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Mid 40's Dilemma - Training to Teach

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by jinteach, Apr 29, 2020.

  1. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    I'm planning to do a career switch and considering secondary school teaching and we live in an area where some of the best schools in the nation are present and there are more schools than pubs!!. My core subject will be Physics.

    I do understand the stress and in some case unmanageable workloads that teaching can bring upon us, I have been doing cover supervisor roles in a variety of settings which has at the least prepared me to some degree of what it can be like on the ground. However I'm wondering if one still survives, is this a good career for someone who is in his mid 40's. The reason being like any other profession, in a difficult situation for a school, is it the old who will get axed first and what are the chances of a career progression given the age constraint, assuming the performance is decent enough but not exemplary??

    Now, onto the second part of my dilemma,

    I have been given two conditional SCITT offers, one is from a provider who's pool of schools is mostly Grammar and the training placement will also be in a Grammar setting and the other provider is mostly of CoFE schools. Both of them would like me to do a SKE course as I have been on a Geophysical career for nearly two decades and my curriculum knowledge needs a definite refreshing.

    Before I could make a decision on the training provider, I would much appreciate if people here can help me with my queries. Although this decision is only for the training in principle, it is most likely that both the institutes will offer me a NQT position soon after my training. Some of the queries are specific to my circumstances but will greatly help my decision.

    • Is there an added advantage to train in a grammar setting to that of a CoFE school.
    • The Grammar setting is in a Girls school whilst the CoFE is a mix - are there any disadvantages to be in a single gender school.
    • Both the schools have a shortage of physics teachers although, the growth prospects to become a subject leader quickly are more in the CoFE school than in the Grammar school, this is based on the current teachers situation and Head of science at CoFE has shown more interest in my profile and this is also mentioned in their offer letter as, they are keen to develop me into a subject leader.
    • The Head of Physics in the grammar school has informally hinted that they can recommend me for a higher pay grade straightaway when I'm offered a teaching position based on my Physics career. But I don't know how normal such a thing is at a NQT stage.
    • CoFE is slightly longer in distance from my home, although it is only 6 miles but will have to endure thee peak time traffic. (evaluating this from a long term scenario) and has got a very good reputation including being awarded a 'world class school' status once.
    • And a question on SKE - are there any differences between the long and short programmes offered, is there an added benefit in doing a longer programme in terms of the depth of subject knowledge.

    With the above confusing questions, I'm finding it difficult to make the right choice for my first step towards a teaching career (that is if I choose to do it!). I'm trying to put in a lot of thinking on this decision as I hope to make a long career in teaching and understand that it isn't just your skills and education that matters to be successful but also other associated factors as well. I want to minimise the factors that can collectively contribute to my stress levels which I imagine will already be at a peak as a teacher, especially in the first few years.

    Appreciate your time and would greatly receive your comments / thoughts
  2. craig244k

    craig244k New commenter

    The rate of people leaving teaching is very high. Ask yourself why this is.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Age is not a issue from my experiences. If schools are going axe people then age is not very high up their list.

    As not all grammar schools or CofE schools are the same, not really. Some do and some don't. Think about what you want to get out of it in the long term and measure the two routes against that.
    You don't get experience of teaching boys or the issues that come from being in a mixed school.
    Not a question (question marks would be useful). You are counting your chickens. You need to qualify as a teacher before this. Circumstances change and nothing means you have to be at either of these schools as an NQT or beyond.

    All salaries are open to negotiation at any stage now, but always has been for NQTs (I started midway on the scale due to my prior experiences)

    Schools change over time, base your judgement on what they are like now. Google maps is quite good a predicting travel times if you put the leaving time/date in. Think about selecting the arrival time for around 7.45am and the leaving time for around 5.30pm. I'd be aiming for times under 40 minutes if you can.

    Your training provider should be suggesting what course to go on based on what you need to cover. Details of the courses and what they cover can be found via the directory - https://www.gov.uk/government/publi...ct-knowledge-enhancement-ske-course-directory

    If you want to minimise your stress levels in the long run then do the course that can offer you the better training to be a teacher. If schools were open I'd suggest spending a couple of days in each setting to see what the teachers are like there. Ask them to send you a copy of the programme for next year and see what they intend to teach you and how long they are going to spend on each area.
    agathamorse and jinteach like this.
  4. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I have seen experience and training in a grammar school to turn out to be a serious disadvantage to some teachers. Its OK if you intend to stay in grammar forever, but it is much easier to move into a grammar school than it is to move out. Rightly or wrongly, it is seen as an easier job, and not to prepare you for a non selective school. This might not always be the case, but I have known teachers be ok in a grammar school, but fail after making the transition out.

