Teaching has changed – be part of it

There’s a new generation of top-class teachers who are giving a boost to vital EBacc subjects

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The Independent Online

More than seven out of 10 new trainee teachers now have a highquality degree, according to latest figures from the Teaching Agency. This is a record rise of six percentage points compared to last year.

“We want high calibre teachers in the classroom,” says Rachel Houchen, a French and German teacher with a 2:1 from Oxford University. She’s in good company: 71 per cent of 2012/13 trainee teachers hold a 2:1 degree or higher. “Teaching is a high-status profession, which is attractive to top graduates,” she says.

The quality of trainee teachers has improved in all the key English Baccalaureate subjects - including maths, physics, chemistry and modern foreign languages, which traditionally have been hard to recruit to. Overall 66 per cent of those entering teacher training in these shortage subjects now have a 2:1 or higher degree classification – up from 55 per cent last year. In fact, 2012/13 has seen the most physics graduates start their teacher training since 1979.

“Times are changing and standards are rising,” says Houchen. She feels well respected and valued.

Within five years of qualifying as a teacher, she had progressed to head of department at Conyers School in Stockton-on-Tees – the school she attended herself. “I’m happy with my salary and my lifestyle balance.

I’m doing the job I want, in the region I want to be in. This is the school that set me up for life. I want to give the children I teach the same opportunities I’ve had.”

Matt Fox is another highly qualified teacher. After gaining his science degree, Fox completed a PhD at Southampton University. “During that time I did some teaching and lecturing,” he explains. “I loved it.

I still do.” Fox teaches science at Ashton on Mersey School in Greater Manchester. “I’m also director of transition, in charge of the students’ move from primary to secondary school, and head of year seven.”

Tax-free bursaries of up to £20,000 are on offer for the brightest graduates. Associations, including the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, are also offering prestigious scholarships. “It’s about getting passionate practitioners in the classroom with good subject knowledge,” says Houchen.

There have been developments in training too. School Direct, the new school-based route, allows schools to recruit to planned vacancies.

From this year, candidates must also pass their professional skills tests before training starts.

If you’ve got a degree you are proud of, why not use your subject expertise in teaching? Register with the Teaching Agency, search “get into teaching”, or call 0800 389 2500 to find out how.

Search ‘get into teaching’ or call 0800 389 2500