JOB PROFILE: Secondary School Teacher

Qualifications and courses

To enter this profession you will need to hold either a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree, a BA/BSc degree with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or, if you wish to teach in Scotland, a teaching qualification (TQ). Alternatively, you can complete an undergraduate degree followed by a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) or a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) if you live in Scotland. You should study for a degree related to the subject you wish to teach.

Employment-based routes are also available for those who want to work in a school whilst they qualify. The school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) is a 1-year course open to graduates who hold a degree in the subject they wish to teach. Alternatively, the School Direct programme involves training graduates in a classroom environment with the expectation that candidates will go on to work in that same school once qualified. Teach First offers a 2-year Leadership Development Programme in which graduates study for a PGCE whilst training on the job.

All entrants must have GCSE/National 5 passes in English and Maths and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance. Literacy and numeracy skills tests must also be passed prior to acceptance. Relevant work experience will improve your chances of securing entry onto a programme.

As a newly qualified teacher (NQT), you will serve a 1-year probationary period of assessment, monitoring and support after QTS is confirmed.


What the work involves

You will be a specialist in 1 or 2 subjects and teach students aged 11–19.

You will also take on the role of form tutor and be responsible for encouraging personal development and good behaviour.

In state schools, you will follow the National Curriculum. Private and independent schools are free to set their own educational standards.


Type of person suited to this work

You must be patient, caring and have excellent communication skills in order to relate to and teach your pupils. You should also be assertive and able to maintain discipline with large groups of young people.

You must be imaginative and creative to design lessons which capture your students’ attention.

It is important that you are highly organised as this job involves a lot of marking and lesson planning.


Working conditions

You will be based in a classroom and will teach classes from about 9am until 4pm. However, you will have to come in early, stay late and work from home in order to carry out preparation for lessons and finish marking pupils’ work.

Schools are usually open for 39 weeks of the year but teachers often carry out preparatory work during the holidays.

Teachers sometimes go on school trips or visit students on work placements. Modern foreign language and PE teachers should be prepared to go on school trips overseas.


Future prospects

In England, there are currently shortages of teachers for science, maths, modern foreign languages, design and technology, computing and geography in secondary education and many universities offer attractive bursaries in order to encourage graduates to train in these areas.

As you gain experience, you could move into a role as a Key Stage coordinator, a head of a department or year group, or work with other schools as a leading practitioner. You could also go into teacher training, advisory work or become a school inspector. The National College for Teaching and Leadership provides opportunities for gifted teachers to develop their leadership skills.

You should undertake continuing professional development (CPD) throughout your career so as to remain on top of any curriculum changes. Curriculum changes are occurring in both GCSEs and A levels. The replacement of ICT with a new computing curriculum means teachers need to be increasingly confident in elements of computer science.


Advantages/disadvantages

Helping your students to learn and progress can be very rewarding.

The holiday allowance is very generous.

Pupils can sometimes be difficult and disruptive.

You will have to work from home in order to finish marking and preparing lessons.


Money guide

Qualified teachers in England and Wales earn £22,917–£33,824. London wages are higher.

With additional responsibilities, you can earn up to £13,027 on top of your base salary.

Leading practitioners typically earn £39,374–£59,857 and those in senior roles can earn considerably more.


Further information


Content generously provided by Indigo Trotman.


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