An overview of the different roles in education and the skills and qualifications needed to secure work in each position
Depending on which key stage, subjects and cohort you want to to teach has a direct impact on the level and type of qualification you’ll need to enter the teaching profession. With education services spanning from working with children as young as six months to adult learners and mature students, it can be a challenge to know where to start. However, with its breadth of available roles, rewarding employment and childminding-friendly hours, a job in education can be fantastically rewarding, education roles are often flexible enough to last your full career.
Looking for a taster into teaching? Consider working as a teaching assistant. Starting from early years and right through to further education, a teaching assistant will support a wide range of pupils with their learning needs. This can be anything from booster sessions in literacy and maths to specific 1-2-1 work with pupils with additional learning needs. You can enter this profession starting in a voluntary based position, get a taste for the classroom environment and find what suits your skills best.
Teaching assistant roles are generally based in term time hours and require a lower level of commitment, allowing you to study alongside work once you’ve secured employment. You can study in Further Education institutions or, in some lucky cases even secure on the job qualifications to obtain up to Level 3 NVQ qualifications as a teaching assistant.
Higher Level Teaching Assistants
Looking to take on a little more responsibility? A higher level teaching assistant role is the next stage. These staff work specifically to support the teacher with classroom management, support pupils in their learning, and from time to time take teaching session in the absence of the teacher, providing invaluable experience.
Many TAs use this experience to understand which age pupils they are best suited to working with and adopt the fundamentals in teaching such as classroom management, lesson planning, stepped learning and time management in the classroom.
For those looking at working in this role with pupils in secondary school and sixth form/college (key stages 3-5), you will generally only find learning support and teaching assistants working with pupils with additional learning needs or behavioural challenges.
A key part to the teaching time in secondary schools are cover managers. Cover managers work alongside support and teaching staff, delivering lessons in the absence of a teacher (this can be planned timetable absence, PSHE lessons or sickness cover). Cover managers manage the entire classroom experience, offering support and the delivery of set lessons across a range of subjects, and they can even specialise in a particular subject. This is a great role to undertake if you’re considering a PGCE conversion course after you have secured your main degree but is mainly practised in secondary schools.
Primary or Secondary School Teacher
So now you’ve had a taster and you want to become a primary or secondary school teacher?
For primary schools you will require a specific teaching qualification and headteachers will predominantly look for staff with specific a specific primary teaching qualification. Conversely, secondary school teachers will typically achieve their teaching qualification through a PGCE conversion course (as mentioned earlier). Although you will not necessarily be restricted to teaching your degree subject, this is the norm and will allow you to work with pupils at all levels.
PTLLS and Conversion Courses
Further education colleges accept teaching conversion courses such as the Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) or similar. These are courses that can be studied out of university and although they do not offer Qualified Teacher Status, they do train you in the essential skills of teaching, such as you would learn in a PGCE degree conversion course.
If you’re looking to teach vocational skills or apprenticeships, a qualification in the subject area and demonstrable teaching ability is all you need. Working with or mentoring pupils or apprentice work is a definite bonus – but not a necessity.
Breadth of Opportunity
One of the key attractions of teaching is the myriad routes into the sector, and flexibility within the roles. If the above sounds great but you’re not ready to commit full time, consider part-time volunteering, schemes through work supporting children with outreach programmes, young apprenticeships, youth groups or anything that will give you experience – and the applicant edge – working within the teaching sphere.
To get into teaching all you truly need is the passion for your chosen subjects, commitment and dedication to the craft and the conviction of knowing that you’re making a difference. There will be tough days, but ultimately enduring satisfaction, knowing you have helped shaped the minds of future generations.
Want to hear more? Contact the Dovetail and Slate team on 0117 422 9420 to discuss how we can help bring your skills and experience to schools and colleges across the UK.
‘How to get a job in education” is the sixth in a series of 12 articles from Dovetail and Slate exploring issues faced by the recruitment sector.