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Teachers! Please be honest…
34

whatdoiactuallydo · 19/07/2022 23:29

Hi guys


I've recently applied to take my PGCE and QTS.

I'm passionate about my potential future career as an educator but a lot of people in my life have been telling me to withdraw my application as teachers are underpaid, overworked etc


So I'd like to ask real teachers who aren't trying to sell me a course-

Do you enjoy your job?
Do you feel satisfaction in your career?
Is the job worth it for the pay?
Have you been able to buy your own home? (I get if you don't want to answer this one as it's very personal, but buying my own house in the future is something very important to me and I'd like to know if it's something that's realistic.)

Thanks in advance!

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WayDownInTheHole · 19/07/2022 23:47

Mostly
Mostly
Just about!
Yes (in the past six months)

If you're keen, do it - if it's not for you, you'll figure it out and you can make new plans from there.

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whatdoiactuallydo · 20/07/2022 00:56

Thank you for responding!
I am really keen but the way my family has been talking down on the job really is making me a bit upset…

Hopefully I get out of this feeling and prove them wrong!

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parrotonmyshoulder · 20/07/2022 06:32

You are unlikely to love every minute. You need to develop more resilience to criticism I suppose - if comments about a job you’re not even doing yet make you ‘upset’, you might find it difficult to handle the often conflicting viewpoints of colleagues, parents and others.

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parrotonmyshoulder · 20/07/2022 06:33

Your questions:
yes - not every minute
yes - not all the time
yes at first, not when you’re experienced
only with combined income

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Iamnotthe1 · 20/07/2022 07:33

I absolutely love my job. It's challenging, developmental, purposeful and every day is different. I chose to move from a different career, where I'd have been earning 5x what I am currently paid at this point, and go into teaching because I wanted to do something where I genuinely felt that I was contributing positively to the world rather than just making my bosses richer. I wouldn't want to do anything else.

However, teaching is a double-edged sword. The hours are long, particularly if you want to do the job as effectively as you can. The culture of education is stressful and micromanaged from the top, with many of the edicts coming from people who have either never set foot in a classroom beyond their own education or who left active practice years ago. So much depends on the individual school that you are in and there are some absolutely poisoness heads/SLTs/academy trusts out there.

The pay is a reasonable level of money if you just look at it as an abstract amount of money. But teachers, especially experienced ones, are underpaid when you factor in the workload, level of responsibility and what other similarly qualified and experienced professionals are paid in other sectors, both public and private.

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LisaSimpson77 · 20/07/2022 08:31

Do you enjoy your job?
Yes mostly but I also find it stressful, tiring and frustrating at times...just like other jobs I suppose. I work in a good, supportive school which helps.
Do you feel satisfaction in your career?
Yes, job satisfaction is the biggest selling point for me. I work with special needs children and do get to see how things change and improve.
Is the job worth it for the pay?
Yes I've had a good career on reasonable pay an there's always room to progress.
Have you been able to buy your own home? (I get if you don't want to answer this one as it's very personal, but buying my own house in the future is something very important to me and I'd like to know if it's something that's realistic.)
I have but I first bought in the 90's when prices had crashed and I got a nice flat on the outskirts of London for £40,000.

I have a 3-bed semi up north now but I do struggle to afford to maintain it effectively now as a single person.

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whatdoiactuallydo · 20/07/2022 13:33

There is a lot of truth in this.
However in my cultural background, tough love is common and unfortunately this manifests as actual bullying taking place.
I am a resilient person but having your mother tell you that you’re a constant disappointment is quite brutal 😢

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whatdoiactuallydo · 20/07/2022 13:33

Thanks!

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whatdoiactuallydo · 20/07/2022 13:34

Iamnotthe1 · 20/07/2022 07:33

I absolutely love my job. It's challenging, developmental, purposeful and every day is different. I chose to move from a different career, where I'd have been earning 5x what I am currently paid at this point, and go into teaching because I wanted to do something where I genuinely felt that I was contributing positively to the world rather than just making my bosses richer. I wouldn't want to do anything else.

However, teaching is a double-edged sword. The hours are long, particularly if you want to do the job as effectively as you can. The culture of education is stressful and micromanaged from the top, with many of the edicts coming from people who have either never set foot in a classroom beyond their own education or who left active practice years ago. So much depends on the individual school that you are in and there are some absolutely poisoness heads/SLTs/academy trusts out there.

The pay is a reasonable level of money if you just look at it as an abstract amount of money. But teachers, especially experienced ones, are underpaid when you factor in the workload, level of responsibility and what other similarly qualified and experienced professionals are paid in other sectors, both public and private.

