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Question about becoming a teacher

Would appreciate some advice. I've just had a call off my nephew (2 years into a philosophy degree) saying he is thinking of dropping it and restarting doing English as he wants to be an English teacher.

Without going into too much detail he's not talking to his parents so he wont go to them to discuss this and I feel an obligation to try and stop him chucking away 2 years of a degree he's doing ok on to restart something he may never complete and will at least in part be relying on his parents to fund.

Is there a way someone with a philosophy degree can go into teaching English - and if so what is it ? My instinct is strongly that he needs to finish his degree but if he can do that and teach English that seems the best thing for him to aim at.

Happy to discuss by pm there's a bit more to his situation but being a public forum and all that.
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  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,369
    My understanding is that it's not a specialist subject like a STEM subject, so should be possible with just a degree (not specifically English) and completion of a teaching certificate (1 yr I think), although that might also depend on the age range/qualification level of the pupils.

    English at some level appears to go down the two routes of Language and Literature, which might also determine the qualifications needed.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,978
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  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846
    A lot of maths teachers don't have maths degrees, so presumably there is no reason a philosphy graduate can't teach English. Unless, I suppose, there is a greater supply of teachers with English degrees.

    I have no knowledge beyond chatting to people in pubs, and, er, mumsnet.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,222
    I feel like Philosophy would be a good degree for English.

    (Zero actual knowledge tho...)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,639
    In Scotland they're quite fierce about qualifications (you need Highers, which are roughly equivalent to AS level, in both English and Maths to teach anything) and I think (not sure without checking tbh) that you do need an English degree to teach English.

    For England or anywhere else I'd just be googling the same as you ;)


    More importantly, does he really want to be a teacher? Does he know what it involves? The skills and qualities that a teacher needs to have are not universal, and it's better to discover earlier rather than later how well you can handle a bunch of kids when you are the only one there to take control.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,978

    In Scotland they're quite fierce about qualifications (you need Highers, which are roughly equivalent to AS level, in both English and Maths to teach anything) and I think (not sure without checking tbh) that you do need an English degree to teach English.

    For England or anywhere else I'd just be googling the same as you ;)


    More importantly, does he really want to be a teacher? Does he know what it involves? The skills and qualities that a teacher needs to have are not universal, and it's better to discover earlier rather than later how well you can handle a bunch of kids when you are the only one there to take control.

    I would suggest that the last few months have disabused a few parents of the idea that teaching is easy. 😬
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • bompingtonbompington Posts: 7,639
    rjsterry said:

    In Scotland they're quite fierce about qualifications (you need Highers, which are roughly equivalent to AS level, in both English and Maths to teach anything) and I think (not sure without checking tbh) that you do need an English degree to teach English.

    For England or anywhere else I'd just be googling the same as you ;)


    More importantly, does he really want to be a teacher? Does he know what it involves? The skills and qualities that a teacher needs to have are not universal, and it's better to discover earlier rather than later how well you can handle a bunch of kids when you are the only one there to take control.

    I would suggest that the last few months have disabused a few parents of the idea that teaching is easy. 😬
    But not all random internet trolls though...
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116
    I suspect he'd be fine. To teach maths you need a degree that's broadly numerate but, even without that, you can do a subject knowledge enhancement course which is fully funded (my daughter's just done it for English - £200 per week for 8 weeks before starting training proper in September). I think it will be the same for English as for Maths; specialist sciences may be more problematic.

    The one thing I can see that the government has right is the teacher recruitment website. The link is https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/explore-my-options/training-to-teach-secondary-subjects/training-to-teach-english

    Ultimately, the only impact of not having an English degree is that he might not get A-level English teaching in his first year, he might have to prove himself a bit first. But even that might not be the case depending on the school. And if he every ended up teaching in an IB school his philosophy degree would be very useful indeed! He'd be snapped up.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,338
    He has taught English abroad - he spent a year in China - I think he enjoyed that and his gran (my mum) was an English teacher and his mum was a teacher (she's now an academic in education) and of course he's spent 14 years in schools observing ;)

    No seriously I agree and have said to him you may want to be a teacher but you can't really know you'll like it .

    Personally I'm not sure he has the temperament for it but not sure I'm really qualified to judge.
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  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,978
    edited August 2020

    rjsterry said:

    In Scotland they're quite fierce about qualifications (you need Highers, which are roughly equivalent to AS level, in both English and Maths to teach anything) and I think (not sure without checking tbh) that you do need an English degree to teach English.

    For England or anywhere else I'd just be googling the same as you ;)


    More importantly, does he really want to be a teacher? Does he know what it involves? The skills and qualities that a teacher needs to have are not universal, and it's better to discover earlier rather than later how well you can handle a bunch of kids when you are the only one there to take control.

