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Moving from Secondary teaching to College...

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by Danni2, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. Danni2

    Danni2 New commenter

    Hi there,
    Has anyone left secondary teaching and moved to college-aged teaching?
    What are the main similarities and differences?
    A new challenge has presented itself I am keen to know a bit more before I apply.
    Thank you
    cys2017 likes this.
  2. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    I know of several teachers who have done so but I don't know why.
    The atmosphere is more relaxed at college, students and staff are on first name terms. No uniform inspections and petty rules. However, there are lanyard checks which are a pain in the butt.
    Attendance is probably worse in college and no-one cares much but this is frustrating in terms of completing work. Less sanctions against poor behaviour. It is the teacher's job to entertain the kids so that they don't misbehave.
    The day lasts from 8-30 in the morning to 5-00 in the afternoon. No sneaking off home when your work is done. Less money, a fully qualified lecturer gets approx. 33.5k.
    Only 7 weeks holiday instead of 13. Then you can only book your holiday at certain times. No term time holidays. No hols during exam results period. No hols during exams period. No hols during enrolment and induction period. No hols longer than 14 days. No hols during Summer period which overlap with other members of department. You may be lucky and be able to fit in hols during the end of May/June which is a bonus. depends on your course commitments. No pay for snow days, you will probably be expected to work overtime to make up the hours.
    The students are paying customers, bums on seats, and must be pandered to at all times. Retention is king, Retention= income. Colleges are run as a business and money is more important than staff well-being.
    blueskiesmev likes this.
  3. thekizzaa

    thekizzaa New commenter

    I agree with saluki - I went from Secondary to FE.

    My motivation to move was because I just wanted to teach A-Level, which is what I do now, so I prefer it here than working in a school. Less marking and book checks, less management breathing down your neck. No uniform for us either, so I can teach in a hoodie and jeans. A lot of the students are more independent too, and they (generally) act like young adults since they're not in their school environment and not treated like Year 7s.

    The day is longer (9-5), and you have less holidays. There are less teaching weeks in the year, but it does mean you have to sometimes come into college in half terms/holidays.

    If I was teaching BTEC or GCSE, I would have a breakdown and would have resigned a long time ago. These students seem like a complete nightmare for the most part. There's no real sanctions you can place, no real threats, expelling students is harder than in a school.

    Retention of students is the be all and end all. I've got about 50% of my A2 students who got Es in AS who have made it through to 2nd year just because we need the money.

    Having said that, I won't be working in a school again. I prefer teaching in a college, as long as I've just got A-Level.
    BioEm likes this.
  4. nevilleat

    nevilleat New commenter

    What FE college are you talking about!
    BioEm likes this.
  5. nevilleat

    nevilleat New commenter

    FE teaching isn't a bed of roses but compared to secondary it's so much better. Do a pro and cons list. This should answer your dilemma. I'm doing agency work at the moment and it has made me realise how good FE is. Worked in FE for 10 years and I do miss it. Impossible to get back in once you leave but I had my time. Looking to work in HE which by all accounts is the best.
    BioEm likes this.
  6. NewbieHoD

    NewbieHoD New commenter

    There are some different experiences everywhere. I made the move, and have since been promoted, and I highly recommend it.

    Yes, you work a full ‘business’ day. But your proportion of teaching / non-contact time is better. And therefore less working at home / weekends etc.

    Yes, you might have to cover. But that means you have more flexibility for trips, courses, meetings etc.

    At my college teaching staff get 10 weeks holiday, plus 10 days ‘working at home’. This can be taken flexibly around non-teaching times, but the net result is most finish in the summer about 10-14 days before schools finish (cheaper holidays!). Also there is no culture/expectation that you will work during your ‘holidays’.

    Pay scales are slightly lower than schools in general, but more negotiable. If we interview you and want to appoint you, we will salary-match you if at all possible.

    Yes, there’s a business ethos in terms of recruitment of students etc. But in my previous experience the same was true in schools - undersubscription in a school = redundancies.

    Whoever mentioned attendance was wrong. Attendance is (probably jointly) top of our daily/weekly priorities, and considerable resource is put into supporting this.

    Again, behaviour is also a priority. Depends on individual colleges I guess, but I find behaviour is better overall and HoDs have scope to implement their own departmental strategy to suit.