Thank you for your response

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whatdoiactuallydo · 20/07/2022 13:35

LisaSimpson77 · 20/07/2022 08:31

Do you enjoy your job?
Yes mostly but I also find it stressful, tiring and frustrating at times...just like other jobs I suppose. I work in a good, supportive school which helps.
Do you feel satisfaction in your career?
Yes, job satisfaction is the biggest selling point for me. I work with special needs children and do get to see how things change and improve.
Is the job worth it for the pay?
Yes I've had a good career on reasonable pay an there's always room to progress.
Have you been able to buy your own home? (I get if you don't want to answer this one as it's very personal, but buying my own house in the future is something very important to me and I'd like to know if it's something that's realistic.)
I have but I first bought in the 90's when prices had crashed and I got a nice flat on the outskirts of London for £40,000.

I have a 3-bed semi up north now but I do struggle to afford to maintain it effectively now as a single person.

I appreciate you responding!

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Fairislefandango · 20/07/2022 15:58

The pay is a reasonable level of money if you just look at it as an abstract amount of money. But teachers, especially experienced ones, are underpaid when you factor in the workload, level of responsibility and what other similarly qualified and experienced professionals are paid in other sectors, both public and private.

^ Very much this.

Also... how much you will enjoy/cope with it will depend very much on the school you end up working in. In that sense, it's a bit of a lottery. I've been a teacher for over 25 years. In some schools I've loved it. In others I've hated it!

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scienceyesplease · 20/07/2022 17:53

  1. yes I do enjoy it but there have been times where I have hated it. (Only when I'm extremely stressed). This could be the same with any normal job.

  2. I love the satisfaction of working with young people and seeing how they change over the years. It can be so heartwarming. It's amazing the links you can make with some families.

  3. In terms of the hours, it sometimes doesn't feel like it's worth it. My husband is convinced I can earn more money in a different profession with less stress. But this does depend on your school. My school are very good with staff welfare.

  4. Definitely not on my current salary. I brought my house with combined income.
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JimmyGrimble · 20/07/2022 21:12

Yes I love it (and I've been doing it for 25 years) However, I enjoy doing things well and this has been a real difficulty as there is never enough time to do everything to a high standard. If you're a perfectionist it can be soul destroying.
Yes of course. It's great to see 'lightbulb moments' and set children on their way and see them make progress but it takes a huge amount of effort and there is no let up.
Absolutely not. I earn just over £40,000 after 25 years. My daughter earns six figures working in app development ... Have been SLT in the past but I'm happier in the classroom for which there is no progression although I do regularly pick up recruitment and retention payments. Honestly, for what you are expected to do it's pitiful.
Yes I bought when it was cheap. A house I cannot afford to heat adequately, decorate or maintain correctly. I am the sole earner in my family. It can be very tough.
Teaching is an absolutely wonderful profession and i wouldn't change my job for the world but it's best to go in with your eyes open. It's not hugely financially rewarding and there's always going to be someone cheaper than you. Also, if you underachieve in teaching, have a few poor observations, miss a few deadlines you can be up to your neck in shit pretty quickly. Dependent on your management of course, but it can get very stressful and mentally debilitating.
And if you've read all that and you're still keen you're probably a lifer.
It's kindly meant.

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MsJuniper · 20/07/2022 22:01

I started teaching last year as a career changer so only have two years' experience but fwiw:

  • Yes, I enjoy my job. Something that helped me a good deal during training was to understand that part of my mentor's job was to find my next step, i.e. ostensibly to criticise me during observation. This really helped me depersonalise the feedback so that I could reflect and improve without feeling personally attacked. This approach really helps as you will continue to be observed and scrutinised throughout your career. Of course, there are less enjoyable days and sometimes difficult colleagues to deal with but there are good moments every day.

  • Yes, there is a lot of career satisfaction, both in terms of personal fulfilment but also possibilities for progression (in fact, it is expected - I am taking on a subject lead role next year and if I wanted could definitely take on more responsibility in the next few years). Seeing a child grasp a concept for the first time is fantastic and watching their progress through the year is very rewarding. My HT calls it "moral purpose" and I know what he means. I've had a trickier year this year compared to last but I've had a lot of tearful moments today saying goodbye to my class. You will hear a lot of negativity in the press and HoC about teachers and that can be hard to stomach when you have been working all weekend or into the night to get a lesson just right or keep up with marking. There will be threads on MN that will make your toes curl. But while you're at school, you won't think about any of that because you will only be thinking of the lessons and the children. It's a very 'in the moment' kind of job!

