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Job Photographs

  • A woman is standing at the front of a classroom.  Students are sitting at tables and each one has a laptop computer in front of them.

    Teaching a class.

  • A woman is standing in an office.  She is using a telephone.

    On the phone - organising a school outing of educational interest.

  • A man and a woman are sitting at a table, looking at a piece of paper.

    Having a meeting with another teacher.

  • A boy is sitting at a table, using a laptop computer.  A man is standing next to him.

    Giving one-to-one support to a student.

  • Two students are sitting at a table, looking at a computer.  A woman is standing next to them, also looking at the computer.

    Giving tuition in video editing to a small group of students.

  • Two women are standing in a classroom.  They are having a conversation.

    Talking with a teaching assistant about tasks to be done.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, writing on a notepad.  Some books and papers are also on the desk.

    Marking work.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Using a computer to prepare a lesson plan.

  • Secondary Teacher

Secondary Teacher


Secondary teachers teach students aged between 11 and 19 (or one age group within this range). The work includes preparing and planning lessons, marking work, writing student reports, and attending meetings and parents' evenings.

Also known as

  • Teacher, Secondary School

Video: - Amos: English Teacher

Video: - Natalie: Maths Teacher

Video: - James: Art and Design Teacher

Video: - Lizzie: Design and Technology Teacher

Video: - Adrian: Physical Education Teacher

Video: - Lynsey: Secondary Teacher

Work Activities

As a Secondary Teacher, you will teach students aged between 11 and 19. However, you may work in schools that deal with a smaller age range, such as 11-14, 11-16 or 16-19.

You will usually specialise in one subject, although you could teach a number of related subjects, such as English and drama. Also,you must be prepared to cover lessons in other teachers' subject areas.

When teaching older year groups, you are more likely to have a class of students with similar abilities.

Teaching methods can include:

  • small group work
  • projects
  • discussions
  • debates.

Resources include:

  • audio-visual materials
  • interactive whiteboards
  • online learning games.

Using a mixture of activities helps to stimulate interest, learning and imagination; develop a variety of skills; and meet the needs of students with differing learning styles and needs.

Apart from the classroom, lessons can take place in a laboratory, workshop, gym or playing field, for example - depending on the subject being taught. You might also plan and lead field trips.

Other activities include:

  • Preparing and planning lessons.
  • Marking work and giving feedback.
  • Monitoring and reporting on the progress of students.
  • Creating or adapting lesson resources.
  • Going to staff meetings and parents' evenings.
  • Setting and enforcing standards of behaviour.
  • Identifying underachieving pupils and giving extra support.

Some teachers are also form tutors, involving duties such as taking a register, providing general information and giving guidance.

As a SecondaryTeacher, you might supervise the work of one or more Teaching Assistants.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a Secondary Teacher, you'll need:

  • The ability to encourage, motivate and inspire your students.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Patience and tact.
  • The ability to maintain discipline and deal with challenging behaviour.
  • Good organisational and planning skills.
  • Energy, enthusiasm and self-discipline.
  • The ability to work well under pressure.
  • ICT skills.
  • Commitment to your own professional development.
  • Good knowledge of the subject you teach.

Pay and Opportunities


Teachers in the state education sector are paid on a scale according to their qualifications, experience and responsibilities. The highest salaries are available in inner London schools.

The pay rates (per year) below are approximate:

  • Unqualified teachers are typically paid in the range of £17,000 to £27,000 a year
  • Qualified teachers are typically paid in the range of £23,000 to £29,500 a year
  • With experience this can rise to £36,500 to £48,000 a year

Teachers with management responsibility can receive a higher salary than this.

Hours of work

Teachers normally work from 8:30 am or 9 am to 3:30 pm or 4 pm, Monday to Friday. However, most teachers work extra hours - marking work, preparing lessons and going to meetings. They often have to work in the evenings and at weekends to prepare lessons and mark work.

Where could I work?

Employers are state and private schools.

There are also opportunities to teach in other countries.

Some teachers supplement their income by teaching privately, marking national exams or writing textbooks.

In Wales there is high demand for Welsh-medium education, so if you are a first or second language Welsh speaker, you could improve your prospects of obtaining a teaching post by training to teach through the medium of Welsh.

You could also get financial support through a Welsh-medium incentive scheme. Check with your course provider.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised by local authorities and in the local and national press, including The Guardian and The Times Educational Supplement (TES). There are also job boards, such as eTeach.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

To become a secondary school teacher, you usually need to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through initial teacher education (ITE). There are several routes.

In Wales there will be new professional standards for students starting their ITE programme from September 2019.

Work Experience

Firstly, training providers and employers will want to see evidence you have the required skills and motivation to succeed as a Teacher. To achieve this you may need to have some sort of experience of working with children/students of a relevant age. A minimum of two weeks experience is sometimes required.

