How to Become a Teacher

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How to Become a Teacher

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Do you enjoy passing on your knowledge to other people? If so, a career in education could be right up your street – but it takes a few years to train, so it's crucial to learn how to become a teacher as early as you can.

You might be surprised to learn that teaching isn't confined to the classroom – there are many different teaching jobs out there that can be hugely rewarding. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about how to become a teacher.

What types of teaching jobs are out there?

Teaching assistant in a classroom
Teaching doesn't have to be classroom-based

Teaching is a lot more diverse than simply standing at the front of a class reciting facts. Here are just some of the teaching jobs that you can consider below:

Nursery teaching

Nursery teaching can be a great career choice, especially if you'd prefer working with children under the age of five. Don't get the wrong impression though – working with young children isn't a walk in the park and you'll need bundles of energy to keep up with them.

Primary school teaching

Primary school teachers work with children aged from five to 12. As a primary school teacher, you'll be responsible for teaching all the core subjects – Englishmaths, science as well as other subjects like modern foreign languages and art and design. As you'll be working from year to year across a broad spectrum of age groups, the level at which you teach these subjects will vary.

Secondary school teaching

This is the level most people think about when they think of teaching. As a secondary school teacher, you'll typically specialise in teaching one or two subjects at GCSE and A-level. As a secondary school teacher, you'll also be expected to take on extra responsibilities, such as running after-school clubs or being involved with school committees.

Private tutoring

If you think you'd prefer to teach with people on a one-to-one basis, then private tutoring could be a good career path for you. As a private tutor you could end up teaching children or adults in your specialist subjects. Although you don't need a teaching qualification to work as a private tutor, you will need to have good grades at GCSE and A-level and having a degree is recommended.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

If English language is your thing, then you could really enjoy teaching foreign students the English Language. To work as an English as a foreign language Teacher, you'll need to have a TEFL, CELTA or equivalent qualification. One of the best things about working as an English as a Foreign Language Teacher is that there are lots of opportunities to work abroad.

Specialist teaching

Most specialist teachers start out teaching secondary school and then decide to specialise in a specific area of education. For example, you could become a dyslexia teacher, a dyscalculia teacher or a school guidance teacher. Specialist teachers are often in high demand in secondary schools.

'Teaching isn't only confined to the classroom - there are many different types of teaching jobs out there.'

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Won't I just be doing the same job for my whole career?

No. It might not seem obvious, but there are lots of ways you can develop as a teacher, from taking on a management job by becoming year or department head, or by specialising – for example, you could work with students with special educational needs. In this video, teachers talk about some of the ways you can progress:

What skills do I need to become a teacher?

Science teacher with student
Above all else, communication skills are essential to become
a teacher

To become a teacher nowadays, you need to have a whole range of skills beyond knowing your subject matter inside out. As well as being able to communicate on a one-to-one basis with students, you also need to be able to communicate with a whole class, not to mention other teachers and parents. Here are some of the most important skills you need to become a teacher:

Good communications skills

Right at the top of the list, communication skills are extremely important in teaching. You need to be able to adapt the way you communicate with people on a daily basis to ensure that they understand what you're teaching. Speaking with younger students, for example, requires a different communication style from teaching adult learners.

Time management skills

As a teacher, you'll need to be able to manage your time effectively. If you're a primary school teacher, you'll need to make sure that you cover everything you need to teach for that day. If you're teaching in secondary school, you'll need to know exactly what you're teaching in all your different classes for that week.

Organisation skills

This one goes hand-in-hand with time management. As a teacher, you need to be organised, particularly in regards to lessons. Every lesson that you teach will require pre-planning and you'll need to gather all the resources you'll need for the week ahead of time. You'll also need to consider what will happen if your plans change, how will you adapt lessons to account for timetable changes etc.?

Classroom management skills

The last one on this list is classroom management skills as it's a skill you can only really develop by being in a classroom teaching. As a teacher, you need to know how to motivate a class full of students while making sure that you have control over the lesson. On occasion, you'll also need to be able to reprimand students for inappropriate behaviour.

What qualifications do I need to become a teacher?

Group of students studying
In most cases, a teaching career requires you to have a degree

Because there are many different types of teaching jobs out there, the qualifications that you need to become a teacher can vary. The most common way that people become teachers is to study for a degree at university, although it is possible to become a teacher without a degree.

If you have your sights set on being a secondary school teacher for example, then you might want to consider doing Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) such as a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This gives you qualified teacher status (QTS), which then allows you to apply for classroom teaching jobs.

In order to be accepted on to an ITET university course, you'll need to have the following qualifications/background checks:

  • GCSEs in English, maths and science at grades A to C
  • A pass in literary and numeracy skills tests
  • Enhanced background checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Once you are accepted on to a teaching course at university, you'll also need to gain some teaching experience before you can apply for jobs. This is normally done as part of your degree course, but having extra experience of working in a classroom is highly recommended.

