Careers Service

School-based Work Experience

School-based Work Experience

Before making an application for teacher training, getting school-based work experience is important. You need to be able to reflect upon your observations and experiences in the classroom during the application process.

Experiencing life in a school will also help you decide if a career in teaching is really for you. It can also help you to decide on the ages, or year groups, you would like to teach.

Some training providers will require students to have gained up to two weeks school work experience before submitting an application. Check with the training provider as requirements can vary. 

Ideally your school work experience should be in a state school and in a different school to the one you attended.

You should use your work experience to gain an insight into school life, including:

  • key stages and the national curriculum
  • a teacher's role and responsibilities
  • classroom management, including behaviour
  • the role of support staff
  • different teaching styles
  • lesson planning and assessment
  • use of technology to support learning

Finding work experience

It can be time consuming to arrange work experience, so allow plenty of time before making your teacher training application. There are a number of different approaches to finding work experience.

You will probably have to arrange your own work experience, so if you have any contacts in a school, this might help. It is up to you and the school how much time you can give: perhaps a week in a block or half a day a week for a longer period. Ideally you should try to experience both the primary and secondary environments, even if you think you already have a preference.

If you are a student at Newcastle University, you may be able to take the Student Tutoring module as part of your degree programme.

The Get School Experience service allows final year students and graduates to spend up to 10 days observing lessons in primary or secondary schools. You can use the online search tool to find schools in your area that are offering work experience. 

The Teaching Paid Internship Programme offers four weeks of experience towards the end of the summer term for students studying a STEM related degree. Applications can be made through the Get into Teaching website.   

Teach First have a week-long paid internship for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) students which gives participants the chance to experience their Training Programme.

You could gain paid work in a school as a cover supervisor where your role would be to manage and supervise a class in the absence of a teacher. Cover supervisor roles are often advertised through specialist recruitment agencies or websites; see the Finding Jobs page of our Teaching in Schools section for more information.  

Online or virtual experience can also be useful, and can give you valuable insights into teaching. You can observe online lessons to gain insights into lesson structure and content through Oak National Academy and you can access free online teaching related courses through Future Learn to develop your knowledge of key topics.

Speculative applications

You can also make speculative applications directly to schools – where possible to a named contact. For more advice about this, see TargetJobs' article: Making speculative applications for graduate jobs.

Use local authority websites and the HMC website (for independent schools) to identify schools. 

Alternative work experience

Gaining experience with young people, outside a classroom, can also be extremely valuable but should not be a substitute for school-based experience. 

Explore Learning is a national network of learning centres, providing maths and English tuition to five to 14-year-olds.

Go Volunteer, organised through Newcastle University Students’ Union, regularly has education-based volunteering opportunities such as:

You could also gain paid experience of working with young people as a FutureMe mentor, delivering structured online academic activities or face-to-face mentoring sessions, or as a Street Scientist. Street Scientists explain science to all ages at festivals, community events and in the city centre.

There are also opportunities to help at after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11 through Code Club

The Brilliant Club provide Doctoral and postdoctoral researchers with the opportunity to gain experience of working with school aged children through the Scholars Programme. Tutors deliver workshops in schools and facilitate university trips. 

Education-based opportunities are also regularly advertised on MyCareer.