Advice needed on becoming a primary teacher... Watch

teachingfuture
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Hi everyone, my first thread here!

Just wanted some advice and some stories about the life as a primary school teacher. I am 23 now but have always debated the idea growing up. I don't have a degree as I didn't know one hundred percent what I wanted to do in my future and didn't want to study one particular subject.

I now have a job which I do love but it is not a job that will last forever. I visit secondary schools and deliver presentations and also do workshops for students. I do actually like this age range but think I would much prefer the younger years and feel I could make more of a difference here. I'm thinking more Year 5/Year 6.

I've looked into this and can see the quickest and best way would likely be for me to do a Primary Education QTS (I think it was) which would take 3 years but I'm just confused about what to do. The job I'm currently in has opened many doors and I likely could find something else within the company but I do really always go back to the idea of teaching.

I've got a few questions but would also love experiences of those that have done the Primary Education QTS degree, also possibly going to Uni at the slightly older age of 23, and experiences of teaching.

Here's a few questions I have myself;

- How can you be 100% confident teaching is for you? I do work 5 days a week so would I just have to use annual leave?
- Do you just call up a school and ask for volunteering experience and they will likely say yes?
- How clever do you have to be? Are you expected to have a broad range of knowledge when you start or is it all taught to you?
- I have an A in English at GCSE and a C in Maths, I do not have an A-C in Science so I would have to do this before applying for Uni's. Has anyone else done this? How long did it take?
- How demanding is the role?
- What are the career prospects?

Hope this all makes sense, I look forward to reading some replies.
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bwilliams
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Hello

-How can you be 100% confident teaching is for you? I do work 5 days a week so would I just have to use annual leave?
Go into school and experience it. Yes, you would need to take some time off work to go and volunteer in a school - different unis will require you to have different amounts of experience. However, negotiate with your current employer as if you have provided them a good service and they genuinely care for your professional development they may give you time (unpaid).

- Do you just call up a school and ask for volunteering experience and they will likely say yes?
Go for a school you have a relationship with, your old school or something familiar. Failing that, you should send a formal email to the school expressing your interest in teacher training and that you would like to get some experience in their school. They will be very likely to say yes - they will be thankful for an extra pair of hands!

- How clever do you have to be? Are you expected to have a broad range of knowledge when you start or is it all taught to you?
If you decide to take the Primary Ed with QTS degree you will have taught subject knowledge (mainly in the first year). However, the majority of this you are expected to be doing in your own time. It is something you will develop as the course progresses. It is likely that a few of the 'assignments' on the degree will consist of you demonstrating that subject knowledge. You will also have to demonstrate it as part of the Teachers' Standards to gain QTS.
If I were you I would be browsing the National Curriculum and highlighting things I don't know and then gradually tick them off every now and then, when you have a spare five minutes.

- I have an A in English at GCSE and a C in Maths, I do not have an A-C in Science so I would have to do this before applying for Uni's. Has anyone else done this? How long did it take?
You will need GCSE Science at grade 4/C at a minimum to be accepted onto a course that has QTS. This can be done now while you're working, many FE colleges offer GCSEs as evening classes. You will probably have one session per week with the majority of study being home based. You could also explore the GCSE equivalency tests. Although, these do not count as a qualification in their own right. My advice would be to take the full GCSE qualification if you can.

- How demanding is the role?
The role varies day to day. As a primary teacher, I always say to anyone asking about the role that actually you are only a 'teacher' for a percentage of the day. The other times you are a friend, parent, mentor, counsellor, social worker amongst many many other things. You have a class of children that are with you every week day for 6 hours.
There is a lot of paper work, marking and planning etc. that everyone will bang on to you about. Always remember, it is just paperwork! Your job is to be the teacher.
Watch this video if you are really thinking about primary teaching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3xoZXSW5yc

- What are the career prospects?

The career prospects lie in your hands. You can stay as a classroom teacher for many years to come. There will be opportunities to take on other responsibilities, clubs, subjects etc. You'll learn more about that on the job!

The 3 year teaching degree is a great experience. It will really prepare you for your teaching career. Being 23 will be absolutely no problem, there was a 48 year-old woman on my BEd degree, so being 23 will definitely not hold you back!

