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From HE to secondary?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by lmm23, May 12, 2020.

  1. lmm23

    lmm23 New commenter

    Hi All

    I'm 39, and seriously thinking of a career change, not for the first time, into secondary teaching from HE (relying on a PG Cert in HE in lieu of a PGCE, if they'll have me).

    The post would be teaching A-level law (possibly Dip. L3 Criminology - with A-level Biology and Psychology under my belt, too) in an innercity CoE London school with high levels of deprivation but very high exit velocity for achievement and other positive outcomes. The school, otherwise, seems to have all the trappings of a promising prospect (proven SLT, low staff turnover, strong emphases on behaviour).

    My background is 12 years teaching and researching as a criminal law lecturer (Nottingham, Birmingham, King's, etc) with a PhD in Criminal law/Mental health law. But I really don't enjoy the landscape, anymore: profoundly unethical, internal grade inflation that I have to personally apply (e.g. exam answers of 62, 58, 58 = 62, obviously!); watered down curricula, leaving my own UG degree looking like an MA (the OCR Law syllabus is harder, believe it or not); students-as-consumers (and those who really have no business in doing a law degree); narcisstic leadership (gaslighting and bullying is rife); lack of community; backstabbing and resentment over fewer promotion opportunities; having to constantly seek funding for research I don't want to do; the wearing of having to publish for the sake of league tables; and the realisation that spending so much time in a home office alone isn't all it's cracked up to be. So, do I step from a frying pan into a fire (or maybe there are some lukewarm pots out there)?

    I realise that grass does often seem greener, but I do have a genuine desire to contribute to children's learning, and have various strings to by bow (I have, for instance, counselling training and have worked with victims of abuse, which I think could help contribute to student (and my!) wellbeing). Still, it's a huge unknown, and there is no way back into academia if I leave (read: I'm institutionalised and struggle to imagine a different type of work). I've also gotten used to good pay, and so job satisfaction really has to be compensatory.

    I know that many posts on here do lament the state of teaching; but, in light of my own experiences, I'm genuinely curious for others' thoughts - especially as a move from HE to secondary is rare.

    Cheers, and thanks for sticking with the lengthy post.
  2. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    We can all offer good advice based on our individual experience but the only way to find out if teaching's for you is to get some school experience. Approach local schools and arrange some classroom observation and talk with teachers about their take on teaching. What goes on in the classroom is only a part of the job of teaching so find out about the other aspects of the job like marking, planning, reports, pastoral work, meetings, ofsted, new initiatives and so on.

    You will need to be prepared to start teaching at the lower end of the main pay scale as schools with tight budgets may not be prepared to give your pay a leg up because of your qualifications or experience and progression may be limited as well. Only you can decide whether a move to secondary teaching is right for you, just make sure you are fully informed of what you may be letting yourself in for.

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