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Primary training and changing to secondary

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by oliviacs_still, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. oliviacs_still

    oliviacs_still New commenter

    I have had the dilemma of whether to go into primary or secondary teaching for a long time. Recently I got annoyed with how indecisive I am and eventually (not by impulse, I did give this a lot of thought) decided on training in primary and have since secured a place on a PGCE for next year. I am currently a TA in KS1 and I do really love it, however, I keep wondering if I have made the right choice because I have an overwhelming passion for my degree subject (psychology) and would love to teach this (which would obviously mean teaching at secondary level).

    My question being: if I train to teach at a primary level, can I do an nqt year in secondary or will I have to wait until after the nqt year? I'm not 100% sure I will actually do this but I just wanted to know for future reference. Also yes I am aware that I would be at a disadvantage when applying to secondary jobs having a primary background, but I know people who have successfully secured a job outside their training specialism.

    Also any other advice on my situation would be greatly appreciated!
  2. mandala1

    mandala1 Occasional commenter

    Theoretically, if you have QTS you can teach across age ranges and phases. In practice, I would doubt that a HT would employ you in a secondary position after a Primary PGCE. A secondary PGCE will have a great deal of subject specific pedagogy which clearly you wouldn't have doing Primary.
    agathamorse likes this.
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Typically, the amount of psychology teaching in any one secondary school is very small. A school is going to be wary of taking on an NQT as the only psychology teacher (so no subject-specific support), and I can't see them wanting to take on an NQT who has no experience/training in teaching it.
    You would also need to be able to offer a second subject, so it's worth thinking what that might be, and whether that makes secondary less attractive.

    I don't think you'd get a job as an NQT - if you did, I'd worry that the school was just desperate, and that they might not be able to provide you with the support you are likely to need. Your mentor would likely come from your second subject (assuming they don't decide that as you are primary-trained they can give you six year 7 classes, each for a different subject).

    Further down the line, you'd need to be able to convince a school that you have subject-knowledge (should be okay), knowledge of the exam specifications and expectations, and some experience with the age-group. If you could find a way to teach an evening class or do some tutoring, that might help - but don't even think of trying to do that whilst working full-time as an NQT in primary. It might be doable in the long run, but I think you'll need to look at sticking to primary for a few years.

    People do successfully transfer between sectors, but it's probably rather easier to do in subjects which are taught in both, and where departments are larger so you don't carry full responsibility for the subject. Some people do it by doing supply in their chosen subject, but there probably isn't very much psychology supply requested.

    If you're still torn, is it worth considering delaying PGCE for a while, until you're sure about what you want to do? Perhaps see if you can get cover supervisor work or similar so that you can get some secondary experience. However it's always worth bearing in mind that primary posts are a lot more numerous than psychology teaching posts.
    pepper5, purplecarrot and agathamorse like this.
  4. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    As above. There's no steady work for psychology teachers. You need a mainstream subject to teach mainly and then offer psychology on the side. If you have an A level in a mainstream subject you could do an SKE on top.
    Kateray1 and agathamorse like this.

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