Higher learning curves: The skills that teachers require are in demand both in and out of the classroom

In terms of the entry and exit routes available, teaching is an unusually generous and open-minded profession. There are currently more than 30 different ways of becoming a qualified teacher, including the traditional Bachelor of Education path, the postgraduate PGCE route or one of many employment-based training schemes, each of which reflect the individual’s starting point.

As long as you have a degree, as well as a positive attitude to learning, your age and professional background shouldn’t be a hurdle, says Liz Francis, director of workforce strategy at the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA).

But what if, after several years at the chalk face, the rigours of the classroom become too much? For those qualified teachers looking for a way out of the staffroom rather than a way in, then once again, teaching is a sound choice.

“As many as one-third of teachers are career-changers, and we are a profession that benefits from the diverse backgrounds of many practitioners,” says Francis.

“In the same way, the training that a modern teacher receives is immensely transferable to just about any other career you can name – be it business or broadcasting, sales or psychology. The skills demonstrated by teachers are in huge demand,” she adds.

Educational psychology is an obvious career path for teachers and it is one taken by Kairen Cullen, who worked as a primary school teacher for 10 years before “falling into psychology via a period in learning support”.

Now a chartered educational psychologist running her own practice, Cullen’s clients range from pre-schoolers to teenagers, students and adults.

“Teaching was a very satisfying career for many years,” she says. “But I now see that psychology is the root of a whole range of problems that teachers face every day.”

For graduates looking to make a difference, the Teach First programme, established in 2003 as a way of helping high flyers tackle educational disadvantage, is unique.

Though competition for places is intense – last year, there were 1,760 applicants for 373 openings – the scheme has already placed more than 1,400 graduates in challenging schools in London, the North-west and the Midlands, and it now plans to step up the numbers. While many participants have gone on to take up very different careers – perhaps in the City or business – more than half have opted to stay in teaching beyond the two-year course, many of them in challenging schools.

To Teach First’s director of graduate recruitment James Darley, the mixture of academic strength, strength of purpose and leadership skills displayed by those chosen to fly the Teach First flag has already had a marked impact.

“We know from Ofsted, from heads and from teachers that sending highly able and committed young people into schools with poor results can make a huge difference in terms of pupil motivation and expectation,” he says, adding that the scheme continues to challenge the perception that the current generation is “self-obsessed and ego-driven”.

Although the 2:1 degree and the 300 Ucas points required of a Teach First graduate makes the programme challenging academically, the core competencies of humility, resilience and self-evaluation can be far harder for applicants to wrestle with.

“For those willing to respect pupils and other teachers and display real leadership skill, Teach First can be a vital stepping stone to careers in education and elsewhere,” adds Darley.

If the Teach First programme recognises the contribution that can be made by raw recruits, the Advanced Skills Teaching (AST) programme – for so-called super teachers – emphasises the importance of experience. Working both in their own and partner schools, ASTs have received praise from Ofsted for their contribution in raising standards.

“We recognise that it is important to give teachers a number of different professional pathways after some years in teaching,” says Francis.

“We are delighted that some 6,000 teachers have been accepted for AST status and will remain at the heart of the classroom where they can make a significant impact.”

‘My chief contribution was being a role model’

Emily Miller, 25, a social anthropology graduate from Manchester University joined the Teach First programme in 2006; teaching citizenship, RE and music at a Manchester girls’ secondary school. She is currently helping develop a school citizenship programme at the Institute of Philanthropy and is a Teach First ambassador.

“When you’re selected for a Teach First place, the message is that you are exceptional and unusually able. While it’s great to be built up like this, it’s also vital that you are sensitive to the needs of the children and to the feelings of the other teachers – who may feel that you are muscling in.

My chief contribution was being a role model for a group of girls who didn’t necessarily appreciate the range of opportunities available to them and whose expectations were fairly low. But despite being in a challenging school, and perhaps having problems at home, some of the girls were still motivated to do better, and I saw it as my job to keep reminding them that with some hard work, they could fulfil their potential.

By the end of my time there, many of the pupils on my GCSE citizenship course had outperformed all expectations and some were keen on applying to university. I still mentor one of the girls to this day.”

‘You have to be patient and good humoured’

Paul Keogh, a French language and literature graduate from the University of Liverpool, became an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) in 2001 and was named Secondary School Teacher of the Year in 2003. Now 45, he is head of languages at King James’s Grammar School in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

“I don’t like the term ‘super teacher’ because it upsets other members of staff, but having been faced with the choice, mid-way through my career, of either moving further into management or staying in the classroom, becoming an AST was an obvious choice for me.

Although my mind is fully focused on the children I teach at King James’s and their different abilities in languages, an important part of my role as an AST is to support teachers in other schools by observing and coaching them.

Talking to other teachers in different settings about how to make languages more fun for the children, or showing good practice to student teachers in my own school, is a role I love; despite all the joshing I receive from my own colleagues.

You have to be patient and good humoured when you teach a foreign language and whatever title you end up with, you need to keep on learning. The day I stop doing that is the day I stop teaching.”

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

EYFS Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Our Primary School in Grimsby ar...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 6 Supply Teacher Position a...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?