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Disaffected Secondary MFL teacher thinking of swapping to primary

Discussion in 'Primary' started by razzmatazz, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. After attending some parents' meetings at my children's wonderful inner
    city primary school, I am now thinking that I might like to teach KS2
    instead of KS3+. From reading other posts, it seems that I wouldn't be
    required to retrain as such, having QTS. What I would like to ask is
    how do you suddenly go about teaching the other subjects and know what
    exactly you are to teach? I presume there are the schemes of work to
    guide you. And being able to offer 4 languages to primary level, would
    that be an advantage?
  2. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    There is some need for specialist language teachers in primary, but what makes you think you wouldnt need any retraining? Technically, you only need QTS, but with the over supply of primary teachers, heads have a good supply of qualified and experienced primary trained teachers. There used to be conversion courses a few years ago but dont know if they are still around. You need a good understanding of how young children learn at primary age. It is much more practical and active than secondary. You will also need to be able to teach and understand learning right down to KS1/FS level as you will have children working at this level even in Y6. What is your experience of SEN. I know from my own childrens school that lower ability children are often disapplied from MFL or at least only recieve taster sessions. Also you will possibly meet a greater range of more significant SEN as children needing special schooling can often cope at primary level, but never make it to secondary mainstream. Can you cope with mixed ability classes of upto 35/40 children as KS2 classes are often high. You could have 6 or 7 abilities to cater for in any one lesson, especially maths. Why did the parents meetings trigger this need to change? If you want greater contact with parents you will get it good and bad. Primary parents can be more worried and mollycoddling and have less perspective. You are more likely to have to deal with difficult parents on a daily basis. Behaviour management is no less difficult in primary, just different. Also techniquely in a primary you can be made to teach any age. It happens less often, but you could be teaching Y6 one year and nursery the next. Even if you dont teach the full range you will work with N-Y6 often. You will also only get 10% PPA and no non contact time.
    Why not see if you can do some MFL work in one of your local feeder primaries to see if this age is for you.
  3. Haven't read much of your post beyond the bit 'what makes you think you wouldn't need retraining'. Posts on this subject on the TES forums have made me think that. I personally wouldn't enter into it lightly and would probably feel the need for some retraining.
  4. What makes me like my children's school so much is it's calm ethos. It is inner city but a church primary so probably not representative of the whole range. I work in a secondary school with children who have increasingly more challenging special needs and feel the need for a change. I find the idea of the variety of activity attractive at the moment. Classes of 40 don't exist in my children's primary school. Having two children myself has opened my eyes to how younger children learn....although I know I would have much to learn about teaching a class of them.
  5. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    As you may guess from my username I too am MFL (only 3 langs though) and have been trying to get into Primary Langs for about 3 yrs now -unsuccessfully.( I am Jun/ Sec trained so have trained in both sectors and on supply have taught nursery to Yr 11. I also wrote my minor dissertation on 'Languages in the Primary School' ) There are lots of staff who are trying to move down into Primary as well as all those trainees coming out each year.Most schools think they don't actually need specialist Lang teachers as in Prim. you just teach the one class for all subjects- everyone expected to deliver. They might need(in my opinion DO need) a specialist to plan SoW, find resources etc and the role is much more advisory, helping colleagues find their own strengths to help them deliver MFL etc.
    Primary teachers teach everything and anything,you have to have a handle on every curriculum area and be something of a soial worker- you wouldn't believe the amount of time you can spend sorting out squabbles!
    Try and organise some visits into Primary, talk to colleagues in your area, how difficult is it in your area to relocate? Many people do move very successfully and find Primary very fulfilling- though not easier-do not be misled.
  6. Sorry but having children does not qualify you as a specialist of primary education - I would seriously advise you spend some considerable time in a primary setting to see what it is really like. A colleague of mine has just transferred from secondary and he cannot believe how different it is and how unprepared he was, and he's been teaching for decades. How would you feel if it was the other way around and your child had a teacher who had no primary training?
    MFL is taught for at most 30 mins a week, if this is your passion then you won't get much opportunity to teach it plus most schools have bought in schemes that you follow to the letter with accompanying CDs.
    I'm not sure if other primary teachers would agree but the actual teaching of children only takes up about 60% of your energy - there is a heck of a lot of paperwork, analysis and box ticking going on in primary schools which you'd need to take into consideration while you're making your decision.
  7. pussycat

    pussycat New commenter

    'Sorry but having children does not qualify you as a specialist of primary education '

    Well that's told YOU!

