Gone are the days where people left school at 18 and had a clear career path mapped out in their heads. It’s nowadays far more common to change career path several times in the years between leaving school and retiring, and one of the professions which has changed radically to encourage more graduates, people returning to work after a career break and older entrants into the profession is teaching. If it’s something you’ve always considered, there are lots of different routes in.
PGCE – Post Graduate Certificate of Education
For people who already have a degree – in any subject – a PGCE is the easiest way in. Primary teaching will accept people with any University degree, but for teaching in a secondary school you will need a degree related to the subject you wish to teach. PGCE is a one year, full time course which combines lectures at University along with practical classroom experience. Many Universities offer PGCE courses on a part time basis, with two years to complete the programme instead of one. Apply for a PGCE through UCAS, and you may be called to an interview to assess your suitability for the programme. There are also basic checks which are carried out to establish your right to live and work in the UK, and as teaching involves work with children, an enhanced DBS check will be carried out before you step into the classroom for the first time. Grants and bursaries may be available to support you through your PGCE year, depending on where you live and your subject of study.
If you haven’t got a degree, or if you want to explore a new subject in combination with teacher training, many Universities also offer a three or four-year degree which combines your field of study with teacher training. Half your time would be spent broadening your knowledge of History, English or Art for example, the rest of the time learning about educational techniques and acquiring the skills needed to be an effective teacher. Towards the end of your degree, you’ll spend more time in schools getting practical training.
Rules about the qualifications needed to teach were relaxed in 2013, and this means there is an increasing number of unqualified teachers working in England and Wales. Unqualified teachers may earn less than a colleague with the appropriate teaching qualification, but don’t need to get the additional PGCE either. A wide range of people choose this route into teaching – someone recently arrived from another country who is an experienced teacher but whose qualifications aren’t recognised in the UK, someone who has worked in industry for 30 years with lots of experience but with no formal degree, or someone who has a degree in their subject, but hasn’t completed any teacher training.
People who want to get into education can also take alternative routes such as becoming a teaching assistant, tutor or running an art, music or drama class in their spare time. This can be lucrative, but professional standards should be upheld and DBS checks carried out.