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secondary teacher working in primary school

Discussion in 'Supply teaching' started by tonymars, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Myself, secondary trained and experienced, 50s, male, only recent experience of a primary was half a day's observation. As I am currently free, and currently have nothing "concrete" on the horizon, I am now reconsidering texts to me offering primary teaching or TA positions. I'm sure they would pay less that my usual rate, but beggars...

    Question is, could I do it? I am finding it hard at the moment to picture myself in a primary school, sitting cross legged on the floor surrounded by a circle of tiny children all out of uniform... A naïve image I know, but then I don't know any better.

    Have any secondary supplies managed in a primary? What's it really like?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I have - I loved it - takes a bit of getting used to though.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  3. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Well, as someone who's worked in Primary and Secondary, even Nursery on supply, Primary needn't be
    Most Primaries wear uniform and certainly from Yr 3 onwards are probably sat around tables for the majority of their lessons.
    The biggest difference is you will have to teach any subject on the curriculum including PE, Music etc. Depends which 'subjects' you may have to tackle on that particular day and you will have the same class group all day. You'll need a strong bladder, as getting to the loo can be difficult when one is teaching all day. After break and lunch there are often 'breaktime disagreements' to sort out before you get on with the lesson and 'teaching social skills' can take up a lot of classroom time.

    I'd suggest you say you'd be willing to do UKS2 (Upper Key Stage 2) i e years 5 & 6 and you may well find the work for HA is actually at a higher level than that found in many a Sec Yr 7 (or even yr 8 on occasion).
    agathamorse, pepper5 and tonymars like this.
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Done days here and there in primary. Interesting experience (and backache). Happy to do it occasionally but wouldn't want it full time. Marking load is a b****r. Have no idea how primary teachers sustain it. Just remember to put some PE kit in as you may need it!
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  5. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Also, be prepared to have switched classes. I find if there’s PE or humanities in the afternoon I am sometimes switched to cover Literacy. ( an extra 30 books to mark before going home). If you can, try’s getting some marking done over lunch.

    You will find TAs who are worth their weight in gold.

    I find it a nice change but I’m not sure I’d want to do it long term.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  6. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    What's different is the requirement to collect the children at the door or playground as they come and accompany them out again at the end of the day until every parent has collected them. There is a lot more pastoral work and general nannying. Also, classes are all mixed ability so you need to have two or three levels of differentiation in all the classwork.
    agathamorse, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. SineField

    SineField Occasional commenter

    I can't get my head round the marking thing for primary supply....

    Surely maths can be marked in lesson and I can't believe they expect every literacy lesson to have a full set of book marking too?
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    You might be able to get round some maths books in the lesson but not all of them and primary children aren't always accurate when self-marking-they tend to mark everything correct whether it is or not! And many schools insist that all books are marked every literacy lesson, and not just English books. A particularly bad supply day would be maths followed by English with history and science in the afternoon-120 books to mark!
  9. BertieBassett2

    BertieBassett2 Star commenter

    I've had days like that, Carrie! Maths is quicker to mark and sometimes the TA might mark them....If not, take the book with all the right answers and copy from that whilst marking - easier than re-doing them in your head!
    I tend to mark English whilst having my lunch - can sometimes get through a whole class!
    Other subjects in the afternoons can be just marked by the tried and trusted 'tick and flick' method. Some schools have stickers declaring 'marked by Supply teacher', although these can be fiddly. I tend to allow an hour or so at the end of the school day to complete marking and what doesn't get done...
    Sometimes I am shocked to see the books I am diligently marking are not up-to-date with the class teacher's marking!
    Upper KS2 is definitely easier in terms of effort required, but you have to balance that against the need for strong behaviour management.
    agathamorse, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  10. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    Some schools have a "3 pieces a week" marking policy-if you can get the supply teacher to do one of them, why wouldn't you!:D
    pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Thing is in Primary, books need to be marked, so the next day's planning can be annotated in the light of how the children have caught on in that lesson. Unless it's something like grammar or creative writing done only once a week, where the marking could be left a night or so. Who needs extra practice/help and who is ready to progress etc.

    Yes Maths can be 'peer-marked', but one still needs to check over how 'honest' the marking is. That's easier for the class teacher as they know with pairings, who's most likely to 'be kind' to their friend, than for a supply who won't be cognisant of such matters. Generally I make a note of a child who is doing well and mark theirs whilst I'm going round the class and then use their answers as a guide to the answers.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    So, is marking REQUIRED by supplies, even day to day?:(
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  13. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    Yes - unless you’re being paid as a Cover Supervisor ....
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  14. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    You wouldn't be coming back if it wasn't done!
    The teacher may be very kind and set "afternoon activities" that don't require marking-Art and music all afternoon! But at the very least maths and English would require marking before you leave. And year 6 children can produce a shitload of work in a lesson!
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  15. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Point has been made, but yes essentially at least English and Maths must be marked. One reason why when doing Primary supply (come to that Primary teaching) one needs a strong bladder, as people mostly use breaks for marking and /or preparing materials for the next lesson.
    agathamorse and BertieBassett2 like this.
  16. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Supplies in secondary schools at least day to day are NOT required to mark books. Contact time then hasta la vista. In primary when is one expected to find the time to mark?
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    You stay till the books are marked....
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  18. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    As I've suggested here
    or this
    Basically planning is so different in Primary, and I've done both. Secondary planning tends to be differentiated by setting / streaming whatever and so lessons can be planned weeks in advance and then just 'worked through'. Whereas in Primary, because of mixed ability groupings in every class, one has a weekly direction which needs tweaking every night to account for what's happened during the lesson. Possibly even re-writing completely, though mostly it's just a case of 'extra practice ' or extension work for some individuals. With difficult concepts I've even started a new topic on the Monday of one week with a LO and only 'achieved it for all' by the Friday. So the next week's Monday starts with the Tuesday planning from the previous week and then I have had to jiggle round with more intensive lessons, so we can fit in all that needs doing over the next few weeks.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. pwtin

    pwtin Senior commenter

    If you are considering Primary and the level of marking is putting you off I suggest trying Nursery or Reception. Marking is minimal and apart from tidying up you can get out quickly unless a parent is delayed.
    I only do KS1, mainly as my maths is so weak, however they also produce a great deal more work that needs marking.
    If marking is required I try to mark as I go, sometimes not possible at all depending on the class. Spend every possible moment of the day marking....mark whilst you eat this will hasten your exit.
    Do not get me started on marking with green and pink pens and next steps comments etc...
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  20. BertieBassett2

    BertieBassett2 Star commenter

    I agree with @pwtin about Nursery and Reception classes. For one thing, hardly any marking but there will also be very skilled TAs/ Nursery Nurses who will basically run the classroom for you!
    However, for me that’s not enough compensation for marking. Little ones can be very demanding and the low levels they operate at are not forgiving to old bones! So it’s horses for courses - I prefer KS2 and accept that marking is the price paid!
    agathamorse and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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