Monday, November 29, 2010

What do I need to know to work as a Teacher in London or the UK?

Heading to the UK to work as a secondary teacher, primary teacher or early childhood teacher is a common career path move particularly among teachers from Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But what does it involve and what do you need to get started? Here are a few frequently asked questions to get you started.

Where in the UK can I teach and where will I find most teaching work?
There is a demand for good teachers across the whole of England including rural towns and big cities. The greatest demand for teachers is in London with such a large cluster of schools in a relatively small geographical area.

Can I choose to only teach in good schools or independent schools?
Yes, you can set your teaching expectations when looking for work and all good recruitment consultants will listen carefully to your wishes and only advise you of suitable jobs. Obviously the higher the expectations you have the fewer teaching opportunities there will be that meet your wishes. It is often a good option to try different schools in supply teaching roles so that you can take some time to decide those schools you like and want to teach in long-term.

Can I get a teaching job before I leave home?
Yes, it is common for teachers to have a confirmed teaching role in the UK before departing. It is more common for secondary school teachers than primary school teachers. However, you will most often be required to have your own work visa before a school will consider offering you a job.

When does the school year begin and what are the school term dates?
The school year begins in September each year and ends in July the following year. There are three school terms. The autumn term runs from Sep to Dec, the spring term runs from Jan to early April and summer term runs from Easter to July. Mid term holidays are one week, end of term holidays are two weeks and the summer holidays are six weeks.

What is the average class size?
Class sizes are normally around thirty students. You may find that classes of less able students are smaller.

What are the pay rates for UK teachers?
Teachers in supply teaching contracts are paid per day and rates generally range from £120 to £150 per day. The salaries for permanent teachers are guided by the pay scales set by the Department for Education. Salaries generally range from £20,000 - £40,000 with Principals and Head teachers possibly earning up to £100,000. For more information see pay rates

When do I need to have my police check completed before teaching in the UK?
For the protection of children, all teachers must have a police check from their home country issued within three months of departure for the UK. You must also have a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check completed in the UK.

What is supply teaching?
Supply teaching is the terminology used in the UK for temp or relief teaching. Day-to-day supply refers to jobs which are filled one day at a time. Short-term or long-term supply teaching can refer to teaching placements as short as two weeks to as long as a few terms.

I have heard the term “Key Stages”, what is this?
The British school curriculum is divided into key stages that represent the age or level of students in their educational development. Key stage 0 is nursery or early childhood ages 3-5 yrs. Key stage 1 is primary school ages 5-7 yrs. Key stage 2 is primary school ages 7-11 yrs. Key stage 3 is secondary school ages 11-14 yrs. Key stage 4 is secondary school ages 14-16 yrs. Key stage 5 is secondary school ages 14-16 yrs. GCSE exams are completed at the end of key stage 4. A-levels are completed at the end of key stage 5.

Why use a teaching agency?
Teaching agencies save a teacher a lot of leg work and have well developed relationships with many schools therefore they often know about a large volume of job vacancies before anyone else. Teaching agencies can answer all your job, school and curriculum questions and give you a lot of guidance on how best to prepare for interviews and the new job. You can go to schools directly if you are happy to do the leg work and are confident that you can sell your skills better than anyone else. It is best to phone the school and speak to someone rather than sending an unsolicited email with a CV attached. Be aware that once you have contacted a school directly that often means that (due to recruitment exclusion clauses) an agency cannot go back to that school on your behalf if you fail to adequately impress the principal with your skills.

How does using a UK teaching agency work?
Generally you begin by providing your CV. Then a consultant will work with you to improve your CV if needed and collect additional documentation such as police checks and reference checks. Once your experience has been vetted and all security matters cleared, they will either match you with suitable job vacancies or talk directly to schools and ask if they need someone with your skills. You may be asked to interview over the telephone, video conference or make an interview date upon your arrival.
If you request day-to-day supply teaching you will be phoned early each morning and given details of a job which you can accept or decline. Most teachers develop a close relationship with two or three consultants who have a good understanding of their needs so that they only offer work that meets your needs such as location, pay and standard of school.

I don’t have a visa, can a UK school get a work permit for me?
It is possible but becoming less common for UK schools to sponsor teachers. It is more likely in the case of teachers on the UK shortage occupation list. The list is regularly updated but usually includes math’s teachers, all science teachers and special needs teachers. It will be very difficult for teachers that are not on the shortage list to gain sponsorship therefore you should look into other UK visa options

Can I teach in the UK if I haven’t completed my teacher registration?
Yes, you can teach in the UK if you have completed your degree but not your teacher registration. The UK recognises teachers’ qualifications from several countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. It advisable to complete your QTS requirements while teaching in the UK.

What is QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) and do I need it?
QTS is the accreditation that enables teachers to teach in state-maintained and special schools in England and Wales. Teachers from outside the EU must complete QTS within four years of your first day of teaching otherwise you will never be able to teach in UK state or special schools again. The four years is inclusive of anytime you spend travelling or living in another country. Basically if you ever want to return to the UK and teach you need to complete QTS.

Are special needs students taught in mainstream schools?
Special needs students are often taught within mainstream schools. The learning difficulties of these students can be emotional, behavioral, physical or through learning difficulties such as dyslexia. These students are monitored and their progress evaluated by an Individual Education Plan under the supervision of the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO).

What kind of questions would I get asked in an interview for a teaching job?
1. Why did you become a teacher?
2. What will you bring to our school?
3. How well do you get on with other staff?
4. How do you believe children learn?
5. What will your first lesson in the class be like?
6. What do you know about the National Curriculum?
7. Give an example of a teaching experience that shows why you are a great teacher.
8. Why are you keen to work at this school?