Which brings us to our next point...

The most common way to become a secondary school teacher is to do Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) and gain qualified teacher status (QTS). The following ITET routes lead to QTS:

  • university-led training through an undergraduate degree or postgraduate award
  • school-led work-based training.

For all of these routes, you will need:

  • GCSEs (A*-C) in English and maths (and science, depending on your teaching subject) or equivalent qualifications
  • passes (before starting ITET) in numeracy and literacy skills tests
  • Enhanced background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

You can find information about the skills tests, what's in them and where to book one on the National College for Teaching and Leadership website.

See the DBS website for information about background checks.

You will also need experience of working with young people through paid work or volunteering for example, at a local school, through youth work or on a holiday scheme. The NCTL has lots of advice about contacting schools for work experience. It also offers up to 10 days' classroom experience in certain secondary subjects through the School Experience Programme.

- See more at: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/SecondarySchoolTeacher.aspx#sthash.k2S3DrnD.dpuf

The most common way to become a secondary school teacher is to do Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) and gain qualified teacher status (QTS). The following ITET routes lead to QTS:

  • university-led training through an undergraduate degree or postgraduate award
  • school-led work-based training.

For all of these routes, you will need:

  • GCSEs (A*-C) in English and maths (and science, depending on your teaching subject) or equivalent qualifications
  • passes (before starting ITET) in numeracy and literacy skills tests
  • Enhanced background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

You can find information about the skills tests, what's in them and where to book one on the National College for Teaching and Leadership website.

See the DBS website for information about background checks.

You will also need experience of working with young people through paid work or volunteering for example, at a local school, through youth work or on a holiday scheme. The NCTL has lots of advice about contacting schools for work experience. It also offers up to 10 days' classroom experience in certain secondary subjects through the School Experience Programme.

- See more at: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/SecondarySchoolTeacher.aspx#sthash.k2S3DrnD.dpuf

What experience do I need to become a teacher?

As well as having relevant qualifications, to become a teacher, you also need to have experience of working with young people or students. There are several different ways that you can gain this experience, some of which include:

  • Volunteering as a classroom assistant at a school.
  • Becoming involved in a local community group like the Scouts.
  • Helping out at a youth centre.

There's a lot of good advice about finding teaching work experience on the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) website. They provide advice about how to contact schools and how to make the most of your time there.

What are the different routes into teaching?

University graduates
There are several routes into teaching

As we know, there isn't one set path to get into teaching. Teachers come from a range of backgrounds, some straight from university, others having worked in other professions. To help give you a general overview of the different ways you can become a teacher, we've outlined some the most common paths below:

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

One of the most common routes into teaching, obtaining a PGCE enables you to apply for classroom teaching jobs. A postgraduate qualification, many students decide to study for their PGCE after completing a degree in a related subject. This qualification assumes that you already have a good understanding of your subject and so focuses on developing your teaching skills. As part of your PGCE course, you'll also be expected to attend a school work placement for a minimum of 24 weeks over two different schools.

Teach First

Teach First is a charity in England and Wales that trains teachers to teaching in particularly challenging schools. Teach First offer teaching positions in early years, primary and secondary schools. In order to apply for a position with Teach First, you'll need to have a 2:1 degree in a related subject and 300 UCAS points. Teach First enables you to work towards obtaining a PGCE and QTS while you earn a salary teaching in schools. Courses last for two years and you can find out more on the Teach First website.

School Direct

With School Direct, you'll be trained on the job in a school, usually in partnership with a university. Through a School Direct course, you'll work towards gaining a PGCE so you'll have Qualified Teacher Status. In some cases, after completing a School direct course with a specific school, you may be offered employment although there's no guarantee of this. Courses normally last for one year and you can choose to study a salaried or unsalaried course. If you study an unsalaried course, you may still be eligible to a scholarship or bursary up to £25,000.

What other routes into teaching do you know about? Do you have any specific questions about how to become a teacher that isn't covered in this post? Feel free to log in and post your comments or questions below and we'll try our best to help. For more information on how to become a teacher and the different types of teaching jobs out there, check out our Education and Teaching Career Zone.

I like the idea of teaching but I need to know the facts. Can you help?

Now you know how to become a teacher – but you'd also like some idea about pay, holiday and other working conditions. This infographic covers the basics and compares with other professions (right click and choose "View image in new tab" to see a bigger version):

How can I become a teacher without a degree?

You need to have qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach in a state (government-run) school, and you need a degree to get QTS. Some schools, such as private schools and academies, are not restricted by the rules which govern state schools, and teachers at these schools don't need QTS by law. But although they are allowed to come up with their own requirements, it's unlikely that they would hire someone without a degree to become a teacher.

If you really want to teach in a school, you'll have more options and a better chance of finding a job if you do a degree and get your QTS. If you don't want to go to university, take a look at other teaching and education jobs to see if there's something more suitable.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/ubclibrary/2701347277

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