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Been told to teach another subject

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by binnycat, Dec 24, 2015.

  1. binnycat

    binnycat New commenter

    I have been teaching for 12 years, and now I have been told by school that I need to teacher another subject that I am not specialist or qualified for. Can I refuse it as I do not feel confident in that subject area and I do not I have skills or experience?
    viognier likes this.
  2. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    What's your usual subject and what is this new one? How many periods per week are they asking you to teach it for?
  3. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    You should ask what CPD and support you're going to get in an email.
    Send a blind copy to your personal non school email. Do similar with all correspondence. Should you have conversations about it send emails confirming your understanding of the conversations. Build up a history which you may refer to in the future if things don't go well and the school starts getting heavy.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  4. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    It doesn't do much for your confidence or self-esteem, that's for sure. I was directed to teach Y8 ICT (anyone who knows me appreciates what a mismatch that was). I was tossed a copy of the Y8 SOW, pointed to a filing cabinet full of resources I did not understand, and blithely told that Mr X would explain everything - except that he was always teaching at the other end of the school when I had my lessons.
    **** of a HT said that owing to teaching staff being taken out of the SEN base in favour of cheaper mentors and TAs, I was under-timetabled so could suck it up or have my hours cut. I said Thanks, I'll have my hours cut, but it turned out not have been a serious option.
    I was hopeless. All the kids knew more than me. I only survived until I resigned anyway by finding a nice and knowledgable Y8 boy and sucking up to him.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    I believe that if you hold QTS you are qualified as a teacher and not as a teacher of a particular subject. This means that you now qualified (and can be asked to) teach any subject. With exceptions maybe for practical subjects with a safety aspect (eg some sports).

    Your subject knowledge comes from your degree or you can be expected to swot up on it. It is assumed that anyone who can get a degree is smart enough to learn anything up to GCSE level. (Another exception is made for maths and science teachers being expected to know wright sphelling :)).

    I have my doubts that this wise when the new subject is widely different from a teacher's usual one since we all know that just because someone has a flair for one subject it doesn't mean they are good at another. Although there are a few people who are good at everything, Grr.:mad:.
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    You're correct. This is why I asked the OP the questions above - it's possible to argue a case if a person is being asked to teach something for which very specialist knowledge/training might be required (e.g. science), but in theory, a teacher in England can be directed to teach pretty much anything that's "reasonable".
  7. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter



    Unless . . .

    Unless your offer letter and/or your contract specifies your role. Look them up.

    We are pleased to offer you the post of Teacher of Sanskrit with a salary of £27,567 per annum, commencing on the 1st September 2013.

    If your subject is specified and thus protected in this way, the downside is that redundancy might be on the cards . . .

    Good advice above about asking about training and also support. And putting these requests in writing.

    Anything that you are told verbally, e-mail a confirmation:

    Just to thank you today for telling me that the school will ensure that Joe Bloggs provides me with full teaching modules and planning and materials for Yr8 Mandarin that I have been asked to teach from next term. I was also pleased to hear that I am to be given extra time to prepare (Sue Smith taking my period 5 class with yr 10 on Friday afternoon for a term), and that a week's intensive course at half term in London will be fully funded by the school, including travel, board and lodging.

    Well, you can always dream!

    But it is important to keep a record of your requests for support and the answers, in case it comes back to bite you.

    Best wishes for a peaceful Christmastide


  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Are there people in school who can help you with subject content? If so this could be the start of enjoying teaching you never imagined would be for you.
    I taught art and music to year 5/6 a short while ago, when I had trained as a maths teacher and before that had only ever taught maths and PSE.
    Then I had to teach history to year 5. I knew absolutely nothing about Ancient Greece, except that they had loads of Gods and it was a long time ago!
    But you know what? I managed it and actually began to enjoy it.

    Don't fret over Christmas. They know you aren't a specialist, so won't be expecting the world from you. And if they are expecting outstanding every lesson with no guidance or support, your problems in school are more than being asked to teach a different subject.
  9. ValentinoRossi

    ValentinoRossi Star commenter

    Not sure what your degree subject is and what you are being asked to teach. But it does not necessarily have to be a negative experience.
    My first degree is in English and Theatre and my PGCE in English and Drama. At the request of the schools that have employed me, I have also taught History to A level, Philosophy at A level and KS3, PSHE as a timetabled subject, GCSE Citizenship, GCSE RS and KS3 Art. Each of these was a little scary at first, but with the support of relevant CPD and the HoDs, it turned out to be a positive experience for the students and for me.
  10. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    I guess as a teacher one is deemed to be able to break down a syllabus and deliver lessons in anything…. though I'd probably struggle with MFL or home economics myself. Ultimately, it pays to be as diverse and flexible as possible for future job security… and future employability.

    I have taught… English, Drama, Music, Dance, Welsh, Religious Studies, Citizenship, PSHE, ICT and a particularly challenging dabble with Design technology.
  11. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    As a History teacher I also taught over my career (with no training or CPD) KS3 RS & Geography, KS4 Citizenship & Critical Thinking & A Level General Studies. Nothing unusual in that, l think.

    But had l been told to teach Maths, German, any Science, DT or a sport it would have been a very different situation.
  12. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    Retied this year, but always thought that I would teach whatever the school wanted. So with degree in chemistry I taught A level Chemistry, A level Physics, A level General studies, and Cambridge IT. I would have been quite happy to teach any other subject to GCSE.
  13. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    German? PE? Textiles?
  14. Alldone

    Alldone Senior commenter

    OK - not German - French Ok and PE would be OK - |I used to do Several After school games activities. Textiles - not something my school used to do , but I am sure that any GCSE subject could be learned and taught in just a few months. I used to work in industry where it was expected to be flexible in what t you did.
  15. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Some people think if you've studied a subject to O Level/GCSE you can teach it to that level; ditto for A Level. My experience is that the best teachers had both an expert knowledge of their subject (usually gained through degree or post degree study) and a great enthusiasm for it. Of course there were/are exceptions but they are rare, I found. Pupils soon sniff out the unwilling conscript made to teach them.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  16. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Well as a History teacher I'll be starting a role as an English teacher soon enough...

    I've taught a lot of different subjects... most of them, if adequately supported by subject chiefs, have been relatively easy to adapt to.
  17. ScotSEN

    ScotSEN Senior commenter

    but in theory, a teacher in England can be directed to teach pretty much anything that's "reasonable".[/QUOTE]

    Wow that's something I didn't know! Always assumed that one needed to be qualified in a subject to teach it in seconadary. (As it certainly was in Scotland when I did my training many moons ago.)
  18. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    As a History teacher l always felt l could have 'done' English, but was never asked. The key to success will be in the support - l hope it goes well for you.
    lanokia likes this.
  19. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    When secondary teacher i was an Re specialist but taught English,careers,drama and a variety of other subjects.
    In primary i teach everything...or did. yet also coordinated areas such as science,D&T and ..ICT and there you had to learn them all yourself.
    So it can be done as your a qualified teacher and so can teach.....you just have to swot up the knowledge.
  20. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Wow that's something I didn't know! Always assumed that one needed to be qualified in a subject to teach it in seconadary. (As it certainly was in Scotland when I did my training many moons ago.)[/QUOTE]
    And still is.

    I wouldn't attempt to teach other subjects.

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