Careers Service Occupations

Teaching in Schools

Teaching in Schools


Teaching in schools can be a rewarding and fulfilling career with many opportunities for career progression.

According to the Department for Education, the total number of teachers in all schools has fallen by 1.2%, from 457,200 to 451,900 between 2016 and 2017. 

The total number of qualified entrants to teaching has also decreased since 2015 from 45,500 (10.5% as a proportion of all existing and new teachers) to 42,400 (9.9%) in 2017.

With a shortage of teachers in some subject areas, bursaries and scholarships are available to attract and retain new entrants.  

The Education System

In the UK full time education is compulsory between the ages of 4 and 16. After finishing compulsory education many students continue in full or part time education at a school sixth form or college.

Most local education authorities in England and Wales operate a two-tier system. This includes primary (for children up to the age of 11) and secondary (for children aged 11 to 18).

A few authorities operate a three tier system:

  • primary/first school - up to the age of nine
  • middle school - from ages nine to 13
  • high school - from ages 13-18

It's important to gain classroom experience and research the national curriculum and key stages before deciding to apply for primary (including early years) or secondary teaching.

You should avoid applying for a mix of primary and secondary training on your UCAS form, as it could suggest indecision to selectors.

Information about the national curriculum and key stages can be found at the following external links:

Careers Advice

The following external sites can be used for careers advice on getting into teaching: 

The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) have produced a 2019 edition of their Routes into Teaching Publication

Industry News

The following external sites contain industry news which may be helpful: 

Professional Bodies 

Making Contacts

By making contacts you may be able to gain insight into teaching and arrange your work experience. You could start with:

  • social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter – useful for contacts, employers and finding opportunities
  • connecting with our alumni on LinkedIn. Find out what they did after graduation and how they got there, and contact them for advice and inspiration


Open days, talks and events give insights and opportunities to make contacts. Regular events organised by the Careers Service include Employer & Sector Insights and Recruitment Events.

You may also find details of events on the Get into Teaching site.

Related Sectors

You may also be interested in:



Roles & Skills

Depending on your qualifications and the age group you would like to teach, you can choose to work in primary or secondary education.

Some secondary subjects are considered to be priority and students training to teach in these subjects can receive extra funding and support. Priority subjects include maths and sciences, computing, languages and geography.

Primary (including early years)

Early years teachers work with children under the age of five. In a school setting you may work in a pre-school nursery or with a reception class. Teachers work within the framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage, helping children to develop and prepare for primary education.

Primary teachers work with children between the ages of four and eleven. They teach all subjects in the national curriculum but may additionally specialise in a particular area, currently PE and maths. You will usually train to teach two key stages.  

Some training providers may prefer you to have a degree in a national curriculum subject. You can find all the details about entry requirements for individual training options on the UCAS Teacher Training website and training provider websites. If still in doubt, contact training providers directly.

See Prospects for further information about the roles of an early years teacher and primary school teacher


Secondary teachers specialise in one or two subject areas. You will usually train to teach two key stages.

Your degree will usually have to be relevant to the subject you want to teach. Often the links between degree discipline and the national curriculum subjects are obvious. However, some may be less clear; eg if you’re studying for a degree in engineering, you’re likely to be eligible to train to teach maths, science or design and technology.

Teachers for some secondary subjects are in short supply and it may be possible to take a fully funded subject knowledge enhancement course to build up your knowledge and train in these disciplines.

If you don't think your degree is relevant to any subject in the national curriculum, don't worry. It doesn't mean that you can’t become a teacher; your degree may have more relevance than you think. Contact training providers or the Get into Teaching helpline for more information and advice.

See Prospects for further information about the role of a secondary school teacher.

For information about teaching RE, see Culham St Gabriel’s Trust: Teach RE

Special educational needs teacher

Special educational needs (SEN) teachers work with children and young people who need extra support with their learning. This could include working with children and young people who have learning difficulties, physical disabilities, sensory impairment, emotional or behavioural issues. 

Many teachers gain experience of working in mainstream schools before entering SEN teaching, although some schools will employ newly qualified teachers. All teaching courses cover an element of SEN training, however there are some PGCE programmes that have a specialism in SEN teaching. Qualified teachers can also take additional training in SEN teaching. 

For more information about SEN teaching, see the Prospects website.  

Skills employers look for

  • good social skills and the ability to communicate with children and young people
  • excellent organisational skills and the ability to manage a busy and complex workload
  • leaderships skills and the ability to work as part of a team and on your own
  • ability to inspire and motivate pupils
  • resilience when dealing with challenging pupils
  • ability to build effective working relationships with pupils, parents, colleagues and external support agencies

You’ll also need enthusiasm, patience and a sense of humour!

Applying for teacher training 

There are many routes into teacher training. Once you've decided on the route that's best for you, see our pages on the Careers Service website about applying for teaching training.

Finding Jobs

Before applying for a teaching job, it's important that you have researched the schools you are considering. Read the school Ofsted report and visit the school if you can.

You can find teaching jobs in a number of ways. You can apply directly to some schools, while other schools recruit through a specialist agency or through the local authority.

Job adverts normally start in January, but most schools advertise between February and June. Use these resources to find advertised vacancies and also to research employers for speculative applications.

Vacancy sites

In the North East


Some local authorities will advertise teaching vacancies on their own website. LAs may also operate a pool application or teacher registration scheme, where one application is used for all vacancies matching certain criteria in the local area. See the GOV.UK website to find your local authority.

Specialist recruitment agencies

In the North East


Recruitment agencies search for candidates using platforms such as CV Library, LinkedIn and Indeed. You can create a profile or upload a CV and you may be contacted by recruitment agencies with information about opportunities.   

Finding Schools

Most schools advertise their own job vacancies. You can use the following links to find school websites for details of vacancies:  

Not all jobs are advertised. You could also approach schools directly or find work through a contact. Find schools that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for.

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

See Researching Employers for more ways to source and research companies.   

Routes into Teaching

There are a number of routes available to train as a teacher in England and Wales.

There are school-led and university-led training programmes. All courses involve 24 weeks of experience in at least 2 schools. 

Not all courses lead to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). It is not essential to have a PGCE to teach but it is essential to have achieved QTS.

Training routes are different for Scotland. 

The UCAS website includes a video Routes into teaching that includes insights from recent trainees.

Teach First

This is an intensive, two year Leadership Development Programme which combines training as a teacher and personal and business skills training. It also provides internship opportunities and mentoring. 

Training is in schools based in low-income communities. At the end of the programme, successful participants will gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and have one year's teaching experience as a ‘Newly Qualified Teacher'. 

Experienced teachers without QTS 

See the Department for Education's website for information for qualified teachers from overseas and for experienced teachers without QTS.

Applying for teacher training 

For information about applying for the different routes into teacher training see our Applying for Teacher Training section on the Careers Service website. 

Work for Yourself

Being self-employed or working as a freelancer is common in the teaching sector. Schools regularly employ teachers/tutors to cover specific specialisms such as music, languages and PE. This may be on a long term basis over an academic year or for occasional sessions.

See our Work for Yourself pages for information on the range of activities and support available to Newcastle students and eligible graduates interested in starting their own business or self-employment.

Find factsheets and reports on starting up and running a business on the COBRA website. COBRA can only be accessed through a University computer on the Newcastle campus.

See GOV.UK: DBS checks for information on applying for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check - usually required if you are going to work closely with children. 

Related sectors

Information on working as a private music tutor can be found in Music and Performing Arts