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Should I accept my place on a PGCE?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by VickyCat, Jan 20, 2020.

  1. VickyCat

    VickyCat New commenter

    I have been offered a place on a PGCE in September, I’m currently studying a Master’s degree.

    I’m having serious doubts about it. I’ve volunteered in schools for a couple of years but recently started a job as a 1:1 TA in a primary school. It didn’t go well, the child had lots of additional needs and I wasn’t able to handle it. Attacking other children and myself, throwing things on the floor and running away and then screaming at me and hitting, biting and scratching. Oh and throwing chairs at me!

    At the end of the first day I spoke with the deputy head and apologised saying the role wasn’t right for me. I hadn’t been told at the interview about the child’s severe SEN. I’m not going back!

    So how can I train as a primary school teacher if I can’t cope with being a TA? I have of course read all the warnings on this forum. Perhaps I should stick with working in offices!
  2. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    Not all jobs in schools are like the TA job you've experienced. At interview, someone should have informed you that the child had behaviour issues. Don't let one unfortunate experience affect what your idea of what teaching is like. Maybe try visiting a few more schools and see what you think afterwards. Choose a school and explain your situation to the head teacher. Ask if you could go in as a volunteer or observer for a few days.
    VickyCat likes this.
  3. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    What bonxie says in post#2. Make sure you know what you're letting yourself in for. It seems from reading your OP that teaching is not a vocation for you or a passion so make sure you are as well informed about what a teaching career entails before you commit yourself. There is more choice of career than teaching or 'working in offices'. Have a think about what you'd really like to do and maybe start investigating careers in those areas.
  4. slavetotherhythm91

    slavetotherhythm91 New commenter

    I’m in exactly the same predicament as you. What I would say though is don’t let your experience as a TA put you off. There are good schools and bad schools. When you are in a bad school, I think it’s human nature to internalise that message of this is what the job will be like everywhere, but it’s not. I’m in a tough school as a TA, and would love to be in primary (but salaries are even more dire there and un-liveable) but carry on.

    I have an offer for a Primary PGCE, and so far my experience working as a TA (which I really enjoy though it is hard work) is putting me off teaching. I’ve spoken to people in the job, and those with a PGCE. I also see a lot of TA’s who have a PGCE, and that speaks for a lot. Not just mothers either.

    You think you know what the profession entails, think again. The work and stress is like nothing else, it’s really disheartening to watch day in day out. What is criminal is the lack of roles which come between a TA and a teacher, I think in the future to tackle teacher stress and workload that it will not just be one teacher at the front of the classroom. Maybe teachers should work on a shift basis. It’s demanding and the current system does not work driving people out or on the sick yet nothing is being done sadly, except the Govt promising higher wages and airing glossy TV adverts on getting in to teaching.

    Like the others have said, look in to it. I really enjoy working with children, it’s told me that, but it’s not in teaching. What that might be I don’t know yet. I might post on here to ask for career alternatives to transfer your skills from a TA job to.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2020
    agathamorse and Shedman like this.
  5. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    An honest and informed view of life as a teacher from one who may be entering the profession. Thanks for posting. I had many brilliant years in teaching mainly in the start and middle of my career but I couldn't honestly recommend the job to prospective entrants today. However, as you say, there are good schools and bad and many current teachers love their jobs. Whatever you decide to do yourself, I hope it works out for you.
    pepper5 and agathamorse like this.
  6. slavetotherhythm91

    slavetotherhythm91 New commenter

    Thank you for your reply! That’s sad to hear and confirm what I have thought. I know that having the PGCE would be really valuable to have under my belt, but even the year of that and an NQT year all for stress and no gain just does not feel worthwhile. The only person I would be letting down is myself by knowing all this now and thinking I’ll be able to survive it.

    Wouldn’t mind private messaging you if you don’t mind. Were you Primary or Secondary? Also, I want to say that I do love working in education - but where could I take it in terms of experience as a TA? I want to acquire qualifications to specialise in something and work with children without the burden of being the full time teacher. HLTA is one thing, but the pay in schools never seems sustainable to carry on as a long term career.

    Can anyone please tell me the reality of a primary pgce, and the life of a primary school teacher? Anyone who would recommend it...I wonder if the bleak outlook ok teaching is predominantly secondary, or am I wrong?
  7. 43Meadows

    43Meadows New commenter

    I’m doing my pgce and I’ve got to say it has nearly broken me, and I’m a strong, confident person who has been set on this career for a long time! Be prepared for a full day in school of chasing your tail, never being on top of your game then having 2-3 hours paperwork to do every night, weekend work too. There’s also uni assignments on top of that. You have to be totally committed and focussed so if you have doubts now I’d say it’s possibly not for you.

    if I had known at the start just how draining teacher training is I’m not sure I would have gone ahead with it. What I can say is when it goes right, when there is a chink of light at the end of the tunnel it falls into place and is brilliant.
  8. VickyCat

    VickyCat New commenter

    Thanks for the comments. I think being a teacher would be useful for working abroad - but there must be easier ways of working abroad!

    Perhaps I should stick to volunteering as a kind of hobby that has some community value.
    pepper5 and slavetotherhythm91 like this.
  9. slavetotherhythm91

    slavetotherhythm91 New commenter

    Primary or secondary? What you have said in a nutshell is what puts me off. I think my dream has been crushed before even making it a reality. The state of the profession is so sad. It should be an uplifting profession with a great work life balance and sense of control in it. But I do have my eyes wide open. I’m dodging a bullet. Guess I avoid being another drop out statistic to put on the teacher trainee drop out crisis reports.