    I would suggest that the last few months have disabused a few parents of the idea that teaching is easy. 😬
    But not all random internet trolls though...
    They're not worth the calories.
    Maybe it's because they are your own children and they know EXACTLY what buttons to push, but bloody hell some days have been difficult. On the other hand I absolutely loved doing the maths challenge questions with the eldest.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846
    A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,736 Lives Here

    A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?

    Think they picked the wrong tube station there.

    If it paid 3x as much I'd definitely try to be a teacher.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846

    A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?

    Think they picked the wrong tube station there.

    If it paid 3x as much I'd definitely try to be a teacher.
    I don't they did. I think it was targeting disaffected city workers. Just not sure which ones or how.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116
    There’s a big push with trying to get people with firsts do a couple of years teaching before going off to earn the big bucks. Moderately successfully it must be said.

    Trouble is, a first or 2:1 doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at teaching.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846
    johngti said:

    There’s a big push with trying to get people with firsts do a couple of years teaching before going off to earn the big bucks. Moderately successfully it must be said.

    Trouble is, a first or 2:1 doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at teaching.

    I'm surprised by that. I would have thought the other way would have more merit - individuals who have had careers in other sectors.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,338
    Anyway thanks for the advice, have spoken to him again with what I think is the best way forwards. That is contact admissions at some teacher training depts. and ask but don't pack in the philosophy degree. Whether he listens is up to him.

    Feel free to go off on a tangent as I think it's covered all the bases.
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  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116
    It’s got a bit of a reputation as a career with high staff burnout. The accountability systems have a tendency to be ridiculous as we’re not judged on our own performance but on the ever so reliable teenage population’s. The working week is very long, especially for beginner teachers, and the pay isn’t at a level that justifies it. Then you’ve got behaviour issues and dealing with quite difficult parents in some schools.

    A scary proportion of new teachers leave within 5 years. People who’ve had other jobs often start the training but then drop out when they realise how hard it can be. I’ve worked in schools where the management policy is to get them in young (or foreign) and ship them out again when they wear out.

    I’m very much a rarity in staff rooms these days. 51 going on 52 and started in 1991. Very different career to when I started.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846
    johngti said:

    It’s got a bit of a reputation as a career with high staff burnout. The accountability systems have a tendency to be ridiculous as we’re not judged on our own performance but on the ever so reliable teenage population’s. The working week is very long, especially for beginner teachers, and the pay isn’t at a level that justifies it. Then you’ve got behaviour issues and dealing with quite difficult parents in some schools.

    A scary proportion of new teachers leave within 5 years. People who’ve had other jobs often start the training but then drop out when they realise how hard it can be. I’ve worked in schools where the management policy is to get them in young (or foreign) and ship them out again when they wear out.

    I’m very much a rarity in staff rooms these days. 51 going on 52 and started in 1991. Very different career to when I started.

    Thanks for the reply. It explains the advert I saw quite well.

    From the outside looking in there are many things I don't understand. There seems to be a lot of complaints about management. One teacher at an inner city school said to me "the kids are fine, it's the rest I can't handle"
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116
    Basically it’s down to micromanagement and a lack of trust in teachers. Lesson observations tend to be judgemental rather than developmental which would be fine in an objective system but this is entirely subjective. Senior leaders can and do decide to put pressure on staff when it suits them which means observations become an awful experience. Targets are set that are completely unrealistic are used to make judgements on teacher performance. Expectations of marking and feedback result in lots of teachers working 60-70 hour weeks routinely and has very little impact on learning.

    Not all schools are like this, lots aren’t. But it’s this type of thing that tends to put people off. Oh and the money isn’t great.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116
    By the way, I generally love the job, not that you’d be able to tell!
  • johngti said:

    By the way, I generally love the job, not that you’d be able to tell!

    really not trying to start a row but do teachers appreciate the value of the pension that they accumulate each year? by that I mean what it would cost to buy the equivalent annual sum on the open market. My hazy memory was that it was worth about a third of salary.
  • A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?

    Think they picked the wrong tube station there.

    If it paid 3x as much I'd definitely try to be a teacher.
    I don't they did. I think it was targeting disaffected city workers. Just not sure which ones or how.
    non - commercial organisations target City workers who are either rich enough already or disillusioned. The best example is probably Paul Deighton went from being very senior at Goldman's to running the 2012 Olympics. I guess when you have over £100m then salary does not matter.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,736 Lives Here

    A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?

    Think they picked the wrong tube station there.

