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Switching from primary to secondary

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by mark8191, Oct 24, 2019.

  1. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    In the run up to applying for my PGCE I was flipping a coin as to go for primary or secondary. My background and degree is in music but haven ran my own business teaching music in primary schools for 7 years prior I felt I had ran my course with it and wanted a change.
    About two months into my primary PGCE and wish I had went down the secondary route I just don't have the same passion for the primary curriculum as I do with music.

    So, is it possible to attain QTS through a primary PGCE then get a teaching job in a secondary school or is it essential you do a secondary PGCE?

    I seem to get a different answer each time I ask this. I'd be willing to volunteer at a secondary for a month to gain experience after training but I need to know what the official policy on switching to secondary with primary training is before I make my next move.

    Advice much appreciated!

  2. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Simple answer is yes you can. QTS is not age specific.

    Key thing is you will need to show/demonstrate you have the subject knowledge and ability to teach the subject at Secondary level, and be aware you will up against people who will be able to demonstrate this by virtue of having done that specialist course.
    agathamorse and mark8191 like this.
  3. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Did you do your degree in Music?

    If so, you would certainly have the specialist knowledge, and that is the key thing. Even if you train to teach one age group, it does not mean you can’t teach a different one. You simply have to convince an interview panel that you have the right skills, talents and knowledge to teach the age group in question.
    agathamorse and annascience2012 like this.
  4. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    Yes I did my degree in music.
    I just don't want to put myself through a primary PGCE if only 1 in 10 heads will consider my application, also to my horror a secondary PGCE comes with a £9000 bursary so basically no tuition fees!
  5. musobob

    musobob New commenter

    There is no reason why you shouldn't be in with a chance. It is probably easier to go from primary to secondary than the other way round.

    Schools are only interested in employing NQTs or unqualified teachers for music teacher posts. Head of departments are generally in their 20s and only interested in employing those who they think can be their 'bestie', e.g. similiar age, gender, etc, not who is the most qualified, skilled and experienced.

    Just do not move school once you have found a position because you can very soon find yourself too expensive. If you are lucky, schools will ask you to go down the payscale (so much for PRP, Mr Gove). If you are ever made redundant, that will be unfortunate.

    You have done your research on the state of music in schools, haven't you? You are aware of the impact of academisation (on the so-called 'national curriculum' and the reduced need for qualified teachers), three-year KS4, EBACC, Progress 8. Music is not a priority.

    Is primary really that bad?
  6. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    At my current school, the HoD of Music and the other Music teacher (60% Music, 40% Drama) are both in their 40s.

    Both qualified. Both have been with the school some twenty years plus.

    Previous school - all in their late 30s, all had been there over ten years.

    Music is a niche subject in many schools, and HTs are keen that it has to prove itself each year in terms of results. Plus that also means that many departments are static with few people leaving. In smaller schools the HoD Music can be the only member of Department.

    In other words - very few jobs. Be careful.
  7. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    It's just that I have no interest in teaching maths, english etc. I used to teach music in primary schools freelance and really enjoyed it. It's only in hindsight that I realised it was the music part that gave me the buzz. I though I'd ran my course with music having done it for 7 years but guess not just needed a new avenue. I've heard the opposite too (harder to go primary to secondary) which adds to the confusion. My main crux is that I don't think a head would take on an NQT who didn't do secondary training, I feel I'd have to do a few years in primary first.
  8. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    This did cross my mind and possibly influenced my decision but I feel I could craft a music lesson on the spot and no one would know haven done my degree in it and worked teaching music freelance and performing for so long. I just think I need to do my subject its the only thing I've ever excelled at.
  9. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    So, in other words, you're going to apply as an unqualified?

    Be prepared for far lower pay than you'd get if you were qualified, not to mention comments of how hiring unqualifieds eager to do the job simply devalues the rest of us.

    You seem to be confusing teaching music as a subject at a school with individual music instrumental lessons. There's a massive difference. Perhaps you should ring a local secondary and see if you can shadow a HoD or dept for a few days to get an idea.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Is it possible for you to change to secondary PGCE at this point - or is that not an option?
    It sounds as if you do just want to teach Music - but you say you have taught primary Music for seven years and now want to change to teaching secondary, is that it? You don’t want to continue with what you were doing before?
    Secondary Music is a very different cup of tea from primary. As @CWadd says, have you shadowed a Head of Music/Music teacher in a secondary school to see exactly what it’s like?
    agathamorse and annascience2012 like this.
  11. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    No, my question is: is it worth sticking the primary out just to get QTS and hope a secondary head will have me to do my NQT year as a secondary music teacher or am I better off just withdrawing and starting a secondary music PGCE next year?
    annascience2012 likes this.
  12. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    I grew tired of the freelance world because of its up and down nature so wanted to transition for a salary. I've done a few days supply in secondary over the years so I'm aware of the differences but getting time off from a PGCE to shadow secondary may be difficult and not go down well with my mentor.
  13. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    There are few jobs in Secondary music. Most HTs would probably prefer a qualified Secondary NQT. Unless it's a school which has few applicants, so you could strike lucky.

    In terms of jobs, you might be better with Primary...But you don't want to teach anything but music.

    But...quite a few Sec Music teachers have to teach other subjects, especially in small schools were there is no A Level and few GCSE students.