  • My former career was not very well paid so from September I'll be earning more than I ever have before. I think teachers should be paid more and school budgets should allow for a mix of new and experienced teachers to be hired - but I don't think it is badly paid and there are opportunities to progress if that's what you want. I think the issue is the effective ceiling on pay.

  • I couldn't buy my own home in outer London on a teacher salary, but jointly with my husband it works out ok. We already had a mortgage before I trained as a teacher though (about 5 years ago so not a super cheap one!)
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KatherineofGaunt · 21/07/2022 08:56

Do you enjoy your job?
Mostly, yes. I am, however, a specialist SEN teacher, having been in mainstream for over a decade I made the switch. It is so much less stressful, I can be creative in my teaching, I get to know a small group of children really well, I have autonomy over my work.

Do you feel satisfaction in your career?
Not so much now. I've reached the top of the teaching payscale and can't earn any more or progress any further unless I go into leadership. Which I'm not keen on. I like teaching. But I feel as though in the next 3-5 years I am going to feel less and less satisfaction and will want to move on to something else.

Is the job worth it for the pay?
A full-time mainstream class teacher with all the additional work and stress? No way. Me in my current job? The pay is fine for the level I'm at and the very small amount of stress I have.

Have you been able to buy your own home?
I had a shared ownership mortgage on my own wage, so in that respect, yes. But we moved to a house and I'd never have been able to afford it without my husband's substantial deposit.

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clopper · 21/07/2022 12:43

Yes to all your questions. I work in a challenging area with a lot of social deprivation. I have found this very rewarding for over 25 years. Most parents are very grateful and positive about the help you give their children. Love the staff and the school is not as micromanaged as many I have read about. I think it has got harder over the years with more data collection etc. However I have a lot of fun each day ( teach juniors).
I sometimes think teachers are their own worst enemies as they are perfectionists.

I am currently mentoring an ECT and this seems to be a lot of extra work for me and her. However, I think it’s good that they are thinking of new ways to support new teachers. I’m on UPS 3 and have some responsibilities so my wage is a bit higher. It’s not a fabulous wage by any means. I do earn more than the average wage, but it’s never going to be like a lawyer or accountant. I have friends from uni who did this and they are far more wealthy, but I think I have a much more enjoyable working day and longer holidays.

I think overall I have been very lucky with my school and colleagues. We have used marking codes and oral feedback for years to help cut down marking time, rather than the pink/ green nonsense I see in some schools. I have also worked with some excellent teaching assistants, they definitely need a pay rise as the unsung heroes in our school.

My advice is go for it! But… try and choose your school carefully, the individual school culture is everything and it can make or break you. Maintain a good work/ life balance and reconcile yourself to the fact that you will never get to the end of your to do list. You also have to become good at prioritising.

I am getting near to retirement and in some ways will be glad to perhaps cut down rather than stop completely. I think it’s harder when you have young children, I have done it with 3, for some time as a single mum. My children went to my school and I taught them for various subjects which was great, but it wouldn’t be for everyone. I can see younger colleagues with children struggling at the moment.

Good luck if you choose to go ahead with it. I went into teaching in my thirties and don’t regret my choice.

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Dizzyhedgehog · 21/07/2022 19:07

Do you enjoy your job?
Yes. I love going to work. I get paid for being silly and I love teaching kids stuff. It's great fun. However, I'm in a school where I'm generally trusted to do my job..so, if I want to take my class outside, then that's OK. If I think they need extra break, then that's OK. I decide how I teach my class. (I've worked in schools where this was much more regulated and restrictive. It was horrible and I quit.)

Do you feel satisfaction in your career?
Yes. Usually. I had taken a step back and have "only" been a class teacher for the last two years. That's been OK and challenging because I taught an age group I had been unfamiliar with previously...but I get bored easily. I'm now joining SLT again from next year. Alternatively, I would have started a Masters in Maths.

Is the job worth it for the pay?
I think my pay is pretty decent. I'm on 50k as base salary and I'm getting extra for taking on additional responsibilities (i.e. phase leadership). However, I teach abroad at an independent school, so get a few more benefits as well, such as school fee reduction for DS, lunch, travel cost reimbursement etc.
Our work-life-balance here is better and national policies are much more family-friendly. My school itself is quite family-friendly, too. I'm glad we aren't raising DS in the UK as teachers. We can work ft here and still have family time. I don't get threatened with capability because my kid is sick. (He was 8 months old back then and had just started nursery. Yes, he caught every bug going...Funnily enough, after that initial phase, he's hardly been sick at all. I, however, had walked out of that job by then.)

Have you been able to buy your own home?
Yes. We bought our house back in the UK about 10 years ago. We then sold that and bought one here. I'm married, though, so we have a combined income. DH is a teacher, too.

