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Aspiring Teacher Looking For Advice

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by ThatBikeGuy1994, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. ThatBikeGuy1994

    ThatBikeGuy1994 New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    As you have probably guessed, I'm new here and I'm interested in a career in teaching. This has been an aspiration of mine prior to heading off to university and I'm looking for more information regarding the job itself, post-graduate education and any information that would be useful for me to know.

    Here's a little information about me.

    I'm a second year Drama student at the University of Lincoln however I plan to do my PGCE in English for the obvious reasons of there is more work as an English teacher and importantly; English is a subject I'm interested in, especially literature.

    I'm currently doing a placement at a secondary school and I have a small project running with a specialist special needs school. So far I do enjoy what I do but I don't have the out of hours stress as full time teachers do. So my first question is: How much preparation and work out of hours is required for an English teacher, do you get much time to yourself? Has teaching taken over your own life?

    At the moment I am uncertain on how I would go about attaining my PGCE and QTS. The issue I am having is that my current University offers SCITT programmes as they are partnered with some local schools, which is the route I would ideally like to take however the fee is £9,000 and I can only get a student loan of £10,000 and £4,000 bursary [at worst I will get a 2:1] from the government with the PGCE being in English. £14,000 in total wouldn't enable me to pay for fees, accommodation in Lincoln and the costs of living.

    Leading to my second question: What route would you recommend to attain a PGCE and QTS and why?

    Please note I am looking to teach in secondary schools as opposed to primary

    Thank you very much.

  2. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    As an English teacher, the workload is relentless. I'm 15 years in and, whilst I've got planning lessons down to a fine art, marking is a huge time sink. A set of books takes maybe a couple of hours if you're quick and efficient. I currently teach only 5 groups, but have colleagues who teach between 7 and 10 groups. Marking their books once a fortnight is a huge task. Do I get much time to myself? One night a week and one day at the weekend off. But that's because I have years of experience. Has it taken over my life? Probably but it's my job, and it's the best job in the world.
    Which route would I take? They're all much the same in reality. The difference between SCITT and Core (uni based) PGCE is who runs them, really. The funding will be the same whichever route you choose, so the choice is about location and training patterns. I run a SCITT course, and our trainees are in school every week from September to July. The uni Core trainees are in from October to June. I am biased, of course, but of the trainees placed in my school, the ones on School Based programmes (whether SCITT or School Direct) tend to be better.
  3. ThatBikeGuy1994

    ThatBikeGuy1994 New commenter

    Thank you for your response. I've heard so many mixed views about teaching as a career and that there is now a lot more 'red tape' than what they used to be. I'm just trying to figure out if this is something I would want to do for the rest of my working life. So far I'm pretty certain but I do not want to go in blind.

    Thank you again.
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I'm an English NQT. I work about 12 hours per day, plus one or both days at the weekend. Still, I do not have time to complete everything I need to complete. Life = non existent. Stress = sky high.

    How's your English subject knowledge? I have a 1st class degree in my subject, so don't need to spend extra time on top of that trying to understand the texts/concepts I'm teaching, but if your degree is in a different subject you might need to add time on to bring yourself up to speed.

    Money - that's 14k over 10 months, not 12 (although be aware that Student Finance England don't pay grants on a monthly basis, they do odd amounts at odd times). Also, if you're in your second year be aware that the bursaries can change from year to year - might go up or down, so don't count on it still being the same for the year you're thinking of starting the course.

    Also, have you talked to uni about how they'd feel about offering you a place? You just need to be aware of the limitations of not having a degree in the subject area you want to teach. I don't think you'd be allowed to teach A-level, and some schools would not consider you for a job I'm afraid because you'll be up against candidates who do have degrees in the subject.

    if you have any specific questions feel free to ask!
  5. ThatBikeGuy1994

    ThatBikeGuy1994 New commenter

    My English knowledge I would consider is rather advanced, obviously not as good as yours being that your degree is in English. Nonetheless my degree is predominantly literature based as opposed to practice.

    I'd be happy teaching either Drama or English but my only concern is the stress of teaching as I have heard mixed views.

    What is your NQT year like so far?
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    My NQT experience has not been good. There are lots of reasons for that, too many and complex to go into here fully, so I'll be brief!

    Firstly, most of the people on my PGCE got a job in one of their placement schools, so they already knew the way the school liked to do things, and knew they fitted in. I ended up in a completely different school to my placement schools though, and it really isn't the school for me. So, that has made the NQT year harder. If you are lucky you will like at least one of your schools, and there will be a job there to apply for.

