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Is independent sector the best place for me with a Languages degree?

Discussion in 'Independent' started by skinnimini, Jan 20, 2018.

  1. skinnimini

    skinnimini New commenter


    I am currently doing my Teacher Training through the Salaried School Direct route and training in Primary.

    I’ve only ever worked in state schools (worked for 3 years prior to ITT, mainly teaching French as a TA/HLTA) but I’m really drawn to working in the independent sector as I have a specialism in MFL (French and Spanish degree). I feel that my Languages will be utilised more in an independent prep school as they seem to value specialisms and actually give you time to teach it, than in a state primary as a class teacher.

    Any thoughts on this? I’ve applied for a job in a small prep school where the Head told me on my visit that they are looking to introduce Spanish to the curriculum. I feel like it’s made for me but am I making the right decision?

    What is progression like in independent schools with a specialist subject?

    Will my skills be more valued and utilised in the independent sector?

    Would I be on a higher salary as MFL lead in a state primary school than HOD in independent prep?

    Many thanks in advance.
  2. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    How small?

    Be careful - some small prep schools are indeed wonderful places, but others aren't! They may lack the financial security of larger schools.

    You may be nominally the HoD, but you may not get any sort of TLR/HoD allowance at all.
  3. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I wouldn't expect you to get any extra money for either role, certainly not in a small prep.

    In a very large prep, where you are leading and managing other teachers, then you would get an allowance, but this will be quite a few years away yet.

    The biggest difference will probably be that in the prep, you teach all the MFL and are the only teacher doing so. In a primary you may well have your own class, teach everything to them and other teachers teach their own classes for MFL, with varying degrees of success.
  4. skinnimini

    skinnimini New commenter

    Thanks for your replies.

    The school is in a period of expansion, with waiting lists in several year groups and so they are employing an extra teacher. Surely if they have waiting lists, it’s fairly stable financially? Also, in 2014 there were 170 children on roll- there are now 240 so it looks like it’s well-established.

    Interesting to hear thoughts on MFL leader/HOD. I doubt I would get that kind of role straight away as an NQT anyway, but just thinking about the future.
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, lots of prep schools take foreign languages fairly seriously, as there are CE papers for French (and probably for Spanish too).

    Yes, lots of prep schools do exchanges, with students from Spain and France coming to stay in the UK and the other way round. At one school where I was teaching, the head's brother just happened to have his own chateau, so loads of students from our school came to stay there for a few weeks. Ditto ski parties (if you are keen on that sort of thing).

    Yes, it is true that a few prep schools do go out of business, from time to time. On the other hand, teaching in a state school might not necessarily be a 100% certainty.

    Remember that loads of prep schools finish at 13+, rather than 11+. Which would you prefer? Also you need to make up your mind whether you want to go for a job in a day school or a boarding school.

    I would not pay any attention to this allowance nonsense. The important thing is to have a good salary, enjoy your job and be in a happy school. Does it really matter whether you get a paltry allowance or not? (If you really want to make lots of money, then what are you doing in teaching? Maybe you are in the wrong career.)
    JohnJCazorla and sabrinakat like this.
  6. skinnimini

    skinnimini New commenter

    Thanks for your reply, Hippo.

    I’ve been invited to interview at the prep school I applied to and am currently preparing for that. It’s a day school and only goes up to Year 6.

    I’m not overly fussed on earning the extra money- it would just be a bonus, that’s all. Was just curious as to if it would pay more.

    I’m lucky enough to have a job pretty much lined up for me in the state school I’m training in, but I’m still going to go for this interview as the aspect of teaching Spanish is totally up my street. I also really love the school and small class sizes appeal to me much more than I realised (I would be able to do my job so much better with less children- although I do understand it’s not always easier!)

    Fingers crossed I get offered the job!
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, teaching smaller classes is, in many ways, a lot easier and also more satisfying. With a large class, parents' evenings become more stressful and marking is more burdensome. You cannot write meaningful reports if you do not really know the children well and that is much harder when you teach a larger number.

    In some ways, the CE exams are a pain in the neck, but often they do give a purpose and a meaning to the students' work in most prep schools. Yes, you will hear teachers at senior schools moaning about the limitations of Common Entrance, whereas the reality is that CE does a lot of the spadework for GCSE and therefore the public schools have no intention of scrapping CE sometime soon. Therefore my overall feeling is that French and Spanish are important parts of what prep schools do, but MFLs are not taken seriously in many state primary schools.
    jarndyce likes this.
  8. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    @skinnimini If teaching French and Spanish to children from e.g. Reception to Year 6 is what you want to do, then a prep school would be ideal. Your timetable will enable you to focus on the subjects you love and in which you have specialised and you can work to create a curriculum which enables the pupils to progress year on year. You will have the tremendous satisfaction of seeing their proficiency and confidence grow. In terms of career progression for yourself, there won’t really be anywhere to go beyond this in the school you describe - you might move on to a larger school after a few years, but Head of MFL in a department of two is probably as far as it would go in most prep schools. Most independent schools do value foreign languages and see them as an essential ingredient in what they have to offer. Good luck with the interview!

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