Help a battered teacher
January 30, 2006 12:18 PM   Subscribe

A pupil at my Mum's school head-butted her today. She lost a tooth. She doesn't like teaching, and I don't want her to have to go back to that school ever again...

My wonderful, 50-year old mother stepped in to break up a fight in a class today and got a head-butt for her troubles. She lost a front tooth and the root and some of her jaw fractured. Needless to say I'm pretty angry about this, and I want to try to find a way to really help her (short of finding the little sod who's responsible and seeing how he likes it).

My Mum is in a hard position. The family needs the income from her job, and teaching is the only high-paying job that she can think of, or that she thinks she's qualified for. But she really hates the job and the school, and I know this incident is close to the last straw (it's a testament to her determination that she's still planning on going in tomorrow, gap and all).

The only real, long-term solution is a career change, but without any other experience, she's almost given up hope of finding anything other than a low-paid, service-industry job.

Any ideas would be much appreciated.

Some details:
We're in the UK. She's now 50. She's got a good degree in biology. She took a 20 year career break to bring up me and my siblings, and she returned to teaching 3 years ago. She needs to earn £25k to get by. She's been teaching secondary school science biology, both as a supply teacher and more recently as a permanent teacher. She's quite computer-literate, and a very good all-round people-person.

Just ask if you need to know more. Many thanks for your help.
posted by godawful to Work & Money (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A Natural History Museum or the like might be a good choice. I am a museum education manager here in the US and it pays similar to school teachers, don't know if it is the same in the UK.
posted by stormygrey at 12:21 PM on January 30, 2006

I'm really sorry to hear that happened to your mother, and I don't blame you for being angry. Teaching is such a tough job even for those who love it.

I don't have many ideas but my mum is a teacher in Ireland, similar age to yours, and has gotten work in the past for companies that bring (adult and teen) students over on English-language exchange trips. The work covered everything from picking them up from the airport, liaising with host families, orienting them in the city and some English language instruction.

Or perhaps some sort of career guidance/counselling type position? Teens are usually somewhat saner and more pleasant to deal with in the one-on-one situations that career guidance entails.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:26 PM on January 30, 2006

Try these links:
posted by stormygrey at 12:26 PM on January 30, 2006

Best answer: She should contact her union ASAP. I am guessing she is in NUT or NASUWT. She should contact a local rep, or just call the national office if she can't figure out who her local rep is. They will help with her options, both immediate and long term. They will also know what her rights are.
posted by cushie at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

First off, my condolences to you and your mom. Hopefully, the student has gotten expelled and assault charges are being pressed. I also hope her school has been supportive of her recovery.

You don't say much about the circumstances of this job (e.g., good/crummy school/administration, etc) But, IF she enjoys teaching, what a shame it would be if she gives up the career because this particular job site sucks. I would think that a better path would be to find a way to move to a different school or teaching a different age group.

Other career options depends on what other skills she has. Child care? Tutoring? Technical writing? Writing product documentation manuals?

PS Tell your mom NEVER to try to break up a fight by stepping between combatants, unless they are tiny kids.
posted by jasper411 at 12:32 PM on January 30, 2006

Can she get a teaching job at another school? It would be some improvement, anyway.
posted by orange swan at 12:33 PM on January 30, 2006

Best answer: She may want to consider a job with a law firm. I know, I know, it's where my brain is at, but let me explain.

My law firm (in the U.S., though things are similar in the U.K.) is composed of practicing lawyers and non-lawyer assistants. Your mom has the scientific background to be able to serve as a patent assistant - someone who knows enough biology to proofread documents, help revise patents, etc.

In our firm, we pay a premium for individuals with research or practical experience in a particular science background.