    Stay in secondary for goodness sake - then you won't have to mix with the priggish types who rule the pirmary sector!
  8. My class are, and I'm being begged by parents to stay (in a very high acheiving school with very very pushy parents) - wish I could, but I'm no longer needed soon (maternity cover). I was secondary, secondary trained, and made the move over via a (very) short time on supply, then got one week where I am now and asked to stay for 11 months. Let's not be too precious about this. Yes primary is very different to secondary, but if you are a basic good teacher, it's still teaching and the basic principles are the same. There is a lot to learn, but then there is whenever you move schools (what with GCSE/A Level syllabus' changing on an almost monthly basis it feels like! and that doesn't mention the different boards and actual qualifications - diplomas? Functional Skills? A levels? Nationals? GNVQs? and on and on...), and if it's a school that is worth being in, they will let you know 'their' way of doing things and what the abbreviations mean - I've found this exactly the same whether you are moving secondary schools, or from secondary to primary.
    I completely agree with this one - if you don't have one of the more sensible and relaxed schools you are virtually asked to give blood and your liver function results on a weekly basis, such is the mountain of completely pointless paperwork. This means the job is very frustrating and you may not feel you can do the best job you can (something you have to learn to live with, or move on).
    The parents are generally a nightmare as well (unfortunately, as is the way, just having two problem parents colours the whole barrel) but overprotective worryworts are (understandably) more common with littler children.
    Personally, I love it and really really don't want to go back to secondary, even though I do sometimes miss my subject and planning SoW for that area, but the fun you can have whilst enabling learning is so much better I find in Primary and you see them grow up infront of your eyes such is the rate of change within one year as they are so young - it is so rewarding, more so imho than in secondary. Behaviour is (even in the very worst of schools I've been in on supply) nothing like the worst of Secondary I've experienced (but I have experienced some really bad secondary schools (teachers getting stabbed etc) so that might not be much to go on. I find it easier to sort out Primary behaviour, which was a complete surprise to me as I never thought I would be able to handle it (hence originally going into Secondary).
    All in all, if you can handle the stupid amounts of pointless work (and find ways around them/to lessen them), I think primary is better, but as with all things it depends on the individual.
    If you can afford to give up your perm. job and get supply (depending on your area this can be the best job ever, or a bit of a struggle if there isn't a lot of it around), build up experience in Primary and then just apply, as I am now - from no experience at all this time last year in Primary, I am now apparently a 'very strong candidate indeed' for primary jobs, so it doesn't take much to get up to speed in it really if it's something you want to do and therefore have the motivation and passion for!
    Good luck :D
  9. Oh, forgot to say, languages are woefully ignored in Primary - technically we are meant to teach it, but it 'doesn't matter' if we can't fit it in (despite it being on the timetable), and if we do it's for a pitifully small amount of time that means you might as well not bother. Even with the new rules coming in (30 mins a week) it's still not that important to schools, and won't be until it's a league table point scorer! So you won't really be in demand because of your languages - not a biggy though, one of my subjects from secondary isn't taught at all in primary (business) and the other is still usually an afterthought (from what I have seen in various schools) a lot of the time (ict/computing).
    Sorry for the bad news - but you can always shoe-horn it into your topics and other lessons as an extra if you want :) And it just gives you a chance to show how fab you are at other things, then slip it in as an added bonus on top of the other perfect teacher things you can offer :)
  10. Gosh, depressing reading from an MFL in primary schools perspective.
    I am incredibly lucky to teach in a forward thinking school where we have had MFL specialists for over fifteen years. KS1 has 30 minutes a week, KS2 has an hour a week. Additionally, Year 6 learn Spanish for a term and each class has some Portuguese teaching over the year. I think it's so important that children are learning from a language specialist, and you have those skills. Perhaps it's a good time to be thinking of the move into Primary as MFL is becoming compulsory.
    Nursery and Reception did have French as well, but our teacher had to cut a few hours back as she's also teaching in a secondary school. Our pupils do well in French in secondary school, especially when they start because they are so far ahead of other schools, this is mainly because languages are given importance.
    Learning languages is so important, especially as we're becoming more and more European. The earlier a child starts, the more natural it becomes to them.
    So, after my little tirade, yes, go for it, but get some experience first. There is such a need for MFL teachers in primary school (if this is the path you want to go down).

