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Differences between primary and secondary teaching

Discussion in 'Professional development' started by natsmoore, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tr><td class="post">I am considering the possibility of converting from secondary teaching (religious education) to primary.
    I'm aware that there is no training necessary, but a head willing to take a chance on your ability to adapt is obviously essential!!
    I'm wondering if anyone who HAS converted from secondary to primary could outline their experiences and the difficulties they faced with the conversion.
    I think most of us teachers would say we're capable of adapting in all sorts of situations, but people seem to suggest it is quite a different experience?
    Thanks is advance for any replies
  2. I found slim to no problems making the leap - I did some supply for about a year, mainly in week long placements, then got a maternity cover on supply basis, they loved me (I'm good at fooling people :p) and offered me another maternity cover after that finished, which I took. Gave me good experience on my cv and a great reference.
    Its a world away from Secondary - nothing like it at all, apart from the politics, but you get them everywhere, so no surprise there. IMHO it is MUCH more work - planning being a biggie - when I was secondary my planning was a line in my planner, for me and only me. In Primary (I have now taught in 3 schools on a long term basis and been in many many more on week long or longer supply, so get talking to staff) I have yet to be in a school where planning isn't really for SMT and taken in and scrutenised every week. You aren't really treated like a grown up or professional by management, which grates, but you learn to smile, nod and ignore a lot. Parents are generally nicer (I've worked in both inner city and leafy suburb schools, both secondary and primary), but obviously this varies from school to school. Even in the roughest primary I've been in the behaviour is nothing as bad as the secondaries (all of them, including a 'nice' grammar), I've seen people query this, but have yet to see it myself.
    However, it is SO much nicer in terms of you actually seem to make a difference in the kiddies lives (rather than just spoon feeding them exam paper answers) and the range of subjects is interesting imho, rather than just being focused on one subject - you can still get all passionate about your subject via Co-ordinator jobs. This is another area where you get more work, and without the recognition you get in Secondaries - TLRs abound in Secondary, you probably won't see one in primary, the only way to bump up your pay packet is by joining SMT.
    Of course, there will be schools where none of what I've said is the case, but as I say above, I've been in quite a few schools, and quite a range of different types, and think it's pretty much the same in all of them (to a greater or lesser extent, obviously).
    I'm less stressed though, if only due to not having exam marks/coursework faked, not being told to F off everyday, and not fearing for my personal safety or that of my property.
    If you are in an area that has plenty of supply its a good way of making the change over, otherwise you may find it harder to get a job as there are way way too many Primary trained teachers and NQTs fighting for fewer jobs, obviously depending on area (London never seems to have a problem).
    Just thought of something else - in most of the secondaries I was in things were pretty much the same old everywhere - exam board dictating courses and content, none of which were ever every different at the end of the day - in primary, every school I've been in has had different ways of doing things, from the very different curriculums (PYP/IPC/Creative Curriculum/Traditionally delivered National Curriculum and some others thrown in as well), to the paperwork requirements, to the folders and layout....just everything changes in each school to the degree that in Secondary I always felt it was the same job in a different building, but in primary I feel more like its a whole new ball game in a new school - so fresher and a little more exciting if you like - keeps things from getting boring I guess :)
    Good luck if you want to make the plunge - if you were thinking of changing jobs anyway and can afford to be without a full time perm. contract for a bit, definately go supply and have a look see to see if it suits you - its a whole different world :) If you have any questions, shoot :)
  3. leadlearner

    leadlearner New commenter

    The biggest difference really is the range of different subjects you will be expected to teach, also generally the smaller size of the school. You might miss the challenge of teaching older pupils at GCSE, but you may welcome the variety and different challenge of teaching lots of different subjects to a group of pupils. I imagine that this will take some mugging up on , Year 6 teaching for example and the subject knowledge required across the board is pretty intense, I imagine how difficult it is depends on the Year group and how well (in larger schools) staff in year groups work together and the resources/SOW. available.
    Also in secondary schools every 60 mins or so a bell rings and you have a different group of pupils to teach - in primary you will build relationships with just one class. While I anticipate this is massively rewarding, I imagine if you have challenging classes you might miss the change of pupils, although of course you will be changing topics. [​IMG]

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