    On the other hand, you are not likely to stay in teaching more than a couple of years, and if you can do those years in a grammar school rather than a non selective, why not?
    pepper5, agathamorse and jinteach like this.
  5. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I taught a year 10 class this afternoon. I spent yesterday evening looking at what the school decrees this class have to learn, and trimming it down, and simplifing it, and dumbing it down, and and explaining it in words of no more than 2 syllables. In the end, I taught a lesson which not only goes against the school policy, but failed absolutely to be of any use or relevance to the children forced to sit through it. radioactive decay for a class containing, among others, a child with a vocabulary of nearly 20 words, a child who can't read, a child who was still struggling to write the title over a quarter of the way through the lesson, a child who told me half way through that his pen had run out and couldn't grasp that I was not in a position to lend him another ( This was an online lesson), a child who was 50 minutes late becasue he can't tell the time.....

    In my class of 30, less than half even grasped that we were talking about atoms.

    Not that I don't love these children, but if you are teaching in a grammar school, at least you know the children in your class are capable and benefiting from what you are teaching.

    In every year group I have taught in the last 10 years, there have been children there because on "inclusion" who are non verbal, and just want a stick to bang on the table. You can imagine how unsatisfying it is for all concerned to have such students in a GCSE physics lesson
    MathMan1, pepper5 and agathamorse like this.
  6. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Yes I do understand there are some pressing issues with Teaching and the system. However, I feel with some level of preparation and planning, the external factors that can contribute to the stress can be reduced. I do strongly acknowledge the fact that, just skill and passion alone isn't enough to survive in teaching. Not being optimistic but trying to be as realistic as possible.
    pepper5 and agathamorse like this.
  7. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Yes, I have already spent few days in each setting before the pandemic (in a way lucky) and to be fair both schools were equally competitive. I have also read the Ofsted reports of the training providers, weighing all those factors in, the mix gender setting and the provider scores better for my circumstances.

    Thank you so much for those prompt answers and useful thoughts. Given your experience, if you are asked to list the top three issues that this profession struggles with, what would they be and why it affects the individuals so much in your opinion.
  8. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Makes a lot of sense and couldn't agree more. During my school experience days, the pupils in the Grammar school were so spontaneous and interactive, pretty much drove the lesson themselves, this was very much the case right from Y7 until Y11. The teacher was only giving them the topics and some guidance.
    On the other hand the CoFE school, you can see the obviousness of children with different attainment levels and hence there were times when the teacher had to provide either attention to some children or break things down into simpler ways for better understanding etc.. in other words this is the environment where you can really learn the art of teaching I felt, yes it means there will be more work but it is good for the long term.
    With all that said, I also understood that not a lot of girls opt in to stay all the way into doing their A levels. For instance, in the current batch of two classes there were only two girls in comparison to the nearly 30 boys. And one of the reasons as I understand is that girls strangely give up because of the difficulty whereas in a Girls grammar school I believe they are all well prepared and ambitious about their future..
    agathamorse likes this.
  9. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    That is indeed a shame and even sad in fact. This is why I said the system is also failing in some level when it isn't able to cater to children with different learning abilities or interests. Probably this is one other reason why people don't last that long in this profession. I can imagine how depressing it must have been for you to be in a class like that...
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Hmm, hard to say as I think it varies from place to place. One key issue is probably that some trainee teachers are not taught adequately the theory of teaching (eg philosophy, sociology, psychology etc) or how to interpret/carry out educational research. Also some that are soon forget it.

