A career in teaching is a popular option for undergraduates. With salaries staring over £21,500, teacher training courses offer a higher than average graduate salary, and teacher’s pay can rise as high as £56,000, with department heads and head teachers earning even more.
Teaching offers a clear career path, and certain subjects, such as the sciences, have a strong and consistent demand for teachers, giving significant levels of job security. Yes, the job can be tricky at times and you need a real aptitude and interest in working with young children but the working hours and the holidays are good. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you get all the school holidays off to do what you want though, any teacher will put you right there.
There are two ways to complete your initial teacher training (ITT) as an undergraduate. Firstly, you can study a first degree BSc or BA in a specialist subject, such as Physics, and complete your teacher training alongside this to gain your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Alternatively, you can study for a Bachelor of Education, or BEd, which is a specialist teaching qualification that automatically results in you achieving QTS.
Which course you choose largely depends on your plans as a teacher. For secondary education, where teachers teach a single subject, a first degree plus QTS course may be preferred, providing expert knowledge in a given subject that will allow you to teach it to all levels, including GCSE and A level.
For primary teachers, where you will need to teach a broad range of subjects across the curriculum, a BEd may be preferred, with less emphasis on a single subject and more time spent on teaching techniques and general education.
All teacher training courses will involve some placement in schools, getting hands on experience of the day to day lives of teachers, and showing you just what it is like to be in front of a class. BEd courses will usually devote around a third of their time to work placements, though naturally this will be less for standard degrees with an additional teacher training element.
During your work experience you will learn from working teachers and will have a professional mentor to guide your progress and answer any questions. Teaching experience is unpaid. However you will be paid for your induction year after graduation.
The image you may have of teachers from your experience as a pupil is not necessarily an accurate or realistic one, so it is worth doing your research before deciding to enroll on a teacher training course.
Most schools will be happy to let prospective teaching students spend a few days with the staff to see what teaching is really like. Not only will this give you a more realistic view of the profession, but it will also look good on your university application form, proving a genuine and serious interest in the subject.