How to Become a Teacher
Do you want to use your skills and knowledge to educate others? Do you feel that you could connect with young people and change their lives? Maybe teaching is the career for you. Primary school teacher, Emma, explains some of the typical routes, the application process and she gives us an insight into life as a Newly Qualified Teacher.
Routes into Teaching
There are many different routes into teaching which require different qualifications and levels of experience. You will be looking to gain your Qualified Teachers Status (QTS) so it is important that you make sure it is included in your course. Here are a few of the more popular options:
Bachelor’s Degree in Education
This qualification is for undergraduates who are interested in learning about the field of education for 3 or 4 years full time at university. With primary education, you will cover the core subjects before specialising in a subject/s of your choice. You will likely spend the majority of your time on campus but you will have varying lengths of teaching practices in multiple schools.
Bachelor’s degree in Education (England)
Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
If you are interested in completing a PGCE your first degree needs to be relevant to the subject you want to teach. You will also need to have relevant experience working or volunteering in schools with your chosen age range. During your PGCE, you will spend time on campus as well as completing a longer school experience period.
Teach First is a scheme in which post graduates spend 5 weeks training at a summer institute before spending 2 years based in a classroom. You will be thrown into the deep end, but you will earn a salary whilst completing the rest of your training on the job. You will need a 2:1 or above to be accepted onto the scheme and will receive a Post Graduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGDE).
Schools Direct (salaried)
This is an employment-based route, which enables you to learn ‘on the job’ and earn a salary while training. Placements are competitive and attract high quality graduates, typically with 3+ years of prior transferable work history. Most programmes include a PGCE qualification. However, it’s important to research training providers, checking all aspects relating to training, qualifications, costs and pay.
The Job Application Process
If you have chosen a qualification that is university based and have received, or are soon to receive, your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), you will now be looking for your first job. This can be seem like a daunting experience but hopefully your university will be hosting job fairs or offering advice on where to look.
As a priority, you will need to think about where you want to work. Where you work will have an impact on your salary, the minimum Main Pay Range (2018) varies from £29,664 in Inner London to £23,720 in the rest of England and Wales, with Outer London and the Fringe Area pitched in between. You will also need to think about your commute and method of transport for getting to and from work.
Do Your Research
When you find a position that you are interested in applying for, do you research! Read the schools website and follow their social media accounts. This will give you an insight into the school and how it functions as well as becoming more knowledgeable in preparation for your interview. Many schools will offer pre-application tours, go and see how you feel as you are walking around. Can you see yourself working there? Can you feel the joy? A school should be a happy place filled with wonder and excitement!
Hopefully, you will be selected for interview. The school will invite you back, offer another tour, members of staff will interview you and you may be expected to teach a short lesson. There will likely be other applicants visiting on the same day. Do not be deterred by this, the school may have more than one position available. The interview is a two way process, you need to feel comfortable and in agreement with your interviewers. Would you be happy with them as your colleagues and mentors? Do you agree with the schools missions and values? Ask any questions you may have and answer their questions honestly. Try to gather as much information about the position as possible, for example, is the year group guaranteed? Many schools will be moving other teachers around and might not know where you will be placed at the time of interviewing. Are you willing to be flexible on this? Ask when you will hear from them and thank them for their time.
The school will likely phone you to offer a position. You can accept on the spot or ask for some time to consider. This can feel awkward but this is more than ok! You are making a huge decision and there might be other factors to consider. Remember they will see a verbal contract as binding and it would not look good if you accept a position only to change your mind and decline it later. If it does not feel right then do not accept, there will be plenty of opportunities and it is important that it is a good fit for both parties. Once you have had time to think, call the school back and let them know your answer.
Life as a Newly Qualified Teacher
Hooray! You have accepted a position and will soon begin your Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year. Your school may offer you the chance to come in for a few days to get to know them before the summer term ends. Hopefully, they will pay you for these days at the rate of a supply teacher.
You will have one year as an NQT before you are fully qualified. You will have extra release time each week to help you manage your workload or complete tasks as set by your NQT Mentor. Your school or borough will offer an NQT programme where you will have the opportunity to meet other NQTs and do additional training.
In the classroom, make the children aware of your boundaries and expectations as these may differ from their previous teacher. Be confident and knowledgeable when talking to families as well as students. Do not be afraid to speak up in meetings, you have arrived with fresh eyes and ideas and your school will appreciate you sharing them. Most importantly, know that you are making an invaluable difference to the lives of young people.
Emma is an Early Years specialist and studied at St Mary’s University Twickenham. She began her teaching career at an academy in London before moving into international education. Emma has worked at British International Schools in Dubai and Budapest. Her work with 3-7 year olds focusses on self-directed learning, the power of play and the importance of risk and challenge.
Emma is happy to be contacted for support or to answer specific questions re teaching.