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Who have the easier job, FE lecturers or secondary school teachers?

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by Georgia99, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    I have done a PGCE 14-19 and my placements have covered mainly secondary schools with one small FE placement. The interesting thing is that FE teachers seem to think that school teachers have it better and school teacher think the opposite.
    I am interested to know what other's opinions are?
  2. jazz2

    jazz2 New commenter

    Which others?!
    Who else do you want to ask apart from FE and secondary teachers?
  3. You can't generalise like that, much of the satisfaction of a job will have much more to do with the institution itself rather than the sector it is in.
    Also, define "easier"? Why would you even want an "easy" job? Do you not want to be challenged and earn some affirmation in your life?! Maybe you've chosen the wrong career altogether if you're asking questions like that! :)
    I for one can teach in secondary and FE, but FE I enjoy more due to the relaxed nature of the atmosphere, the lack of dress-code, first-name terms with students and the facilities available at the college... these are little things that help me feel more relaxed therefore I teach better. I hate, hate, hate the regimentation and uniformity of school so, it's not for me. If it doesn't impede learning, I won't enforce the rule... so I definitely wouldn't be the "school type". The downside of FE is that some nights I will be here till 7:30pm or later either teaching or taking revision classes but don't start till 09:15... so it's all swings and roundabouts.
    The biggest difference is that students at an FE college CHOOSE to be there and CHOOSE to study those subjects. The implications are obvious.
  4. I've done both but would hesitate to say which is easier.
    I think it depends on the person and what you like doing. I value the more adult atmosphere and the oppotunity to teach at L3+.
  5. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Lead commenter

    I think it is very much a personal thing - for me it's FE all the way, it's simply a no-brainer. Teach just A-Level to 15 kids who mostly want to be there compared with wrestling with 30 hormonal 14 year olds who mostly don't. Don't get me wrong there are rewards to secondary, but in terms of ease and enjoyment I'm glad I made the switch.
  6. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    If you play the trumpet you only have to play one note at a time, where as the piano can call upon up to ten notes (if you have long fingers), Which instrument is the harder to play?
    Neither. You play both instruments to the best that is possible and that you can do. In FE, I worked as hard as I could and stressed to the same amount that I did in secondary. It was down to me which was harder.
    However, having said that, dealing with a room full of trans-pubetic childen is probably one of the most difficult things that evolution did not prepared us for!!
    (I've just made up "trans-pubetic" and I am very proud of it!)
  7. The biggest difference is that students at an FE college CHOOSE to be there and CHOOSE to study those subjects. The implications are obvious.

    Make no mistake - the students may have made the choice to go to FE but that is no guarantee that they will actually work. At lower levels they are there because there is often no other option open to them - schools don't want them and they do not have employable skills and they can be horrendous to teach. At level 3 they generally want to gain a useful qualification in order to pursue a career and it can be very rewarding to teach them. There is still a signifiant proportion of students however, who do not take it seriously and the amount of effort you have to put in to a) get them to attend on a regular basis b) get them to do assignments is ridiculous and makes the job very frustrating.
    I loved teaching in FE - but I the end I left because the bums on seats policy meant that we were taking anyone with a pulse and I was spending the greater part of my day managing behaviour - other reasons too but that was a major factor.
  8. Yes this is true, but I feel this coming year will be very different, what with EMA being decimated! 45% of FE full-timers received it. I completely disagree with it's culling but I thought the assessment and allocation of it was completely incorrect. Students openly joked about how easy the rules were to circumvent.
    Talk about cracking a walnut with a sledgehammer.
  9. To date I have had no behaviour problems in FE whatsoever... unlike the firefighting I have heard of in a few Secondary Schools.
  10. L1s are then allowed to progress on to L2 due to the aforementioned 'bums on seats' policy. These L2s who have only slightly improved their behaviour, are progressed on to L3 even though they're not quite L3 standard. Nevertheless us tutors have to do what we can to get them to pass.
    Oh so familiar!
    Ska - you have been singularly fortunate if you haven't encountered behaviour problems to date. Unforunately they are all too common in most colleges due ,as we have said, to the bums on seats policy. When the college issues statements like 'interview with integrity' but then tells you to take anyone who isn't actively psychotic ( ok, those are my words) or the course won't run then you end up having to spend a lot of time firefighting. And as to what tutors have to do to get them to pass.................don't get me started!