    Colleges have had a rough time, and a declining demographic at 16+ is not helping in some cases. Get yourself into a GFE (more diverse, more resilient) college that is on an upwards trend in terms of Ofsted/finance/growth, and you’ll never look back.
    cys2017 likes this.
  7. sunshine_desserts

    sunshine_desserts New commenter

    I’m secondary trained but work in FE. If you’re not money motivated I’d say do it. I work about 1/3 as much as I did in Schools. I practically never take work home. No tutor group, no playground duty, go to the toilet if you need to! It’s often much easier to get time off if you can get cover! Gcse resit classes can be hard work but generally behaviour is better and planning is reduced as you teach less variety. I don’t take books home with me at all. Attendance can be poor which is demoralising. I get paid for snow days.
    NewbieHoD likes this.
  8. BioEm

    BioEm Occasional commenter

    My experience in a college is quite different to the comments, but mostly down to really really shoddy management from the middle level up to the top. Also, due to financial issues we were squeezed for more contact time while the students were more or less part time (12hrs of lessons a week) and a lot of them just didn’t care and were at college to just not have to get a job. Retention was a huge deal and students could behave appalingly and senior management would never get rid (examples include kids taking drugs on the premises, a student threatening another with a knife) as it would mean loss of funds.

    The teaching is miles better than in a school though and despite the longer days it was much more relaxed than working in a secondary school. 16-18 year olds are a dream to teach if you can enspire and enthuse them.

    My advice would be to research the college and look at their staff turnover/retention, that will give you some idea of what kind of establishment it is. Maybe chat to people who already work there if you can. Good luck!
    saluki likes this.
  9. BioEm

    BioEm Occasional commenter

    Where I worked full timers had 26hrs teaching a week, plus 2hrs ‘support sessions’ were expected and timetabled, along with only one hour per week being marked officially as PPA, every other ‘free’ (of which there were few) could be earmarked by anyone senior for anything they saw fit at a moments notice. We also were expected to work doing exam revision in the holidays for free (not even time off in lieu). Your place sounds like dream in comparison
  10. cookiemonster611

    cookiemonster611 New commenter

    I am secondary trained working in FE. Most FE settings are pretty similar but may differ slightly. I think everyone has covered it all.

    At my work place the contact time is far less than those at schools. We teach a max of 23 hours per week and have 10 hours of 'Desk time' (PPA) [which could also include department meetings]. The rest of our hours is for working from home ;). I have taken work home ONCE this academic year- the 10 hours is plenty of time to plan and prepare for my lessons.

    Yes the pay is not the same as schools, but at least I can switch off completely and enjoy my evenings and weekends with my family.

    A few issues I face is the behaviour of students is not tackled very well by the powers above. I guess that is what builds up your behaviour management skills- trying to find new ways to keep the young students (16-18s) entertained? I'm not going to lie, dealing with certain types of behaviour that would warrant suspension/exclusion in some cases in a school setting would only manage the student to just come back into your class the following lesson with no meeting with parents/carers or the student and management! I guess that's where I have built up my behaviour management skills and learned how to deal with these types of incidents.
    Lessons are 2-3 hours long and we only get to see them once a week. Not ideal if you re teaching a core GCSE subject which they are retaking- yes the battle is already lost! These poor students have already endured 5 years minimum of 'torture' in schools where they were usually overlooked so the borderline students get all the attention and now they have to go through it all over again and hope to get that elusive grade 4/5 with 2 or 3 hours of Maths a week!!!

    have a good read through all the posts, everyone has mentioned fantastic stuff, research the college as @BioEm has mentioned, maybe go and just stand outside the college to see how the students behave in public and around the college- it should give a good induication and make your mind up that way.
  11. ZanyInsany

    ZanyInsany New commenter

    I moved from secondary to FE. Taking everything into account, I would never go back into schools! Obviously there are pros and cons but I feel the balance definately makes FE the winner
  12. cys2017

    cys2017 Occasional commenter

    I have recently complete a pgce in further education. I have experience in secondary too though. Main difference is that it’s more chilled classes tend to be smaller too
  13. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    Lucky you! Sounds like you've had experience of working in excellent schools and colleges! My colleagues and I (including those who have switched from secondary to FE) have found pros and cons for both.

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