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Looking To Make The Change...

Discussion in 'Independent' started by jxmescm, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. jxmescm

    jxmescm New commenter

    Hey all,
    I've been teaching in state schools for the last 6 years and right now I'm struggling with the workload, the constant pressure to tick boxes when it comes to teaching and all the usual things that have sadly driven teachers out of the profession.

    For me, quitting is not an option, I love making a difference to pupils and watching them succeed but I can't be in a school that doesn't allow me to do what I think is best for the child.

    I've often thought about going into the Independent Sector and to see if the right move, I just want to know why some of you chose to move into the Independent sector and the benefits of doing so.
  2. Gurudom

    Gurudom New commenter

    I too was in the primary state sector (8 years) before moving into the pre-prep independent sector (22 years). my observations are:
    Smaller class sizes
    Far less behavioural problems
    Very demanding parents with high expectations and sense of entitlement (they are paying a lot of money after all!)
    Well resourced.
    You are part of a business and therefore you are a significant part of its success or failure - parents are clients and need to be keep on side.

    It does depend where you are - I work in central London which has the most demanding parents who have the greatest sense of competition!

    There is far less similarity between schools in the independent sector so I think you should look at individual schools and see how they are rather than thinking of the sector. Some are run by a couple/family/individual (proprietary schools) and can focus heavily on a profit for the owners. Some are part of a large group (Alpha Plus, Cognita etc) and have a corporate feel. Others are Charitable Trusts who cannot make a profit and are overseen by a board of governors.

    Our school very much favours applicants from the State Sector because we know what a sound and thorough grounding they have had in teaching. With us they can carry on with the "good stuff" and drop the stuff which doesn't work.

    So my advice would be to apply to private schools on an individual basis and not as one of a type. Each one is different and some will appeal and others wont.

    Also pay doesn't always follow the national payscale and so where some places (like ours) always pay significantly above to attract high quality staff, others can set their own scales - so know what you're getting in advance!

    Hope that helps - the fact that after 23 years I didn't go back is an indication of my preference!
    sabrinakat and ViolaClef like this.
  3. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Agree with the above.
    Some schools are academic hothouses - public inquiry looms if there are B grades at A Level; others are much more mixed; others specialise in dyslexia and so on. Some are day schools where the doors shut at 4:30 or 5:00; others are all-consuming boarding schools with a very different staff lifestyle.
    The balance is indeed different: parents and pupils are very much customers, although it's not quite the "I pay so you do it this way" approach, more the approach a good GP might give, explaining and giving reasoning for the actions prescribed.
    Websites are useful in that they show what the school thinks it wants to achieve - as always there may be gaps between desire and reality. Inspection reports also give insight; consider places like Mumsnet as well to get some opinions. In some areas schools struggle to remain full, so check those numbers, have a look on Companies House or Charity Commission websites to check out finances.
    nighttrace and ViolaClef like this.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Move and don't think twice about it.
    forthejoyofit and modgepodge like this.
  5. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    You are me 2 years ago. I moved to a prep last September and I love it :) as others have said they’re all different - I actually only looked at one and loved it so applied there only. However it is small, we are not full, and money is a constant struggle. The head obviously values staff as teachers are paid ‘to scale’ (ie similar to state) and honours pay rises the government suggests for state schools. But there’s not much money for training, resources and so on - better than most state schools (though I was in a rich state school previously) but certainly not s case of getting whatever you want like I thought it might be!!
  6. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    In my case most of the students on my PGCE course were sent to independent schools on teaching practice, and so it seemed natural to apply to schools in that sector when it was time to find a job. I worked in three HMC schools in my career (I'm now retired) and greatly enjoyed all three. They all paid above state school rates, offered small class sizes and good departmental budgets for buying whatever teachers considered they needed, provided a pleasant and generous working environment (free meals, real coffee available throughout the day, lovely grounds and staff accommodation in two of them, and generous timetable allocations that allowed plenty of time for preparation (although note that staff are usually expected to cover for absent colleagues in the independent sector). Pupils were mostly well-motivated (the amount parents have to pay does encourage that!) and generally very bright (a tough entrance exam helps).