    Secondly, when you're on the PGCE you do get support, and if you aren't getting the appropriate support your uni (or whoever) will step in and help you out. One of the people on my course had a problem where her school kept failing her lesson observations, so uni came out to her and observed her several times, and they actually overruled the school's decision. When you're an NQT though you are at the mercy of your employer, and although the local authority (the council) can step in to try and help with supporting you they cannot actually overrule the school or force them to do anything. The support and training that schools offer to NQTs varies greatly. I don't even think that asking at interview 'What NQT support will I receive?' is helpful because what I was told at interview has not become reality!

    Thirdly, there are lots of people working in schools who are only out for themselves. There is lots of arrogance and delusion among management. There are lots of schools who rule their employees through fear. I've been advised that if you do not smile and look happy then senior management will want rid of you - how pathetic is that!? I am in my 30s and have had various different roles in my lifetime, and I've never experienced such nastiness and pettiness before. You just need to read some of the threads on this forum (see 'workplace dilemmas') to see that this is a widespread problem.

    Apart from stress and workload, teaching is very isolating. You are alone in your classroom at secondary - TAs are far and few between, and you barely have time to say hello to colleagues as everyone is ridiculously busy all day (and long after the school day is over).

    I am at the negative end of the spectrum though. If you can make connections before you start the PGCE, as you are doing though your placements, then you may find yourself in a supportive school. That won't lessen the workload, but will make it more easy to deal with. Good luck!
  7. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    in a word. "don't." Go and do something else for a few years, by then the job of teacher in England might become possible once more. Look at the figures for teachers leaving to move abroad, look at the average time that an NQT stays in teaching these days. Even better, go and do some volunteer work in school for as many days and for as long as you can. Sit in the staffroom and listen, after school especially. Then make up your own informed mind.
  8. Spiritwalkerness

    Spiritwalkerness Star commenter

    I would be tempted to go uphill to BG and ask them what they'd recommend - they've been doing teacher-training there for a fair few years ;) (admittedly primary-based but have been doing secondary for a lot longer than Lincoln Uni)
  9. ThatBikeGuy1994

    ThatBikeGuy1994 New commenter

    If I was seen walking into BGU by my peers I'd never hear the end of it! :p UoL has partnerships with a lot of schools in and around Lincolnshire and I'd rather my training be school centred not sure what BGU offer. Nonetheless I think it would be worth me asking them what they offer or any advice they could give. Lincolnshire's nice and I'd like to stay after I graduate.

    Despite hearing about the crushing workloads of a teaching career; I've not been deterred yet! However finance may be an issue for me if I were to stay in Lincoln because I wouldn't get the student finance I currently rely on.
  10. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    BG has a very strong reputation nationally and will work with many of the schools that UoL also works with.
  11. ThatBikeGuy1994

    ThatBikeGuy1994 New commenter

    I wasn't aware of the universities reputation, I'll see who they are partnered with in terms of schools and if it would change anything for me financially (Although I presume I'll be in the same situation wherever I go)

  12. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Just one thing - if that's your real name, please change it just for personal data and identity reasons! Even though you're not a teacher (yet!) it's still advisable to change your username if that is your real name.

    I'm HoD for English and I think we have a new NQT joining us in Sept... When I found out I honestly said to my head "why on earth would he want to join teaching?" Now, don't get me wrong, I love teaching and I love my responsibility. But, I never joined teaching straight away and I advise you to do the same thing. Go straight from uni and do something different. I know there's a lot of pressures for graduates to get a graduate job or to go on to do a graduate scheme and whatnot, but seriously - teaching is as its worst right now. So, I would possibly look around for other jobs.

    If the finance is still a problem, even more reason to say "let's get another job and go into teaching when I am financially stable again." If you can't afford it at the moment and you do end up on a teaching course, the last thing you honestly want on your plate is stress about money and being in debt. Your teaching job will be 90% of stress and work-life balance will be gone.

    I really would advise to wait out the storm and come back in and see what teaching is all about in 2020. They'll always be a need for teachers, so it really doesn't matter if you postpone your ambition for the next 4 years.

    You can never get your 20s back... So think wisely!
  13. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    VeronicAmb advise is spot on, and is what I did before working in schools. Being mortgage free and enough money in the bank to be able to walk away if things got too much has made teaching so much easier. Also I would consider working in Private schools, which made the job less stressful.

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