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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:
Whatsername17 · 26/07/2017 09:15

I think the key to a workplace balance in teaching is working smart. I work two weeks out of the 6 in the summer, two days in half terms, one week at Easter and a day at Christmas. I'm secondary, I have set schemes of work for ks3 which means I teach the same thing each year. Occasionally I refresh a scheme during the holidays but the bulk of my planning is already done for the entire year. I spend half a day at the weekend planning ks4 for the next week. Probably 3 or 4 week nights working after the kids have gone to bed. Dh is primary and we alternate staying later than 4.30 in order to ensure the kids get quality time with us. We alternate going in early too. You have to be super organised and efficient. My results at gcse are very good and I've been graded as an 'outstanding' teacher in my last 7 yearly observations, including by ofsted. I'm also a head of year. Admittedly, I don't teach a core subject so my marking load is not comparable to an English teacher.

PurpleDaisies · 26/07/2017 09:18

I have set schemes of work for ks3 which means I teach the same thing each year.

That only works if you teach the same year groups with the same syllabus in a school with good schemes of work.

Eolian · 26/07/2017 09:20

Teachers are fleeing the profession in their thousands for a good reason. Talking about 'passion' is all very well, but it's all the more gutting to find you have to give up on the career you had such passion for. We can't satisfactorily explain to a non-teacher how crap it is, but you'll soon find out if you decide to do it - many don't even make it through the PGCE.

MissClimpsonsTypingBureau · 26/07/2017 09:31

DH is a teacher (secondary). It means we don't need to get holiday childcare (he's in work the odd day but generally can choose days I can cover). He generally works 7.30 am to 5.30 pm (2.5 hours/ day outside school hours to get most marking/ prep done) plus probably 2 evenings a week and one weekend day marking/ prep (sometimes more, sometimes less) plus after school trainings, meetings, parents evenings etc. It works for him because he's not a perfectionist and is happy with doing "enough" - and he enjoys the actual teaching. Every perfectionist teacher I know has left or is incredibly stressed.

If you've got a degree it'll take a one year PGCE to train plus a year of actual teaching to complete the qualification. Most PGCEs want you to have a few weeks work experience in different schools before they give you a place. Good idea anyway to get a feel for it.

YoureAllABunchOfBastards · 26/07/2017 09:40

I both love and hate my job, often in equal measure.

It is totally inflexible though - childminder finished three days earlier than me this year and I had no leeway at all for getting kids to and from school: thank God for friends, parents and a husband who can work flexi

MsAwesomeDragon · 26/07/2017 09:42

I teach secondary maths, so bear in mind that marking is a bit easier in my subject than in some others (although we do seem to mark it more regularly than other subjects in my school so timewise I think it evens out)

I am at school from 8:30-4:30 unless there's a longer meeting, inset, or parents evening. I then spend 3-4 hours in the evening marking and planning, sometimes more, sometimes less (not often less, except when y11 and y13 have left and I've got gained time). I've just finished my 13th year of teaching, so this is much less than I used to do in the first couple of years.

I was about to say I don't work in the holidays, but I do, I just dont go into school to do it. I run a residential trip in the Easter holidays, so that's one week where I'm working all the time. This summer I'm learning the new Alevel syllabus which I'm teaching for the first time in September, some of it is brand new to me, other parts are familiar but in a new format. The textbooks haven't arrived yet, we've had one inspection copy that 4 teachers are trying to plan from Hmm, and we don't know when they will actually arrive. That's before we even think of the exams, we've had very little in the way of sample assessments yet.

I really do enjoy my job now, but I work in an "outstanding" school (we haven't been inspected for a few years so we might not be outstanding in the next Ofsted), with a fairly supportive SLT. We aren't micromanaged like some schools do, we're trusted to do our jobs professionally in our own way. Some schools expect to see detailed planning for every lesson in their format, and prescribe how marking is done, mine doesn't, we are trusted to plan lessons in the way we like, and mark effectively for our classes.

Bloke1976 · 26/07/2017 09:50

I've been teaching 15 years. We have 3 children so my work /life balance is skewed.
I generally get into work for 7.30. We have to be in by 8.15. We finish at 3.15 but 3 / 4 days I'm involved in meetings or after school clubs until 4.30 ish. Generally get home around 5 / 5.30.

Evenings: I try not to work whilst the kids are up. I use my evening time to see my own kids. They are usually in bed by 8. I then spend an hour catching up with my wife. I usually start work again at 9pm.. Marking, planning, the endless administration tasks.

Some night bedtime is 11pm .. Sometimes it's after midnight.

Oh and Sundays are usually a workday too. Afternoons and evenings.

In short it's a rewarding job, but the hours are relentless. I watch the newbies starting the profession with interest... the ones coming in thinking its an easy option are the ones who generally leave pretty quickly.

One of our teach first has done 2 years... he has left to apply to medical school as he thinks training as a Doctor will be less stressful.

BG2015 · 26/07/2017 09:53

I teach Primary and have been teaching 21 years. I was an Nursery Nurse for 5 years before I became a teacher.

I've seen a lot of change over the years. Some good some bad. I think a lot of experiences depend on what sort of school you work in and what the management/ expectations are.

I've worked with a brilliant headteacher for the past 10 years, who was a working mum herself so understood the work/life balance. She kept meetings to a minimum and allowed her staff to attend sports days, plays etc for their kids. Sadly she retired on Friday so we are in for big changes soon.

I'm in school 8.20- 5pm and often bring work home. I laminate and keep stuff for displays which saves time the following year (unless you get moved Year groups of course!) I work about a week during the summer holidays. Being organised and time efficient is a priority.

