Could you energise the next generation? If so, teaching needs many smart young people like you to help educate others.
For those keen to explore teaching as a career path, the good news is there’s never been a more flexible way to do it. Multiple training programmes exist and more funding opportunities, too, to help finance this next step of your career, a fact reflected by the increasing numbers of graduates going into teaching after completing their degree.
In the 2015-2016 academic year, there were nearly 30,000 new entrants to postgraduate teacher training courses, compared to just over 25,000 for the academic year 2014-2015 – indeed, there are 15,000 more teachers in UK schools than in 2010, and with government bursaries of up to £25,000 on offer, the cost of funding further training is no longer the burden it once was.
Teacher Training Routes
To teach in an English state school, whether at primary or secondary level, you need to be educated to degree level and to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by following a programme of Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET).
School-led training is for graduates who want the bulk of their training to take place in a school, enabling them to immerse themselves in a teaching culture from day one. You’ll do four days a week on site, learning from more experienced colleagues, and one day a week on university or college campus. Most courses last a year, after which you’ll gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and most courses also offer a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) are in-school courses provided by government-backed schools, which provide hands-on training from experienced, practising teachers. They result in a QTS and some, but not all, also award a PGCE.
School Direct courses offers school-based teacher training via a network of schools signed up to the initiative, and are a great choice if you hope to teach at one of the schools after qualifying. Courses last a year and result in QTS – again, many, but not all, also award a PGCE. School Direct (salaried) is a route that makes teacher training more doable for those considering a change of career – if you’re a graduate with at least three years’ work experience, you’ll earn a salary while you train and can expect a job offer when you qualify.
University-led or further education training is for those who’d prefer to complete their teacher training at a university or college. You’ll still spend at least 24 weeks on placements to develop your practical skills, and can train full-time for a year or part-time for two. All courses lead to qualified teacher status (QTS) and a PGCE.
‘Teaching is a challenging but amazing job,’ says Daniel Lewsey, senior innovator for Teaching, Learning and Assessment at East Kent College. ‘You don’t know what each day will bring but what you do know is you’re making a positive impact on people’s futures. We are passionate about finding talented people, and training and supporting them to become great teachers.
‘We have a range of programmes to ensure all new teachers get off to a great start,’ he says.
Then there’s Teach First, a charity that offers two-year training programmes to graduates with a degree of 2:1 or above. The aim of Teach First is to end educational inequality by putting exceptional teachers into challenging schools in low-income areas and trainees receive a salary during their training. During the first year, you’ll receive the basic salary for an unqualified teacher (minimum £16,461), which goes up to that of a newly qualified teacher in the second year (minimum £22,467, up to £28,098 for inner London). Find out more at teachfirst.org.uk
Funding your studies
If you’re a graduate, a bursary (tax-free funding) of up to £25,000 could be available to you depending on the postgraduate course you apply for, the subject you wish to teach and your degree classification.
If you want to teach maths, physics, chemistry, computing, languages or geography, you can also apply for a scholarship – as well as financial support, you’ll also have access to resources and networking opportunities. Some training courses, such as those with Schools Direct or Teach First, are salaried, meaning you earn as you train (the amount you earn depends on the school you train in and the subject you’re teaching).
You may also be able to apply for loans to cover tuition fees and maintenance of up to £9,000 and £4,000 a year respectively, depending on your circumstances (to see what you’re eligible for, visit gov.uk/student-finance-calculator).
Remember, though, that although bursaries and scholarships don’t have to be paid back, loans (for both tuition and maintenance) do. You’ll start repaying your loan once you’ve graduated and are earning more than £21,000 a year – you pay back 9% of anything over that figure every year (so if you’re earning £26,000, you’ll pay back £450 per year).
Teaching offers a competitive starting salary and plenty of scope for career progression. Here’s a snapshot of what you can earn (London weighting applies to all positions):
Unqualified trainee teacher
- £16,461 to £26,034 (England & Wales)
- £20, 701 to £30,270 (Inner London)
- £19,553 to £29, 130 (Outer London)
Newly qualified teacher
- £22,467 to £33,160 (England & Wales)
- £28,098 to £38,241 (Inner London)
- £26, 139 to £36,906 (Outer London)
Heads of department or years can expect to earn between £38,984 and £59,264 in England and Wales (£46,350 to £66,638 in inner London). A headteacher can expect to earn up to £108,283 in England and Wales, £115,582 in inner London.
I’m a teaching assistant – can I work my way up?
If you’re currently working as a TA and want to take the next step, you can apply for a university-led undergraduate course, which means you get a degree and complete your teacher training at the same time. You can opt for a Bachelor of Education (BEd), a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc). The former focuses more on teaching and academic principles, while a BA or BSc will give you specialist knowledge in your chosen subject as well as plenty of time in the classroom. You can start your first teaching job as soon as you graduate.
Test the waters
There’s nothing like experiencing the day-to-day to help you decide whether teaching is right for you. Spending time in a school, via the School Experience Programme (SEP), allows you observe experienced teachers in action (it will also help your application if you do decide a teaching career is for you). You’ll get a feel for the pastoral role teachers undertake, too – a vital component for the wellbeing of the pupils in their care. You can apply to schools via getintoteaching.education.gov.uk or to schools independently.
Lizzie Diaper, 25
is in her second year of teaching at St Paul’s Primary School in Portsmouth, hants
‘I did a degree in law and sociology at Cardiff University, but having felt sure when I started that I’d take the law route, I increasingly felt it wasn’t for me. I wanted a career in which I could be more hands-on and the more I thought about it, the more I thought how satisfying it would be to work with children, helping them to learn and being a positive influence in their lives. I graduated with a 2:1 and after taking a year out, was sure teaching was what I wanted to do.
‘I applied to do my training with Teach First and got a place at the school in Portsmouth where I teach now. That was in 2014, and in 2016 I qualified and gained newly qualified teacher (NQT) status.
‘Training with Teach First meant I was paid during my training, which was a big positive. I also really liked the ethos of the charity – some of the children I teach have quite challenging home lives and it’s satisfying to feel I can be a positive influence and someone they can rely on and feel secure with. I love teaching - the days are long but as I gain confidence, I’m able to be more efficient in terms of my lesson planning - I’m ‘working ‘smarter’, as they say. I’ve applied to St Paul’s to be a Phase Leader (equivalent to head of year at secondary school) so very much hope to continue my career there. I think training via Teach First will stand me in such good stead for the future - all my experiences so far have been nothing but positive.’