  11. Hi there,

    I am going to start my placement in a college this September and I have been warned by my A-level tutee's that I should be prepared for the worst as I'll probably be walked all over :S :S.

    Any tips from any of you in terms of working in a college? I am looking forward to it as I have always wanted to teach a-level Psychology but worried about what I am going to be faced with in terms of the students
  12. The biggest difference is that students at an FE college CHOOSE to
    be there and CHOOSE to study those subjects.

    I disagree many FE students don't 'choose' the courses that they are on because they want to, they choose them because there are no other options for them. E.g. Students who don't make the A-level requirements are pushed onto the BTEC courses and students who have a 'good grade profile' are pushed onto the A-level courses. Other students are doing courses they don't want because they don't actually want to be at college at all. They are merely doing so at their parents' insistence because they either can't find work or don't want to. Also, thanks to changes in the law, they won't be able to 'choose' to be there much longer. Conversely, 16-19 year olds in a school 6th form also 'choose' to be there.
    I therefore think the original question is a red herring! I don't think any age group is easier to teach than any other. They all have their highlights and problems. The yardstick I use is which do I prefer? I prefer post 16 because that is where I am most comfortable and best suited. The difficulty I have is when I'm expected to teach things for which I am neither trained nor suited such as teaching BTEC courses in Applied Science or Health and Social care or Functional Skills (at my current FE college) or learning to learn to a year 7 group (when I worked in a school 6th form) when my PGCE is post-compulsory, my degree is in Psychology and I haven't done any courses to become a BTEC/NVQ assessor.
    Hope this answers the original question.

  13. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    The greatest delight I got from my teaching, which was in both secondary and FE, was to see my students develop to the next stage of their growing up.
    FE students are entering the world of adults (at last!!) so I always treated them as adults and spoke to them as such. I always expected them to respond back in an adult manner, but if they did not, then I would explain to them what they were doing wrong, in the same manner that I would use to talk to somebody in the workplace or street. Students over 16 / 17 years (well some of them!) have almost achieved an adult persona that can be worked with in this way.
    If they swore I would just say firmly "Could we have appropriate language, thank you" Swearing soon stopped. If thay got out their phones I asked them to put them away, or if it was an important call, to take it outside the classroom. I did not demand no swearing or phones off because the adult world nowadays allows both. Instead I would explain how it would upset a future or present employer if they behaved like that. Of course kids did abuse my liberal attitude to phones, but after a while I usually found that things settled down.
    I would not rise to anything that was an attempt to wind me up, but I would allow myself to enjoy their jokes and studentist behavoir if it was tastful and adult enough. Of course, I would not contenance racist or sexist comments and would stop the class until I felt that the issue had been dealt with.
    Under 16s on the other hand can behave in many strange ways, needing skills from the teachers that are not found in normal everyday life but have to be carefully thought about and worked out in advance! I'm thinking, as I write, of the 13year old who simply threw himself down onto the floor and refused to move for the next half hour! What on Earth do you do!? After ascertaining that he was not unwell, all I could do was leave him. He got up in the end and went to his lesson!
    I always remember my friend who is a psychiatric nurse and informed me that the mental health services have specialised practitioners for under 16s because it is difficult to tell if they are really mentally ill or not! Comment enough, I think!
    After 20 years in secondary I was just so tired of it all, that I finished my teaching career with a thoroughly enjoyable five years in FE. It wsn't easier because there were other things to worry about and bug me. Just more suited to me at the time.
    I hope you enjoy your placement.
  14. My Dad worked in secondary and then FE; my brother is in primary; I'm in HE. I think they are all different jobs, even if they are built on a central 'bringing out potential' core.
    It can't be true for FE (because it isn't for HE) that you only get the students who want to learn whatever your subject is; quite a few of those I work with only take my subject because their grades weren't high enough to let them do what they most wanted (wonder if they'll bother if it's going to cost them c£8000 pa - but that's another story ...)
    It IS true that HE only sees the success stories who have been prepared earlier down the line, so to speak; from that point of view, primary teachers have the most responsibility, and you could say that this aspect of things diminishes as a child progresses. But secondary teachers then have to both 'bring on' what has been nurtured earlier, and introduce new subjects and areas, and try like hell to cope with students who think their subject is a waste of space...
    As for HE: the stresses aren't (usually) discipline-related. But no curriculum means building your own from scratch, per element, for each new venture; increasing pressures (financial, social etc) on students means increased need for pastoral care. And while perpetual materials creation, and delivery and examining of said, together with careers work, references, advice surgeries, etc are probably perceived from 'the outside' as what the job should be about, the career ladder is based on publications...
    So the stresses are there - but they are different stresses!!]<a target="_self" id="mce_editor_0_smiley" class="mceButtonNormal">[​IMG][/URL]
  15. Fair do's, I should probably have said that I only teach A-Level Business Studies and Economics, hence the type of students I teach are farily different to the L1 & L2 students. I do not teach BTEC either.
    I don't begrudge kids coming to college as opposed to flipping burgers at McD's if that's all there is available to them at their age with their skill set. They're usually the most rewarding stories =)
  16. Yes i have heard the same thing but personally i think FE is worse and can often have less supportive parents which also has an impact!
  17. Because I can then do the many things in life that are even more interesting than teaching students who are challenging intellectually (which I sometimes miss), so many things that I'm not near to accomplishing them 16 years after taking early retirement from FE. The job itself and later the pay and holidays let me undertake travels, for personal and professional reasons, to places far more interesting than any classroom. Do you know what it feels like to be challenged by a rhino at 10ft, or by picking your way along the lip of Victoria Falls to an overhanging rock where you can look straight down (even though you're called an idiot when someone looks at the photos)? And I don't know what "affirmation" means here: I never needed to feel "valued" because my job was "more valuable/valued" than others; by the people who matter to me, I am/was valued for myself.
    Exactly. I taught school here and abroad, and when I wanted to move elsewhere, I realised that here school was changing to something I wouldn't like (confirmed by some supply teaching - even including a pleasant grammar school - for a couple of years after retirement); so when I settled back here, I went into FE.

