27k. It's exhausting, so much paper work, so many demands, not enough support. I was so fresh and optimistic about joining teaching, adored my pgce as demanding as it was. Throughout it I heard so many teachers being negative about work and discussing when and how they will exit I was determined not to be one of them... I am now. However, I work in a school with a really young, career focused workforce who are looking to rapidly climb the SLT ladder I have a family and am judged for not arriving before 8 and leaving at 6.
I really hope things improve, it's very sad plus I have taken on such a big amount of student debt so I feel very silly for being so negative.

OSETmum · 25/07/2017 21:49

Only go for it if you're passionate about it and see it as a vocation. If you think it'll be a nice little job that pays quite well and fits in around the children, forget it!

You'd be able to do a PGCE, but it'll be the hardest thing you've ever done with lots of placements where you'll be in school (more than likely not your children's) from about 8-5 (later if there's any twilights/ activities) or long days at uni.

Then you need to actually get a job which will depend on your area ( where I live it's nigh on impossible but other areas are crying out).

In your NQT year, you'll also be putting in long days and taking a lot of work home. You'll need to be able to sort child care at the drop of a hat.

You will get the holidays, but expect to be in school for at least some of them especially towards the start of the new year.

I'm sorry to sound negative but I'm a trained teacher who works as a TA and it's awful watching what the teachers have to go through!

cardibach · 25/07/2017 21:49

There's a high drop out rate of both NQTs and established teachers for a reason, OP. The classroom bit is generally (although not always) good, but everything else is shot. And the 'everything else' is the bulk of the job. I've been teaching (secondary English) since 1988, and 3 years ago I switched to independent as there is much less shit. If I hadn't, I wouldn't still be teaching as it just got too much - and that's for an experienced teacher. At the start of your career it'll be even worse.
Stop considering it. Your family will thank you.

IcingSausage · 25/07/2017 21:51

I retrained as a primary teacher when I was 27. I took the PGCE route which was one year. That was really tough and financially very challenging as, in my opinion, there's no way to work part-time around the course so I had no money coming in.

As an NQT I got in to my classroom around 7.40/50am and left when the caretaker closed up at 5.30. I'd then do maybe an hour or two at home most evenings and one day planning and making resources at the weekend.

I now have two small DC and I have no immediate plans to go back to teaching as I can't see how I could do the job properly and also spend time with my children.

I did really enjoy it though. I miss it.

Missdread · 25/07/2017 21:51

Training will take a year, either PGCE at a university or an on-the-job type training where you'll receive a small salary. I get to school at 8 (after dropping my kids at their childminder) but I'd prefer to be there at 0730 and was before I had kids as there is a lot to do in the mornings before the children arrive. In primary you will teach English, as well as guided reading, Phonics/SPaG and Maths every morning, followed by topic/PE etc in the afternoons. Marking for each session for 30. After school you will not have time to mark all of this. Instead, you will meet parents, deal with a mountain of incidents then attend staff meetings, special needs reviews and pupil progress meetings until 5.30 or 6. Then pick up your kids, get them home and into bed and start on all of the marking, assessment and planning for the next day. Weekends you will need at least most of one day for short-term planning, Target Tracker, report-writing, planning trips, emailing colleagues etc. It sounds relentless because it is and is the reason I only work part-time while my children are young. Oh and holidays. We broke up on Friday. Monday morning we were all in moving departments, moving furniture, putting up displays, sorting out cupboards and planning for next year. I was also in today for 4 hours and will spend Friday meeting my new jobshare partner and planning (most of a day) and Monday sorting out our outside area. This is not trying to put you off, just trying to be honest. The salary is good, I think once you pass the first few years and the pension is very good indeed, I can't lie!

Gingerandgivingzerofucks · 25/07/2017 21:52

Secondary or primary? I think primary teachers are amazing, I have no idea how they do everything! As you have a degree, you can do a subject specialist PGCE (no pay, placements in 2 different schools) or whatever your local version of Teachdirect is. That's where you're given a part time timetable and get thrown in at the deep end, but you're paid. Both are lots of work at home.

