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Am I mad to consider teacher training?

Discussion in 'Scotland - prospective teachers' started by a_boy_from_Leith, Oct 15, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place right now and would really appreciate some advice from strangers on whether I should apply for the PGDE Primary course starting next September.

    I have read a number of threads devoted to this subject and the overall consensus is that you would be foolish to leave a steady well paid job in the pursuit of a teaching qualification just now as there quite simply aren't any new grad jobs out there, but surely it isn't all bad, there must be some jobs out there and some positive stories?

    I would like to give you the facts for my situation, some you may find irrelevant but I have read about them all on various other threads, and would genuinely appreciate any feedback or opinion, no matter how forthright, on whether I should continue down this route or just suck it up and stick to my day job.

    I have read the scare stories about 500+ applicants for a job in Glasgow and having to leave Edinburgh to find work in the Highlands and I'm constantly changing my mind about this based on practicality versus desire, head ruling heart kinda thing. This is what I really want to do with my life but I don't know if I'm prepared to risk my family's wellbeing to pursue it, although I have their full support.

    I have all the entrance requirements for the course including time spent in a Primary School shadowing teachers. I also currently work, in a volunteering capacity, with children who are victims of alcohol abuse. I have spent a considerable amount of time discussing my application with the admissions department of the two Universities where I would like to study and am pretty confident that I would be accepted on to the course and for the purpose of this post can we assume that I have been offered a position to study.

    So this is me:

    I am a married 30 year old Roman Catholic male with one child who is 8 months old. We are planning to have another child in the next 18 months so let's say I'll have two children under 3 by the time I start my probationary year.

    I currently work in a 9-5 office job and earn £35k a year. I sit at a computer most of the day, my job has no stress and I find it easy. I have been doing this kind of work for eight years and have never once woke up and dreaded the thought of going into the office that day.

    I currently commute 45 minutes each way to work, I get the train and although it's expensive it's an easy ride. In my "dream" of being a teacher I would work in one of the seven primary schools in the town where I live or at worst within 20 minutes drive of where I live, this would open my catchment area up to 6 or 7 towns and roughly 35 Primary Schools.

    My wife will go back to work two days a week in February earning approximately £13k a year, in my probationary year our combined salary will be roughly £34k, half of what our combined full time salaries are now so I am certainly not doing this for the money. It will take me seven years in teaching to even get the salary that I earn now and I would most probably be promoted to director level here in the next five years.

    We live in flat that is big enough for another child, if I didn't quit my job we would move to a nice house, if I do move into teaching we couldn't move for say 5 years. Our mortgage is small, we have no other debt and our monthly outgoings are manageable, we will survive on my wife's salary and savings while I study for a year and will be comfortable when I start my probationary year.

    We couldn't survive me being out of work for more than a year (while I study) so if I didn't get a teaching job after my probationary year I would have to get another full-time job and it would be very difficult to get back into my old career in the current climate so I would most probably be looking at unskilled low-paid work.

    I'm honest enough to say that not only is teaching a career that I want to pursue but it is also a lifestyle choice that I want. I appreciate that I will work twice as hard as I do now and believe it or not that is a plus point for me. I don't want to work in an office, I find it soul destroying working with middle class people who are motivated by money and I genuinely do want to make a difference and help children in anyway I can.

    I want to be a part of the community, I want to live and work where I do just now and also want to enjoy the school holidays traveling with my children. I grew up in a rough council scheme and have managed to educate myself and have worked and traveled all over the world, I always succeed in whatever I set my heart on and I know that I will be a great teacher if given the chance.

    So that's my life story and here are the questions that run through my head almost constantly and would appreciate your thoughts.

    What would you do in my situation? Am I nuts to be even considering this?
    I know I have a great life and am taking a huge risk but that's what makes me think I'm doing the right thing, and for the right reasons but is the risk to great?

    On a practical point, will I get a probationary placement in a school close to where I live, or at worst close to where the University I study is?
    Not a big deal I guess but it would be nice to know what the likelihood of this is.

    Is it practical to think that I will get a new grad job in Angus?
    From what I've read you must be prepared to go anywhere, including abroad, if you want to secure permanent new grad employment and even then it is not guaranteed but as I said, a huge part of this change is to settle and raise my family where we have chosen as our home.

    Do I stand a better chance of getting a permanent job purely because I am male?
    I find this incredible but the vast majority of teachers I speak to, all of whom are female, say that it gives me a head start and that if my experience, interview and references are on a par with a female applicant I will get the job every time. Today a deputy head told me that it was "positive discrimination" and men are being actively recruited. I think (as I can't find them again to refer to) Executive figures state that only 7% of teachers in Scottish primary schools are male.

