How to get into teaching 

Are you thinking of getting into teaching? Here’s some tips and guidance on how to navigate the path to becoming a teacher in the UK.

Whether you’re a university graduate, career-changer or in the education sector already, getting into teaching can be a daunting idea. Which pathway to choose? How do you decide if it’s the right career path for you? Read on for our top tips and guidance. 

1. Gain practical experience

Hands-on experience is invaluable for becoming an effective teacher; and for understanding the role before you start. Most routes include practical placements in schools, giving you the opportunity to observe experienced teachers, plan lessons, and interact with students.

However, you might want to gain practical experience before making the commitment to get into teaching. Working as a Teaching Assistant is a great way to do this. If you already have a full-time job, or are studying, then volunteering in a school is the next best way to gain hands-on experience. 

Here’s what school teacher Luke had to say about his experience volunteering with Action Tutoring ahead of becoming a teacher:

It got me into schools which is an experience that’s really hard to come by before you start teacher training. It also got me used to working with a variety of students and helping them learn and achieve. If I’d hated tutoring I would have known teaching is not for me!

Luke, previous Action Tutoring volunteer and current teacher
get into teaching by volunteering as a tutor, like Luke

2.  Choose your pathway to get into teaching

In the UK, there are several pathways to becoming a teacher. The main routes include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Education: You can choose to pursue a degree in education (B.Ed.) which combines academic study with practical teaching experience.
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE): If you already have a degree in a subject, you can opt for a PGCE, a one-year teacher training program.
  • School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT): This route involves hands-on training within schools, allowing you to learn directly from experienced educators.
  • Teach First: This route is focused on addressing educational inequality. It combines teacher training with work in challenging schools.
  • Now Teach: The professional network for career changers in teaching. They help career changers find a course, complete training and find a first job.
  • Ark Teacher Training: Ark Teacher Training is a professional learning programme delivered by Ark, a UK medium-sized multi-academy trust (MAT), for trainee teachers and Early Career Teachers.

3. Meeting the entry requirements

Each pathway has its own entry requirements. Generally, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree, strong communication skills, and a passion for teaching. Some routes might require specific subject knowledge if you’re aiming to teach a particular subject, or previous in-school experience. 

4. Time to apply!

Once you’ve chosen your preferred pathway and gained some experience, it’s time to apply. Research different routes, their application deadlines, and requirements to make sure you’re taking the best step for you. Be prepared to showcase your enthusiasm for teaching, and your relevant skills.

5. Prepare for interviews

Teacher training programmes often involve interviews to assess your suitability for the role. You can prepare by:

  • Researching the training route they offer, and reflecting on why you’re choosing this particular pathway over others.
  • Understanding current educational trends. You can subscribe to publications like Schools Week or Educate magazine to stay up to date.
  • Practise your responses to common interview questions. 

6. Complete the training

Here’s where the real learning journey begins! Be prepared to undergo a combination of theoretical coursework and practical teaching experience.

Successfully completing your chosen teacher training programme leads to the attainment of Qualified Teacher Status. QTS is essential for teaching in most schools in the UK and is a testament to your competency as an educator.

7. Nurture your wellbeing

Last but certainly not least, nurture your wellbeing. It’s widely-known that teaching can be demanding. Maintain a healthy work-life balance where you can, seek support from colleagues and friends, and engage in hobbies and activities that make you happy.

To sum up…

Becoming a teacher in the UK is a journey that requires dedication, passion, and continuous growth. By choosing the right pathway, gaining practical experience, and committing to ongoing development, you’ll embark on a fulfilling career that makes a positive impact on the lives of countless young people. 

Action Tutoring is looking for volunteers to support pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds in maths or English. The commitment is a minimum of one hour per week, for 10-20 weeks. As a volunteer, you’ll:

  • Work with 1-3 pupils to improve their English and maths, either in-person or online
  • Commit to a 10-20 week programme, for just one hour a week
  • Support either primary or secondary school-aged pupils
  • Use our tutor workbooks to shape your weekly sessions

I think tutoring is a really worthwhile activity where you see the difference you’re making. It’s very tangible. And for me it was a fantastic gateway into teaching. I learnt I enjoyed the teaching element and wanted to take it to the next level with formal training to take a career change. I have no regrets. I am now a teacher and this journey all started with supporting Action Tutoring.

Luke, previous Action Tutoring volunteer and current teacher

To find out more or sign up, visit our volunteer page.

Are you a university student looking for a placement?

Through a placement with Action Tutoring, you’ll support 1-3 young people across 10–20 weeks (or longer depending on the timeframe of your placement). The number of programmes you sing up to on is flexible depending on the number of hours you need to meet.

Let’s give an example… for a 50 hour volunteer placement, you might sign up to two 20-week programmes and tutor for two hours a week. The additional 10 hours can be made up through planning or additional activities, such as supporting with advocacy, marketing or event-planning.

We can support you with feedback and observations if required. Get in touch to find out how we can support your placement needs:

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