Teachers will often tell you their job is not just a job, it’s a vocation.
They do it because they love it. They thrive on seeing children learn and develop. It’s a calling.
“I love teaching,” says Sara Knight, senior lecturer in early childhood studies at Anglia Ruskin University.
“In many of the courses I teach, students learn about the theory of education.
“They all come on the course and think they will go off and do a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and become teachers.
“So we send them out to a whole range of teaching environments, from nurseries to reception classes and schools.
“I can say two thirds return to class having changed their minds.
“The reality is, teaching is a vocation. You are either gifted at it and love it, or you are not and you hate it.”
With such a range of ages and subjects needing teachers, chances are, that if you want to be a teacher there will be a post for you.
Schools are particularly crying out for new teachers in science and maths subjects, as while primary schools are looking for more male teachers.
While teachers do enjoy long holidays, many in the industry will tell you the rest of the time, and some of the holiday time, is spent preparing for classes, marking and organising work.
Sara, who has taught in a range of early years settings from nursery to reception class and primary for 20 years, explains: “A friend of mine is a deputy headteacher and she is at her desk at 7am and doesn’t leave the school until 6pm.
“Lunch breaks don’t exist, because whichever age group you teach, there are always pupils or students to see.
“You definitely need a sense of humour and patience.
“To be a good teacher you also need be open and accept that you are not always right. You are always learning.
“I particularly love seeing young minds unfold. Listening to young children’s inquiries and getting a sense of what is going on in their minds is fascinating.
“They are slowly working out the world around them.
“It can be thoroughly frustrating, but you also learn that words have different meanings, especially to young children.” .
There are various routes into teaching, depending on how a budding teacher wants to learn, their age and situation in life.
There are various education degrees which, if you can do are invaluable, according to Sara.
She says: “There are Bachelor of Arts degrees available which include that initial teacher training qualification you need to become a Newly Qualified Teacher, but these are few and far between now because Government is trying to phase them out.
“Anglia Ruskin doesn’t offer them anymore, but there are a few available across the country.
“If you are aiming to teach a specialist subject for the 11-plus age group, then do a degree in that subject, or an education degree.
“A lot of disciplines you call on in teaching are taken from other subjects, such as sociology, psychology, how society and structures work.
“Teaching young children especially needs a holistic approach.”
“Once a degree has been completed, the traditional route has been to complete a year-long PGCE course.
“Two thirds of students’ time is spent in a school with the rest at university.
A PGCE gives a student NQT status, after which they take a place at a school and are assessed over the school year, before they are considered fully qualified.
More recently School Centred Initial Teacher Training courses have been introduced and are becoming more popular, says Sara.
Instead of doing a PGCE a potential teacher takes a post at a school and is trained on the job.
Sara says: “This is particularly popular with mature students and those looking to get back to work after having children. It helps if you have worked as a voluntary or paid classroom assistant and those who have, will usually be supported by the school they work in already.”
SOME OF THE POPULAR TRAINING ROUTES
School-centred initial teacher training (Scitt)
SCITTs provide practical, hands-on teacher training delivered by experienced, practising teachers based in their own school or at a school in their network.
Scitt courses generally last a year and result in qualified teacher status.
Many also award a PGCE from a university.
This is a popular choice for those who hope to secure a teaching post within schools they are training at.
You get practical, hands-on training and education based in good schools across the country. School Direct courses are designed by groups of schools, with a university or a Scitt, based on the skills they are looking for in a newly qualified teacher (NQT).
The schools recruit trainees on to their course with a job in mind.
The courses generally last a year and all result in qualified teacher status.
Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
If you already have a degree, you can complete PGCE at university or college. Universities work with school partnerships to offer placements
It is normally a year-long full-time course (or up to two years part-time).