Teacher in a classroom

Getting into Teaching

If you have a love of learning and a desire to instil that same passion in others, then teaching could be a good career choice. Whatever your background, whether you are straight out of university or have spent 20 years in another profession, teaching is an accessible career move for anyone.

What types of entry-level teaching jobs are there?

Becoming a fully qualified Teacher requires commitment and training. If you are considering getting into teaching but want some experience working in a school before making the final decision, there are various education jobs you can start out in to get used to working in a classroom setting in either a primary, secondary or SEND school.

  • Teaching Assistant (TA) jobs
    A Teaching Assistant works in the classroom, most often in primary schools, to support the Teacher in day-to-day activities. This includes things such as preparing and setting up activities, helping children to complete tasks, working one-on-one with individuals or small groups who need extra help, and keeping the classroom and materials clean and organised. Being a TA gives you first-hand experience working with young children, and you will get a good insight into the job of a Teacher.
  • Cover Supervisor jobs
    As a Cover Supervisor you are responsible for managing the class in the absence of the Teacher. This is a role commonly found in secondary schools where you can find yourself covering classes across a wide range of subjects and year groups. The Teacher will provide all the materials needed for the lesson and, as a Cover Supervisor, your job is to instruct the class and keep them motivated and focused on the work set.
  • Learning Support Assistant (LSA) jobs 
    Similar to some duties of a TA, a Learning Support Assistant tends to work either with individuals or small groups of pupils who need extra support. This may be children who have specific learning difficulties, issues with behaviour and social development or where English is not their first language.
  • Tutor jobs
    Working as a Tutor enables you to learn and develop teaching techniques with individuals or small groups. Being a Tutor gives you the opportunity to share your passion for a specific subject with your pupils.

What kinds of school settings can you work in?

If you are sure that you want to be a Teacher and are ready to get straight into pursuing teaching as your career, then the next step is to decide what type of setting you would like to teach in.

There are four main types of school where Teachers can choose to work. The type of school will affect the training you receive.

  • Early Years
    The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) covers education up to the age of 5. As an Early Years Teacher you will most likely be teaching the reception class within a primary school. In this role you will be preparing children with the basic learning skills and knowledge they need before they begin Key Stage 1.
  • Primary Schools
    In a primary school you will be teaching children aged 5 to 11. You will teach a class of mixed ability pupils across a range of subjects. At this age, teaching is not only about subject knowledge but also giving children the tools and ability to learn. At the primary level a lot of teaching is about using different methods to engage and motivate pupils, encouraging them to interact and develop social skills.
  • Secondary Schools
    As a Secondary Teacher your interactions with the pupils will be different. You will train to teach a specific subject and have classes of varying age groups. This affects how you teach, as you could be working with young people from the age of 11 through to 18. As a Secondary Teacher you will be preparing pupils for exams as well as helping them consider the next steps in their education.
  • SEND Schools
    SEND Teachers can work with all age groups and may teach in either a mainstream or a special school. Working with SEND pupils requires you to understand the specific needs of each individual and the ability to adapt your teaching methods and content accordingly.

Training to become a Teacher

In most UK schools you need to have qualified teacher status (QTS) to work as a Teacher. There are various routes into training to become a Teacher, depending on your background and experience. 

  • University undergraduate degree – you can study for an undergraduate degree in education or a degree with QTS.
  • University postgraduate degree – if you have a first degree you can complete a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) to achieve QTS. This typically takes one year and will involve some academic learning, but most of the time is spent in school placements.
  • Experience and assessment – if you have a degree and classroom experience as an unqualified Teacher, or if you have trained overseas, you may be able to get QTS through a 12-week assessment only (AO) programme. Entry criteria varies depending on the training provider. You can find out more about this route here. 
  • Career change – if you are changing careers you can choose to do a PGCE, or you may find a training provider through which you can gain QTS. Now Teach has lots of useful information and can support career changers into secondary teaching.

Career Teachers have training opportunities for continuing professional development for both Teachers and support staff. Take a look at our training page to find out about the courses available. 

Funding for Teacher Training

Government funding for Teacher training is available in the form of a tuition fee loan to cover course fees and a maintenance loan to help with living costs. Loan repayments don’t begin until you start earning. Use the student finance calculator to find out how much you could be eligible for. 

In addition to a loan, you may also be able to get a bursary or scholarship from the Department for Education (DfE), or an independent institution, for training to teach specific subjects. These do not need to be paid back, but you must meet the required criteria to apply. To find out about funding options for the academic year 2022 to 2023, visit gov.uk.


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