Careers advice from Theodora Griff

23rd November 2012 at 00:00

Switch to primary?

I teach drama in a comprehensive school and find that I enjoy teaching Years 7 and 8 much more than the older year groups. Should I do some retraining so that I can apply for a job in a primary school?

I find that moving from secondary to primary is quite a common aspiration. But not, I'm afraid, one that is easily achieved.

First, there is no retraining available. You have QTS: that qualifies you to teach children of mandatory school age, from 5 upwards. There are no longer primary conversion courses.

Second, although you are legally qualified to teach primary, you probably aren't actually going to be very good at it, through lack of training and experience. Primary teaching involves teaching the whole of the curriculum, not just your specialist subject in which you feel comfortable. That means you would have to teach literacy, numeracy, history, science, even perhaps PE, music or French. The same about probably not being very good at it applies in the other direction, too, of course: a primary teacher faced with Year 9 or 10 would doubtless go weak at the knees. It's the training and experience that makes the difference in both cases.

And finally, a school advertising for a primary teacher will receive a large number of applications from candidates who are primary-trained and experienced, so is unlikely to run the risk of considering you for the post.

This is all a bit depressing, and not what you wanted to hear, so I'll end on two positive notes. Number one: it can be done. There are secondary teachers who have gained primary experience through supply and then persuaded a primary school to appoint them, and have gone on to be very successful. Number two: you could investigate state middle schools or independent prep schools that teach children aged 8 to 13; these might be good for you.

Meet Theodora Griff online on the TES JobSeekers Forum, or in person at a TES Careers Advice Service seminar or individual consultation. bit.lyuWhqN2.

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