    Do I stand a good chance of getting a job in a R.C. school?
    Obviously there are far fewer Catholic schools than nondenominational schools but again is it in my favor being a male Catholic graduate? I can't study at St Andrew's College so do I need to complete a Catholic certificate of education to get a permanent job in a Catholic school or is this just for secondary school teachers?

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this and for any comments left.
    ABFL.

     
  2. Personally, I wouldn't go into teaching now, solely because of the jobs situation. Unless that changes I wouldn't do it.
    Apparently the jobs situation in primary is even more dire than secondary.
    The situation in Angus may be different from where I am, Glasgow.
    Without critiquing every single point you make, let's look at two. Firstly, another child. Let's assume you do the PGDE course and then the probationary year: that will take up almost all of your time for at least two years. If you are lucky enough to secure a job then add another hectic year to that. I'd forget another child for the time being if I were you. Secondly, you couldn't survive for more than a year without work. Exactly what does that mean for you? Lost house? Etc?
    In primary it would be advantageous being male because there are so few males teaching in primary. I'd be extremely careful of anyone claiming positive discrimination - see it in writing before you believe it. A Principal Teacher told me there was a shortage of teachers in my subject, was/is there heck!
    In this climate I'd go for the RC bit too to make yourself more marketable.
    I would get in touch, somehow, with someone who is just out of probation, maybe even a few. Interrogate them thoroughly, and then make up your own mind.
    However, at the end of the day it would be up to you.
     
  3. <font size="2">Hi bigjimmy, thanks for your reply and the points contained in it.</font><font size="2">I think it's a good idea to speak to teachers who have just completed their probation year and will get on the phone to some local schools and see if they can point me in the right direction.</font><font size="2">As for your other points, I appreciate what you're saying about another baby but I don't see that as a cause for concern, what I mean is that it won't influence my decision, I'll enjoy that regardless of my work/study/probationary situation but understand your point.</font><font size="2">As for not surviving without work, I meant that I wouldn't/couldn't wait for two or three years just applying for teaching posts with the odd day of supply thrown in, I would have to get another full-time job which would be frustrating as I will be leaving a well paid non teaching job to then go back to full-time non teaching work without the benefits that I have now.</font><font size="2">Fortunately no, we wouldn't ever be in the dire situation of losing our home, in the worst case scenario that I couldn't get any type of job my wife (much to her protestation) would go back to work full-time and bring home the bacon whilst I fulfil the role of daddy day-care.</font><font size="2">In short you don't think it's a good idea for anyone to go into teacher training at this time, particularly Primary, but if I decide to you do think it's advantageous to be a man who could work in a Catholic school?</font><font size="2">Thanks again, </font><font size="2"> abfL </font>
     
  4. PS - Sorry for the formatting, or lack thereof, not sure what happened there.
     
  5. "surely it isn't all bad, there must be some jobs out there and some positive stories?"
    Despite what some will say here, there are positive stories, if not somewhat limited. There are people who fell straight into a permanent positions post-probation, just very lucky (mostly).

    "In my "dream" of being a teacher I would work in one of the seven
    primary schools in the town where I live or at worst within 20 minutes
    drive of where I live, this would open my catchment area up to 6 or 7
    towns and roughly 35 Primary Schools.
    "
    Unfortunately you would probably have to be highly lucky to get work post-probation in a local school, if I'm being honest. Many teachers in these schools have been there for years and newer teachers often have to put up with a long commute or move into the area they are working in.

    "I don't want to work in an office, I find it soul destroying working
    with middle class people who are motivated by money and I genuinely do
    want to make a difference and help children in anyway I can
    ."
    As much as I love teaching at times, the paperwork side of things is horrendous and it can be easy to feel like you are in an office job whenthe bell goes, the kids go home and you spend ages pouring over paperwor at your desk or at home. You'll not escape middle class people motivated by money in teaching. It's not always easy to make a difference. In some catchment areas you will come across children in situations whereby there is not much you can do to make a difference due to home situations. In more affluent areas he parents do so much work with them sometimes it feels like you are barely teaching and doing anything for them. You can make a mark but can't always make a difference.

    "What would you do in my situation? Am I nuts to be even considering this?"

    Can't answer this for you but at the moment, given the amount of teachers who are looking for work, it could be considered madness. Yes, there will always have to be retirals but there is such a back log of ex-probationers now it could take years to sort the "mess" out.

