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Support, create, inspire and lead – a career in education lets you do all that!

Classroom teaching is one career – and it’s an incredible one – but working in the sector isn’t only about that! It could be using digital tech, delivering instrumental tuition, marketing, finance, leadership and so much more! Read on and find out how you could use your skill set in this incredibly rewarding sector…

About the Education Sector

When someone says they ‘work in education’ it’s easy to assume they are a classroom teacher, isn’t it? And we definitely need teachers! Right now the Department for Education is predicting that the UK will need an additional 47,000 secondary school teachers by 2024 to cope with the projected rise in pupil numbers. So there are huge opportunities.

But think about a learning environment – it’s not always a classroom. It could be a residential care home or a football pitch. A dance rehearsal room or a driving lesson. A hairdressers or a horse riding school. And think about all the roles which support learning. From creating a great new digital resource for use by pupils with special needs, to maintaining some of the UK’s over 3.3 million school based computers. From working to create nourishing menus in schools and colleges, to ensuring that an educational facility stays within budget.

You could be part of a sector which inspires and develops the talent and ability of learners of any age.

What can I do in the Education Sector?

You could have a career as an employee, as a self employed business owner or freelancer. As a consultant or a contractor. And you could combine great job satisfaction with doing what you love doing. The list is endless!

Teaching roles

  • Classroom teacher
  • SEN teacher
  • Nursery teacher
  • Instrumental music teacher
  • Headteacher
  • FE/HE lecturer
  • Course leader
  • Professor
  • Teaching assistant
  • Football coach

As a freelancer, how about starting up a dance or acting academy, or provide workshops to schools in specific areas which need specific expertise – like Bhangra drumming! All have face to face contact with learners and will give you the chance to pass on the skills and knowledge students need to fulfil their own potential

There are also a whole range of vital supporting roles, and careers which educate in different sectors:

  • School business manager/administrator
  • School meal service nutritionist
  • IT manager
  • Finance manager
  • Software/app developer
  • Fundraising or marketing officer
  • Museum education officer
  • Policy maker
finance administrator in the education industry

The big one: Teaching

Why teach? 

What you will get back as a teacher…..

You will never stop developing, however long your career is. Many of them are transferable, so if you decide on a career change they will be useful.

But in addition, expect to:

Discover a subject you knew little about from a colleague – you might teach English but never knew geology could be so interesting! 

Or that taking a music exam would be something you would do one day. The best teachers are lifelong learners.

The best teachers are lifelong learners.

Develop your senior management skills and become a course leader or headteacher.

Get a deeper understanding of your students and their hopes and dreams and have the incredible experience of helping them along the road to realising them. 

There is nothing like bumping into an ex-pupil one day and discovering they are a published poet and it was down to those English lessons you taught!

Skills you will need as a school teacher 

A deep knowledge of and passion for your subject or subjects – and an interest in keeping up to date with new ideas and developments. 

Keeping up with changes to the curriculum and examination requirements set out in legislation and by examination boards.

An ability to communicate really well, along with the skill of inspiring your students to learn – teaching isn’t just about passing on knowledge – it’s about nurturing a love of learning.

Be enthusiastic – it motivates and drives a passion for learning!

Good planning and time management – you’ve got to be able to fit it all in.

A great grasp of IT and the particular resources and software used in educational settings and their potential to assist and enrich your students’ learning.

Effective record keeping – recording the progress of your students and reporting it.

Be able to respond to your students and fellow staff members – they’re human beings and come to school or college with their own sets of circumstances.

Working with and supporting your colleagues – you’re a team.

Pathways and qualifications – Routes into Teaching

Bottom line – you need a degree and a DBS check.

The Department for Education’s advice is to get some school experience first to help you see if teaching is for you. They can help find you a school local to you. There you can spend time seeing school from a teacher’s perspective. Check out a few school websites. Don’t worry, it’s not mandatory, but will help your decision and introduce you to the profession properly!

You must have achieved minimum requirements in GCSE English and maths (and science if you want to teach at primary level). You’ll also need to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy before you begin your training.

To be a teacher in a state school you will need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), for which you will need a degree and have followed a programme of Initial Teacher Training (for example a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, School Direct or Teach First) or to have completed a Bachelors degree which includes QTS as part of the course. You can teach in independent schools, free schools and academies in England without QTS, but it’s a real advantage to have it.

You can also get QTS through a Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship where you’ll be employed by a school while you learn on the job. The requirements are the same as those for other routes, but the advantage of an apprenticeship is that there are no tuition fees. At the moment they are only available in England (you can apply from anywhere in the UK though) and as the scheme is new, the places are limited. Apply through the UCAS Teacher Training website.

