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Should I stay or should I go?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by hwarren, Nov 5, 2016.

  1. hwarren

    hwarren New commenter

    I am a Head of music in a good school but the pressure is ridiculous at the moment in terms of exam results, targets and the extra curricular program that I'm expected to deliver on top. I have great kids, and a wide range of abilities - I love working with the kids but not all the other stuff that goes with it! I have seen an advert for a music lecturer in a local further ed college - would be teaching mainly btec level 2 music performance plus supporting at level 3. Good facilities. Fantastic workspace within a larger campus. I am tempted to apply. Has anyone got any experience of moving from secondary music to further ed? I am seriously considering asking to move down to main scale if and when the opportunity arises, but starting again somewhere else? I don't know! Any advice very welcomely received.
  2. XTrapnel

    XTrapnel New commenter

    Having been HOD music for 20 years in a range of schools I completely understand and sympathise with your situation. I do not have any magic solutions though. I have taught in grammars, comps, single sex and non-selective schools. All have had their own differing pressures and challenges. The non selective challenge is usually the behaviour, the grammars hitting the highest grades year after year. All the schools have expected a range of extra-curric of varying degrees and standards. I know the feeling all too well of staff winding down at Christmas but I am winding up to the carol service/Christmas concert etc etc. Hard work after a long term. Are you on your own in the dept? That can also be very hard.
    My concern about moving to further ed college is the pay and conditions these days and also how secure the post is. You may get students 'dumped' onto your course which can be stressful. Can you contact the staff at the college/ go and see the dept and discuss the job?

    Who is imposing the extra curricular programme at your school? Sounds like you have to be realistic here.
    Can you not have a meeting with your line manager/head etc to discuss your work load and see if there is anything you can agree on to make things more tolerable? It is too easy to take on too much to satisfy seemingly insatiable demand from SLT. They have no right to expect anything other than a realistic programme. Strip things back for a while. If I was doing a musical then everything else pretty much goes on the back burner (except exam groups) Perhaps other staff can help out with extra curric stuff. I used to get music peri staff to help out with concerts and band/choir rehearsals. Of course, I would pay them from the music budget. I often found they were only too keen to get involved. In fact it was fun to have folk on board to help out. Have you asked any parents? I remember a geography teacher who was a keen flautist and singer who almost became 2nd in the dept.
    Music HODs should be careful on how much they take on and BE REALISTIC! You can burn out very quickly if you are not careful. Senior staff have to be realistic as well. Your top priority is of course exam results. Sometimes the bands / choirs and so on have to take a back seat for a while. You cannot do everything all the time and have to tell yourself to take on less sometimes. Be firm about this. You have to look after yourself first. Hope some of this helps, being HOD music can be a tough gig so pace yourself.
    ViolaClef likes this.
  3. hwarren

    hwarren New commenter

    Thanks for replying! It would be a pay cut - but if the alternative is stepping down to main scale then it's not much further than that. I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to extra curricular - I see a talent, and kids who could really benefit from either participating for self confidence, or at the other end real musical ability that can be developed. I get so much out of it - but I'm running myself into the ground. Having said that, if I deliver a below standard Christmas concert due to cutting back on groups on the run up, it would ( and has) been noticed and commented on. Partly why I'm thinking I'm better off having a fresh start. I can rejig and minimise the XC timetable, but I'm not good at sticking to it. It's that that makes the job worthwhile for me. We do buy in a fair few staff to support and they are fantastic but sooner or later the money will run out. I have a really great second in dep but she is as snowed under and pressured as I am.
    The post is advertised as full time permanent. I went today to see it, and talk to the guys in the department. There is 8 on the course currently that I'd be heading up so I'm worried about longevity and I teach about 500 at the moment. I have arranged a meeting with my Line manger to see what I can juggle. Thanks so much for replying, it's good to know there are other people out there!
  4. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    As @leonardmog says, you have to prioritise and decide what your main focus is at any one time. If a concert is on the horizon then that will be the most important thing for you as it's a public and high profile event. You will be judged on what is presented so you want it to be good. Look at the pattern of the year in terms of performances and exams - how can these be scheduled to minimise a feeling of overload? How can you plan so that your energy can be used on whatever you are focusing on, rather than trying to give everything 100% - because you simply can't give every class and every activity 100% all the time.
    Sadly, others (including SLT) often have no idea of the huge amount of effort, energy, emotional energy, time and planning involved in taking rehearsals, putting on performances and 'just' teaching Music. It isn't like teaching any other subject. Perhaps it would be good to make your line manager/SLT more aware of this. Sadly, too, there are many things which someone somewhere thinks are terribly important and must be done, which you know make not one jot of difference to the pupils' musical experience or personal enrichment.
    I don't know whether teaching in further education would be better, the same or worse, but weigh the pros and cons carefully. Much must depend on the particular establishment, and you feel you are currently in a good school with good pupils, which is a huge bonus. It can be tempting to think the grass is greener, but try to consider everything as objectively as possible and look carefully and critically before you leap. Good luck, @hwarren!

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