It's a desk job, no teaching, really, but it's really good money, and the hours aren't crazy. Just a suggestion.
posted by MeetMegan at 12:36 PM on January 30, 2006

Best answer: If it's not all about getting out of teaching entirely the one on one tutoring industry is allegedly booming in the UK despite the evidence that it isn't all that effective. The story I hear is that firms are glutted with social science and humanities tutors but would kill for qualified science tutors. If she is in an urban area she might be able to put together a decent income with a relatively flexible schedule. It raises pension problems but...
posted by anglophiliated at 12:49 PM on January 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Medicine / nursing? The US has a nursing shortage. No idea what it's like in the UK. Biology teacher who has raised excellent kids? I'd want her as my pediatric nurse.
posted by frogan at 1:00 PM on January 30, 2006

Holy shit she got headbutted? Why doesn't she contact the parents of the little f*cker and make them pay for the repairs to her mouth!?!?!
posted by radioamy at 1:29 PM on January 30, 2006

If I were her I'd start looking for a job at another school. If she's concerned about the same kind of thing happening again (which would be entirely reasonable), maybe somewhere with a less rough reputation.

Also, she should make sure the little shit gets suspended/expelled.
posted by Lotto at 1:39 PM on January 30, 2006

I would also suggest nursing, physical therapy, care for the elderly, or something related. She may have to go back to school for a semester or two, but with a biology degree she will have some of the prerequisites taken care of.
posted by LarryC at 1:45 PM on January 30, 2006

Could she teach a younger age group, like junior school? Less crazy teenagers, same kids every day... not a great solution, but maybe a step in the right direction. Or is there a school admin job she could move into?

I could have written this post (minus the violence) about my mother who teaches infant school in East London. I really wish there was something else she could do. You both have my sympathies.
posted by crabintheocean at 1:46 PM on January 30, 2006

In the US, she'd likely be entitled to a sizeable settlement or civil lawsuit for the injury and stress caused to her by the incident.

I don't know how things work in the UK, and I understand that the US legal system is oft viewed as rife with ridiculous lawsuits. However, I think an irresponsible child and his probably-not-so-adequate parents ought to be held responsible for things like this, and reparations should be made to your mother.

Have you looked into this?
posted by twiggy at 2:16 PM on January 30, 2006

Another area your mum could look into is Clinical Research. I do this in the US, and although the system is very different over here, we are always short on study coordinators with a good science background. She could do anything from interviewing to data collection to study coordination. Check your local teaching/research hospital for open positions. Also, I would suspect she could move into psychological research fairly easily (as opposed to biological).

Anecdotally, my mom retired afer 30+ years of teaching and, in her late fifties, is currently back in graduate school getting her Masters in Divinity. It is difficult (especially when, say, my grandmother falls ill and my mom is taking care of her), but having a purpose that she enjoys is very motivating for her. Good luck to you and your family.
posted by sarahnade at 4:15 PM on January 30, 2006

Best answer: She might be able to get a non-teaching job with a local education authority (ie local council). Quite often there are jobs where teaching experience is vital - like supporting other teachers/ helping schools improve, and jobs where its helpful -general education admin etc. Places to look for this sort of thing are the guardian and your local council website.

Other options might include school inspection, working for an exam board or working in a private sector setting were teaching experience is valuable - like sales to schools.

Also wouldn't be expecting a life changing settlement from the school if sued - doubt it would be much more than a couple of grand (IANAL or indeed a teacher!) Good Luck!
posted by prentiz at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all your answers and support. I'm going to show this thread to her, and look into some stuff on her behalf.

I think my Mum is sniffy enough about 'compensation culture' that she'd feel like a hypocrite if she sued anyone. And yes, I don't think there's much money going anyway.

Rest assured we have contacted unions and ensured that the dentist's bills are going to be someone elses problem.

Once again, thanks.
posted by godawful at 4:49 PM on January 30, 2006

I was going to make a snarky comment about how if it was the USA there would be lawsuits, but twiggy phrased it better, and much more reasonably, than I would have. Good luck to your mum.
posted by matildaben at 6:22 PM on January 30, 2006

Tell her to CALL HER UNION. Do it now. Do not pass go etc.
posted by alby at 2:24 PM on February 1, 2006

« Older Help me find a good chocolate bar...   |   infrared camera detect rodents Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.