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Teaching

School teachers play an essential part in helping children and young people to acquire and develop the knowledge and skills they will need in later life. The work involves building relationships that encourage pupils to learn and fulfil their potential.

Primary teachers usually teach one class in all subjects, while secondary school teachers usually teach one or two subjects to several different classes. Although they spend most of their time teaching, teachers also have a range of other duties, including planning lessons, marking course work and exams, talking to pupils about their work and other issues, keeping records and writing reports, and maintaining order and discipline.

Teachers have about 32.5 hours a week in the classroom, plus about three hours scheduled in for lesson planning. Part-time and temporary work is available. Teachers attend parents' evenings and participate in activities outside school hours. Holidays are about 13 weeks a year. Teachers might accompany their pupils on trips locally or abroad.

Salaries range from £21,102 a year (£26,000 in inner London) to £102,734 (up to £109,658 in inner London).

A school teacher should:

  • relate well to young people from all backgrounds
  • have leadership skills, enthusiasm and stamina
  • be assertive when faced with challenging behaviour
  • be creative and resourceful in presenting a subject in order to bring it to life
  • be patient and adaptable when teaching pupils of different ability levels
  • communicate well with parents and with other professionals
  • be interested in theories of learning and teaching.

There is a shortage of teachers in maths, science, modern languages, English, religious education (RE), music, information and communication technology (ICT) and design and technology (DT).

Teachers generally must hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). They must also have GCSEs (A*-C) in English and maths and, in the case of primary teaching, a science subject. The new Diploma in society, health and development, available in many schools and colleges, may be relevant for this work.

The route to QTS is known as initial teacher training (ITT). There are several options for ITT, some based outside schools and some based within. They include degrees and postgraduate qualifications. All ITT involves teaching practice.

Candidates for training must have paid or voluntary experience of working with children, preferably in a school.

All teachers in state-maintained schools must register with the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) though this may change from autumn 2010 as there are plans for its abolition.

Newly qualified teachers must undergo a three-term induction period in order to continue to teach to ensure they are supported in their first year in a school.

All teachers are encouraged to undertake further training and development. Some may be given the opportunity to take part in the Fast Track Teaching programme, which helps teachers develop the skills required for senior leadership roles, such as deputy head or advanced skills teacher. It is also possible to undertake further qualifications.

There are opportunities to move into other careers, including teacher training, advisory work, educational research or schools inspection.

What is the work like?

School teachers play an essential part in helping children and young people to acquire the knowledge and social, cultural and practical skills they will need throughout their lives in order to become adult members of society. The work involves building relationships with pupils that encourage them to learn and fulfil their potential.

All teachers adapt their teaching style and methods to the age and ability of their pupils.

Teachers spend most of their time teaching, but they have a range of other duties, which may include:

  • preparing materials, planning, presenting and marking lessons
  • keeping records of work and writing progress reports
  • preparing pupils for exams
  • keeping attendance records
  • setting and enforcing standards of behaviour inside and outside the classroom
  • liaising with parents at parents' evenings and on other occasions
  • adapting teaching methods to the pupils' age and ability
  • identifying underachieving pupils and providing extra help if necessary
  • supporting pupils who experience problems such as bullying or parental neglect
  • organising and attending extracurricular activities, such as clubs and school shows
  • liaising with external professionals, including social workers, education welfare officers and the police.

Primary teachers teach pupils aged from 5 to 11 and have responsibility for one class. They cover all subjects of the National Curriculum (NC) at Key Stage 1 or 2. The core subjects are English, maths and science, which are taught alongside a range of other subjects including design and technology (DT), information and communication technology (ICT), history, geography, languages, art and design, music and physical education (PE). Some primary teachers are specialists who travel between a group of schools teaching subjects such as PE, music or art.

Secondary school teachers work with pupils aged between 11 and 19. They usually specialise in teaching one or two NC subjects at Key Stages 3 and 4. Some may also teach vocational subjects. Key Stage 3 subjects include English, maths, science, design and technology, ICT, history, geography, languages, art and design, music, citizenship and PE. A large part of their job focuses on preparing pupils for external examinations.