    I would underline comments above about the huge variety of schools in the independent sector. There is a vast difference between a well-funded HMC school, often with a foundation going back centuries and worth millions and with supportive donors and active alumni associations who can also raise large amounts for building projects and scholarships and, on the other hand, a proprietory prep school entirely dependent on fees that can all too easily become over-demanding of its staff and face collapse in a financial down-turn.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  7. mollyhog

    mollyhog Occasional commenter

    I moved from state to independent 2 years ago for the same reasons that you are thinking of moving, As gurdom says, not all indies are the same - personally I wouldn't want to work in a 'hot-house'. What I love about my school is that I can focus on improving my teaching because there are fewer behaviour problems. Still some box-ticking that goes on, but I think that would be the same anywhere. At some point I will probably move back to state, but I will be very careful about where I go (but to be fair, I would be just as cautious with a move to another independent school).
    Good luck with your decision - choose carefully so you get the right school for you.
  8. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    The use of subject specialists for young children was one reason for me. I believe children get absolutely the best deal if they are taught a subject by someone who is passionate, creative and knowledgeable, whether it be in P.E., Art, Music, French or Drama. I also think these subjects are very important, but they are often neglected in state primary schools.
    Small classes and fewer discipline issues so I can focus on teaching and helping the children to learn.
    A desire to strive for the highest possible standards in any given activity and a working environment of committed staff who are prepared to go the extra mile.
  9. Hican1980

    Hican1980 New commenter

    Don't Think Twice It's All Right
  10. arcaopinosantiago

    arcaopinosantiago New commenter

    Definitely think twice. İf you think you're under pressure now, just wait until one of the "indy's" students mentions to their parent that they aren't happy with your teaching. The immediate priority of management will be to hold on to the fees that child generates.
  11. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    That really depends on the type of independent school. Parents can be horrid, bur are more likely to be very supportive.

    One school I worked at had parents who were supportive, but were very quick to raise concerns whenever the faintest things went wrong - a London academic hothouse! Several could be very “intense” at parents’ evenings, but never rude.

    Another school - one Maths teacher was off for nearly a term, and the class had a succession of supply teachers/internal cover. Head of Maths could not believe that there had been no parental complaints about this - she remarked that in her previous school parents would have been queuing up to complain within a couple of weeks...

    Good management will know what the parents are like, and be able to support their staff accordingly. They should be able to distinguish between when there is a genuine complaint and cause for concern, and when it’s petty, trivial, or a vendetta...and act accordingly. This includes supporting - or, dare I say, ‘protecting’ staff from the worst of it.
  12. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    I have visited one school where the number of parent volunteers exceeded the number of employed staff.....
  13. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    I am coming to the end of my first week at an Independent school after 6 years in state.

    Pros and Cons so far:


    . Behaviour of the pupils is largely outstanding. Most of them say thank you at the end of every lesson. They hold doors open for you. They are well mannered.

    .Lunch provided every day and so is Coffee/Tea.

    .Lots more PPA time.

    .Fewer meetings. Might not the be the case everywhere but we only have 2 staff meetings a week, both in the morning.

    .far fewer emails. So far I'm getting at most 5 emails a day. In state I was getting upwards of 50.

    .Smaller class sizes.

    .left to teach how you want.


    .later finish
    .can be asked to cover on your frees (though I haven't yet)

    I wouldn't go back to State in a million years.
  14. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    Progressnerd, Why not send this to your MP?
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

  16. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Because any MP with a brain would immediately recognise that 1 week of experience in workplace B is meaningless when compared with 6 years' experience in workplace A and would discard the letter accordingly.

    Not that I disagree with the sentiment - I very much doubt that I'll ever go back to state - but a little perspective is necessary: both the pros and the cons run much deeper than the crust that @Progressnerd has so far cut.
  17. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    It's a fair point - obviously it's just one week and I fully expect to be working a lot harder once homework, marking and extra curricular starts to come in to play. But it still says a lot that I can see the staggering difference just in atmosphere and staff morale between the two sectors. I do appreciate this won't be the case at all independent schools.
  18. nighttrace

    nighttrace New commenter

    A similar level of workload but much less unnecessary paperwork for me. If you have children, they can get reduced fees.

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