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Information please on realities of the job...

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by CarolineNX, Jul 30, 2019.

  1. CarolineNX

    CarolineNX New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    I would be really grateful if you're able to let me know the realities of a couple of issues relating to teaching, I am considering a change of career...

    Currently I work in medicine. I find it pretty tough as the hours are very unpredictable, if there's a medical emergency (as there is every couple of weeks) I'm contractually obliged to stay at work beyond 5 and try to help with the situation but this means that I am unable to pick my son up from childcare (a shorter commute is not possible). Also, the on-calls are very stressful involving numerous night shifts and 28 hours spent working over weekends- and possibly Christmas. Also, there are hundreds of hours outside of these working hours that you have to spend in private study to try to pass the professional exams.

    So those are my reasons for of thinking of a change. It can be pretty hard leaving medicine in some ways as it's a very specific kind of job, so never having worked in the corporate world I'm not sure how transferable my skills would be.

    I have a couple of specific questions about teaching. I know that this is also a tough job with lengthy hours, and high levels of responsibility. I'm thinking of trying for the primary route.. Would people say that it's fairly straightforward to get a part-time role? Also, my understanding of the hours is that you would likely need to be in school by 8am and could leave at 5pm and then probably have another hour of work to do in the evenings and some hours at the weekend, is that fairly accurate? My hope would be that if I could get a part time role then I could fit most of these additional hours into my 'non-working days'.

    Many thanks for any info!
  2. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    I would strongly suggest that you invest in some sessions with a proper careers advisor / recruiter before reaching conclusions about the transferability of your skills and plumping for teaching as a compromise fit.

    The first challenge, which you haven't mentioned at all, is finding a training route to qualification.

    A pay cut back into the £20-30k bracket (or less if part-time) may also be an issue for you.

    "High levels of responsibility" are relative - it's not life and death, it's teaching, if you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you'll find it quite laughable (or tragic) at times.

    In state primary a competent, thick skinned and experienced practitioner could work the hours that you have described above. Trainees and early career teachers generally find themselves working an awful lot more.

    My view of the "go part-time to deliver the workload during unpaid hours" approach is that it is one of the key enablers for schools to continue to generate undeliverable workloads. Handy for parents to balance a career with parenting, done by many, but not at all good for the profession.

    Your post above says nothing at all to me about an interest in actually teaching children, only in the parameters of the job. I really do think that time spent with a proper "whole of market" recruiter looking at the spectrum of jobs out there which would fit your skills would be a better move than a move into teaching for practical purposes.
  3. CarolineNX

    CarolineNX New commenter

    Hi, thanks for your email. Yes, I have actually got a careers advice session coming up in the next week- it'll definitely be interesting to hear more about all the options out there. Teaching is something I am interested to research further, I have considered it previously and have spent time working in a school too (but that was as a teaching assistant years ago), which is why it is helpful to hear teacher's perspectives currently.

    I'd be really grateful if anyone else is also able to give me their take on the hours, and availability of part-time work.

    Many thanks in advance
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    The hours will depend entirely on the school, both during and after training:
    - the hours you must be on site (some schools have longer hours than others, once you've finished training this would be in your contract)
    - the number of after school meetings and training sessions you have to attend on a weekly basis (some schools have several meetings per week)
    - parents' evenings (frequency, timings)
    - the way work is divided and shared between the teachers (in primary how many classes are in each year group, which teacher is responsible for what, if more than 1 per year group, and are good quality resources shared between teachers)
    - some primaries have their teachers teach a different year group every year, some don't (if it's a different year group each time you'll be doing everything from scratch each year for the first few years)
    - other things in your contract, such as running lunch or after school clubs

    Availability of part time work would be based on supply and demand in your area. Why don't you keep an eye on TES jobs from September to Christmas, to see what comes up? You can set email updates.
  5. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    It is a time-consuming profession and there is always something to do, something that can wait and something that should have been done yesterday.

    When you choose a school, you would need to think carefully about:
    - marking: does the school require intensive marking several times per week?
    - planning: does the school follow a scheme for English, maths etc or does it expect teachers to plan from scratch? What resources are available for teachers? if it is a two-form entry school, what would you be required to plan?
    (Planning in the first year takes AGES).
    - displays: would you be expected to keep the displays up-to-date?
    - enrichment clubs: even though you are not expected to run a club in your NQT year, I did and it took away about 2 hours of time I could have been preparing lessons or marking.
    - meetings/briefings!! we had a meeting three times per week!
    - also take into account meetings with parents to discuss progress, behaviour, any other issues
    - how many assessment windows are there: assessment weeks are very time-consuming as you have to attend data moderation meetings, mark the assessments, input the data etc

    Also, my contract never stipulated the hours I was supposed to be onsite. It is just a given that you do what is required to get the job done. I took a set of books home about twice per week and spent most of Sunday preparing for the week ahead.

