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Priamry-Secondary: Who has done this and how was it?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by ktjaynet, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. ktjaynet

    ktjaynet New commenter

    I'm considering moving from my secondary science role and into the primary classroom. I've looked into it and know how to make the move, however I would like some advice from people who have already done this.
    What are the major differences you found between the 2 roles?
    Kids attitudes? Behavior? Marking load and planning load? Freedom within the classroom to make your won routines etc?
    The school I work at is challenging but classes are small and I love teaching KS3. I dread my KS4 classes though, the pupils attitudes really get to me, and we are currently heavily micro-managed (for example, we now have to hand books out in a particular way, most lessons are pre-planned and year 11 hate science because they only do exam prep).
    I keep dreaming of having my year 7 group all day and how wonderful that would be- hence the move.
    What do I need to be prepared for though?
    I don't hate my job- I have a good bank of resources after nearly 3 years there and a good work/life balance. However I don't want to get stuck there just because it's 'OK' and 'easier to stay' when I could take a risk and be even happier teaching younger pupils.
    Help, who has make this move and what did you find? :)
  2. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I am secondary, so am of limited value I suppose.

    I have been around these forums long enough though to have *some* idea of primary. I hope some primary colleagues validate what I say here, If not, I accept I am wrong:

    I do detect a bit of naivety in your post, I don't mean that as a criticism, but wonder whether your idealistic view of primary is true.

    1) If you think you are heavily micro-managed in secondary, I think you will find it worse in Primary. All that you mention I feel will be multiplied. Joint planning and meddling SLT in primary (my view on primary SLT is that some of them are frustrated teachers rather than leaders who have moved up reluctantly as there isn't the middle ground responsibilities you find in secondary)

    2) I bet teaching year 5 is very different to year 7. Don't make judgments of primary based on your experience with year 7 students.

    3) I bet marking load is more.

    4) I refuse to accept behaviour will be better. I imagine most kids are more malleable at primary, and I bet behaviour manifests itself in different ways, I bet the bad kids are awful though.
    Landofla likes this.
  3. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I've never done secondary (though I have done middle), only upper primary. If you don't want to spend your entire week on exam prep, steer clear of Year 6, which is dominated by SATs preparation & practice.

    From what I have read & heard, teachers in primaries seem to have much less autonomy, especially when it comes to marking, with often rigid, time-consuming policies. Often, all books have to be marked after each lesson - and English & maths happen every day, giving you a minimum of 60 books each day, plus whatever you may have taught in the afternoon, so potentially 120 books. And some primary classes are larger than 30 pupils. Y5 & 6 pupils can produce a LOT of work!!

    Do you feel confident to teach up to 13 subjects, some of which are sub-divided (English = reading, handwriting, spelling, grammar & punctuation, writing): English, maths, science, history, geography, RE, art, DT, music, PE, MFL, PHSCE, IT.

    If you are in KS1, can you cope with children who need a lot of support and teacher-time, who need frequent changes of activity, who have 'finished' a piece of work in 5 minutes?

    Most primary classes are mixed-ability (some set for English & maths in KS2 if they are large enough) - could you plan & teach every lesson to a wide range of abilities (by Y6 you can have children working at a 6 year old to a 14 year old level)?

    TA support is now negligible in many primary classrooms, and we've never had technical support, so you'll have to get resources & set up & clear away your own science, art & DT lessons in your breaks / lunch times / after school.

    Parents can be 'in your face', hoping for a chats at the end and the start of the day.

    Think long and hard about moving - remember, primary teachers often work for 60+ hours a week, and their working hour average is higher than for secondary teachers.
    Landofla, Lara mfl 05 and DYNAMO67 like this.
  4. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I suspect the only way you will find out if you could be ' even happier ' by making the transition is to plan for it and attempt it . No guarantees that you will be successful of course. I think given the current climate many colleagues would be very content with ' happy ' . I always taught in challenging secondaries but would never have contemplated a move to Primary - loads of pressure, more insular ? , out of your specialism and different ' culture ' - would not suit all
    Landofla likes this.
  5. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I moved quite a long time ago from secondary maths to primary, via middle schools. I'd not move back for all the tea in China. I can't believe some schools actually dictate how you hand out books? Seriously? Is there actually a right and wrong way to do this? Run away from secondary if that's how it is these days.

    Some schools are very micromanaged, with dictated colours for this and that in marking and observations every week, sometimes more than once a week. Other schools largely leave you alone to actually get on and do your job in the way you see fit. But, just like in secondary, you don't know until you get there.

