Our Careers Consultant, Annabelle Cross, provides her advice and tips if you’re thinking about a career in teaching.
Are you Energetic? A good communicator? A good manager of resources, material and time? Imaginative and creative? Able to inspire and enthuse? Do you enjoy working with young people? Do you have a sense of humour?
If you answered yes to all these then Teaching could be the career for you.
Don’t be misled however by reports in the media into thinking that teaching is easy to get into. The demanding job of teaching requires the right person and both schools and teacher training institutions will select carefully. You need recent and sustained experience in a school environment and to be able to demonstrate that you have the right skills and qualities to be an effective teacher.
There has been a lot of adjustment to the regulations surrounding the training and continued assessment of teachers in schools in the UK. For example, on the 1 April 2013 the Teaching Agency and the National College for School Leadership merged to become the National College for Teaching and Leadership. The information held on the Teaching Agency website has been moved onto the Department for Education website. Therefore it’s important that you keep up to date with the changes in case they affect routes into teaching and the fees/bursaries associated with teacher training.
Qualifying as a teacher
There are also some qualifications and experience you’ll need to have, and some further tests, you will need to do before you can apply and be accepted onto a programme of teacher training.
There are different ways to apply and qualify as a teacher and whichever route you choose, you will need Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) based at a university, college or school.
You might want to train in a university or college or you could be based mainly in a school. It is essential to have relevant experience to use in your application. Without recent experience of schools (seeing teaching from the teacher’s point of view!) and involvement with children and/or young people in the relevant age range, your application is unlikely to be able to demonstrate the required motivation and knowledge of teaching.
Look into the different postgraduate routes into teaching – PGCE, SCITT & Schools Direct in either primary or secondary teaching.
You may also want to consider Teach First – a social enterprise that aims to address educational disadvantage in England and Wales. It coordinates an employment-based teaching training programme whereby participants achieve Qualified Teacher Status through the participation in a two year training programme that involves the completion of a PGCE along with wider leadership skills training. Check out their website for full details of all what it entails.
- Many applications fail through lack of work experience. Make sure you have recent and sustained experience within a school. Working with children in general is great (for example, summer camps) and all add to your experience and skills base, but the admissions tutors will want to know that you understand what teaching is all about and have experienced this recently. It’s only by going into schools that you can get that sense of whether teaching really feels right – and whether you think you could do it. There is no set minimum time but aim for at least a few months (even over time) and ideally in a range of schools.
- It is possible to organise a placement yourself at a local school or even at your old primary or secondary school. Your work experience could take a variety of formats from classroom observation to working as an unpaid teaching assistant, depending on the needs of the school and whether or not you have had an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) check.
- Check out the University of Leeds Access & Community Engagement website – they provide a range of opportunities for students to volunteer in educational settings across Leeds and some parts of West Yorkshire. Training starts in September/October of the year you want to do it though so make sure you apply for these opportunities well in advance. Ideally this would be at the end of your first year so you can have the experience in your second year, ready to apply for teaching at the beginning of your final year.
- Attend the teaching talks held by Leeds admissions tutors in Semester one – check out the events section of our vacancy database for dates and to sign up. These provide a great opportunity for you to ask questions and network.
- UCAS Teacher Training does not open for applications til 1st November; however, you can have your personal statement written and be ready to go by then.
- You will need TWO referees. One academic and ideally someone from one of the schools you have gained experience in. Don’t forget to ask them for their permission to be used.
- Contact the Teaching Information Helpline (0800 389 2500) for any queries relating to teaching that you want answered.
If you’re hoping to apply for teaching and need some help, pop into our drop-in for advice.