I earn £38k now which is roughly £2200 a month. My own children are now teenagers and it's much easier.

catrin · 26/07/2017 10:27

I've been teaching 20 years. I wouldn't start training with primary aged children of my own - you miss too much. The school holidays are obviously a great bonus, but sometimes, I would really love time off without children around. I dream of a day when my life is not ruled by piles of work in Bag for Life bags taking over my house.

Edsheeranalbumparty · 26/07/2017 10:45

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

Since when? Is this a new thing? Confused

fussychica · 26/07/2017 11:13

DS just finished NQT year in an outstanding single Academy secondary school. He loves it but it is very demanding and he puts in a lot of time. Fortunately his school/dept seem very supportive but certainly expect their pound of flesh. The non teaching elements of the job are very time consuming.

PumpkinPie2016 · 26/07/2017 12:13

I teach secondary science and on the whole I really enjoy my job. It is, however, a very tough job.

I am in school for 7.30am and leave at around 4pm. If there is an open/parents eve then I can be in school until 7.30pm or later.

When I get home I spent time with my son and I prioritise doing his bath/bedtime. He is generally in bed by 7.30pm as he's only 3 so I then do work usually until around 9.30pm. I also put in a few hours at the weekend when my husband takes our son out.

In the holidays, I usually work a few days but do it around my son.

Luckily my husband's job is very flexible which definitely helps but term time is hectic - I feel like I'm on a hamster wheel most of the time! And my house frequently seems to look like a bomb's dropped!

I would advise you to get some time shadowing a teacher before you take the plunge!

rebelnotaslave · 26/07/2017 12:28

I left teaching 2 years ago after over a decade. I went from 3 days a week teaching to a full time 9-5 job and I think I get more time with my children now. They certainly get more of me in terms of quality now.

One low point was sticking my not quite two year old i front of cbeebies for almost a whole day on my day off so I could finish reports. If either of my children wanted to be a teacher I'd do everything I could to put them off.

I was a very passionate teacher, I went in as a vocation and the teaching bit I loved and still miss. But it's not a big enough part of teaching any more.

Hydratinghydrangea · 26/07/2017 12:31

Thank you all for your insight and advice. It's definitely a lot to consider. I hadn't decided whether primary or secondary. I was leaning towards primary. Thank you for the advice on volunteering, I'll see if I can do that at my kids school to start with and get a feel for it. Thanks again!!

OP posts:
Letseatgrandma · 26/07/2017 12:36

what's the pay actually like for a newly qualified teacher? £22k

What training would I have to undertake? I have a degree so I'm hoping retraining won't take too long? One year PGCE

Do you actually get school holidays off? Mostly-though you do a lot more if you're moving classroom/year groups.

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? I'm in at 7.30 and out by 6. Plus another few hours in the evening when the kids are in bed.

Yes, it's stressful. Yes, many NQTs leave in the first few years. No, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Yes, I am leaving!!

Go into this with your eyes wide open. Talk to teachers, search 'leaving teaching' on here and read the replies, get some experience in different types of school.

Redsrule · 26/07/2017 13:40

The training is very hard but I feel the most important decision about how you work/life balance will be the SLT of the school you get a job in. Where I am they are incredibly supportive, for example with the new GCSE curriculum for English Lang and Lit, all English teachers were given 2 extra prep lessons a fortnight so we could adapt to the new criteria etc. Maths were given 1.
They reduced the marking expectation for KS3 to only one close marked piece a half term, obviously everything is marked/peer assessed/ verbal feedback given. So they do what they can to help staff.
But still this year 3 of our NQTs left teaching, one because of family but the other too just felt it was too much work.
I can manage fairly easily but then I am a widow with children away at university so can work whenever it suits me. Very few teachers with small children seem to work full time at my school.

cricketballs · 26/07/2017 13:54

I retrained as a secondary teacher when DS2 was a toddler; I gained my QTS through my degree so was able to start my NQT year straight out of uni (used to be an engineer, but new degree in business and ICT education).
Where I live the pay is good, but I'm nowhere near the South! It is not a family friendly job during term time - as it is very difficult to see your own DC's plays/assemblies/sports days. Then there is the patents evenings (in my case 7 a year), marking, planning etc to do at home.

It is true that retention at the moment is at the worst it has been with reasons given are stress/workload/lack of support/behaviour/constant changes to system.

As PP have said the joy of being in a classroom is fantastic but a lot of the above overshadows it atm

Whatsername17 · 26/07/2017 17:29

Purple - I do. I teach all of ks3. All 6 classes in every year group, except yr 9 where two of tge classes are taught by a part time teacher whom I manage. I designed and wrote (and often tweak) all of the sow. For ks4, there is a lot of planning. Not as much regurgitation. I've been teaching 12 years though. It has taken me a while to work efficiently. Teacher training work load is huge, something to take into account if you have kids.

Eebahgum · 26/07/2017 20:45

Don't do it. Seriously. I left last year after 15 years in the profession. Other teachers are leaving in droves. On the plus side it's fairly easy to get a job. Most teachers work around 50-60 hours per week, stress levels are high. And it's particularly tough for newly qualified teachers who are expected to reach a high standard very quickly. For me the bottom line of whether you can make it or not is resilience. You need to be the kind of person who works your ass off, gets told it's not good enough, and thinks "I'll work even harder then". I'm not that person. The continual knocks and unrealistic expectations battered my confidence.

KindergartenKop · 26/07/2017 21:02

I'm in work from 7 40-4 30, then I have to leave to pick up my kids, then I usually do another 1.5hrs of work a night after the kids are asleep. When I was training and newly qualified I had no kids but worked 7 40-5pm and then 7-10pm and half a day on weekends. I couldn't have done it with children.
I spend 2 days of my summer holidays in school. Maybe another at Easter.

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