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How to become a Secondary School Teacher

secondary school teacher careers

What does a Secondary School Teacher do?

Secondary school teachers work in state and independent schools, teaching children aged from 11 to 16, or up to 19 in schools with sixth forms.

Secondary teachers usually specialise in one or two subjects and teach these to classes of different ages and abilities throughout the school. They prepare students for exams, including GCSEs, AS and A levels, as well as qualifications such as GNVQs and vocational A levels.

Some areas of England and Wales have middle schools that take children from ages eight or nine to twelve or thirteen. Teachers in middle schools teach the primary or secondary curriculum appropriate to the age of children in the class.

In addition to actual teaching, teachers spend a lot of time preparing lessons and teaching materials, marking and assessing work and mounting displays in the classroom. The work also involves liaising with other professionals, speaking to parents and carers (both informally and at parents' evenings, attending meetings and in-service training, and organising outings, social activities and sporting events.

What's the working environment like working as a Secondary School Teacher?

Teachers in state schools in England and Wales teach for 39 weeks a yearl. School hours vary between schools but are usually 9am to 3.30pm or 4pm. It is necessary to work outside school hours to prepare lessons, mark work and exams, take part in parents' evenings, undertake in-service training and attend meetings.

What does it take to become a Secondary School Teacher?

To be a secondary teacher you should:

  • be interested in the education and welfare of pupils
  • have enthusiasm for the subjects you teach
  • be able to build up good relationships with a range of people - pupils, parents and carers, other teachers, classroom assistants, governors and psychologists
  • be committed to working with pupils, parents and carers of different backgrounds and different levels of ability
  • enjoy working in a team but be able to use your own initiative
  • be well organised
  • be able to manage classes well and deal with challenging behaviour
  • have excellent communication skills in English (and Welsh where appropriate)
  • be patient and have a good sense of humour.

Secondary School Teacher Career Opportunities

Most teaching jobs are in state schools. They could also work in: an independent school; a sixth-form college; a City Technology College or City Academy; a pupil referral unit; a hospital; a young offenders’ institution or secure unit; or a school run by the armed forces. Part-time or supply teaching is possible.

Experienced teachers may be able to apply for Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) posts. ASTs spend 80% of their time in teaching their own classes and 20% working with and for teachers from other schools (outreach), supporting their professional development and raising standards of teaching and learning.

All candidates need to complete an application form which provides evidence of how they meets each of six AST standards, and undergo a one-day assessment by an external assessor. The candidate's headteacher is also required to provide supporting evidence under each of the standards. Full details can be found on the Teachernet website – see Further Information.

Teachers may be able to progress to head of department, head of year, deputy headteacher and headteacher. Teachers may be able to develop their leadership skills through the Fast Track programme, as mentioned in the Training section.

Some experienced teachers specialise in teaching pupils with special educational needs or move into private tuition.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Secondary School Teacher that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Teacher Training Agency
Portland House
Stag Place
London
SW1E 5TT
Teaching Information Line: 0845 6000 991 (English-speakers)
0845 6000 992 (Welsh-speakers)
www.teach.gov.uk

Teacher Training Agency
www.tta.gov.uk

Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI)
Rathgael House
43 Balloo Road
Bangor
Co Down
BT19 7PR
Tel: 028 9127 9279
www.deni.gov.uk

Teachernet
www.teachernet.gov.uk

Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS)
Rosehill
New Barn Lane
Cheltenham
Gloucestershire
GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 1122 211
www.ucas.ac.uk

Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR)
Rosehill
New Barn Lane
Cheltenham
Gloucestershire
GL52 3LZ
Tel: 0870 112 2205
www.gttr.ac.uk

Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI)
Rathgael House
43 Balloo Road
Bangor
Co Down
BT19 7PR
Tel: 028 9127 9279
www.deni.gov.uk

Fast Track Teaching Recruitment Team
45-47 Duke Street
Henley on Thames
Oxfordshire
RG9 1UR
Tel: 01491 845730
www.fasttrackteaching.gov.uk

Design and Technology Association (DATA)
16 Wellesbourne House
Walton Road
Wellesbourne
Warwickshire
CV35 9JB
Tel: 01789 470007
www.data.org.uk

Facts and Stats:

    60 per cent of people remember a good teacher, compared to 75 per cent who remember a bad teacher. Sting used to be a teacher (be still your beating hearts, girls). An actual answer from a GCSE question paper read: "The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths, A myth is a female moth."