Teacher training: Start your studies earlier to get ahead

Studying teaching at undergraduate level will give you a great grounding in a career with direction and variety
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The Independent Online

Why is teaching such an attractive career? There are many reasons. The Graduate Career Survey rated pay as the top motivator for graduate career choices, and teaching is a career that pays well. From this September, newly qualified teachers will start on a salary in excess of £20,000, or more than £24,000 in inner London. This can rise to over £34,000 (or £40,000 in inner London) for good, experienced classroom teachers. For head teachers pay can rise to more than £90,000 - depending on the size of the school - and progression to headship can be swift.

Teaching is also well supported. Thorough training ensures teachers are fully prepared, with newly qualified teachers benefiting from mentors. Classroom assistants are widespread and all teachers have half a day a week out of the classroom for planning, preparation and assessment to reduce their workload. Subject associations and fellow teachers ensure that there is a substantial network that people can turn to.

If teaching is your career goal then you'll need a degree. First, however, you will need to have the equivalent of at least a C in GCSE maths and English. If you want to teach in a primary school or up to GCSE level in a secondary school, you will also need the equivalent of at least a C in a science subject. These are needed to teach and are in addition to any entry requirements for your degree course. The undergraduate route you can take into teaching is to do a degree that includes qualified teacher status (QTS) - the qualification needed to teach in a state school - such as a bachelor of education (BEd) or a BA or BSc with QTS.

A BSc or BA with QTS is a typical honours degree that also incorporates teacher training. As such, they include school-based training along with the more usual lectures and seminars and commonly last for four years. Because they lead to QTS, you must study a National Curriculum subject.

A BEd also leads to QTS but is an honours degree in education. The content may vary according to the university or college providing it, but they usually involve study of the history and theory of education, and can incorporate elements of sociology, philosophy, politics and psychology. Teaching and assessment also vary from institution to institution, but you can expect to learn from a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials and school placements, assessed by essays and examinations, plus a dissertation in your final year.

Because they do not have a single-subject bias, BEds are a popular choice for people interested in teaching primary school children, but they are also an option for anyone wanting to teach at secondary level. For most BEd and BA or BSc with QTS courses starting in September or October, Ucas accepts applications between the preceding September and January. It is often also possible to apply to defer entry for a year.

In choosing their degree, most people consider what career they want after graduation, and one of the most popular choices among students is teaching. The 2006 UK Graduate Careers Survey found that more than one in 10 final-year students had either applied or were planning to apply to teacher-training courses, putting teaching second only to working in the media, and ahead of investment banking, marketing and accountancy. Perhaps that's something to learn from!

To find out more information about teaching and becoming a teacher, visit www.teach.gov.uk, the TDA's website. Alternatively, call the Teaching Information Line on 0845 6000 991 (0845 6000 992 for Welsh speakers; minicom 01245 454343)


Kelly Vidal, 21, is in the second year of her education and cultural studies course at Bath Spa University

I did English language, English literature and communication studies at A-level, and I also have an AS-level in media. This course will give me a broad grounding in the theory and practise of teaching before I begin my PGCE.

You do six modules a year, three in each semester. It's very practical: you get to go into classrooms and see how children learn. I'm doing a research-in-school module, which involves spending one day a week observing how classrooms and children work, and then writing up and presenting a paper.

We have a mixture of one-hour lectures and two-hour seminars; we're also encouraged to do as much reading around the subject as possible. There are no exams. It's all done through coursework, seminar presentation or work in schools. I'll also have to do a dissertation next year.


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