  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    How I envy you.I'm passionate about language teaching to Primaries, but somehow can't get that thro' to my authority- we don't even have an MFL advisor! Fortunately we do have an AST who is very motivated and organises training etc.
    I've even planned a Yr1 - Yr6 SoW which fits into topics taught at Primary level to produce at interview but I can't get an interview!
  12. That's really sad I think, we're lucky in that the borough has some interest in MFL, but much of our MFL stuff has come from our specialist teacher. She's also advised the borough on MFL, she teaches at our school and another school close by (which I did my teaching practice in).
    Good luck with finding a job, perhaps you could ask your LEA about what provision and support they will be giving to primaries as they bring in MFL (think it's next year). Perhaps that might make them think about giving more importance to the subject.
  13. TweedJacket

    TweedJacket New commenter

    What a pathetic comment.
  14. pussycat

    pussycat New commenter

    Yep. In response to a pathetic comment posted by another poster. But thanks for your insightful input on that one.

  15. Pussycat I dont care if the world and his dog wants to be a primary teacher - I just know from experience how little people in other contexts understand of what goes on in the day to day life of a primary teacher. When people ask what the differences are and whether it is possible, I tend to answer the question. As I mentioned before, my secondary colleague is finding the difference in teaching methods almost too overwhelming, so I wanted to point that out.
    I stand by my opinion that teachers in KS1 or lower KS2 need more than just QTS from another setting to be the best support for childrens learning. Even across primary key stages a whole different set of skills comes into play.
  16. TweedJacket

    TweedJacket New commenter

    You're welcome for my input and sarcasm usually works best when it's shorter.
  17. My thread seems to have stirred things up a bit. I'm grateful to everyone who has commented. I think the best thing for me to do is to spend time in various primary schools across the city on my day off to get a better idea for myself and to talk to as many primary school teachers as I can. As I have read here, there are some who have made the change and done really well for themselves, and others who want to point out how difficult it is. I would like to know from them if they think there is more paperwork in primary school, because we have our share of paperwork in secondary as well. It could just be that I need a change of secondary school, having been in the same one for over a decade and seeing the intake becoming increasingly challenging and management becoming increasingly invisible.
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I've never taught in secondary but talking to friends who do planning is very different.
    As you said in your first post you need to be able to teach all the subjects (unless you are very lucky and find a school looking for a mfl teacher) and probably need to lead /coordinate one or more subjects often not your own specialism.
    One comment I often hear from secondary colleagues is that they wouldn't put up with half of what primary teachers do.
    Good Luck
  19. Piles and piles more paperwork (unless you are in one of the more understanding primary schools where they don't ask you do some of the more pointless things for them, only for yourself (ie short term planning) and then it's only piles more :) It's not too bad once you get into the swing, if you have one of those nice sounding better schools. If it's like mine......ARGH!!).
    imho, I would do the days in primaries to have a look, change secondaries and see how you feel - if you're still fed up with secondary make the leap, you can always go back again, if you decide 'actually secondary is rather ok' in a new school, problem solved :)
  20. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Sorry for bothering to reply! I felt I gave a response to give you lots to think about. I didnt at any time say it wasnt possible or that you shouldnt do it, by hey if you want to wear your rose tinted glasses be my guest! Yes there may be schemes of work etc but they will only be so much help, a good understanding of child development is still essential. Even within the primary sector I have seen PGCE 1 year trained KS2 teachers struggle in a new KS as one year is insufficient time to learn about child development, hence the reason that a 4 year primary degree is more popular. You may be up against a teacher with a specialist primary degree in the early part of their career and therefore cheap and who is a far more attractive choice than an inexperienced expensive teacher such as yourself.

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