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Trainee asking about work/ life balance. Is it really that bad?!

Discussion in 'Primary' started by charockie, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. charockie

    charockie New commenter

    Hello everyone, apologies if this isn't the right place for this thread, I wasn't sure where else to put it! So I'm a trainee on a PGCE primary and I'm having doubts. So I have my own horse, had him almost 10 years and he is my absolute world. Due to the intensity of the PGCE, I really only get to see him at weekends. I thought it would only be temporary and worth it. But I've got to admit, I'm not loving placement, like it's okay but it's not a dream come true. I'm also starting to question whether it really is true that a primary teacher is looking at 50/60 hour work weeks - I genuinely thought this was the media scare mongering, but is it true? Because that won't leave me much time for my horse AND if I would like to start a family at some point.

    To cut a long story short, my horse became very ill over Christmas and has been in the equine hospital for two weeks (sepsis) and needed three surgeries. It is going to be touch and go for a little while still and I don't know if he is going to be alright. Obviously, I haven't done any work and am behind - but I could catch up - if I had the motivation. I feel like I just don't. I can't really explain it too well, maybe someone has been through something similar but I just feel like my priorities/ what I want from life have changed drastically. I no longer am overly concerned about a "proper career" - I want to be around to look after my horse, if he recovers, I want to be around to spend time with him - not just keep paying others to do it for me. It's like it's slammed into me how fragile life is, how things can just happen and there are things much more precious than a career, solid salary etc. I barely see my parents/ siblings and we live together, let alone other family members/ friends. I don't have much of a social life because I'm concerned with having enough sleep so I can get my master's assignments done at weekends. Maybe actually I don't want to do that anymore, maybe I just want to live my life and not be constantly working. I don't know, maybe this is all just too deep and philosophical???

    We've had a lot go on recently at home too that could be impacting all this, I was hit by a car and knocked off my bike and we were burgled. I've also overcome a lot in my personal life over the past year recovering from an eating disorder that nearly destroyed me. Perhaps it was all leading to a perspective change?

    I guess I'm just looking for some advice, is teaching really worth it - do you teachers truly work those insane hours weekly? How is your work/ life balance? Do you have time to enjoy yourselves and look after yourself? Any advice?? I guess anything would be appreciated :) !

    I'm thinking about moving back into early years - that is what my undergraduate is in and I truly love it. Maybe teach reception one day... But looking for more flexible working/ leaving work at work (I don't mind a couple hours a week paperwork at home outside of working hours, in fact I actually enjoy researching and planning activities or doing some professional reading - but surely there has to be a limit?!)

    I've got some big decisions to make in the next week or so - so thank you so much if you've got this far, I know it's lengthy. But I'd just love some answers or advice from those who are actually teaching! Or some understanding from anyone who has been in a similar situation??

    Thanks guys!
  2. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I can generically get into your teaching shoes somewhat, but not your horse owning shoes.
    But I thought I'd respond anyway if only to summon the poster @BelleDuJour who I remember talking recently about having a horse and quite clearly not the first, and who clearly also has been a teacher for a while and at the same time.
    Your specific question "can I do this and be a responsible horse owner" is maybe a good one for her.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    Are you asking if it is true that working hours are sometimes this low? I should think this would be the absolute minimum.

    I left teaching at one point becasue I didn't ever get to see my teenagers, literally, no time to eat with them in the evenings, or nothing.

    I returned later on because I was job hunting, and most of the jobs available were teaching, and I ended up in one, almost accidentally. I didn't intend to return, but I am in a good school now. Even so, I can only do the workload becasue I live alone, children grown up and gone! no chldren/dogs/partners to try and squeeze into the day.

    If you had done your PGCE year, and were part way through your NQT year, I would say stick it out until you have the qualification.

    But you are not
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  4. Ds2d12

    Ds2d12 Occasional commenter

    Even if you are super organised, it’s likely you’ll end up doing 10 hour days. So yes 50 will be the minimum. I tend to be at work from 7 till 5 ish, without much lunch break!
    cassandramark2 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  5. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    I've never done much less than 50 hours a week except when I was on day to day supply and I've been a primary teacher for more than 20 years.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter


    There is no work life balance. We work ridiculous hours in poor conditions for no thanks, no prospects and we die shortly after retirement. But the pays not bad and we get long holidays, which means that after five years getting out involves a pay cut to join any other profession. Basically - ‘welcome to the Hotel California.’