    "On a practical point, will I get a probationary placement in a school
    close to where I live, or at worst close to where the University I
    study is?
    "
    When you do your school placements at Univeristy they will usually be able to accomodate you in a school close to your home address. In your probation year you will choose from five authorities you would like to work in and you are randomly allocated one for your probation year. That authority will then usually do it's best to allocate you a school as close to your home address as possible. But once the probation year is over the chances of just being able to find work at a school down the road will become increasingly difficult.

    "Do I stand a better chance of getting a permanent job purely because I am male?"
    Who knows what goes on inside the mind of HT's when recruiting. If I try and put myself in their schoes for a moment, I suppose a male candidate in a predominantly female school would seem advantageous. But then other priorities may dicatata that it's the best person for the job i.e. if the school improvement plan is focusing on attainment in science and a candidate has a science background or remit from their last post, that's the motivation for appointing them. I suppose they can be choosy in this jobs climate but in my opinion, being male would probably help in a good majority of situations.
     
  6. I am currently completing my probation year and I am loving every minute of it. I too wanted to make a difference and I don't regret for a minute all the hard work that I have put in. However, the job situation for me at the end of this year is dire. I started this on the basis that I would always get supply, even if I didn't get a full time post. This is no longer the case. Head-teachers have piles of teachers begging for supply work and many of the authorities have closed their lists. I do think that being male would help you.
    I know of at least two men who feel that their sex was a benefit to them when they secured a permeant post. I also think that the job situation will improve. The numbers entering teacher training institutions will be cut by 75% next year. This will free up a large number of probationer posts the following year. Retirements are also beginning to happen - albeit slower than expected. If I am perfectly honest I think that there will be no jobs for the next few years, but over the next eight years I think that there will be a shortage of teachers as the numbers of teachers entering the profession drops and the retirees gradually happen.
    Personally if I was the main breadwinner in my house I wouldn't have become a teacher just now. I do think that no one should stay in a job they are not happy in just for the money but I would probably wait for a couple of years first though if I were you. Once the children have started school finances for childcare become much easier and you will find the course more manageable when they sleep through the night.
    Best of Luck
     
  7. <font size="2">Thanks gibbous99 for such a detailed reply, info about placements and job chances in my local area when I qualify, and for giving me at least some hope of a happy ending by telling me there are some success stories out there, no matter how few and far between they seem to be.... In answer to your points:</font><font size="2"> </font><font size="2">I have always been lucky in what I do, I would think of myself as a very lucky person and have often been in the right place at the right time, is that a sensible basis to continue with my application? Probably not but it does steer me down that route, someone has to get the new grad job, why not the lucky, male, catholic local boy? </font><font size="2"> </font><font size="2">Its ridiculous isn&rsquo;t it? Everything points towards not doing it but still I&rsquo;m convinced it&rsquo;s the right thing to do?</font>
     
  8. <font size="2">Thanks gibbous99 for such a detailed reply, info about placements and job chances in my local area when I qualify, and for giving me at least some hope of a happy ending by telling me there are some success stories out there, no matter how few and far between they seem to be.... In answer to your points:</font><font size="2"> </font><font size="2">I have always been lucky in what I do, I would think of myself as a very lucky person and have often been in the right place at the right time, is that a sensible basis to continue with my application? Probably not but it does steer me down that route, someone has to get the new grad job, why not the lucky, male, catholic local boy? </font><font size="2"> </font><font size="2">Its ridiculous isn&rsquo;t it? Everything points towards not doing it but still I&rsquo;m convinced it&rsquo;s the right thing to do?</font>
     
  9. Aggggh, *** is up with formatting on this thing? Apologies for the repeat and the style, I don't know if I can delete and re-try, any technical advice greatly recieved.
     
  10. I actually believed them at uni when they said there would be jobs and did not do proper research. I am a probationer in secondary and no one from the PGDE the year before mine has manged to secure full time work. If I had known how bad the job situation was I would have chosen a different post grad course where I could have guaranteed a job at the end of it or at least some hope of one.
    I am under no illusion. I will probably not get work. As a mature student with a lot of experience in other areas I do have skills to fall back on, which is something I suppose.
    My advice would be to wait until the job situation improves. Apparently they have been spinning the 'mass retiral' yarn for years. I also know many primary teachers who have not found work either and can't even get a job on supply.
    I have been told that if I am prepared to move ANYWHERE, I might just find something. I do find the situation quite depressing and am only one term in!
    I'm sure you will decide what is best for you and your family, and I am just being honest.
    Good luck whatever you decide.
     
  11. Just a note - I don't believe there are many jobs in Highland now either and those are being chased by many, many applicants.
     
