Teachers work with children, usually from the age of five, upwards to adults. They teach mixed ability or similar ability groups. Some teachers teach one specialist subject; others teach a range of subjects.
The work includes preparing and planning lessons, marking work, writing student reports and going to meetings and parents' evenings.
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As a Teacher, you will usually work with people within a particular age group, such as early years, primary, secondary, or adults. You'll teach mixed ability groups, similar ability groups or sometimes both.
As a Primary Teacher you will teach a range of subjects. However, if you choose to become a Secondary Teacher you will usually specialise in one subject (although, you can often teach one or more related subjects, such as English and drama).
Your teaching methods might include small group work, projects, and the use of audio-visual materials, interactive whiteboards, and 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.
Your teaching might take place in a classroom, laboratory, workshop, gym or playing field, for example - depending on the subject being taught.
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 providing extra support if required.
Some Teachers also act as form tutors, involving duties such as taking a register, distributing general information and giving guidance.
You might supervise the work of one or more Teaching Assistants.
Personal Qualities and Skills
As a Teacher, you'll need:
- The ability to encourage, motivate and inspire your students.
- Creativity, enthusiasm and energy!
- Communication skills.
- Patience and tact.
- To maintain discipline and deal with challenging behaviour.
- Good organisational and planning skills.
- The ability to work well under pressure.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates (per year) below are approximate:
- Unqualified teachers are typically paid in the range of £17,000 to £27,000 a year
- Newly 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 and with charities.
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 plan to teach in Wales, and 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
To become a qualified Teacher, you need to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through initial teacher education (ITE). There are several ITE routes. In Wales, there will be new professional standards for students starting their ITE programme from September 2019
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.
It's possible to achieve QTS through a BEd or BA/BSc degree with QTS. Particularly at secondary level, these are a limited number of subjects and courses. Primary education degrees with QTS sometimes allow you to specialise in a particular subject.
Most postgraduates take a PGCE in a secondary education subject or primary education. Some primary education PGCEs allow you to specialise in a particular subject. Courses are usually one-year full-time. Some two-year, part-time courses are available (although not in every subject). You 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.
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 or above in Welsh (first language).
Teach First is a charity that recruits and supports graduates to teach in schools in low-income communities in 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.
There are opportunities for Teachers to move into teacher training, leadership roles, advisery 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.
All candidates for 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 degree, such as 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 prospectuses carefully.
To enter a secondary education PGCE course, your degree should usually be related to the subject you want to teach. Universities often accept degrees with at least 50% relevant content.
For a primary education PGCE, you need any degree that is relevant to the primary National Curriculum. In Wales, you need a degree that is related to primary education.
It can be possible to enter a secondary education PGCE without a directly relevant degree. For example, universities might suggest that you increase your knowledge through a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course. Most SKE courses are in maths, physics and chemistry; there are smaller numbers in design and technology, ICT and modern languages.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.
To enter teacher training courses, you'll usually need to have at least observed some classes in a mainstream primary or secondary school. For some courses, you'll need paid or voluntary work experience in the classroom, or other relevant experience with children and/or 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 (secondary) 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. Your course provider will assess whether you need to increase or refresh your knowledge. SKE courses are available in a limited number of subjects.
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.
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) and the scheme offered by Teach First. 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.
UCAS Teacher Training
Department of Education Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Enquiries
General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland)
UK government services and information
Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
Information on Higher Education courses and scholarships through the medium of Welsh
Welsh Government Education and Skills Department