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Independent/private primary school vs. state schools

Discussion in 'Independent' started by cm444, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. cm444

    cm444 New commenter


    I'm sure there's been hundreds of posts about this in the past but I can't actually find where someone says what it's actually like working in the private primary sector. My cousin works at an independent secondary school and absolutely LOVES it. They can't stop raving about how much they enjoy it and the perks that come with it such as the long holidays and the good pay despite the long hours.

    I am thinking about moving from state primary to private primary and wanted to know the main differences. I appreciate that not everyone enjoys it, however, what is it like? Are children expected to do worksheets from the age of 4 and send homework out every night? What is the pay like etc? Is it much less than in state schools? Are you able to progress or is there little room to move? I am currently a Reception teacher in a state school and am getting slightly fed up of my headteachers attitude towards her staff and the there's constant pressure incase Ofsted come knocking anytime soon.

    Much appreciated
  2. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    I recently moved and at the moment wouldn’t consider going back to state :)

    Pay in my school is similar to state schools.
    I don’t work longer hours - we are a day school so no boarding duties. I do one club a week and have 1 staff meeting per week. My contract says I can be required to work weekends but I haven’t been asked to yet. Asking around it seems this is mainly for xmas fairs etc and sports teachers have the odd Saturday fixture. The days are about an hour more teaching than in state (earlier start, later finish)
    I get soooo much more PPA. I don’t teach PE, science etc so every time they have that lesson I have a free. I get the majority of my planning and marking done in school time.
    I would say teaching at my school is not solid worksheets from the age of 4. I teach y6 and I teach maths quite creatively - group work, problem solving etc, not just worksheets. I think it would be the same lower down the School.
    Free lunch!
    Behaviour is excellent and the children are delightful.

    Yes, we do set more homework but not a ridiculous amount. Parents are a bit of a pain, but at least they care about their children’s learning and make sure they do their homework and actually attend school. I’ll take that any day over the abusive parents and poor attendance at my old school!

    All schools and contracts will be different. I would recommend you go and look around any schools you are interested in and ask lots of questions!
  3. seb206exeter

    seb206exeter New commenter

    I taught at an independent school for 6 years before taking on a middle leadership role at a state school...big mistake. I didn't last the whole year. I'm sure every school is different and I'm sure there are great state schools out there but after the experience I had, I shan't be returning to state. Ever.

    I'm back in an independent school and wouldn't change it for the world. Very similar to modge podge:
    Lots more PPA (I have a lot more PPA time as a standard teacher than I had as a middle leader in state)
    The focus is very much on teaching and learning rather than behaviour management and crowd control
    The atmosphere is just lovely: convivial, happy, relaxed but purposeful. Not hostile or combative. Pupils genuinely like and respect the staff. And vice versa.
    Smaller classes and fewer of them. Avg size here around 17 and I teach 7 classes. I had 16 different groups in state.
    There is none of the fear that comes with Ofsted or inspections. I've been through two indy inspections and they are a whole different ball game to the living hell that Ofsted seems to bring with it. In the most recent inspection we were informed about it via a chirpy email by the dep head that is was business as usual. In state, the head emailed to say he'd arranged for school to open at 6am on both days and that we'd be expected to be in at that time. Coupled with all the seating plans/ data/ learner targets and levels of progress nonsense that had to be compiled for each student...It was just absolutely horrendous.
    There is a great deal of investment in staff in terms of wellbeing (reduced gym fees, health insurance) but also in terms of career development (CPD training, opportunities to progress in house)
    Other great perks include free lunch, refreshments at break-time, smart corporate clothes (if you help out with sport) and discounts on fees for children of staff members.

    Obviously, there are some drawbacks (if you chose to view them that way - I don't)
    Longer school day (most pupils don't leave til 5pm)
    Parents evenings are long (fee paying customers after all)
    More marking (as homework is completed and the volume of work generally tends to be higher)
    Expectation to attend open mornings, evenings and other corporate events
    Involvement in extra curricular activities including sports. I did Saturday morning fixtures last term and though I may have grumbled about getting up early at the time, it was actually good fun.

    Some of my former colleagues in state would baulk at the thought of not being able to bolt home at 3.20pm, or at giving up a Saturday morning. BUT when the day is enjoyable and the pupils are pleasant to be around, I can honestly say it does not feel nearly as onerous as it might sound.

    To each their own, I guess. Some of my friends love working in state and thrive on the challenges it brings. Perhaps it is more rewarding? I don't know. I'm not ashamed to say I work to live and for me, I'd never return to state on the basis of how stressful and unenjoyable it was.

    Hope that helps!
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    A significant number of private schools are in fact boarding schools. Therefore the hours can be a lot longer.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Not often at primary age...
    drvs likes this.
  6. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Yes, although not in the primary sector and even in the secondary sector relatively few these days have lessons ending after 4pm and co-curricular activities ending after 5.15pm. After that, boarding staff take over, although there may be opportunities for day staff to help with boarding duties for additional payment (or for payment in kind, such as food and lodging).

    In the few cases left of independent senior schools teaching on Saturday mornings, terms tend to be much shorter (e.g. summer holidays from something like 28 June to 3 September).
  7. nighttrace

    nighttrace New commenter

    Hours are longer but it is flexible. We don't need to be present from 8 to 4. In fact, I have three afternoons completely free.
  8. Flyingcarpet

    Flyingcarpet New commenter

    Every school is different in the independent sector. All workplaces vary in happiness/ positivity levels depending on the staff.
    However, based on my experience in both sectors, the independent sector suits those who are genuinely able to teach well ,like not being micro- managed, do not have a “watch the clock” mentality and can communicate effectively and professionally with parents and colleagues. You need to enjoy contributing to the whole school community beyond daily timetabled lessons.
    Pay, conditions and career prospects are NOT all automatically better in the independent sector.
    If you a teacher who thinks the independent sector is “easy” think again.
    There is also a high level of scrutiny in the independent sector as pressures bear on these schools too regarding standards, outcomes and inspections.
    Make decisions based on whether the culture of a school igns with your individual preferences, not just state or independent.
  9. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    The Ofsted pressure isn't there, true, but parent pressure (who pay eye-watering amounts of money) can be high and won't all be absorbed by SLT and HT. Many schools, particularly outside the south-east, have to look at numbers on roll very carefully and these pressures come to staff as well. So it's not all a bed of roses, although to be fair there are probably many more rose petals than rose thorns!
  10. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    This is a key difference IMO - here in the SE, state sector colleagues of a certain mind can and do access primary headship well before they reach 10 years in the profession. In independent, you are surrounded by far more competent and experienced colleagues with a low staff turnover - promotions are more rarely available. I view this as a good thing.

    My current prep school is better for me than the state school I left in every way but one ... the parents have direct email access to staff. It took me some months to educate the parents on reasonable use of email. You do need to have a good backbone.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    A good backbone or a good head, drvs?

    It was quite a while ago that I was teaching in various prep schools, but I do recall that some fee-paying parents have the attitude that "the customer is always right". It is really up to the school's management to protect the teachers from the demands of unreasonable or irresponsible parents. Sometimes it is rather difficult for an individual teacher to say "No" to wealthy and influential parents who are used to getting their own way.

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