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Moving to the independent sector

Discussion in 'Independent' started by harlequin24, Apr 25, 2020.

  1. harlequin24

    harlequin24 New commenter

    Having spent over 20 years teaching in the state sector, the ethos and environment has finally become unbearable. It's not the pupils; I teach in a selective school, and they are really great to work with. The total erosion of the professional status of teachers has reached the point that I'm not longer willing to put up with it. There's always some fool with a TLR gazing through the window to ensure there's a learning objective and success criteria written on a PowerPoint. It's like working in Bentham's panoptimun.

    My belief is that teachers have much more autonomy in independent schools and that the experience is much more dignified. Would those working in the sector agree, or am I fooling myself?
  2. matthewboulton06

    matthewboulton06 New commenter

    I will share my experience. Although, given nature of independent sector, most experiences are different.
    I agree with your view on the state sector. I always had really positive observations, but that never stopped the endless snooping so we could have a stream of meaningless paperwork for Ofsted's perusal.
    How I have been treated in the independent sector has been a breath of fresh air. You're treated as a professional and shown trust (if you model the right attitude, obviously). You don't have that feeling of impending doom hanging over you, as you do in 'state.' the hours are longer, but that doesn't really bother me. As the trade-off definitely works for me. Happy to answer any other questions!
    sugaflowa likes this.
  3. sugaflowa

    sugaflowa New commenter

    Hey there, I was a teacher in the state sector for 9 years, and in Sept I am starting a job in an independent school. Super excited. Can you give me any tips or advice?
    I am boarding at the school too full time as well. Thanks.
  4. arcaopino

    arcaopino New commenter

    I think you should be cautious. It may well be a case of the emperor having no clothes. My experience is that although the state sector may be sometimes hard to take, yet it is still preferable to the independent sector. I have experienced both. It's true, you can find more autonomy in independent schools, but will you find the same pension scheme, or salary? Perhaps you are brave enough to disregard such considerations. For years we were told about superior wages and conditions at independent schools, often accompanied by the rather jaunty "indy" synonym, which somehow seems to cover up some of the deficiencies inherent in going down that route. Do you think it will be easy to return to the state sector from the "Indy" sector? Wishful thinking perhaps, unless it's math and science for you. I doubt that these apparently favourable conditions are the normal any longer. Are you so sure the autonomy is greater these days? Given the amount of online work currently undertaken, that too is to be doubted. Then again, when was the last time a parent at your selective school questioned your teaching or suggested they might withdraw their child if they don't get exactly what they want? There are many good and experienced staff at independent schools, but the idea that they are somehow going to be magically living a more charmed life is a fantasy, especially right now. longer hours and helicopter parents are a price you had better be willing to pay. If not, then enhanced scrutiny at your current establishment. make a choice and pay the price, but do it without undue rose-tinting on your spectacles.
    ajrowing likes this.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    The grass is definitely greener in the independent sector, but it isn't all perfectly lined Wimbledon centre court green.

    Pay may be significantly more or significantly less.
    Pension may be almost worthless, unlikely to be the TPS within a year or so.
    If you need to keep an eye on sickness and maternity benefits, they may well be worse.
    Currently many staff are furloughed and some schools have already closed forever.

    There is freedom to be a teacher and get on and teach in the way you believe best.
    Resources may be better.
    Class sizes are smaller, rarely more than 20, certainly not more than 25.
    Subject leaders tend to be specialists, but not always.
    Teachers tend to be older and experience tends to be valued.

    When I moved about 5 years ago it was like going back to when I first started teaching in the mid 90s in state schools. So not perfect by any means, but better than the state sector now.

    I can't imagine going back to state unless I was truly desperate for work.
    sugaflowa and ajrowing like this.
  6. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    I found that both were considerably better in the independent sector, but it must always be born in mind that the sector is even more varied than the state school sector. A tin-pot proprietory school on its last financial legs is unlikely to pay well. A well-established HMC school with, perhaps, 600 years of investments behind it, is likely to pay better than the state sector. There are many perks available, too, in wealthy schools - free refreshments throughout the day (breakfast, lunch and supper), real coffee, cakes at teatime, staff bar, membership of BUPA and local gyms, subsidised accommodation, chance of a sabbatical after a certain number of years of service, and so on. But it does vary enormously from one school to another. Do your homework!
  7. slugtrial

    slugtrial New commenter

    Friend of mine. Deputy head large state primary. Went into independent sector. Taught maths, cricket and rugby. Responsible for residential trips including skiing and kayaking in France.

    Loved it. Lasted 6 years.