    My time in Europe also told me that the norm for teachers elsewhere than here is (like FE - still?) to have maximum weekly defined (mostly contact) hours (go where you like otherwise) and to be allowed to teach only the subject/s you are qualified for (scarce opportunity for little hitlers to rule your life). A big boon here was (I think it may have changed) all the time (3-6 weeks a year in all but one of 19 years) I could spend on, really useful and interesting, INSET/CPD courses at Univ level institutions in 5 EU countries, all expenses paid, inc by foreign govts.

    In contrast, here now as far as I can understand, secondary and esp primary staff can have far more of their "own" time taken up with work. My wife, who first qualified in Europe and now teaches in primary here, is aghast, not just at the vast amount of time she spends after school and at home, but especially that she is obliged to spend perhaps half her class time not doing anything that enhances the children's learning, but filling in forms about their targets, achievement etc. She has higher qualifications and longer experience than most teachers you would meet in either sector and she cannot understand why the profession has meekly accepted this, or why any 22 year old graduate would have assessed it as just the career for him/her.

    That's Heinz years of teaching between us; what more can I tell you?
  18. I've read all comments now and clearly FE work is much changed and would no longer be my cup of tea, either. Will they say that my generation was the golden age for being a teacher? I took early retirement when "bums on seats" wasn't quite the threat it seems now (esp if you taught A-level); before our recruitment/advice sessions I had put up a notice (no name on it just because it didn't seem to require it) pointing out that we didn't teach certain subjects but that they might be found in a neighbouring LEA. Later, I heard about the Principal (even though he was about to retire) seeing it and fuming in terms that showed he thought a teacher's foremost responsibility was not to those who came to him/her for instruction including advice, but to protecting his institution and his job. I'd like to think that that would still be regarded as unprofessional and fraudulent, like the financial "advisers" who lined their portfolios with other people's pensions etc. I'd like to ... .

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