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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:
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neveradullmoment99 · 25/07/2017 22:19

I love the teaching but...
Its a job that keeps on taking. You are never good enough.
My dd often says she wants to be a teacher. In truth, i would support her but secretly hope that by the time she is anywhere near making that choice she has changed her mind. She is only 10.
I often say to her, do you want to give up all your free time? She says no. I say then think again!

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user1471516536 · 25/07/2017 22:21

I am a primary school teacher, so all info is related to this. Starting pay can be anything from 22k to 28k depending mostly on where you live-inner London schools pay more due to cost of living. I can't tell you what hours you work as it depends on the school... Currently I work 7.45 or 8-6, sometimes a little more, plus 4 hrs or so on top which I can do evenings, weekends or whenever. In holidays, I do varying amounts of work, e.g. summer hols I will prob work equivalent to a week, other hols I will do 2 or 3 days. I do a lot of work in the hols so that I can work shorter hours in term time- some people do 7-630 and no work in the hols.
Your first 2 or 3 years you are likely to work 7-630 minimum plus an evening or 2 and a full day on the weekend. You will probably be micromanaged and people will notice anything you don't do... But after a few years they will leave you alone and you can prioritise the things that help the children.

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Newmumtobabyno1 · 25/07/2017 22:24

If you have a degree you just need to do a PGCE. There are bursaries available for primary but I think its gone down since I did it as so many people signed up. I think its now around 6k if you do the math specialist course which involves a third of a masters or 3k if you do normal primary but only if you got a 1st in your original degree. I took the Schools Direct route which meant I was in a training school 4 days a week and at uni on a Friday... I loved it. My brother did a uni based PGCE where he was at uni for a block then in school for a block and said that mine was a much better set up for teaching experience etc. There are salaried School Direct places but only a few and they are very competitive.
In terms of the job I absolutely love it. Very rewarding, love the children, makes me smile even thinking about my class and the children.
Think NQT pay is around 22-23k depending if you are London fringe or not and goes up to about 23-24k after your NQT year. You then have to achieve a 'good' grade across the year to keep increasing your pay there after.
The hours are not great but depends how much you want it I guess (not in a bad way). I hated my previous job in the city and used to cry every Sunday knowing I had to go back the next day so for me the job satisfaction I get makes the hours worth it. I usually get into school for 7.30 and have made a real effort to leave between 5.30 and 6... obviously this may be later on staff meeting days.
As others have said I generally go into work 2-2.5 days in a one week half term, 4-5 in a 2 week holiday and probably 2 weeks during the summer preparing classroom for new class. I also tend to work one day at the weekend but not all in one if you see what i mean... I get up early on a Saturday and do a few hours and either do the same on a Sunday or work Sunday afternoon.
I know that probably doesn't sound great but it is the BEST job. I cut my salary in half moving from my previous job but I have never regretted it!

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Feenie · 25/07/2017 22:25

Key findings from the Dfe workload survey 2016:

Advice please from teachers
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user1497480444 · 25/07/2017 22:27

you are likely to be earning below the minimum wage per hour. I gave up teaching because I was struggling to find 20 mins in an evening to sit and eat a meal with my teenagers.

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cdtaylornats · 25/07/2017 22:28

Stress is relative - my friend was Test Manager in an Air Traffic Control Centre so she left because of stress, trained as a teacher and now teaches secondary maths which she finds a lot less stressful.

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user1471516536 · 25/07/2017 22:29

People saying they do above 12 hours a day plus a full week of the Easter and Xmas hols need to be careful...
I used to work 65/ 70 hour weeks at my last school and all my hair fell out!! It's not worth it... Accept that you won't get all the work done and get a work life balance, your class will be much happier and your lessons will be better if you have energy!

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FlowerFairyLights · 25/07/2017 22:30

I used to love teaching. I see mainly young people without kids surviving it at the moment in my kids schools :(

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paperandpaint · 25/07/2017 22:32

Primay teacher here.... I echo everything said. I LOVE teaching but it's so hard when you have kids. Zero flexibility (come on teaching profession - sort it out) so you never get to go to sports days/school plays/prize givings etc. Also, along with parents evenings you have school plays, carol concets etc etc and end up often paying for evening childcare.

Workload is ridiculous although the independent sector is easier as you have much smaller classes so marking etc is halved.

I feel frustrated that so many amazing teachers just can't combine it with being a parent and leave the profession, it really needs to change in order to keep good teachers.