    It’s also clear that you have a lot going on in your life. I don’t mean this in any negative way, but if you are already managing issues like an eating disorder, then a school is the last place you want to be. And if your horse is more important to you than the children you are teaching - honestly, I don’t think this is the career for you. And again, I mean that in a very positive way.
    lardylegs likes this.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    To be honest, there aren't many really good jobs where you'd get to see your horse every day and do most of the caring for it yourself, certainly not in the winter months when it gets dark early.

    We have a friend who is a production manager and, when filming, generally works 18-20 hour days.
    Also a relative who is a banker and rarely makes it home on all five weeknights as well as having to go abroad at short notice every couple of months.
    Even my partner who definitely has a 9-5, Mon-Fri job wouldn't be able to fit in looking after a horse in the evenings in the winter.
    There are things more precious for sure, but without a solid salary, you are unlikely to be able to afford to keep a horse. In the holidays all teachers wish this could be real life, but it isn't. People have to work.
    This is the case for most teachers through term time. But you get to catch up with friends in the holidays and enjoy life then. But if you prioritise time for things outside school, you will also be a much better teacher.
    Is teaching worth it? Definitely! It's the best job in the world, especially in primary school/EYFS,
    I have to make myself do things on the way home from work and then I need fewer hours sleep because the sleep is of better quality. Could you manage to just pop in to the stables on the way home from school and at least say hell;o to your horse and have a quick snuggle? Even doing this a couple of nights a week would help. Do an exercise class a couple of evenings as well.

    50 hours a week is about normal, from answers to various threads on TES. (Have a search and a read.) But, as others here have said, this is usually at a 7-5 kind of working pattern, so still time in the evening and at weekends for other things.

    Your training year and then NQT year are the most work you will ever have to do...it gets much easier.
  8. lardylegs

    lardylegs Occasional commenter

    I am going to be blunt here. You need to accept what people are telling you about the hours involved in teaching. There are no shortcuts, especially in the current educational climate. (If you don't keep on the treadmill regarding marking and assessment, you will fall behind and be put on an "improvement plan".)

    It sounds like you have had a really difficult time recently, with a lot of upsets. PGCE is a shedload of hard work, especially in the final placement. NQT year similar. Looking further ahead, you could aim for a nice part-time job, as long as you remain living with your parents and don't need a lot of income.

    On the basis of what you have said, and without knowing you at all, I think you would find it difficult to cope with the workload and the horse care.

    I would draw up a Plan B.
  9. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    NQT is very hard indeed but I really don't think it improves much. Just look at how few experienced teachers are still working on contract, most are now on supply. Perhaps consider getting qualified then you will have the option of supply, combined with private tuition etc. Worth checking the starting salary less pension payments and comparing to what else you could do.
  10. Josh7

    Josh7 Occasional commenter

  11. Pageant

    Pageant Occasional commenter

    Joining this discussion a bit late so I don't know what you've concluded but.......

    I was a Primary teacher for well over 20 years and the 50-60 hour week (and more) was normal.

    My daughter had a horse from age seven and still (as far as I know) has one. She keeps it at livery (and no longer lectures - FE equine science) but is on the yard every morning before going to work (office job) and returns to the yard after work every night to ride, feed, muck out and bed down. If she can't make it, she pays someone else to do it.

    Horses and teaching are VERY time consuming and if you want a work life balance so that you can enjoy your horse as much as you want to, then I can't see how the two will mix unless you just focus on the holidays. Sorry.
    lardylegs likes this.
  12. install

    install Star commenter

    Hi I love horses. Have four shires. Yes it can be done but you would need to be brutal with your work time. Make sure you leave work at least 30 mins after the students have gone if you can - unless there is a meeting .

    You are not a charity. You have a right to your life. Start as you mean to go on. But don't burn bridges either - do all you can do within your working hrs.

    I'd be tempted to get another job though if I were younger. Teaching isn"t a nice place at the moment in some schs and the real hourly rate is less than other jobs like nursing or the police. You really want a job with fixed hrs, respect, Overtime if you need it and flexibility...
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    lardylegs likes this.
  13. teacher4l1fe

    teacher4l1fe New commenter

    I would say it all depends on the school you are in. You can have hell in the wrong type of school, a rough time in an average school and have decent balance in a good school (not ofsted 'good' just one that has SLT and MLT with the right idea).
    install likes this.

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