How To Become a Teacher - Routes into Teaching

Teaching is a wonderful profession. It is a lifelong career promising job security and plenty of opportunity for growth and development. Moreover, the job satisfaction that accompanies teaching is simply incomparable. Recently, we ran a survey on our website asking people about their experience of teaching. 85% of respondents said they would recommend teaching/working with children to others. When asked about their main motivation for teaching/working with children, 139 people said job satisfaction, followed by 133 who said their main motivation was inspiring future generations and 101 who cited a passion for their subject. The results of our quick poll prove that teaching is a popular career choice with considerable levels of job satisfaction amongst hardworking individuals committed to providing the very best opportunities for children and young people.

Whether you are fresh out of university, a career changer or a member of school support staff, there are plenty of teacher training options available to you. 

In this blog, we cover step-by-step how to decide whether teaching is right for you and how to choose a teacher training programme suitable for you and your lifestyle. 

Step 1: Consider whether teaching is right for you

We cannot speak more highly of teaching as a profession. As mentioned, it is a highly satisfying career that comes highly recommended. However, teaching is not for everyone and you need to be sure that it is right for you. Teaching is a rich and varied role with each individual member of staff bringing their own unique qualities, skills and experience to the staff room table. There is no ‘model teacher’ as diversity is key to building a successful and positive school environment. However, there are some key questions you should ask yourself and certain attributes which are non-negotiable. 

The most important question you need to ask yourself is ‘Do I enjoy working with children and young people?’. This might seem obvious, but you absolutely need to be happy working with children. Teaching is different to living with children, being a parent or spending time with young people. You are surrounded by 30+ children in your classroom every day, not the mention the wider school community. Your relationship to the children will be professional but caring, adhering to The Teachers’ Standards at all times. To be a successful teacher, you must be comfortable working closely with children and confident you can support them both personally and educationally. If you have not experienced working with children in group settings outside of your circle of family and friends, then it is essential you gain this experience. You can volunteer your services to your local school, youth clubs, day care centres and within industries such as sport and leisure. Another key question to consider is ‘Do I want to bring out the best in others and help them to fulfil their potential?’. A commitment to helping others achieve, and striving to help them on their path to success, is imperative if you want to get into teaching. 

An essential skill is effective communication. Many teachers compare their role to that of an actor. No matter how shy or introverted you may be in real life, or how interesting you find the topic you are teaching, whenever you are standing in front of your class you are on stage. The way you teach your lessons ultimately affects their success. You need to be animated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable on the topics you are teaching, using age-appropriate language and ensuring key concepts are communicated in a clear way that is understandable to the children. You will need to build effective relationships with your pupils, colleagues, governors, parents/guardians and the wider community; effective and appropriate communication is crucial to this. Your written communication also needs to be of a high standard, as you will be marking pupil work with written feedback, preparing reports and documentation and recording your lesson plans, which will, from time to time, be monitored and analysed by your senior leadership team. High standards of accurate written and spoken English are an absolute must-have for any teacher.

You will need to be adaptable, able to cope with a fast-paced and ever-changing environment and able to cope under pressure. Teaching is often accompanied by a heavy workload with priorities constantly changing. You will need to be able to adapt your teaching style and lesson plans as you go, according to pupil needs. You will need to be willing to step up to fulfil additional duties such as playground duty, first aid assistance and standing in for colleagues as and when required. The school environment can be unpredictable and you simply cannot foresee what will happen each day. You need to be able to remain calm and level-headed, even in stressful and unexpected circumstances. 

Organisation is key to being successful as a teacher. As mentioned, your workload will be large and ever-changing. There are plenty of administration duties accompanying teaching such as filing, recording assessment data and tracking pupil progress, alongside lesson planning and marking. Being able to manage your time effectively and prioritising your workload are key to remaining organised and on-top of your work. 

Resilience and the ability to prioritise your wellbeing alongside wide and varied responsibilities is equally important. Teaching can be draining and stressful if you do not look after yourself. If you are a resilient individual with the ability to bounce back from setbacks and remain optimistic then teaching is definitely the career for you. Looking after your wellbeing is crucial to developing and maintaining resilience and optimism. 

A commitment to lifelong learning and development is also an asset. Teachers regularly need to undertake training and get to grips with pedagogy and changes to legislation and education frameworks. If you are happy to consistently be learning, developing and taking onboard industry changes then you will thrive in the teaching environment. Moreover, teachers are regularly observed by their Senior Leadership Team and colleagues, as well as during Ofsted inspections. You need to be able to accept feedback gracefully and be committed to taking onboard points for improvement and acting on them. 

Teaching is accompanied by often long hours; teaching isn’t a 9-5 job. Most teachers arrive in school between 7:30 and 8am, with many not leaving the premises until 6pm or later. Many teachers also complete additional work at home when required. If you are considering teaching as a career, you need to be prepared for sometimes unsociable hours and an irregular working pattern. 

Step 2: Consider the type of teaching you want to pursue

You may decide you want to teach a specific subject in the secondary school setting, or you might consider primary school teaching which covers a range of subjects from children aged 5-11. Education settings include primary school (5-11 years old), early years foundation stage (up to 5 years old), secondary school (11-18) and further education, e.g. college and sixth form. You might also consider working with children with SEN or disabilities, which requires specialist training. 

Step 3: Qualifications

There are specific levels of education that you need to have in order to train to teach. First and foremost, you must be educated to degree level, or have an equivalent qualification. This then means you can enrol on postgraduate initial teacher training courses. 

Other qualifications you will require…

• Minimum Grade 4 GCSE (or equivalent) in Maths

• Minimum Grade 4 GCSE (or equivalent) in English

• Minimum Grade 4 GCSE (or equivalent) in a science subject. (for those applying for primary teaching only)

• Fundamental English and Mathematics

If you are a candidate from outside of the United Kingdom, Get into Teaching have a fantastic advice page detailing how you can train as a teacher in England if you are an international candidate.

Step 3: Review your experience and gain experience if necessary

Many pathways into teaching require you to have some experience of working with children, either paid or voluntary. Consider the experience you have and whether it will be enough to support your application for teacher training. The amount of experience required will vary dependent on the pathway you choose. But, even for undergraduate teacher training courses, you will have an edge if you have demonstrable experience of working with children. 

Step 4: Look into funding and different routes into teaching

Many teacher training routes will be accompanied by payable fees for the training received. Any fees will be dependent on the route you choose. The image below details the routes into teaching and whether you would be required to secure funding to pay for your training. Each teacher training option has specific requirements in order to be eligible, so thoroughly research your options before applying.