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Janeismymiddlename · 25/07/2017 22:32

You need to spend some time in schools. Ask questions. Think about what a good and a bad day look like. Consider how you will do the planning and marking. If that doesn't knock it out of you, you need to decide between a PGCE and School's Direct. Ask about you locally re: school's direct - people have good experiences, many more don't.

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JayneAusten · 25/07/2017 22:33

I mean this kindly but I think maybe it's not the career for you simply due to the questions in your post. How much is the pay? What are the holidays like?

You haven't said anything about how passionate you are about teaching, working with young people or educating. You really, really can't do it for the pay or the holidays because it is a very hard job (there's a reason so many teachers quit) and it only works for those who find it to be a vocation and are truly invested in the job itself. Even then it's freaking though.

Also, you say you have kids at primary school (so still quite young) and unless you actually end up working in their school (unlikely) you will then miss every single concert, nativity, harvest festival, assembly etc because you can't just take time off as a teacher. Childcare is a big problem as a teacher - so many people think it will fit around the kids and it totally doesn't!

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paperandpaint · 25/07/2017 22:35

And don't forget the 'twilight' sessions that get dropped on you and school report time- at least 3-4 weekends of work (once a year in a state primary and twice in the independent sector).

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JayneAusten · 25/07/2017 22:36

Workload is ridiculous although the independent sector is easier as you have much smaller classes so marking etc is halved.

This isn't true I'm afraid. Well, it's true that you have smaller classes so less marking, but you are also then in the hands of paying clients - so if you work in the independent sector you can expect parents to be able to demand meetings with you before and after school (and they do, nearly every day), to be able to drop in and discuss their child with you any time they feel like, lots of expectation to be involved in the very 'whole' education that an independent school offers so activities, sometimes boarding duties, coaching and quite often - Saturday school. When people are paying a lot of money for your teaching, there's a huge amount of pressure on you.

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Newmumtobabyno1 · 25/07/2017 22:43

Oh God... forgot about report time. On maternity leave so missed it this year LUCKILY. Any interview I go to in future I will ask to see their report format... 4 page personalised report for each child nearly killed me last year.

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peachlemonandgin · 25/07/2017 22:57

I couldn't disagree more with Jayne, as it happens.

Passion, as a verb, is misplaced, overused and ultimately meaningless. How should a teacher demonstrate his or her passion? Let's be honest, no one wants to see teachers jumping on tables, ripping their blouses open and chest beating.

'Passion' means you care so very much about the children/subject that you will be malleable, open to whatever nonsense is flung your way and so on. That isn't passion, that's fear. Fear that either if you don't comply you'll be out of a job, or fear that if you don't comply the children won't reach their potential.

Either way, it's a poor thing to demand from somebody. We need teachers who are knowledgeable, skilled and have talent and heart, too of course, as we are working with children not machines. However, teachers are not one robotic body and having a narrow and fixed viewpoint that the only good teacher is a 'passionate' teacher means that many potentially excellent teachers may fall by the wayside.

I have known some teachers teach for a few years with panache, flair and yes, passion, and move on to other things. Teaching isn't a prison sentence and shouldn't be treated as such. I've never understood the view that teaching should be what someone wants to do at the expense of everything else. I knew an exceptional Geography teacher with a thirst for travel who freely admitted he chose the job for the holidays. More commonly, I've met many female teachers, I'm sorry to say, who went into teaching because it fit well around their own families. None of them were notably worse than the 'passionate' ones who went into it because of 'passion.'

I am concerned that this stereotype, much trotted out in different forms, is actually hugely detrimental to the profession as a whole. If we raise legitimate concerns about pay, why, we are in the wrong job. The inference is that if only we had the passion the pay would not matter. Similar to the OPs question about holidays - if she was only a bit more passionate her own children wouldn't matter and only the ones she teaches would.

Of course, that's clearly silly when it's written down like that. I will say quite openly I am not and never have been passionate. If a school wants a calm, reliable, level headed, skilled and talented teacher, I'm their woman. But passion? No. I'll leave that to the fruit.

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JayneAusten · 25/07/2017 23:01

No blouse ripping intended Hmm

Put bluntly, most people have to enjoy teaching if they want to be successful, because if you don't have that you don't have much (not great pay, not appreciated, lots of paperwork, lots of box ticking, loss of family time) etc. And all this 'I've met teachers who...' thing doesn't change the fact that teacher dropout is the highest in decades and we have a huge teacher shortage.