    Then pupil numbers dropped. He was made redundant. Couldn’t get back into state sector (some bitter people around?), so did supply and worked part time in Tesco.

    Eventually got another independent job because of his maths specialism but he is very wary now.
    So like everyone above has said, a lot of different variables. Can be a roller coaster.
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    harlequin24, if you are considering a move into the independent sector, then how about considering an even bigger move and teach in an international school? Have a look at some of the posts on the TES forum for "Teaching Overseas". Many teachers who have moved overseas will tell you that it is much better than teaching in the UK, whether in a state school or an independent.
    dumbbells66 likes this.
  9. harlequin24

    harlequin24 New commenter

    Thanks to you all for taking the time to reply. Like you Caterpillar, I began my teaching career in the mid-90s and remember the degree of autonomy and professional trust that are but a distant dream. I guess for me a potential move to the independent sector is drinking in last chance saloon. Had the current crisis not created such uncertainty, I probably would have left teaching this summer anyway.

    Yes Hippo- teaching overseas is certainly something I have considered. This is something I intend to investigate when things become more settled.
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If I hadn't moved to the independent sector, I would have left teaching altogether.
    Don't get me wrong, it isn't perfect by any means. But it is possible to be old, experienced, knowledgeable, skilled and yet still valued there.
    Ro13, TheoGriff, sugaflowa and 3 others like this.
  11. dts

    dts Occasional commenter

    Agreed. For me, the choice isn't between teaching in the state sector or the independent one. It's between teaching in an independent or not being a teacher.
  12. snowfairy

    snowfairy New commenter

    I moved into the independent sector in September. I'm loving it. It's not perfect.....we're most probably leaving the TPS.... plus a pay cut at the moment. The pressures are different but I wouldn't go back to the state sector. I love the students, the staff and just the general feeling of work. I enjoy going to work which is something I'd lost a number of years ago. I'm happy and that's worth a lot to me!
  13. MrLW1

    MrLW1 New commenter

    One thing I wouldn't do (not saying you are but some might) is automatically assuming management in a private school will be supportive. Have a read of this case and how this former teacher was treated by his former HMC school. To say the employment tribunal was critical of the school would be an understatement. Small class classes, cakes and coffee etc doesn't make up for such treatment..


    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020
  14. Ro13

    Ro13 Occasional commenter

    I moved to independent, primary, seven years ago. I love teaching at the school (Zoom teaching atm). Children want to learn, behaviour is, mostly, good. I normally work Tuesday to Friday. Due to current situation, I'm almost full time, no extra pay, but at least I'm not on furlough

    The main issue with my school is lack of communication by the head, who owns the school. We normally find things out when letters go to parents! Like summer term being extended if we go back in June. If we say we are not happy we are usually met with 'can leave if you feel like that'!

    I've always been lucky as I tend to have a very strong work ethic & my head likes & expects it in all her staff.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    LOLOLOL Same as us...and occasionally when a parent mentions something to us at drop off in the morning.
    steely1, TheoGriff and Ro13 like this.
  16. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Likewise. Leadership team make decisions, communicate them to parents and then look surprised when we point out (sometimes angrily) that we didn't know anything about it and have been left exposed.
  17. Ro13

    Ro13 Occasional commenter

    Agree completely. My experience is really valued in my school. I need to work until I can't anymore,(ex husband issues but won't go there :confused:) I'm 57. I couldn't have worked into my 60's in a state school. Been in my current school 7 years & hope to manage at least 5 more years!!
  18. pinktuss

    pinktuss New commenter

    I have had the worst experience ever with an independent school.
    Interviewed and accepted the job in Feb. Resigned due to start after Easter.
    The school drastically changed the terms of employment and teaching conditions to such an extent that I would never have resigned for it.
    It is now my understanding that independent schools can "do as they want"... the lack of teachers pay and conditions was terrible and I naively thought I was walking into my dream job.
    Currently unemployed after 15 years experience in a middle leadership role. I would never apply to an independent school again.
    rhenium1963 likes this.
  19. Endeavour1

    Endeavour1 New commenter

    I am only teaching in my late fifties because I am at a small independent school. They will come out of TPS this year because of the current crisis. I don't expect a pay rise this year ( but quite frankly I think given the state of the country I am lucky to have a job. If it all goes to pot I will take my pension early, I was going to go at 55 so the extra few years have been a bonus. I have enjoyed/ enjoy the smaller class sizes and being in a school that was half the size of the state secondary I was at for 17 years. The senior team is always very open about any contract change and the TPS exit which will now happen probably by Easter 2021.

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