I have many experiences in the primary classroom, good and bad so if you have any further questions feel free to ask! Good luck in your training
Last edited by bwilliams; 1 week ago
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ruggedtoast
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(Original post by teachingfuture)

- How can you be 100% confident teaching is for you? I do work 5 days a week so would I just have to use annual leave?

If you aren't prepared for the chance that you could get half way through the course and feel like you can't go on, or get to the end and know with all certainty that you never want to see the inside of a classroom again, then don't take the risk.

Teaching is many things, but the one thing it isn't is anything like you think it will be. There are experienced TAs on my course with years of classroom experience who say they were totally unprepared for being a classroom teacher and it just isn't for them. There are people who have had nothing to do with schools before who love it.

Some time volunteering in a school will definitely help, but bear in mind it may have next to no resemblance to anywhere you are placed, or what your eventual job might be like.

If you get some experience and go in with your eyes open you are giving yourself the best chance.
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wonderland.16
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Hiya!
I'm currently on the Primary Ed QTS course in Wales- I'm in my second year now.
To clarify, all of what I say below is from my personal experience as a current trainee. I can't truly comment from a teacher's perspective as I am not yet qualified.

As bwilliams says, ultimately, experience is the key to figuring out if this is really for you. If you know a teacher/TA of a local school, see if you can help out there. Emphasise that you are considering a teacher training degree and hopefully they will be happy to help out! Again, as bwilliams said, they will be grateful for the additional pair of hands!

In terms of how 'clever' you have to be... you will get lectures on how to teach subjects, and lectures improving your own subject knowledge too...or at least that is the case with my university. For example, we have a weekly 2 hour Maths lecture where we have sessions based around common misconceptions in maths and how to deal with them etc. The same with language and welsh. You are expected to improve your own subject knowledge though in your own time. We also have annual audits (next week :eek:) where we are tested to GCSE level maths and language, which we are expected to pass each year. Going into the course though, general awareness of the curriculum is good, but you aren't expected to know everything already...that's the point of the course! (You're also taught a lot of teaching theory)

How demanding is the role... this largely depends upon your future students, the school you are based in, the community you are in, the staff you work with, the policies in place...etc. It's also down to you as an individual. If you leave everything to the last minute, then yes, it will be more tricky to manage. Give yourself time, and it's more manageable.

I have been in a class where there were 17 children (around 2 with additional needs/working below expectations (2 years below)), one TA and the class teacher. I have also been in another class with 32 children (around 10/12 with additional needs), occasional TA and a class teacher who was also SLT so wasn't in the class much. Teaching these two classes was two entirely different experiences, as with any two classes. Each situation, each class, each school, each catchment, is different in their approach.

Training itself can be challenging. But it is also amazing.

Let me know if you have any more questions, I would be more than happy to help out!
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SarcAndSpark
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- How can you be 100% confident teaching is for you? I do work 5 days a week so would I just have to use annual leave?

While it is a good idea to get work experience, unfortunately, I don't think you can really know until you start placement or even your first teaching job. It's just one of those things that you can't know is for you until you have given it a proper go. I agree with the poster who said don't take the risk if you aren't prepared for the fact that you may need to drop out if it's not for you.


- Do you just call up a school and ask for volunteering experience and they will likely say yes?

Unfortunately not. Primary schools may be more likely to accept a volunteer helper, especially if you can give up a regular morning or afternoon to e.g. listen to readers or help with something specific. However, unless you have a contact at a school, most schools are relatively reluctant to offer work experience in e.g. 1 week blocks. You will need to be DBS checked as well before volunteering.


- How clever do you have to be? Are you expected to have a broad range of knowledge when you start or is it all taught to you?

It can't all be taught to you as there isn't enough time, even on a 3 year B.Ed course. Even in secondary where you have a degree in your subject, you are often learning as you go! You may sometimes need to be prepared to teach yourself content before you teach a lesson on it! Your uni time will usually focus on a mix of subject knowledge and pedagogical techniques.


- I have an A in English at GCSE and a C in Maths, I do not have an A-C in Science so I would have to do this before applying for Uni's. Has anyone else done this? How long did it take?

You can apply and receive a conditional offer while studying for a GCSE- I can't advise as to how long it will take.


- How demanding is the role?

