How to Become a Teacher

How to Become a Teacher

Many choose a career in teaching for it’s rewarding nature. Others like the idea of passing on their knowledge. The long holidays are an added bonus. Whatever the reason, becoming a teacher is a competitive process. Luckily Coursefindr is here to help you get started.

First Step

To start your journey of becoming a teacher you need to hold (or expect to gain) a second class honours degree. Preferably a 2:1 or higher.  If you are yet to start an undergraduate degree, then you are at the perfect place. Coursefindr can help you find the perfect degree by browsing degrees by subject.

It doesn’t necessarily matter which subject you study at undergraduate level. However, if you wish to teach a specific subject, such as music, then it would definitely help later down the line if you study music at undergraduate level.

You could keep your options open at this point by studying a degree with a high chance of employment.Mathematics is a good option as it can lead to employment in the computing and finance sectors. This means you will have plenty of opportunities should you change your mind about becoming a teacher. And if you don’t change your mind then good news, maths teachers are always in high demand.

If you don’t have an undergraduate degree but are determined to become a teacher there are a three types of degrees that lead to qualified teacher status (QTS). These are:

  • Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees – most common for students hoping to become primary school teachers.
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees – common for students hoping to teach secondary school. These degrees focus on learning your chosen subject and how to pass on that knowledge in the classroom.

These courses usually last for four years and allow you to achieve QTS at the same time. Whilst undergraduate courses that include QTS are competitive, they offer a direct route into teaching. Perfect for those who know exactly what they want to do.

If you already have an undergraduate degree then continue to the next section.

Which Age group?

Your first task is to decide which age group you would like to teach. This initial decision will determine your route to becoming a teacher. The UK education system is broadly split into early years, primary, and secondary. Unless you have a passion for teaching a specific age group you may struggle to decide on one. If this is something you are struggling with then our suggestion is to gain some school experience. This should prove a big help in deciding which age group you would like to teach.

Fortunately the government run a scheme called School Experience Programme (SEP). Hundreds of schools across the country participate in SEP. Through this programme you can get a placement at a school which will give you the opportunity to talk to teachers and observe teaching a range of lessons and age groups. Not only will this help you decide if teaching is for you, but when you come to apply and be interviewed later on the experience will prove invaluable.

Becoming a Teacher – Gaining QTS

As we briefly discussed earlier in the article, in order to become a teacher you need to obtain qualified teacher status (QTS).

Qualified Teacher Status is an element to look for when choosing a teaching course. This accreditation allows you to teach in either state-maintained or special schools within England and Wales. Academies are the only educational institution at secondary level which can employ teachers without a QTS, but they must believe you are suitably qualified for the position. In other words look out for the letters ‘QTS’ involved in the description of your teaching course because you can then keep your options open for your career in teaching.

Pass the QTS Test

To achieve QTS you must complete the required hours of teaching, meeting the high standards necessary to become a qualified teacher. Not all courses are QTS accredited so choose wisely. If you are looking for the least expensive course but are looking for a QTS accreditation at the end of your studies, ensure you do the research and find out whether that course is accredited. If you need further details on this you should contact the programme leader at the institution and find out more details directly from them. It is important to be happy with your course choice.

Gaining qualified teacher status isn’t an easy process and deciding to follow a career in teaching shouldn’t be reached without serious consideration. Whilst the holidays seem to be a talking point for many outside the teaching sector, those who work in it will tell you that those extra few days disappear amongst the planning, marking and extracurricular activities that are expected of teachers nowadays.

There are a two common teacher training routes to achieve QTS. They are:

  • School-led training
  • University-led training

School-led training

With school-led training you will be learning on the job, from experienced colleagues. This means you will be in school from day one. For the duration of the course you will be placed in at least two schools and you will receive a combination of classroom teaching and practical training. You could also receive a tax-free £26k bursary or salary whilst training. School-led courses usually last one year and will result in you being awarded QTS. Most courses will also include a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).

If you wish to obtain your teacher training qualification via school-based training, there are a number of options available to you. School-based teacher training generally offers more time in the classroom, allowing you to put theory into practice and develop your teaching skills in a real life environment. There are a number of school-based training schemes for teachers, such as the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) and school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT).

University-led training

If you already have an undergraduate degree but do not have QTS and you want your training to be based at university then university-led training is for you. These courses are one year full-time or two years part-time. In addition to university based study you will also complete a placement in school for a minimum of 24 weeks. All university teacher training courses lead to QTS and a postgraduate qualification which is usually a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). If you already hold, or are in the process of completing an undergraduate course then a PGCE is a great way to gain teacher training and achieve QTS. The PGCE course develops your teaching skills, rather than your subject knowledge as you are expected to already hold this.

It is worth applying for both school-led and university-led courses, then following interviews you can decide which route is right for you.

Regardless of the teaching degree you take, your future looks bright with education related degrees being one of the most employable degrees according to the destination of leavers from higher education survey.

Related: You could also opt to study the PGCE via distance learning.