    To be frank teaching year 5 is pretty much identical to teaching year 7, which in turn isn't really all that different to teaching year 3! They all act like they can't underline a LO, don't know the date, can't stick in a worksheet sensibly, ask what to do when they get to the end of a page and so on. They all make you laugh, irritate you and make you proud in fairly equal measure.

    You'll need to convince a head that you can teach all subjects (PE, music, art, English, etc) as well as science. But being a science specialist, you'll very possibly be at a huge advantage if you are happy to co-ordinate and lead it.

    Maybe think about a prep school, either long term or as a half way house. Then you can teach mostly science with a few other subjects, rather than learning them all at once. Also you'll get experience of teaching all of KS2, though very possibly keeping year 7 and 8 as well.

    Although what everyone else has written is true for many schools, there are many more where you'll have heaps of autonomy, lovely behaviour and enjoy every moment of your day. (Well most days!) Go for it!
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Chelsea2 and DYNAMO67 have put many of the things which I might have written.
    Just noticed caterpillartobutterfly has posted and added some extra.

    I have literally taught everything form Nursery to Year 11 during my career and each phase has it's joys and tribulations.
    Preparation, planning and marking are definitely more intensive in Primary.

    Less challenging pupils are more enthusiastic, but more challenging pupils can be more out of control, because they just haven't developed the social skills. I've had pupils refusing to come out from under tables where they were biting other pupils for example.Or running round the room screaming.

    You definitely need to have a sound knowledge of all curriculum subjects and be able to demonstrate your ability to teach them.

    Don't try for a small school initially. A larger school has more opportunity to share out subject responsibilities. Most Primary teachers will have subject responsibilities and not necessarily in any of your 'specialist' subjects. That will mean your colleagues can help and support you.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  7. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Ah, yes - career progression is pretty hopeless in primary these days. Gone are the days when you would be paid for being responsible for a subject (except perhaps English & maths) - and remember you will be leading one (or more!) subjects covering the 7 years of a primary school, and without necessarily having any subject expertise. Larger schools do help, and you may be able to progress to 'head of KS', but don't expect a well-travelled career path to follow.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I would see your days as follows (two models):

    1 mornings and part of the afternoon split between English and Maths - then all the other subjects with your class

    2 mornings and part of the afternoon split between English and Maths - then you do your own Science and a lot of the KS2 Science while someone else delivers bits'n'bobs to your class

    Conclusion: you'll be doing an awful lot of English and Maths so how do you feel about that?

    If your kids are falling behind you'll be told to do MORE English and Maths and less of absolutely everything else. How does that strike you?

    At YR6 they can get very fed up indeed of core subjects and become mightily disaffected. Even the nicest kids.

    It all boils down to the English and Maths these days.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Grief! Sometimes I don't recognise my own career from the posts on this site!
    Seriously, being a primary teacher is fabulous! (Though we aren't really allowed to post that on TES these days. We get shot down in flames. We have to say it is all doom and gloom because that's what people like to read!)

    Yes it's hard work, but mostly enjoyable work, same as secondary.
    Yes there are truly ***** schools, but most are not, same as secondary.
    Yes there are bits that, ideally, you'd like to change, but that's life in any profession.

    I moved because I loved teaching year 7 and 8 and couldn't be bothered with the older ones and their sulky hormones. I've never regretted it and have now taught from year 1 all the way to year 13 at various times.
    I moved to prep school last year, purely so I could teach a little more of my specialism while still being a class teacher. Yes it is easier workload wise than my last primary, but I can't speak for all preps.

    Choose your school carefully, don't settle for any old ***** place that is desperate and you'll have a ball!
    Lara mfl 05 and Pomz like this.
  10. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    You're right, being a primary teacher is fabulous. For 25 years I LOVED it. But then I stopped being a primary teacher - the teaching took up less and less of my working life, and as I taught mainly Y6, the stresses and demands of SATs took over the teaching. I did not enjoy my last few years, and it was nothing really to do with the schools I was in. In fact, I moved from an academy to a LA school to see if it WAS the school causing my exhaustion & lack of enjoyment. Only partly. It was time to go.

    At its best, primary teaching is the best job in the world.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I often used to say Teaching is the best job in the world, and on occasions the worst'. ;) It's like any job.
    I can honestly say I loved teaching. (Staffroom politics less so. ;)) But right until my very last day- well perhaps not that very last day.:(

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