“Schools out for summer” or is it? Top tips for getting into teaching


Teaching is a popular career path for new graduates – the opportunity to nurture young minds and the lure of an annual 6 week holiday is enough to tempt many, but is teaching really for you? Here are a few things to think about before taking that leap back into the classroom.

Do your homework

Like any other career route, research is key. This can start by checking out the useful resources below, read what a day in the life of a teacher is actually like – can you see yourself in that role? Try and talk to teachers that you know, whether family, friends or previous school teachers and ask them about their job – what are the good and bad points? What kind of skills do they think a good teacher needs? How did they get into the profession?

Still interested?  Your next step is to get some school based experience.

Getting school-based experience

School based experience is vital for teacher training applications, whichever route you decide to take. It shows that you are really aware of what teaching involves, understand the curriculum and enables you to see how a classroom works. Aim to get experience over an extended period, rather than trying to cram it all in before you apply for your teacher training. Here are a few ways to get back into school:

  • Students into Schools’ modules several schools and departments at the University of Leeds recognise the skills gained from school experience so offer accredited modules that give you classroom experience whilst counting towards your degree.
  • Access and Community Engagement offer you the chance to volunteer in a range of educational establishments. Consider tutoring for some great insight into the classroom and to build a relationship with a local school.
  • School Experience Programme secondary school experience available for those wanting to teach shortage subjects (maths, chemistry, physics, modern foreign languages, history, english, geography, computer science or biology) and are in the final year of their degree expecting at least a 2:1.
  • Use your contacts do you know any teachers? Ask them if you could go into their school to work shadow or contact your old school. Schools are much more likely to give you the chance to get some experience if they know you in some way. Alternatively you can try contacting local schools, Edubase allows you to search for schools in your area.

Teacher Training – your options

There are lots of different routes you can take to train to be a teacher so it is worthwhile considering which option is right for you. For example, are you someone who likes to learn on the job? Or do you like to understand the theory behind something before you put it into practice? Where do you want to be based? What level of support would you like whilst you are training? All of these things will affect which route you choose. Here is a breakdown of the different teacher training routes and where to find out more:

  • PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) is university led teacher training which normally takes 1 year to complete, although there are options to undertake it part time or through distance learning. The course is split between time in the classroom with a cohort of other trainee teachers and out on placement in schools.
  • SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) is ideal for those with some prior teaching experience and who want to learn on the job. SCITT is normally run by a school or a consortium of schools and taught by experienced teachers. Many, but not all, have a PGCE attached which is accredited by a local Higher Education Institution.  The courses generally last one academic year – September to June.
  • School Direct Training Programme is similar to a SCITT in that the training is schools based but successful applicants will be taken on by a school that have a job in mind just for them. Again, courses last one year and are applied for through the teaching agency website
  • Teach First are an independent charity aiming to address educational disadvantage through their leadership development programme. This programme fast-tracks you through a PGCE through their summer institute before placing you in a challenging school to complete the two year programme. During this time you will be paid by your schools and are also offered the chance to carry out leadership and management training, undertake internships and take a Masters degree in Education.

Key dates and deadlines:

  • 6th November 2012 – ‘PGCE Secondary Talk To Potential Students’ run by the UoL School of Education. 1pm at the Careers Centre. Book here
  •  15th November 2012 – PGCE Primary Talk To Potential Students’ run by the UoL School of Education. 1pm at the Careers Centre. Book here
  • 1st December 2012 – Deadline for all primary PGCE applications through GTTR.
  • 20th March 2013 – Teach First application deadline, however it is open now and early submission is advised.
  • 30th June 2013 – Deadline for all secondary PGCE applications through GTTR although it is open now and early submission is advised.

Useful Resources

We have included links to relevant sites as we’ve gone along but here are some overarching useful sites if you want to get into teaching:

  • The Teaching Agency are responsible for all initial teacher training in England and Wales. Great information on the different routes, the application process and who you need to register with if you want to apply for a School Direct route or for the School Experience Programme.
  • Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) Course search and application submission for PGCE and SCITT courses.
  • AGCAS – Teaching Frequently Asked Questions Useful and thorough resource, bear in mind this was last updated in 2010 so some things (i.e. the introduction of the School Direct programme) may have changed since then.

If you want to discuss your options in more depth, or want help with the application process pop in to see us, we run our drop in service 9-4pm Monday to Friday and we’d love to help you.

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