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The biggest obstacle in my UK teaching career is having a QTS

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by CeciliaKovacs, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. CeciliaKovacs

    CeciliaKovacs New commenter


    This will be a big moan to highlight the stupidest red tape in this country. And a very long shot (forgive the pun) to do something about it, at least in my case.

    I am from Hungary, graduated as a music teacher in Budapest in 1993 with an MA in Music in Education at the same institute where Bartok went.. Started teaching even earlier than my graduation and got 4 years paid teaching experience in various schools, that's on the top of my 3 years teaching experience that came with the course. (For my lovely music teacher colleagues: This is a country where people to this day still use chalk and blackboard, and a music teacher is counted lucky if they have a piano at their perusal at every music lesson. No MACs, PCs, Sibelius or any software, studios, keyboards; the curriculum is based on teaching singing, music theory (Kodaly-method) and music appreciation.)

    Then I had kids and moved to the UK with my husband in 2001, years before EU membership. As the kids grew I really wanted to go back to teach, which was my lifetime ambition ever since 12 years old age. My first job was a teaching assistant role in a secondary school (Derby) for 3 years, in the EAL dept. Seeing the music teacher in action there made me cringe, but the resources were amazing (and I have seen even better since).

    In the meantime I applied to NARIC, who returned my diploma with "NVQ4 or higher" qualification, so I thought, I could wipe my backside with that paper, useless. I also tried to apply for teaching jobs, I even got a few interviews, which were a near miss more than once... Probably my somewhat still mediocre language skills, the lack of QTS status and UK classroom teaching experience let me down against the inevitably stronger competition in a very White English area.

    Then Hungary joined the EU in 2004 and I tried the same application, but this time via the GTC. I couldn't believe when my QTS certificate came in the post a few weeks later. In my enthusiasm I enrolled on an Open University course to study Music Technology, as I felt I was lacking in this area. Well, I ended up being able to calculate the reverberation factors of any room and explain how the French horn works, but still couldn't quite use Cubase or studio technology, so I self - taught myself Sibelius, Garageband, Adobe Audition. This however, did not give me better chances, and in 2006, amidst the big art boom I successfully applied for an Arts Council grant, bought a hurdy-gurdy and left the school to become a community musician/private teacher. A big part of this work was going to schools and taking on entire classes for music/dance/cultural workshops all across the Key Stages, gaining lots of classroom teaching experience, even in special need schools. And I started teaching Rockschool Song curriculum, which was another challenge, as I am mainly classically trained and specialise in folk music.

    2 years later when the recession hit, my still new, fledgling sole trading business collapsed, and ever since I have been working in the NHS in admin roles, except for a short stint in a school as a TA on a fixed term contract. I also volunteered a half term in 2010 in a music department as a TA, and sporadically still taught workshops in schools through my agency. Both during my self-employment, and in the years after I tried and tried endlessly with music teacher jobs as well as TA jobs, but no success. Seemed that you only stood a chance if you walked out from one school yesterday to set foot in the next.

    Obviously, the further I am from the 1996 then 2006 date, when I last set foot in a classroom as a full time employee, the more difficult it will be for me to get any near to teaching. I moved to London last year to extend my chances, but only could submit a limited number of applications, because employers outside the education sector won't let you take a whole day off for interviews in the last minute, when you are in a full time job. Not that I am getting any interviews these days, and no point trying certain jobs, where you have no chance whatsoever... I tried to apply recently for Cover Supervisor jobs too, but no luck so far. Tried private schools, free schools, a few near misses... I even contacted the authorities to find out if I could "lose" my QTS status, but the answer is 'no'.

    I went to teaching fairs, because since 2006 there have been loads more opportunities to return to teaching. Believe me, I tried to think of every possible route, but in my predicament this seems to be impossible:

    1. I have a QTS, so I am NOT eligible to benefit from any of the teacher training routes, including those that come with bursaries.
    2. As an EU graduate with MA, I am not eligible to get student loans to do/upgrade my studies, even though I would be very interested to study towards Chemistry/IT/Maths/MFL degrees to get more opportunities, as obviously British education system is crying out for these teachers.
    3. As the main/only bread earner in my family (and I am not going to go into the personal details why exactly) and after having lost everything, including my good credit score to a domestic assault, I cannot afford to finance further studies, not even from a personal loan, because I can't get one. Neither can I drop work and volunteer, chance to go back and become a TA again for those ridiculously low wages (they are looking for Cambridge graduates these days anyway), nor risk the unsecurity of working for a supply agency.

    The obvious solution would be to get a job similar to a fresh PGCE graduate and complete something like an NQT year. Get all (or nearly all) the mentoring, help and learning I can get, after which I could get just as good as anyone else can. I would then be happy to sign a deal with that school to stay with them for a given number of years. But no, the QTS number prevents me from this, obviously schools get the extra funding for the NQT training, and they could not get the same with me.

    My application attempts show that there is no headteacher who would look beyond this, who could see the person who is more than capable to learn, re-learn, adjust, go and teach other subjects as much as she can when needed (as a TA I saw how much you needed to teach a low-set Maths lesson in KS3!). It is easier to take on some 21 years old, who then leaves in 2 years because they cannot cope with the pressure.

    Don't talk to me then about the desperate situation in education, if you cannot step over a small technical issue. (No offence, but as a volunteer TA I observed a good friend of mine a few years back, when she was an NQT music teacher in class, lesson after lesson. Her knowledge would hardly hit the bar that I had as a 14 years old about music, and she WAS teaching).
    I know I am rusty, I am aware of the need to be updated professionally, in music as well as classroom practice, it was the case even in 2003, when my maternity leave ended, but how long would that take?
    I am not yet in the grave, I have waited enough, I have tried many times, I am being wasted and I am still frustrated about it. If you read it and you know someone who can do more than just express their sympathy, (thanks I had plenty of that), please pass on the details and do get in touch. I will be watching this thread.
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Oh dear!

    I have read your (very long . . . ) post, but can see no specific career-related question that we could answer . . . so am at a loss to know what we should be posting for you to watch for.


    You could try signing up with a supply agency to get some recent relevant experience in schools. But other than that, I really can see no way to help you, I'm afraid.

    Best of luck

  3. casperyc

    casperyc New commenter

    Did not read the whole thing. But as I am currently training for QTS, I have to say I don't like the paperwork (evidence) we have to produce.

    Yes, I have a PhD and yes, I am not a national of UK. I won't even start with the whole "eligibility" problem of bursary (for maths). That is a whole other loooooog story if I were to write it out!

    All I can say is good luck!
  4. stupot101

    stupot101 Established commenter

    Hi. Sorry to hear you have such difficulties in securing employment. It is difficult for everyone out there at the moment.

    On another point, how did the Rockschool course work with your pupils?

    I have sent you a pm - or 'conversation' as it is now called.

    (Mouseover your username, and scroll down to 'conversations' and click)

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