    If it paid 3x as much I'd definitely try to be a teacher.
    I don't they did. I think it was targeting disaffected city workers. Just not sure which ones or how.
    non - commercial organisations target City workers who are either rich enough already or disillusioned. The best example is probably Paul Deighton went from being very senior at Goldman's to running the 2012 Olympics. I guess when you have over £100m then salary does not matter.
    Unfortunately not too many of them
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116

    johngti said:

    By the way, I generally love the job, not that you’d be able to tell!

    really not trying to start a row but do teachers appreciate the value of the pension that they accumulate each year? by that I mean what it would cost to buy the equivalent annual sum on the open market. My hazy memory was that it was worth about a third of salary.
    Yeah they do and it’s a massive attraction but the stats about how many stay long enough to benefit are awful. Retention rate isn’t great. Then there’s other stats about the average length of time a teacher draws on a pension - apparently quite a lot of us die within a year of retiring. The reason? In teaching you get lots of minor annoyances every day that squirt a dose of adrenaline into the system. When you retire you lose that and your system can’t cope. I hope this forum is still around when it’s my time - that’ll help the adrenaline supply 😉
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 5,454

    A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?

    Think they picked the wrong tube station there.

    If it paid 3x as much I'd definitely try to be a teacher.
    I used to quite enjoy the "teaching" I had to do at uni, but you couldn't pay me enough to do it in schools here.

    That's the issue as I see it. Teachers aren't badly paid for what the job should be, but no government would possibly compensate them for the job that it actually is.

    Same with social workers.

    But not GPs. GPs can just sod off and stop whinging.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846

    A few years ago I saw an advert on the platform at Bank. It said "70% of maths teacher have a first or 2.1" . Anyone want to guess who they were targeting? Grads with firsts who think teaching is below them or grads with thirds who didn't think they had a chance?

    Think they picked the wrong tube station there.

    If it paid 3x as much I'd definitely try to be a teacher.
    I don't they did. I think it was targeting disaffected city workers. Just not sure which ones or how.
    non - commercial organisations target City workers who are either rich enough already or disillusioned. The best example is probably Paul Deighton went from being very senior at Goldman's to running the 2012 Olympics. I guess when you have over £100m then salary does not matter.
    Unfortunately not too many of them
    Not in that category, but plenty disillusioned, looking for a different life and happy to accept lower pay. I think the problem with teaching is it sounds like hardwork for all the reasons mentioned.

    I'll keep looking in other words.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,736 Lives Here
    Oh it's definitely hard work.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,846

    Oh it's definitely hard work.

    But the question is whether it needs to be. For example, there is currently a massive shortage of maths teachers despite the government offering significant (for teaching) bonuses to encourage maths teachers. Therefore, perhaps lifestyle should be one of the factors they need to look at.

    @johngti gave the example of how management micromanages. If this happened in a normal company, it would fail.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 1,116

    Oh it's definitely hard work.

    But the question is whether it needs to be. For example, there is currently a massive shortage of maths teachers despite the government offering significant (for teaching) bonuses to encourage maths teachers. Therefore, perhaps lifestyle should be one of the factors they need to look at.

    @johngti gave the example of how management micromanages. If this happened in a normal company, it would fail.
    Part of the trick of it is to find the right school for you. I've been through 7 over the last 29 years and out of that, I've only really hated three of them for the reasons I gave. Every other move was for relatively sound career choices. The ones I hated I moved on from within two years.

    Some schools are taking work-life balance more seriously. Mine has cut back on marking and feedback so now there should be two opportunities for students to get meaningful feedback each half term. Planning and preparation gets easier as time goes on - most of my time as head of department is spent doing admin and strategic stuff. I also prefer giving people room to develop, mostly because I don't do micromanaging particularly well.

    You don't teach for the money or the kudos, you do it because you can't beat working with young people. Even in the worst schools I worked in, the kids made the job what it is. Except for one school in SE London that was a hell hole...
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,338
    johngti said:

    johngti said:

    By the way, I generally love the job, not that you’d be able to tell!

    really not trying to start a row but do teachers appreciate the value of the pension that they accumulate each year? by that I mean what it would cost to buy the equivalent annual sum on the open market. My hazy memory was that it was worth about a third of salary.
    Yeah they do and it’s a massive attraction but the stats about how many stay long enough to benefit are awful. Retention rate isn’t great. Then there’s other stats about the average length of time a teacher draws on a pension - apparently quite a lot of us die within a year of retiring. The reason? In teaching you get lots of minor annoyances every day that squirt a dose of adrenaline into the system. When you retire you lose that and your system can’t cope. I hope this forum is still around when it’s my time - that’ll help the adrenaline supply 😉
    That's interesting. So the idea is you need to keep the adrenaline coming in retirement ?
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