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WibblyWobblyLane · 21/07/2022 19:29

I enjoy teaching and it is fulfilling to an extent. I must be honest though and say I've really lost the spark since lockdown with the added workload and impossible targets from external agencies. I love the school that I am in, they are very supportive, and the kids are lovely. But if I went back in time, knowing what I know now, I don't think I'd be a teacher.
I have bought a house, but I had to move up north (from SW London) to do so.

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Serena1977 · 21/07/2022 20:00

I have just qualified as a primary school teacher.
I loved the training but I haven't found a job for September. Not many on my scitt have found a permanent job. Because schools are squeezed for cash, some schools in my area are not replacing staff or using TAs to fill gaps (leading to larger class sizes). Also, now it is a 2 year ECT programme, not 1 year NQT programme, some schools are put off having to find someone willing to mentor on top of their own work, covering the extra PPA an ECT is allowed and all the other training away days (which cost more money) ECTs are not as desirable as they once were. Schools are preferring up and ready experienced teachers, even though they are more expensive, in the long run, what with the mentoring, covering their class etc, it will be cheaper to have an experienced teacher.

Obviously, some areas, there will be work, inner cities etc or if it's secondary, vacancies in science, maths etc will all be fine but you could end up putting in all the work and then not finding a job or doing supply or a teaching assistant job.

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whatdoiactuallydo · 21/07/2022 22:47

Thank you to EVERYONES responses they’ve been so helpful!
Im continuing with career choice!
I appreciate the time you’ve all taken to give me an insightful answer.

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KateRusby · 22/07/2022 07:27

OP I think you need to be aware that you're asking experienced teachers, who essentially were getting paid more for the job than you will be as pay has been cut massively in real terms (25% for upper pay scale teachers since 2012). Even buying a house 5 years ago was very different to now. Also just be aware there is an issue with pay portability. It is very, very hard as an experienced primary teacher to move jobs and maintain your pay level.

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mij66 · 22/07/2022 13:09

Yes, Yes, It was origionally but it is getting harder and harder to justify each year ( not just the money side it is really hard on my confidence seeing teachers slated everywhere by people who don't have a clue, this shouldn't matter to me but at times when I'm already worn down it does make me question what I'm doing with my life), and yes but me an my partner cam i to inheritance (my partner is on a lower income than me but with lots of opportunities for overtime if that has any impact).

I think the one thing that keeps me going is that I really really love teaching, I do see it as a vocation and have felt at ease working with young people since i first stepped in a classroom at 18 as a TA. If you feel like that I would say battle through it though it never will be the easy option. It's a lot of hard work for little to no thanks (and as i mentioned before quite often outright critisism and teacher bashing). You'd also be starting at a very difficult time and Id say please keep your eyes on the more experianced teachers who have stuck it out, your likely to see a lot of things done in ways they shouldnt be as there is no longer the loney available to teach in the way that it should be done, it was a stressful job when I started ( the last time there were widespread teacher strikes) and that has just increased which means a lot of schools are very tense places to be.

Sorry for the wall of text, we really need more teachers, students are suffering because of chronic underfunding and teachers are largely bearing the brunt of this. But I dont think anyone should be taking this career path with their eyes closed. Even the best teachers are being broken by this job at the moment and it's not likely to get any easier.

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PumpkinPie2016 · 22/07/2022 14:43

To add my perspective as HoD of a core subject;

I do genuinely enjoy my job. There are days that are extremely busy/stressful times/times when I am exhausted but I do enjoy what I do.

I get a lot of satisfaction from my job. I have a good balance of classroom teaching alongside being able to shape my department and drive improvements forward. Not everyone will enjoy the leadership side but I do.

Pay is good for me. I am paid leadership scale and even as a relatively new HoD my salary is around 53k.

I do own a house, though jointly with my husband.

If you really want to teach - go for it!! It is rewarding, challenging and never boring!

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clopper · 22/07/2022 15:15

katerusby has raised a really important point:
Also just be aware there is an issue with pay portability. It is very, very hard as an experienced primary teacher to move jobs and maintain your pay level.

This is really annoying. I actually don’t want to change jobs being so near to retirement, but if I did for some reason I think I would not be able to replicate my current salary despite many years of experience. Also be aware that some academies have their own pay structures, rules etc. and can be quite different to Lea schools.

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whatdoiactuallydo · 22/07/2022 23:58

@mij66 @KateRusby
You both bring up amazing points honestly.
Right now I’m absolutely determined to be a teacher but I will always keep in mind how resilient I need to be.
Im a recent graduate in STEM and I know I have other options if teaching really does chew me up and spit me out.

I really appreciate everyone’s honesty when talking about the career.

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