Could the New Year mean a new career for you? Teaching is the top choice for increasing numbers of people who crave security and job satisfaction. According to the Training and Development Agency for Schools, enquiries about routes into teaching have surged by 34 per cent since the start of the credit crunch, while nine out of 10 teachers are employed six months after completing their training.
1 Getting started
There may be the lure of long holidays and a monthly pay packet, but would teaching really suit you and would you suit teaching? Try approaching local schools to see if you can observe classes and shadow a teacher or, if you have more time, you could volunteer to help regularly as an unofficial classroom assistant. You may be able to arrange a visit through the open schools programme.
2 If you are a student, the Student Associate Scheme allows you to spend 15 days in a classroom, assisting teachers and experiencing what teaching is really like. See www.teach.gov.uk
3 Before beginning teacher training, you need these basic requirements – Grade C or above in GCSE (or a recognised equivalent) in maths and English and, if you want to teach primary or key stages 2/3 (ages 7-14), you will also need a GCSE in a science subject.
If you're convinced you have what it takes (boundless patience, energy and enthusiasm for children's company just for starters), then you'll need to complete your teacher training to gain qualified teacher status. This will allow you to teach at state-maintained schools. This initial teacher training comes in many different forms and timescales (see below), but all cover theory with practical classroom experience. There are three possible routes to teaching – undergraduate teacher training, postgraduate teacher training and employment-based teacher training.
A Bachelor of Education (BEd) takes three to four years full-time, or four to six years part-time, and combines a degree with initial teacher training. A minimum of two A-levels is usually required. This is a popular route for many primary school teachers. A BA or BSc with QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) is another undergraduate route, a way of studying for a degree and doing initial teacher training and takes three to four years full-time, or four to six years part-time. A minimum of two A-levels is usually required.
A postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) is a one-year course (two years part-time) focusing on your teaching skills, not the subject you intend to teach. A PGCE includes 12 weeks of college seminars and tutorials with at least 18 weeks hands-on experience teaching in schools. Trainees are eligible for a tax-free bursary of up to £9,000, depending on the subject to be taught.
Another postgraduate option is School-Centred Initial Teacher Training with fewer lectures and more on-the-job training. This might be ideal if you have had enough of lectures and want to get into a classroom quickly. Again, it's a one year course.
7Employment-based teacher training
The Graduate Teacher Programme is a very popular option for those embarking on a second career as you receive a salary to train (from £16,113 depending on your responsibilities, experience and location). It usually takes one school year to become qualified.
The Registered Teacher Programme provides the same salary, but usually takes two years to become qualified and is intended for non-graduates who have some experience of higher education. For example, completing an HND or the first two years of a BA. As with the Graduate Teacher Programme, your first step is to find a school willing to employ you (they will receive funding grants) and support you through the programme.
Teach First is a programme intended to entice high-flying graduates (a minimum of a 2:1 degree, who can demonstrate skills like leadership and initiative) into teaching with two years working in challenging secondary schools in London, Manchester and the Midlands combined with leadership development. If you have got your sights set on a headship, this is worth investigating. www.teachfirst.org.uk
Once you've completed your teacher training course, you become a newly-qualified teacher, ready to embark on your induction year. Your starting salary will be £20,627 (£25,000 in inner London). Pay can progress to a salary of around £33,000, although different pay scales and schemes (for example, the advanced skills teacher pay scale and excellent teacher pay scheme) mean it could be significantly more. Head teachers at big secondary schools can earn more than £100,000. Teachers also benefit from a public sector pension scheme and, as key workers, may be eligible to join home ownership schemes for help onto the property ladder.
9 Golden hellos
As well as a range of bursaries and grants available during training, www.teach.gov.uk newly-qualified teachers can receive a taxable bonus of up to £5,000 (for maths and science) and £2,500 (for subjects including RE, modern languages and design and technology).
Many newly-qualified teachers find their first jobs in one of the schools in which they completed their initial training placements. Vacancies may also be advertised in the local and national press and by the Local Education Authority. (By Tamsin Kelly Last Updated: 5:29PM GMT 05 Jan 2009)