There are other specialisms within teaching such as early years teacher and special educational needs teacher (see separate articles).

Hours and environment

A teacher's working day must cover school hours (typically between 8.45am and 3.40pm) Monday to Friday in term time.

Full-time teachers in state-maintained schools must work for 1,265 teaching hours in any school year (an average of 32.5 hours a week). In addition, they have three hours scheduled into their timetable each week for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA). It is usual that some of this work may be done outside school in the teacher's own time during evenings and weekends.

Teachers must attend parents' evenings and are encouraged to participate in activities outside school hours. They may sometimes accompany pupils on trips locally or abroad. Some teachers may also have to attend meetings outside school hours.

A school year in state-maintained schools is 195 days (39 weeks). Teachers may only take their own holidays during the specified school holidays (about 13 weeks in the year).

Class contact may take place in a classroom, laboratory, gym or playing field. Primary teachers normally stay with their class throughout the day and will often structure the timetable informally. Secondary teachers usually move within the school to teach their specialist subject(s) to different classes throughout the day.

Part-time and temporary (supply) work is available.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live. Salaries quoted are effective from September 2009 and apply to state-maintained schools:

  • A newly qualified teacher starts on a minimum of £21,102 a year (£26,000 in inner London).
  • An experienced unpromoted teacher earns £30,842 a year (£35,568 in inner London).
  • Head teachers may earn from £41,426 to £102,734, depending on the size of the school (up to £109,658 in inner London).

Additional payments are made to secondary school teachers who take on additional and sustained responsibilities such as tutor groups. These are known as TLR (Teaching and Learning Responsibility) payments and are between £2,478 and £12,114 annually. In some circumstances, salaries may be affected by the pupils' exam success rate.

Skills and personal qualities

A school teacher should:

  • relate well to young people from all backgrounds
  • be able to motivate young people and encourage them to reach their full potential
  • have leadership skills, enthusiasm and stamina
  • be assertive when faced with challenging behaviour
  • be creative and resourceful in presenting a subject in order to bring it to life
  • have excellent organisational skills
  • be patient and adaptable when teaching pupils of different ability levels
  • communicate well with parents and with other professionals
  • be able to work to deadlines.

Interests

It is important for a school teacher to:

  • like and respect young people and enjoy working with them
  • be enthusiastic about the subject(s) they teach and willing to keep up to date with new academic developments
  • be interested in theories of learning and teaching.

Getting in

Most teachers are employed by local authorities to work in state-maintained nursery, primary, secondary (grammar or comprehensive), special needs, community and foundation schools. There are also opportunities to work in:

  • sixth form colleges
  • city academies and technology colleges
  • independent schools
  • non-maintained special schools
  • the armed forces
  • pupil referral units
  • young offenders' institutions or secure units.

In 2009, there were 465,672 teachers in service. Teaching is an increasingly popular career choice. However, there is still a demand for more people to train as maths, science, modern languages, English, religious education (RE), music, ICT and DT teachers.

Vacancies are advertised in specialist publications such as the Times Educational Supplement and The Teacher, on the websites of local authorities and through specialist recruitment agencies.

All trainee teachers must be provisionally registered with the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) though this may change from autumn 2010 as there are plans for its abolition.

Entry routes

Teachers must have GCSEs (A*-C) in English and maths and, in the case of primary teaching, a science subject. The new Diploma in society, health and development, available in many schools and colleges, may be relevant for this work.

To teach in a state-maintained school (or other teaching establishment) candidates must have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Many other educational institutions also require QTS. The route to QTS is known as initial teacher training (ITT). There are several options for ITT, some based outside schools and some based within:

The main entry routes based outside schools are:

  • Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree taking three or four years to complete on a full-time basis or four to six years part time. Applicants normally require a minimum of five GCSEs (A*-C) and two A levels or equivalent though candidates should check with individual institutions as entry requirements can vary.
  • BA/BSc degree with QTS with the same entry requirements as a BEd.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which is an intensive teacher training course completed in one year full time or two years part time. A degree that is relevant to the NC is normally required.

These courses are all undertaken at a university or college and are available throughout the UK. Each of these ITT routes includes placements where trainees undertake supervised teaching practice in two different schools.