    Out of interest, for anyone reading this - has anyone been a HLTA and settled for it instead of becoming a teacher to avoid the stress and paperwork etc, and been happy with their choice?
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    That would be my recommendation, I'm afraid.
  11. 43Meadows

    43Meadows New commenter

    I’m in primary. I think secondary is even worse from what I hear.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. slavetotherhythm91

    slavetotherhythm91 New commenter

    And what’s been your experience so far? How have you found the PGCE and being an NQT? The more unfiltered, no bias opinion is greatly appreciated! From someone who is trying to decide to take the plunge.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    There is a spectrum for every variable.

    Some children are a pleasure to teach, some are very challenging.
    Some schools contain more children that are a pleasure to teach than others.
    Some schools have great leadership, others are toxic.
    Some PGCEs give you a day a week off school to do your extra sessions and uni assignments whereas some PGCEs are block placement and you have to suffer a high workload.

    Your job is to try and pick a good PGCE course in an area with a higher proportion of supportive schools for you to train in.
    Gsr25, agathamorse and VickyCat like this.
  14. Staisha73

    Staisha73 New commenter

    I'm halfway through my Primary PGCE, as a single mum and career changer (46). It's difficult and stressful because you're always striving for perfection and sometimes you just have to to let that go a little. I've got a fantastically supportive A placement, my daughter can come and sit in my classroom when she finishes school down the road if I'm still working. She's just started yr 7 and has had a really tough time adjusting, which made my first term incredibly difficult to manage, struggling to support her whilst learning in the classroom. I've had my cry after a lesson observation (which wasn't even that bad) I was just exhausted! On the plus side it was the longest term, they're much shorter in terms 2 and 3, so hopefully I won't get to that point again. I'm the only single mum on my course and I can understand why lol. I'm not naturally organised, and when I was struggling to fit all the paperwork in. The best advice I was told just cover what's being assessed that week and nothing more, even just a sentence or two for each point - my time is to be spent on learning what I'm going to be teaching, as that's what makes the difference, not creating long winded reflections that aren't actually marked by the course provider. In my usual placement in Yr 3 I get to school around 7.30am and leave around 5pm, but have full hour for lunch for a mental break and socialise, and only live 10 mins away so I'm home usual time. My second placement in Yr1 the staff arrive at 8am and leave at the latest by 3.45pm - different school and year group, which shows the variety in schools. I do spend a lot of time at the weekend, mainly because I'm learning the lesson (some things we take for granted and just 'know' are tricky to break down , and the terminology we have to teach along with it - expanded noun phrase anyone lol) and how best to teach it. Now I'm more confident in my teaching skills I will be able to relax more when I go back and just learn the topic and then teach it in my own style. Having observed a few supply teachers in my current placement it's refreshing to see their ability to rock up and deliver the lesson as they go along, without the hours of planning beforehand!!!
    I don't have the hours to work all night every night, so it has to be done within usual office hours during the week and weekends a few hours in the library on a Sunday morning undisturbed means I get so much more done. It's hard yes, but a bad lesson here and there is not the end of the world, its something that all teachers go through.
  15. VickyCat

    VickyCat New commenter

    There’s also the fact that I would paying to train and work 60 hour weeks. I’m just thinking it’s not worth getting into more student debt for.
  16. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    If you have any doubts whatsoever, I would avoid training as a teacher for the time being. You state you have "serious doubts".

    If you have read these forums/threads for any length of time, you will read the stories of the people where teaching almost destroyed them. Clearly, all schools/children/SLT are not horrible ( the behaviour) but many are. All the stories are true and it is also true that you will be working 60+ hours per week for not a lot of money. On the other hand, there are some great schools where the behaviour is generally good, you are supported well, and there are no serious issues.

    Write it all down...the pros and the cons.

    You have to be 100% committed to working long hours, working under pressure, and sacrificing a lot of time you would normally be using for hobbies/friends/rest.

    Yes, many train and go abroad. You could do that and for many that works well.

    You don't have to make a decision now. Leave it for a while longer and perhaps get more experience working in a school and then make up your mind.
    VeronicAmb, Shedman, install and 2 others like this.
  17. install

    install Star commenter

    Don't go into teaching. But do try different jobs and find what is right for you.
  18. HazyTechNerd

    HazyTechNerd New commenter

    I worked for 9 years as an LSA in a junior school. As soon as I graduated (mature OU student) I swore I’d never go back. The bit of teaching I got to do I loved. Supporting though is a whole different ball game. I’m actually going to train for secondary maths next year. Being an LSA taught me what I liked, what I was good at and where my interests lie. It also reinforced what I don’t want. Teaching and supporting are two different things. Just because one doesn’t suit doesn’t mean the other won’t.
    VickyCat and agathamorse like this.
  19. TeacherMan19

    TeacherMan19 Occasional commenter

    Doooo it!

    Become a teacher! It's great! Making a difference and having a great time. I taught for a few years in the UK before going abroad and now I'm having even more fun!

    It can be tough. But so can an office job when there's a deadline for something and you all have to work late to get things finished. At least you get the holidays to reset your batteries.

    There's are some great schools out there. There's some that are not so great, just like in any job.

    I would always recommend teaching - it's brilliant.
  20. angrypixie

    angrypixie New commenter

    I would advise against it, I'm afraid. The workload is unmanageable. The stress is ridiculous.
    celago22, agathamorse and Shedman like this.

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