    Consequences of that you get some working in education:
    • who teach according to the current practices and struggle/ fail to adapt over time.
    • Teachers using the latest fad without questioning its effectiveness in their classroom ( the VAK myth for example which I still seem to come across).
    • Leaders in schools who are data driven without really understanding how to contextualise it. Flight for example creating things like flight paths - X was here in KS2 so needs to be here at the end of year 9 (ignoring things that happened in X life that effected their education)
    • Who think you can judge how good teaching is just from a twenty minute observation or learning walk or other limited snapshot.
  11. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Interesting, I thought PGCE would cover some of those aspects. I can understand to a certain degree why teachers fail to use those attributes in the teaching methods as quiet often they get overwhelmed with the work load that they would rather try to complete the task in hand than having to go that extra mile to do things properly. It is natural for all of us...
    I feel there will need to be some compromise and balance in the system if teachers need to effective enough, I think there are a lot of teachers out there who are so capable but yet constrained by the system and the methods so much that they give up!! such a sad state of affairs!!
  12. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    They all cover it to a degree, although some courses it is quite superficial. School based routes can be more prone to it as they don't always have the expertise to teach it.

    Where teachers are constrained by the system and methods it is usually because of the leadership which relates back to a lack of their understanding and ability to trust their staff. Their are plenty of examples of schools that have great leadership teams though, where it is not a problem though.
  13. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    you make it sound like a choice, but in fat, there is never an option of "doing things properly" becasue there is isn't time. During a normal term time I will be working or travelling 16-18 hours a day, and not doing anything properly.
    jinteach likes this.
  14. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    That is really worrying!!! so what is the ministry doing about this, I mean it seems like a known problem that appears to be conveniently ignored. Is there a political reason behind it???
  15. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    now you are talking like a normal sensible person from the real world! Strangely it tend to only be people coming into teaching from the outside that voice such thoughts in school. The rest of us have learnt not to waste our breathe, and many of us have just become conditioned to this being normal.

    We have had some "Now teachers" who join teaching through a scheme for people in their 50s +++ who have had successful careers in other sectors. They don't tend to last long in teaching, but they also tend to give the management some refreshingly frank feedback. !
    PGCE_tutor, jinteach and pepper5 like this.
  16. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Yes I can see that happening just as it would be in any profession where the new comers pour in ideas and feed backs without understanding the gravity of the problem, the "initial enthusiasm and excitement£ phase that dies down after sometime!!
    I don't see an easy fix for this without the intervention of the Government & Unions. It is a shame that despite all that talent and resources, we have let this happen to our society. I guess one reason could be the people with power are less bothered as most can afford expensive private schooling for their children...
    As far as for me, I'm still giving it a serious thought, preparing my mind about the likely scenarios and situations that I will have to face and whether can I manage them. I have been in worst conditions and environment, however there were always some form of support that allowed me to extract some strength and confidence to battle it out...
    I have another eight days before all my training offers would expire, and already the providers have been mailing me with offers to help me with my decision making process. I can understand why that is..
  17. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Stay well clear of the grammar school. Nothing wrong with teaching there but the fact that you trained there plus your age will mean that ordinary schools may not be keen. Of course you may want to teach A Level physics in a grammar school until you retire and that would be a very nice job, however, who knows what might be around the corner and you need to
    have as many employment options as possible.
    jinteach and pepper5 like this.
  18. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Yes, definitely. It is always best to consider the long term and in my current circumstances it is wise that I prepare myself with all the necessary skills to survive in this career. However, even if you are training a Grammar school you do get a chance to do a period of training in a contrasting school ins't it but I guess it isn't same as the main placement school when it comes to details.
  19. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    An excellent and detailed response from @Stiltskin in post 3 to which I can add little. You have some experience of schools through your work as a cover supervisor but that is far removed from actually teaching and the demands that entails. As for your age, that is of less importance than your salary level. Generally it's the expensive, more experienced teachers that get capabilitied out first.

    Talk to teachers in schools and get a first hand account of the realities of a teaching career. What you cover or see in the classroom is an increasingly smaller part of the daily life of a teacher - the meetings, marking, inset, pastoral, assessment, testing, reports, planning, SOW etc. Just make sure you are fully informed about what you are letting yourself in for.

    Whatever you decide, I hope it works out for you.
    Stiltskin and jinteach like this.
  20. jinteach

    jinteach New commenter

    Yeah, the key is to know make sure I'm fully informed about what I'm up against as you rightly put it. Doing my best to gather as much, so what is SOW.
    On a separate note, does being a teacher help your kids in any way..

    Thanks for your wishes..

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