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How to become a secondary school teacher

© Nationaal Archief Flickr Leraar met gezag / Teacher with authority
© Nationaal Archief (Flickr)
What are your motivations?
Being a secondary school teacher is a tough career. Unlike popular preconceptions, you do not finish work at three o’clock and have thirteen weeks of doing nothing. Revision classes and parents evenings often run until seven or eight o’clock at night and holidays are spent marking and planning lessons. This said, the pay and holidays do compare favourably to most graduate positions.

If you do not have a passion for working with young people then you will not last long in this job! Not all students are eager learners and in some schools, day to day life will need a thick skin!
Are you suitably qualified?
To become a secondary school teacher you need a relevant degree at a grade of 2:2 or higher. In addition, you’ll also need a minimum Grades of C’s in Maths and English along with 3 other GCSEs. Following this you will need to qualify as a teacher. One year conversion courses known as PGCEs are available through most Universities.
How to apply
Entry to PGCEs can be competitive. To give yourself the best chance seek work experience with local schools before you apply. The interviewer will look much more kindly on your application if you have made an effort to discover what life is like in a typical secondary school.
Getting your first job
Some subjects are more in demand than others. PE and art teachers will have a harder time than maths and science teachers in finding a job. Qualifying is no guarantee of a permanent position. If you do not find a job straight away then you will be able to undertake supply teacher work with an agency. This pays well but remember, you do not receive any holiday or sick pay.
The final word
Teaching is a rewarding career but is not without its challenges. If you are not comfortable speaking in front of people (let alone teenagers!) then this job is not for you. Ask a local school for experience and if you enjoy it, then teaching will give you the chance to inspire the next generation.

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