A Career as a Teacher
Primary School Teachers are generally responsible for a specific year group with ages ranging from five to eleven years. They will teach most subjects covered by the National Curriculum although some may also have a specialist subject that requires them to manage curriculum development across the school. Secondary School Teachers teach children aged between 11 and 16 years or up to 19 years in schools with sixth form departments. They will primarily focus on teaching one or two subjects and will be required to deliver lessons to children within all age groups. They are also responsible for ensuring that students are fully prepared for GCSE, AS and A Level examinations and that all necessary coursework is completed.
There is a significant amount of planning work involved in the teaching of both primary and secondary education including the preparation of display materials and handouts. Additionally, teachers are responsible for setting tests and exams and marking coursework and homework. On a daily basis, a teacher is responsible for the safety, security and welfare of their students and for monitoring their academic progress. Managing challenging behaviour is a demanding aspect of the role and requires an understanding of the national guidelines for discipline within the classroom. Teachers have to work closely with parents/carers, other teaching staff and school governors as well as with psychologists and social workers when required. They are also expected to be involved in extra-curricular activities and to undertake any necessary training to ensure that they remain up to date with the latest curriculum and legislative developments.
All teachers are required to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) involving completion of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and a relevant degree. Bachelor of Education (BEd) courses are available as are BA and BSc degrees with QTS. Alternatively, a degree can be obtained in a subject that you wish to teach followed by completion of a Postgraduate Certificate of Education to gain QTS. It is also necessary to pass QTS skills tests to demonstrate proficiency in literacy, numeracy and ICT. Alternatively, you can achieve QTS through the Graduate Teacher Programme or the Registered Teacher Programme although places are limited.
Teaching vacancies are available in state schools, independent schools, colleges and academies, and those with language skills can also obtain employment overseas. Progression within primary education usually involves further involvement in curriculum management and promotion to Deputy or Head Teacher. In secondary education, it is possible to hold various posts including Head of Year, Head of Department, Deputy and Head Teacher. It is also possible to specialise in teaching children with special education needs (SEN). Salaries for teaching staff have always been notoriously poor although this has improved recently with additional allowances given to those working in central London. It is a highly demanding role requiring a strong sense of responsibility and the ability to manage the increasingly challenging behaviour demonstrated by children of all ages. It can, however, be extremely rewarding through making a direct contribution to the academic and personal development of future generations.
Author: James Innes