  12. daisy_chain

    daisy_chain New commenter

    Another point to consider is that given your experience with children you could apply to jump up the pay scale. This may make things a bit easier financially! Good luck whatever you decide to do!
     
  13. Hi mustbecrazy, and thanks for your reply, it's great to hear from someone who's at the sharp end, as someone earlier suggested - it is people like you that I need to talk to and shape my decision on.

    You make some great points and you seen to understand exactly where I'm coming from with regard to my current situation at work versus my priority of a secure and happy life for my family.

    I *think* I've come to a decison that it would just be crazy to go ahead with my application for this year, my plan is to press on for next year and hopefully get more experience in local schools over the next 12 months, as much to build bridges if nothing else, however next year may turn in to the year after if things don't look any brighter with regard to employment prospects.

    I don't hate my job but it certainly doesn't make me happy either, it's got much easier since we've had our daughter as it's now just 8 hours I get through until I get home and we make much more of our weekends now which is excellent. I can deal with this for another two years. I have no burning desire to leave and do 'something else' my desire is to leave and become a Primary school teacher.

    A sensible plan would be to study in 2012/13, probationary year in 2013/14 after which I will land the job of my dreams in a local school but 5 minutes walk from my front door as soon as I graduate. However knowing me as I do, I fully expect to come back on next week and tell you that my application is in for the course starting in August 2010......

    Peace and love, peace and love.
     
  14. Hi Lesleymag and thanks for your reply, firstly I'm sorry to hear that things are so dire for you and fear that if I hadn't found this forum last week I too would be in the same situation as you this time next year.

    Would you mind telling me what Uni you're at and where the new grads you talk of are looking for work? Is it all over Scotland or all in say Glasgow, close to Uni for example?

    I appreciate that you're studying Secondary but if what I read on here is true the Primary situation is even worse, if at all possible.

    Like you I know I would get another job, even in the climate of high unemployment, if I couldn't get a full-time teaching job post qualification but I certainly wouldn't get such a well paid 'cushie' number that I have just now and if I'm not going to get the teaching job that I crave and have trained for what's the point in leaving the standard but stressless job I have now?

    I'm defo in the camp of your advice just now, wait it out for a couple of years then study, probabtion, then new grad job in 4 years, it is the sensible option and I can still have 30 years teaching from then if I wish, my oldest child will have just started school by then and everything will work out great, that's the plan this evening anyway but we've got a long weekend ahead of us...

    Thanks again for your input, I appreciate it, and all the best of luck with your career ahead, remember you may be the lucky one, you may get that job, if I thought I would get it you can as at least you'll be qualified!
     
  15. It seems like there is nowhere to go now, from Coldstream to the Highlands there are no jobs for a just qualified teacher, it's actually quite sickening.
     
  16. How does this work daisy_chain? I always thought you started at the bottom of the scale and worked up every year towards chartered teacher level if that was your desire, that your salary was based on on the job experience?
     
  17. Have tried to e mail you without success, but perhaps you could mail me instead?
    I will be able to answer your questions.
    L
     
  18. JPM1967

    JPM1967 New commenter


    Read SNCT35 from the following link ABFL, in particular paras 14 & 15:
    http://www.snct.org.uk/lnctAgreements.php
    I was in an eerily similar position to yourself several years ago, and ran my work experience past my local authority before quitting my job. They may give you a verbal indication of where they'd put you on the salary scale post-probation, but unfortunately they're unlikely to commit in writing, especially in these troubled financial times. Each case is determined on its merits and, from what I hear, some local authorities are currently being much stricter regarding what they consider 'relevant' non-teaching experience.
    Good luck...whatever you decide to do.
     
  19. Many thanks for this JPM1967, I'll have a read through this and see if I have the relevant know-how.
     
  20. lescargot

    lescargot Occasional commenter

    Hi
    I think you're doing the right thing postponing this life-changing decision for a couple of years. Then we will actually see if people start retiring and they stop training so many people, jobs may open up and it may be more worth your while to take the risk of leaving your job. I am secondary and it has taken me 18 months to secure a permanent post.
    I think in the current climate it is highly unlikely you would secure a perm post directly after probation, you would most likely have to 'do your time' on supply first at the moment. After that you would probably 'have' to take the first permanent thing offered to you no matter how near or far to your home that is.
    I realise teaching may be a more fulfilling career but ultimately you have a family to think about here and you must put that first - the job situation has taken over my life for the last 18 months, that's the last thing you want.
    All the best of luck, let us know how you get on.
     

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