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peachlemonandgin · 25/07/2017 23:03

I imagine many of the dropouts were passionate ones, too Smile

Is it dropping out, though? I don't think it is. It's changing careers.

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paperandpaint · 25/07/2017 23:07

I work in the independent sector and while the parents can be more demanding and there are often additional demands such as prep and clubs, having 16 books to mark and 16 children to assess and track as opposed to 30 makes a huge difference. Also, you tend to have more non contact time as there are more subject specialists (art, PE, music, French, etc). It's different for every school though and I know nothing about boarding.

There are also lots of benefits to the state sector such as teaching until 3.30 (if no clubs) rather than 5pm and lunchtime supervisors (I miss having my lunch hour to plan/mark/prep/scoff food at lightening speed!!)

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timshortfforthalia · 25/07/2017 23:10

I wanted to retrain as a primary teacher after kids were born. I started off volunteer in a school then got a pt TA job. That was a real eye opener for me, and I quickly decided against training as a teacher. The work load is unbelievable. My dh, mum, sil and mil are all teachers and I still didn't really get it til I saw it close up. It is a lot of hard work. The holidays are good, but honestly its not worth what you will go through in term time.

We have a lovely leadership team, really supportive but it's still really hard and there are no end of expectations on teachers.

I would Def recommend spending a year as a ta before committing to retraining. If you are prepared to work as a one on one ta with a child with additional needs, you should be able to get a job.

In the long term, maybe consider looking at what an hlta or eye does? More responsibility and money than ta but less crazy than teaching

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Mistoffelees · 25/07/2017 23:27

If you don't have a degree yet I urge you to complete it in something 'broad' and transferable. I did mine in early years education and at the time there were so many routes I could have pursued but I was keen to teach. Now I'm 6 years down the line, have considered leaving teaching but the jobs that were there before just aren't anymore and I would need to completely retrain for the majority of careers I'm interested in.

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chosenone · 26/07/2017 07:51

schools really really differ from each other too. I teach in Secondary and have had awful times in failing schools with failing SLT. I've taught in RI school that was so supportive and had a positive SET. I'm currently as an Outstanding school and the pressure to deliver is always there BUT we have a supportive SLT who monitor workload (also thanks to a strong Union). We are still a LA school and are fighting Academisation. My cousin has left teaching after a stint in an Academy, part of a MAT.... it sounded soul destroying. A SLT made up of non teachers 'monitoring ' her every step. Horrendous marking policy and staff morale on the floor. Be careful where you choose.

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Mimisrevenge · 26/07/2017 08:08

Secondary teacher here.

I love my profession and think it one of the most important jobs in the world.

As much as I'd love to encourage new entrants to the profession please consider that you may have seen a side of teaching which doesn't encompass the reality. I can never attend my children's assemblies, lunch concerts or recitals. If they are sick I often cannot get time to look after them or I lose a days pay and disciplinary action. Holidays are very expensive and busy. I am in work at 7:50, leave at 5 and work evenings and weekends. Parents are sometimes rude and ungrateful. It's exhausting and emotional. Others will constantly hand out jibes about lots of holiday time etc etc.

But watching a teenager understand 'Macbeth' for example is priceless.

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sadeyedladyofthelowlands63 · 26/07/2017 08:43

I work at a secondary school. I'm there by 7.30 and usually leave about 6. I usually work one day at the weekend, and sometimes the odd evening as well. I am never on top of the workload - I just have to decide what is not going to get done in any given week. The pressure is intense, especially in an Academy. I am single and cannot imagine how I could possibly manage if I had young children.

There are great bits about my job, but they are becoming fewer and far between.

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Wishiwasonholiday1 · 26/07/2017 08:54

I have two children and I left the state sector when I had my first. I couldn't cope with the pressure, ofsted threats and trying to achieve impossibly high targets in an area of high deprivation. I loved the children but the demands got too much.
I now work in a lovely private school and love it. Only pressure is from parents and that's much easier to handle.
I think it is very dependent on the school you end up in, I agree with the poster who advised you to get experience in a not so nice school so you can see the other side before you commit.

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FlowerFairyLights · 26/07/2017 09:02

I think a (non borading) private school would be the way forwards.

I so wish I'd trained in something else pre kids.

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