It is possible to study for a PGCE by distance learning. Candidates will need to identify schools that are willing to provide them with the necessary teaching practice.

ITT that is mainly based in schools includes:

  • School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), which is usually one year full time. Trainees are based in one or more schools, gaining experience and theoretical knowledge. Entry requirements are normally the same as for PGCE courses.
  • The Registered Teacher Programme (RTP), a two-year, school-based training programme for individuals who have completed at least two years of higher education. The programme allows trainees to complete a degree as they work towards QTS.
  • Teach First is a programme on which graduates spend two years teaching in a challenging school or referral unit, gaining both QTS and commercial skills. Teach First is mainly aimed at secondary-level teaching. Entry requirements are at least a 2.1 degree. Either the degree or an A level at grade A or B must involve a NC subject. Candidates must demonstrate leadership qualities and other personal attributes.
  • The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) allows graduates to train while working and earning as unqualified teachers. GTP usually takes a year.

In addition, for those taking postgraduate ITT (PGCE or SCITT), short courses are available to top up knowledge of the specialist teaching subject.

All ITT involves:

  • knowledge and understanding of the relevant national curriculum programmes of study
  • planning and preparing lessons and setting learning objectives
  • managing classes, promoting good behaviour and minimising disruptions
  • using ICT effectively
  • awareness of the professional values expected of teachers.

Trainees on secondary postgraduate courses may, depending on the subject, receive tax-free bursaries worth £4,000 to £9,000. A bursary of up to £4,000 may be available for primary postgraduate courses. There may be other grants available. The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) can provide information on funding.

Candidates for training must have paid or voluntary experience of working with children, preferably in a school, which they will be expected to arrange themselves. The TDA can provide information about how to arrange a school visit or a taster session.

Before working with children applicants undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

Training

All teachers in state-maintained schools must register with the GTC though this may change from autumn 2010 as there are plans for its abolition.

Newly qualified teachers must undergo a three-term induction period in order to continue to teach. The induction ensures that new teachers are supported in their first year in a school after gaining QTS. The new teacher plays an active part in planning and reviewing their induction programme, which may mean a reduced teaching timetable.

Some subjects attract an additional payment of between £2,500 and £5,000 after the induction period (a golden hello) if the teacher is still employed to teach that subject.

Continuing professional development (CPD) helps teachers to reflect on and improve their professional practice and there are opportunities for all teachers to undertake further training and development. Courses include the Fast Track Teaching programme, which provides mentoring and development activities to help teachers develop the skills required for senior leadership roles, such as deputy head or advanced skills teacher.

A new qualification, the Masters in teaching and learning (MTL) is being offered in some areas from September 2009. The learning will be school based.

Getting on

The Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) scheme and the Excellent Teacher (ET) scheme allow experienced teachers to retain skills within the classroom while sharing their expertise with colleagues.

A secondary teacher can become a Key Stage co-ordinator or the head of a department, house or year group.

In primary schools, teachers may assume responsibility for co-ordinating literacy, numeracy, special educational needs or an NC subject.

Since April 2009, first-time head teachers in state sector schools have to hold the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH). Applicants for this course should have the support of their own head teacher.

There are opportunities to move into other careers, including teacher training, advisory work, educational research or schools inspection. A postgraduate degree such as the Master of Education (MEd) might help.

Further information

Department for Education (DfE), Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT. 0870 000 2288. Websites: www.education.gov.uk and www.teachernet.gov.uk

General Teaching Council for England (GTC), Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4AJ. 0870 001 0308. Website: www.gtce.org.uk

Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR), Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3LZ. 0871 468 0469. Website: www.gttr.ac.uk

Independent Schools Council (ISC), St Vincent House, 30 Orange Street, London WC2H 7HH. 020 7766 7070. Website: www.isc.co.uk

Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA), 53-55 Butts Road, Earlsdon Park, Coventry CV1 3BH. 0300 303 3010. Website: www.qcda.gov.uk

Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), 151 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SZ. 0845 600 0991 and 020 7023 8000. Websites: www.teach.gov.uk and www.tda.gov.uk

 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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