    I'm sorry if this pisses on your parade, but very few teachers nowadays can get a job and expect to only teach "their" subject.
    agathamorse likes this.
  14. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I’m tempted to say withdraw and go for a secondary Music PGCE next year - because you do appear to feel strongly that it’s Music that you want to teach, not primary class subjects.

    If you were to withdraw I would definitely recommend volunteering to spend as much time as you can helping/observing in a secondary school.
    Music is an endangered subject and many schools are reducing time, resources and budgets for it - some have even scrapped it altogether. Others only teach it up to Year 8 or 9 or no longer offer it beyond GCSE. It is a rather bleak landscape unless you are lucky enough to land in a school where the Head believes Music is important or where there is a strong tradition of Music.

    In the independent sector, Music remains (for the most part) strong and appreciated - but that’s another reason why people stay in post for many years and the jobs at good, musical schools are very sought-after.

    All the best, whatever you decide to do.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Depends where you are in the world- and are you prepared to move for a job.

    In our place, we’ve trained several music teachers over the years.... only one has a job.

    It’s a niche subject that doesn’t pick up many kids in most schools... that’s before you get to the fact it’s in the third basket.......

    You’d be far more employable in primary. Your music background will be useful. But if you can’t accept maths and English (fair enough) then it isn’t for you.
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    It's not just the subjects but also the life style, I spoke to a friend who is a secondary music teacher and his workload was nothing compared to a primary teachers (taking work home etc)

    Surely it can't be that bad if they're offering £9k bursaries to potential Music PGCE students? i i.e. they must be a demand for music teachers if they're willing to pay the course fees?

    Lol, it seems I'm always gonna be up against it doing anything with Music then.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  17. mark8191

    mark8191 New commenter

    I've spoken to my course leaders and they're saying I should be fine to apply for secondary with a primary PGCE straight away but I feel they may just be trying to keep me on the course. Secondly, I don't think I can bare paying £9k for a course which will leave me up against people who did the secondary course and paid nothing going for the same job.
  18. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    The more you post, the less committed you sound to teaching.

    You don't want to teach Primary, as you don't want to teach Maths and English, and you're worried about taking work home. You now don't seem to want to teach Secondary, as you seem to resent people who trained before you having their fees paid - why are you so annoyed about it? They made a choice, so did you.

    As for Secondary, you may not take work home, but Music departments are expected to be the hub of extra-curricular - Christmas concerts, school plays, instrumental lessons for students, various musical groups.

    Maybe withdrawing completely would be the best step. Re-think and re-consider.
    agathamorse likes this.
  19. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    I agree entirely with CWadd. I don't think teaching is for you. Teaching is certainly not a job you go into for the 'lifestyle'! You don't seem to have any genuine passion for teaching and with things the way they are, without that to motivate you, you won't last five minutes.

    I don't teach Music, but I do teach Drama (as a very enjoyable side to being predominantly an English teacher), so I've always worked closely with the Music departments where I've worked.

    Secondary Music teachers may have less marking than other subjects, but they have other huge demands on their time. In an average 6 form entry secondary school, every KS3 child will have Music once per week. So that's 18 KS3 classes made up of 30 children = 540 children. In many state schools there is only one Music teacher - two at most. That means if you're lucky, you'll be sharing those 540 children, but you may well be teaching each and every one of them. So when it's report time, and you've got 540 reports to write...you certainly will be doing some work at home.

    You will also need to mark those Music books probably once per month as a minimum. 540 books...

    You will also be running the lunchtime Music clubs - choir, orchestra, jazz band - sometimes with the help of sixth formers, but you'll still need to be around. Wherever I've worked, the Music teachers have never actually been able to take a lunch break.

    You will also be managing the peripatetic teachers and sorting out the peripatetic lesson timetables, which is a hefty admin task and a huge drain on your time.

    You will also be organising the Christmas concert, the Spring concert, the Summer concert, helping with the music for plays and dance performances, etc., which necessitates staying after school for rehearsals and performances.

    You are being VERY naive if you think Music teachers have an easy ride.

    Not only is the workload considerable, you will also constantly be fighting against a school system that doesn't value your subject. GCSE Music and A Level Music are not necessarily offered in all schools as numbers are usually tiny, and if they are offered, every year you will have to fight to keep them in the face of dwindling numbers. You will largely have KS3 teaching with students who may not be very musical or willing to try very hard. As a Drama teacher I say this from experience - many secondary students treat Music/Drama/Art as lessons where they can muck around and have fun and behaviour can be very challenging as a result. Many parents and colleagues can also be unsupportive and dismissive of you and your work as they don't see the value in your subject due to it not being 'academic'.

    You will need to be truly passionate about teaching Secondary Music in order to cope with what is increasingly a difficult, time-consuming and precarious job. In my last school both Music teachers resigned after A Level Music was cancelled, as they could see that it wouldn't be long before GCSE went too, and then redundancy. Funnily enough, both ended up moving to Primary, where they are having a marvellous time delivering music lessons in local schools...funny that! The grass isn't always greener!
  20. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    That’s quite possibly true, but it begs the question why you are doing a primary PGCE if you don’t want to teach primary. Any teaching practice placements you do won’t be with the right age group and won’t give you the flavour of what being in a secondary Music Department or teaching older pupils is like.

    @rachelsays makes many valid and accurate points in her post above. Read it carefully and consider what it is you really want to do and how you want to spend your year and your money.
    agathamorse likes this.

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