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Primary or Secondary and switching between

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by cezmerelda, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. cezmerelda

    cezmerelda New commenter


    This is a bit of a random question but I suppose I’m wondering how easy it is to move from secondary to primary? I’ve got a place on a GTP this September to do secondary English. Obviously I’m very tempted because of the salary I’d be earning straight away. I’m just finishing off an English Literature Masters and I do think I’d enjoy the English teaching. The thing is though, when I’ve thought about teaching in the future I’ve always seen myself teaching primary. It’s always the primary school teacher job that has appealed to me. I suppose what I’m asking is, if I did the secondary GTP programme, would I be ruling myself out of ever teaching Primary? Or would I maybe be able to train as a secondary teacher but then apply for primary jobs? The training route for secondary really appeals but I don’t know whether I should just concentrate on primary! I’m very torn over which path to choose. I could do the GTP or a primary PGCE. Do people move from secondary to primary and vice versa?

    Thank you!
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Once you have completed teacher training and been awarded QTS you are qualified to teach any subject, and any age phase. So it is possible to change from secondary to primary, and people do it. However, primary is very different to secondary, so you wouldn't be able to apply for a job without gaining some kind of experience first (unless you came across a desperate school or have contacts you can exploit). You might be able to create opportunities, such as getting involved in Y6-7 transition at a secondary (some secondaries do taster days at their feeder primaries), or trying to develop training and development relationships with the feeders (at my first PGCE placement school we had a day where some feeder teachers came in to observe lessons, and discuss what we were teaching Y7).

    Have you actually spent much time in secondary, or primary, prior to your application? I initially wasn't sure whether to go for primary or secondary English myself. I taught EFL abroad to both age groups, and it helped me to realise that although I liked the primary age kids I'd rather teach English as a subject at secondary. Then, back in the UK, I spent time in a variety of schools before I made the PGCE application, including volunteering at a primary to listen to kids read.

    If you really aren't sure I'd suggest deferring your application, and spending more time in schools to help you decide. The PGCE is tough, and with English the workload can be punishing, so if your heart isn't in it it'll be all the more challenging.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I'd also suggest you think carefully about this.

    Back when I trained it was possible to do a Jun/Sec course, so one's options were wider and I had experience of Teaching Practices in all types, which helped me decide which area I actually enjoyed best and brought out the best in me and my students. I trained in Modern Languages, thinking I'd want to encourage students to develop their ability in languages to communicate better with their 'fellow man' in their own language, but in fact I found out that was less important than helping children develop any natural talents they had in any area.

    Agreed opportunities for promotion and increases in salary are definitely better in Secondary and each sector has pluses and minuses.

    I've always said the big difference between Sec. & Primary, though very much simplified is that in Secondary one teaches a subject to students. One needs to have good subject knowledge and be really passionate about one's subject and understand that because they're adolescents their attitude to that learning may not be what one would like. With Primaries one teaches primarily children. All subjects right across the Curriculum and that includes social skills, which can take up a lot of one's time sorting out problems after lunch/break playtimes. :rolleyes: It is essential one truly enjoys being with 'immature little people' and want to watch develop them as people.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. cezmerelda

    cezmerelda New commenter

    I’ve spent a lot of time in primary schools and have loved the experiences I’ve had. Not so much in secondary. It’s always been Primary I’ve thought I’d end up doing. Then I applied for the GTP on a bit of whim (contacted a secondary school to ask about English teaching and they replied telling me about the scheme and asking me to apply) and got onto it. Now it seems like a bit of a ‘too good to be true’ situation that I’d be stupid to turn down- on the job training with a salary. I think I would enjoy it a lot but the thought that it might be closing the door on teaching primary is making me sad!

    I’m also really scared of turning down the GTP and letting the school know if that’s what’s I decide to do though. They were really helpful and they’re very keen so if I decide to go primary I’ll be worried about disappointing them!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. cezmerelda

    cezmerelda New commenter

    Thanks for your reply. It’s always been Primary I sort of planned to teach in my head. I’ve always loved working with kids and it’s always been about the kids rather than the specific subject really. Then I did an English masters and applied for this GTP scheme on a whim and now I’m completely torn. I think I’d enjoy secondary English but the prospect of ‘closing the door’ on Primary is making me feel sad and I’m also terrified of turning down the GTP and having to let the school know I won’t be taking it up. Feeling really panicky about the whole thing.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Take the above posters' wise counsel and think very carefully about being a teacher whether in primary or secondary.

    You will not really know until you go into schools and observe/do work experience both in primary and secondary schools.

    As BSD says, the English workload is punishing in secondary schools and that is on top of the PGCE being tough. Some of the class sizes are massive (31+) and the marking and planning can take significant amounts of time. In some schools the behaviour can also be an issue; again, that all takes time to sort it out.

    Makeup your own mind, but get some experience to help you. Working as a TA for perhaps a year would give you an insight; however, even TAs who have worked years in schools make the transition from TA to teacher and say that even their experience in schools did not prepare them for being a teacher with the responsibility and workload.
    blueskydreaming and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. cezmerelda

    cezmerelda New commenter

    Thank you for your helpful reply. I’ve worked as a TA for two years and also worked in a nursery/preschool type setting for a year as well. I feel confident that I’d enjoy primary teaching (though I’m sure it will be a heck of a lot more work than I’m anticipating once I actually do it!) it’s just that this GTP opportunity has come up and I feel stupid if I don’t take it? I’m thinking that if I want to keep the option of primary open then I’d be better off doing the primary PGCE than going for the GTP English secondary and then trying to look for a primary job after that?

    Thank you again. I really value any insight!
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    As has already been said once your qualified, you're a qualified teacher and 'technically' capable of teaching any age range and subject, which a Head asks you to! o_O As anyone in Sec with a 'light timetable commitment' will tell you. However it doesn't usually work out like that.

    Personally if you really think you want Primary then you would be best advised to do a Primary training. As said above, technically you could change sector, but the biggest problem is convincing a potential Head that you are indeed capable of teaching all Curriculum subjects at Primary level and normally you would need evidence of this. Hence my advice.
    blueskydreaming and pepper5 like this.
  9. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    if you wanted to switch later, a spell on supply can work. You start off daily, build up some experience and a list of schools that know you. If it goes well you will probably be asked to do some longer term work at a school that knows you, then a bit more, then a maternity.......
    cezmerelda, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Certainly if one wants to change sector that is certainly the way to do it. :)

    I was just thinking in the case of the OP that they might not be in a financial position to go that route.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. cezmerelda

    cezmerelda New commenter

    Thanks again. It’s more the idea that it seems a bit backwards to train for one sector whilst already planning how to get into another?

    Tough decision!
  12. musharipple21

    musharipple21 New commenter

    I qualified in secondary, taught there for 4 years, then left and have a maternity KS2 cover job for Sep. Only did a day's supply work in primary beforehand but my agency sent me for the interview anyway and the school didn't know! Think it depends on the time of year though,I got my job after the deadline for teachers in permament jobs to leave for Sep, so was only going against NQTs and other supply teachers.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  13. RjMaan

    RjMaan New commenter

    I think you should be careful about your decisions about job. Normally, people prefer to most towards the higher levels like from primary to secondary, middle up to college and universities level and so on.
  14. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    State primary is horrific at the moment. If you were thinking of dropping down from state secondary English I'd suggest looking at becoming an English teacher in a prep school to access the younger age range. From there you could broaden into class teaching over time if you desire.

    To be honest though, you're planning far too far ahead - see how you go in the GTP and NQT years first.
    MarieAnn18 and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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