Case study

Primary school teacher — Alex Wilson

Find out how Alex manages to retain a good work-life balance in his primary school teaching roleā€¦

How did you get your job?

Upon graduating I worked as a year 5 class teacher in a two-form-entry primary school. I completed my NQT year and stayed on for a further 6 months.

I left the school at Easter to take a temporary job covering PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time at a one-form-entry school. During this time I applied for other, more permanent jobs nearer home. I was successful in securing an interview for a class teacher with TLR (Teaching and Learning Responsibility) at a C of E school and I start this coming academic year.

Seeing children develop over the progression of the year makes it all worthwhile

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Most of what you study on a PGCE is relevant and the qualification enabled me to find employment. But what I would say is that teaching is not something that can be learned from a text book, therefore learning the job role as you go is a must.

What are your main work activities?

I normally get to work around 7.00 to 7.15am and spend the time before school on marking, preparing resources and improving the learning environment. Morning is usually taken up teaching English and Maths, with a quick tea break if I'm lucky.

Lunchtime consists of grabbing a quick bite to eat and then spending time preparing for the afternoon, marking the morning's work or providing a lunchtime club (I run the gardening club from a greenhouse made out coke bottles).

The afternoon is when other lessons are taught such as IT, RE, Science etc. After school finishes, at 3.30pm I sometimes get involved with after school clubs such as cross country, or music or spend time marking work and preparing for the next day's teaching. I try to mark all the work in school and not take any work home as I feel this helps keep a better work-life balance.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Since taking on TLR for PE I am now responsible for the PE curriculum and managing the provision of sport at the school.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Time spent in the company of children is priceless. It can be very rewarding. It really is the situation where the more you put in, the more they give you back. Seeing children develop over the progression of the year makes it all worthwhile. Seeing light bulb moments.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Handling the paperwork side of the job; filling in forms that no one reads. Dealing with difficult families that don't appreciate the hard work I put in and coping with a massive workload while trying to strike a work-life balance.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

This career is not for everyone. Focus on the children and you will enjoy it. Try not to get bogged down in the paperwork. Make lessons as physical and interesting as possible. Take a step back every now and again and look at what you are actually asking the children to learn, sometimes, it can be pointless.

Be realistic with the expectations on yourself. You are the most important person in the classroom and you need to look after yourself. Have a life outside of teaching. If you let it, it will take over your life and you turn into a dull teacher.