Very. The workload is very high- many primary schools still have very high marking expectations of teachers and you need to plan your lessons before you teach them. There's often meetings before and after school as well as data stuff you will need to be on top of, meetings with parents, chasing up kids with poor attendance etc etc. The average working week for a primary school teacher is nearly 60 hours in term time. During the day you may be expected to do duties or run interventions/detentions, so you may not get any breaks. With KS1, often at breaktime you're dealing with things like putting coats on, helping with food etc as well.

Teaching (and training to teach) is also very emotionally intense. You build up bonds with the children in your school/placement school and can become aware of some really difficult stuff in their home lives. You also have to be "on" all the time- when you're teaching you're essentially presenting to the class and there's no real chance to have an off day. Worse, when you are training you have to spend time reflecting on all the things you did wrong too!

- What are the career prospects?

It's fairly easy to progress up to MPS6 as a classroom teacher- beyond that you would need to take on additional duties to progress. As I understand it, these opportunities are less available in many primary schools, and if they are available are often very time consuming! Making the jump from primary classroom teacher to SLT can be very difficult!
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never-2-old
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Just to add to what the others have said - don't worry about your age - I'm currently doing my PGCE and I'm 43!
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teachingfuture
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(Original post by bwilliams)
Hello

-How can you be 100% confident teaching is for you? I do work 5 days a week so would I just have to use annual leave?
Go into school and experience it. Yes, you would need to take some time off work to go and volunteer in a school - different unis will require you to have different amounts of experience. However, negotiate with your current employer as if you have provided them a good service and they genuinely care for your professional development they may give you time (unpaid).

- Do you just call up a school and ask for volunteering experience and they will likely say yes?
Go for a school you have a relationship with, your old school or something familiar. Failing that, you should send a formal email to the school expressing your interest in teacher training and that you would like to get some experience in their school. They will be very likely to say yes - they will be thankful for an extra pair of hands!

- How clever do you have to be? Are you expected to have a broad range of knowledge when you start or is it all taught to you?
If you decide to take the Primary Ed with QTS degree you will have taught subject knowledge (mainly in the first year). However, the majority of this you are expected to be doing in your own time. It is something you will develop as the course progresses. It is likely that a few of the 'assignments' on the degree will consist of you demonstrating that subject knowledge. You will also have to demonstrate it as part of the Teachers' Standards to gain QTS.
If I were you I would be browsing the National Curriculum and highlighting things I don't know and then gradually tick them off every now and then, when you have a spare five minutes.

- I have an A in English at GCSE and a C in Maths, I do not have an A-C in Science so I would have to do this before applying for Uni's. Has anyone else done this? How long did it take?
You will need GCSE Science at grade 4/C at a minimum to be accepted onto a course that has QTS. This can be done now while you're working, many FE colleges offer GCSEs as evening classes. You will probably have one session per week with the majority of study being home based. You could also explore the GCSE equivalency tests. Although, these do not count as a qualification in their own right. My advice would be to take the full GCSE qualification if you can.

- How demanding is the role?
The role varies day to day. As a primary teacher, I always say to anyone asking about the role that actually you are only a 'teacher' for a percentage of the day. The other times you are a friend, parent, mentor, counsellor, social worker amongst many many other things. You have a class of children that are with you every week day for 6 hours.
There is a lot of paper work, marking and planning etc. that everyone will bang on to you about. Always remember, it is just paperwork! Your job is to be the teacher.
Watch this video if you are really thinking about primary teaching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3xoZXSW5yc

- What are the career prospects?

The career prospects lie in your hands. You can stay as a classroom teacher for many years to come. There will be opportunities to take on other responsibilities, clubs, subjects etc. You'll learn more about that on the job!

The 3 year teaching degree is a great experience. It will really prepare you for your teaching career. Being 23 will be absolutely no problem, there was a 48 year-old woman on my BEd degree, so being 23 will definitely not hold you back!

I have many experiences in the primary classroom, good and bad so if you have any further questions feel free to ask! Good luck in your training
This was really helpful! I may take your offer up soon and ask a few more questions. Thank you very much.
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teachingfuture
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Great to hear!! Are you doing the Primary Education QTS or something different?

I think when we see someone else older than the 'socially assumed' age at university, we think 'good for them!' But when it's giving the same advice to yourself you think differently. How are you finding the course?
(Original post by never-2-old)
Just to add to what the others have said - don't worry about your age - I'm currently doing my PGCE and I'm 43!
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