All people working as teachers are required to have a DBS check – this is normally carried out by your employers once you have passed an interview.

Qualifications and routes into teaching in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are slightly different – more details on how to apply across the UK can be found on the UCAS website.

To qualify as a nursery teacher you need to be qualified to degree level, with GCSE passes in maths, English and science) and have taken a course to gain Early Years Teacher Status. 

How much could I earn as a school teacher?

Qualified teachers salaries range from £23,719 as a newly qualified teacher outside London to £118,849 as the head teacher of a school in inner London (Source – DofE 2018/19). Additional payments are made for extra responsibility – for example if you take on an additional role in school or work with pupils with special educational needs.

Not all teaching roles require a degree!

Teaching Assistant

To become a teaching assistant you can qualify by completing a course or by training on the job if you have relevant past experience, through an apprenticeship, or through BTEC specialist qualifications in Education and Training (Level 3 and over) or an Edexcel Level 2 Award in Support Work in Schools. You’ll need GCSE passes in English and maths.

You can also take a work-based course (full or part time or voluntary) to enable you to work as a Nursery Nurse or child-minder, such as the City and Guilds Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Practitioner, or a childcare qualification such as an NVQ or BTEC.

I don’t want to teach. What else can I do?

Imagine a school or other learning environment is a business. After all, like any other sector, education has budgets and has marketing, IT, planning and administration needs. So – thinking of finance as a career? Remember, a school has to keep to budget and you could help them do that by becoming a school finance officer.

Into computer maintenance or IT? Whether in the classroom or as part of the day to day admin of a school, IT is an essential part of a school. And it needs managing and maintaining for the school to function properly.

Got a great head for gaming design? Your creation might just be the key that unlocks the learning of a child with special needs. If you want to work in the education sector, no matter what your skill set is, there will be a way you can use it.

Hear from the teachers themselves…

Navahra Lindsay, Secondary School Teacher

I currently teach in a private secondary school in north London, and before that, taught for 10 years in a state comprehensive school in south west London. I teach English but have just qualified to teach Astronomy as well.

I studied English at UCL and I did my PGCE at the Institute of Ed in London in 1999. I went back to UCL in 2014 to study Astronomy for myself – mainly because I love learning and wanted to reconnect with my interest in science.

I became acting head of English at school in Putney and have been assistant head of English in all my schools. I could go down the leadership route, and I could become a senior manager or head, but class teaching is where my heart is and I love it too much to leave it.

If you want to be a teacher make sure you have great subject knowledge and know what you might need to teach within it. The training you get is on actual teaching and how classrooms work – not the subject content. 

Initially I wanted to teach to supplement my income as an actor but I became so engrossed in teaching I decided to make that my career. I still act – but only in the classroom!

Jamie Prangnell, App Developer, Software Engineer

I qualified as a teacher after completing a degree in software engineering and while I was teaching, Apple released IOS for iPhones. There was no curriculum for teaching programming skills for this, so I wrote a guide for teachers on how to teach kids about IOS development, which was bought by colleges across the country.

I’ve worked on and released apps for the NHS – Silver Linings for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, which supported young people with mental health diagnoses who could find themselves in crisis between meetings with clinicians (and which won a departmental service award). They worked alongside traditional medical interventions and helped to create a more personalised care package for each person.

Working on software development which helps support vulnerable young people and enables them to get the most out of their education has been really rewarding. I enjoy discovering and contributing to different working groups, bringing people together to create ‘an expert’ to solve a problem. Good mental health means more effective learners.

Jenny Williams, Primary School SEN Teacher

I have a BSc and a PGCE and after 14 years teaching in mainstream schools, I wanted to move into Special Needs Education. I now work in a Special School specialising in teaching children with autism. I have gained the skills needed for Special Education Needs (SEN) teaching through professional development provided by my school trust. 

The best thing about my job is seeing children achieve through tiny steps. To other children  these might seem insignificant, but are huge for my students.

To become a Special Educational Needs Coordinator you need to complete the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination within three years of starting in an SEN post.

Gemma Shirley, Peripatetic Violin/Voice Teacher

I got into teaching to supplement my earnings as a musician. As I became a better teacher, I found I really valued the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of young people. I have a music degree and learnt to teach on the job. I’m now self employed and work as a member of a music co-operative.

You can work as a freelance instrumental teacher or through a Music Education Hub or Music Service.



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