    I think your workload depends on your school and your HT, how fussed they are about their staff. My old school didn't care about how burnt out we were!
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. MsOnline

    MsOnline Occasional commenter


    If you do decide to go for it you will have placements, which will give you a good insight into daily life of a teacher. However, every single school is different. Eg I've read the above posts and have never been required to run any after-school or lunchtime clubs, or have several meetings a week ( see union guidance).

    It is time consuming but very rewarding when your heart's in it. Lots of parents do it successfully and enjoy term time teaching. However as drvs said an advisor would be useful as it shouldn't only be done to fit in with lifestyle - this will show.

    However, I'm sure you have many transferable skills especially as you work in a very caring job already, plus you're a mum.

    Finally some food for thought - working in FE can offer term time contracts, similar salaries with less marking. Also volunteer as much as you can in different schools and supply is an option once qualified so you can find the best school for you and potentially your son. Watch teacher vlogs, read blogs - it's a great profession overall.

    Hope this is useful.
  7. cheesypop

    cheesypop Senior commenter

    I don’t think you will struggle with the day to day demands of teaching, as you already work in a very stressful job and are used to doing work outside of those hours. No one dies if you don’t get your books marked. And baring parents evening etc, you will get to leave in time to meet childcare commitments even if you do have to work at home when your child has gone to bed.
    You need to consider whether your subject is important to you (you say you work in medicine but not what field). Secondary schools are crying out for science teachers so you may find it best to go down that route. It depends on the age group you think you might prefer. You don’t say how old your child is but if Primary age could you imagine a room of him and his friends, day in day out, teaching them everything? I could never have done Primary but each to their own. I don’t know if it still works like this but when I did my PGCE (secondary) we had to arrange our own 2 week primary placement before we started to check we’d picked the right age range. Much respect to all primary colleagues is all I will say regarding that!
    I’m assuming you are not on your own so you can cope with any salary change?
    I would also suggest that you don’t immediately consider part time. To really get to know the job, and settle in to a school I think would be much easier full time (and a full time job is usually easier to get). Part timers can often feel a bit sidelined and left out - no malice intended just people sometimes forget that they weren’t there when this happened or that was decided. I would try at least to do a few years full time, then drop to part time if you decided later when you were a bit more established.
    Good luck!
  8. CarolineNX

    CarolineNX New commenter

    Hi, thanks everyone for your replies. It's great to have some more points to think about. Currently I've finished my 2 foundation years (the first 2 years of work you do after finishing medical school), and those involve switching to a new specialty every 4 months. So I've experienced a number of different areas... Some appealed to me personally more than others, (as I'm sure would be the case for anyone). But some of the jobs have involved working with children/ adolescents, which I enjoyed, and I think should help with any potential applications.

    I'm planning on organising myself a number of days of voluntary work/ observation during annual leave. I certainly want to know that I would find the job enjoyable/ a good fit before applying to a course. Also, to ensure I have gone for the right age group. It would need to be a salaried schools direct course to make it financially feasible, but we are not a single income household so an income drop is manageable. My concern about this though is that from what I've heard salaried schools direct is competitive (in terms of few places available), and also the schools tend to have a preference for picking candidates who have worked as Teaching Assistants in the school for years. Has anyone heard anything about whether that is the case?

    Can I just check what an 'FE' is?

    Many thanks to you all!
  9. Lucy2711

    Lucy2711 Occasional commenter

    FE is further education (16+).
  10. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    You have spent, I imagine, several years training in medical school? And done 2 foundation years? So has your medical career actually started properly yet?
    And after all that training you want to re-train in a completely different profession...? Where the workload can be just as onerous and the pay is peanuts?

    I am not sure exactly what branch of medicine you are in but our local surgery has a number of part-time GPs and nurses working in it...
    pepper5 and geordiepetal like this.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    There have already been some very wise and informative posts on this thread and I am not sure that I have much to add. The general consensus seems to be that in Britain teaching is not a respected and well-paid profession these days. Life in the UK seems to be rather stressful these days. Perhaps things will get a lot worse, what with Boris Johnson and all of the joys of BREXIT.

    I have taught in international schools for the last twenty years and I have very much enjoyed my career. No, it is not impossibly stressful and I even managed to have enough money to buy two nice properties.

    Should someone jack in a career in medicine and go into teaching instead? Well, I was under the impression that it takes a long time to become properly qualified in most parts of the medical profession. I also have the impression that medical staff get paid a lot better than most teachers. Therefore I wonder whether the OP really has looked into this properly and checked out the facts. On the other hand, I have been out of the UK for quite a few years and maybe my information is not reliable.

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