As a secondary teacher with a lot of responsibility, I'm in work from 7.30 because I like to work I undisturbed for an hour plus traffic is easier. I generally leave by 4.30. I work through break and lunch and free periods so I very rarely bring work home. It is extremely full on during the day and very stressful. Add in being a form tutor and the demands on your time can be insane. I do a lot of phoning home, my school is very keen on contacting parents.

Starting slash depends on what you negotiate at interview. Lack of prior experience means you'll start t £30 000 ish if you are in an area where they offer recruitment points/London weighting.

It's the best and sometimes, the worst job in the world. I love being in the classroom and children showing that they've learned. I've refused promotion because I'm not interested in being stuck in an office doing even more paperwork.

Dandelionrarrrr · 25/07/2017 21:53

Lots of afterschool / lunchtime commitments such as IEP meeting / prepping lessons / supervising redcard club (detention) / disco / parents evening / trips / etc.
Plus the fact the school is running on buttons atm so a lot of supplies are bought with teacher's money.

This is also spot on! forgot to mention all this.

I do love the children, all the quirks, I wish I had more control over what I was allowed to teach them and when.

LloydColeandhisCoconuts · 25/07/2017 21:53

In the time I've been a teacher (in South London) things have changed so drastically and not for the better that I do often contemplate a different career. As Euphemism said the actual teaching is great but it's everything else that make it difficult. The ridiculous amounts of paperwork that you have to complete is a pointless tick boxing exercise for senior management and you'll eventually get used to the new and improved assesssment terminology that get introduced every academic year! "Target setting", "learning intentions", "learning outcomes", to name a few.
I make a point of enjoying my holidays, especially the end of term ones and refuse to go in to work but you do feel like you're on catch up if you don't spend that extra time somewhere. You may end up doing work at home but I try to do everything at school. But I can as my DS is still nursery age.
Unlike assessments, I have started with a negative Wink, so here are some positives. I work in SEND and the students are hard work but bloody brilliant. It is a very rewarding career and there is scope to focus in areas that you may not have discovered elsewhere. Do you know what area you would like to work in? For me I very much prefer SEN but it's not for everyone. I've also worked in secondary mainstream and primary EBD. So a range.
It is definitely worth going into different schools to do some volunteering. Just to have some idea.
Good luck Smile

Cary2012 · 25/07/2017 21:56

High school English teacher here.
Contact time (actually teaching) is great, predominantly KS4.
In a nutshell - I have 23 hours teaching per week. I work between 60-70 hours per week. A lot of planning, marking. Too much tracking/data.

I will be working for three weeks of the six week summer break.

My hourly rate as a teacher is less than my hourly rate as an HLTA, simply because of the ridiculous amount of hours I am forced to work in order to do my job effectively.

I love the teaching aspect, but the rest is at best tedious.

Cintacmrs · 25/07/2017 22:03

I have two DC and I am still debating whether to go back to teaching. A colleague said something in passing and it the truest word ever in teaching Ever child matters except your own many of our worse kid had teacher parents your life is the job and you feel torn,

TypicallyEnglishMustard · 25/07/2017 22:04

How did you get £30,000 as starting salary, Ginger? It's nowhere near that in my experience.

sunshineintheclouds · 25/07/2017 22:04

Your degree needs to be in a national curriculum subject if you are planning on primary. Smile

SureIusedtobetaller · 25/07/2017 22:07

I trained when my children were smallish.
Unfortunately teaching is the smallest part of the job. I spend endless time in meetings or sorting paperwork from or for those meetings. I spend less time than I'd like planning great lessons because of this.
I'm dreading having to do this till I'm 68 tbh.
Love the kids. And money wise it's given my children opportunities they wouldn't have had. But they have missed out I think.

Amanduh · 25/07/2017 22:12

No it doesn't need to be a degree in a nat curriculum subject, especially if you go down the Teach First or School Direct route..
It's very demanding, hard going job. The pay isn't good on the basis of what input you have to give. You work a LOT. It's never ending in term time, and a lot of the holidays.
It can be absolutely amazing. It's rewarding.
It's bloody hard.

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