But how do you get work experience in a school or college? Here are some possible answers:

  • Speak to any school based contacts you might have e.g. family or friends.
  • Speak to schools directly and ask them if you can observe a class or shadow a teacher
  • Join a School Experience Programme (SEP). This is aimed at final year students and graduates. School placements of one to ten days can be arranged
  • You may be able to gain vital experience by working in a support role in a school, e.g. Laboratory Technician, Teaching Assistant, Learning Mentor.
  • Work as a Voluntary Mentor. There are opportunities for people to work on a one-to-one basis with students, helping them in their school life. This would be great experience for any would-be teacher.


There are a small number of BEd degrees, in a limited range of subjects. These lead to QTS. Depending on the subject, there are also small number of BA/BSc degrees with QTS.


Most people, however, follow a relevant degree with a PGCE in the subject they want to teach. Courses are usually one-year full time and two years part-time. You'd can apply through UCAS Teacher Training or directly to the training provider. There are incentives of up to £20,000 for graduates with certain degrees who want to train to be a teacher in Wales.

There is also the employment-based School Direct scheme: you'll train while working in a school. The expectation is that you'd go on to work in the school or group of schools where you trained, although there's no guarantee of employment at the end of your training. This does not apply in Wales.

In England, you can also train in a school after your degree through school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT). These programmes are delivered by groups of neighbouring schools and colleges and often aim to meet local teaching needs.

In Wales, you can train whilst employed at a maintained school through the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) but places are limited and subject to local recruitment needs.

Also in Wales, all candidates for teacher training need to have Grade B in English Language and Maths. Students training to teach through the medium of Welsh will also need a GCSE grade C/4 or above in Welsh (first language).

Teach First is a charity that recruits and supports graduates to teach in schools in low-income communities a number of UK regions. The programme takes two years to complete.


Once employed, newly qualified teachers (NQTs) must complete a three-term induction period, usually within a single school year, in order to continue teaching in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England and Wales. It can be possible for the induction period to be reduced to one term, if you can demonstrate significant teaching experience.


There are opportunities for teachers to move into teacher training, leadership roles, advisory work, educational research or schools inspection.

Teachers can become heads of department, heads of year, or co-ordinators of special educational needs or careers guidance.

Rehabilitation of Offenders

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.


All candidates for secondary school teacher training need GCSEs (or recognised equivalent qualifications) at grade C/4 or above in English Language and Mathematics.

In Wales, all candidates for teacher training need to have Grade B/6 in English Language and/or Welsh, and Maths. Primary teachers also need GCSE in science at grade C/4 or above.

Students training to teach through the medium of Welsh will also need a GCSE grade C or above in Welsh (first language).

In England, if you want to teach at Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14), you must also have a GCSE (or recognised equivalent qualification) at grade C/4 or above in a science subject.

If you don't have the GCSEs that are usually needed, you might be able to sit a pre-entry equivalency test; you should contact individual course providers to discuss your situation before making your application.

To achieve Qualified Teacher Status, student teachers need to pass tests in English and maths. Welsh medium applicants will also complete a literacy test in Welsh

To enter a BEd, or BA/BSc with QTS, you'll need to meet other qualification requirements, depending on the course and subject. You'll usually need a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 and above and at least 2 A levels.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualifications
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • Welsh Baccalaureate.

However, course requirements vary, so please check college/university websites very carefully.

To take a PGCE or to enter a postgraduate employment-based route, you'll usually need a degree that is related to the subject you want to teach. Some universities ask that degrees contain at least 50% of the subject you wish to teach.

Adult Opportunities


To enter teacher training courses, you'll usually need to have at least observed some classes in a mainstream secondary school. For some courses, you'll need paid or voluntary work experience in a secondary classroom, or other relevant experience with young people.


If you don't have the qualifications you need to enter a degree course, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.

Some PGCE courses are available part-time, over two years.

If you're not very confident about your subject knowledge or don't have the qualifications to begin postgraduate training straight away, you might be able take a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course first. Most SKE courses are in mathematics, physics and chemistry, but there are a small number in other subjects including design and technology, computer science and modern foreign languages. For more information see the Department for Education website.

Distance learning

Some PGCE courses are available on a flexible learning basis. For example, you might be able to train by distance learning in combination with classroom-based teaching practice and campus study.

Employment-based training

Instead of going to university to do a PGCE, graduates can follow an employment-based route. This is where you train in a school. Employment-based routes include School Direct, school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) the scheme offered by Teach First, and in Wales, through the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) but places are limited. For more information, please see 'Entry Routes and Training'.


For funding information, take a look at the GOV.UK website

or Student Finance Wales if living in Wales.

Further Information

UCAS Teacher Training


Teach First


Department of Education Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Enquiries



General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland)

Scottish enquiries




UK government services and information


Teach in Scotland

Scottish enquiries



Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Information on Higher Education courses and scholarships through the medium of Welsh



Welsh Government Education and Skills Department



Mudiad Meithrin



Student Finance Wales

Welsh enquiries

Tel: 0845 6028845


People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales



Discover Teaching - Wales


Education Workforce Council Wales


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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