Which school is right for you?

There are so many choices to make at the start of your career and the education landscape is always changing! As you’ll probably be spending your working hours in a school, one of your first decisions is whether to teach in the maintained sector, opt for a public school, or head for further education.

State schools

State or ‘maintained’ schools offer you the opportunity to make a difference to children and young people’s life chances, a competitive salary, the chance to progress your career and, eventually, a great pension!

If you work in a state school, you’re contractually employed by the local authority. You are required to work 195 days in any academic year, 190 to teach pupils and five for staff development.

You are expected to perform the duties that the head teacher requires within a reasonable time scale, and will be expected to do additional hours to fulfil your professional duties.

As part of your pay and conditions you are required to:
– teach and have pastoral responsibilities for your students
– report on students’ progress
– maintain order and discipline
– prepare students for examination
– attend staff meetings and parents’ evenings
– attend in-service training.

As a newly qualified teacher in the state sector in England and Wales you must complete an induction period, which consists of the full-time equivalent of three terms’ work, with assessment at the end of each term. It can be completed full or part time.

What are the benefits for teachers working in state schools?
Teachers earn a competitive salary and other benefits. There is a clear, structured pay scale for all state teachers.
Teachers in state schools are able to take advantage of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, which is recognised to be one of the best available.

What qualifications do teachers need to teach in the state sector?
To teach in the state sector you need to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). To gain this, you must have a degree and have completed initial teacher training (ITT).

Academy schools

Academies are state funded schools which aim to improve education standards and offer you good career progression. There are now over 6,000 academies in England and thousands more schools are in the process of converting to academies.

About Academies
An academy can be set up through sponsors from businesses, charities, local authorities or voluntary groups working in partnership with the Department for Education. Academies are not maintained by local authorities, but work closely with them and with other local schools in the area.
Academies have introduced innovative approaches to management, governance, teaching and the curriculum. A broad and balanced curriculum as well as good teaching and excellent facilities is offered to all pupils, regardless of their abilities.

Benefits of academies
Academies benefit from greater freedom than other state schools, including freedom from local authority control, being able to set their own pay and conditions for staff, how they deliver the curriculum, and they can even change the lengths of terms and school days.
Academies are designed to achieve high educational attainment, by using the national curriculum and specialising in a particular theme. They help to break the cycle of underachievement in areas of social and economic deprivation by sharing their expertise and facilities with other local schools and the wider community.
Academies receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority as a maintained school, plus additions to cover the services that it no longer provides. However, academies have greater freedom over how they use their budgets to best benefit their students.

What’s it like teaching in an academy?
The sheer range of academies makes it hard to generalise about working in one! Some academies are schools that have converted because of better funding, others are failing schools that have been taken over by a chain.
Teachers in academies have broadly similar responsibilities to their colleagues in other schools. They don’t need to have QTS but must be ‘suitably qualified’. Pay and conditions are set by the academy, but access to Teachers Pensions Scheme is safeguarded.
Academies are led by a principal or director instead of a head teacher. They’re good for career progression, with potential for upward mobility. However, some teachers report extra workloads and associated stress, or having to undertake more rigorous planning.
If you’re considering applying to an academy, carefully research the sponsors, the academy’s philosophy, teacher turnover and pay scales.

Read more on the DFE.

Free Schools

Free schools are non–profit making state schools which are being set up in response to what local people say they need to improve education for children in their community. They enjoy a great deal of freedom and can recruit unqualified teachers.

There are around 300 free primary and secondary schools, altogether employing around 5,000. They are semi-independent and are being established by various groups including parents, charities, universities, businesses, educational groups and teachers. They are being set up in response to demand in local areas for a greater variety of schools, especially where there are not enough places in local schools, so children have to travel long distances.

Free schools have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, their curriculum, teacher pay and how they spend their budgets but are subject to the same Ofsted inspections as all state schools. Heads do not have to follow the same regulations as local authority schools when it comes to recruiting and can employ people without qualified teacher status, which is compulsory in mainstream education.

Benefits of Free Schools
According to the Department for Education, Free Schools give talented and committed teachers, charities, parents and education experts the opportunity to open a school to address real demand within an area.
The role of parents is crucial; they can drive the proposal, design the vision and ethos of the school with assistance from Government educators, choose and refine the curriculum, write the admissions policy and, with the Governors, appoint the head teacher.
Critics say they are divisive because they are centred disproportionately in middle-class neighbourhoods.

Find out more information on free schools on the DfE website.

New arrivals – University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools

University Technical Colleges and Studio Schools focus on giving young people employability skills and academic qualifications.

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are technical academies for 14 to 19 year-olds. The first UTC opened in 2010 and by 2015 there were a total of 45 across the country.

A new concept in education, UTCs are sponsored by universities and leading businesses and offer clear progression routes into higher education or further learning in work. They specialise in subjects that require cutting-edge technical equipment, for example, engineering, product design, construction, and environmental services.

Each UTC has a specialism, reflecting the sponsoring university’s areas of excellence and the needs of local employers, who provide support and work experience for students.

Studio Schools are innovative schools for 14 to 19 year-olds, backed by local businesses and employers. They often have a specialism, but focus on equipping young people with a wide range of employability skills and a core of academic qualifications, delivered in a practical and project-based way.

Study is combined with work placements at local and national employers who are involved in the school. Learning in this way encourages students to develop skills like punctuality, good communication, reliability and team-working, whilst gaining a strong grounding in English, maths and science.

To find out more, take a look at the UTC Website or on the DfE website.

Private schools

Teaching in the independent fee-paying sector can mean smaller class sizes, better facilities and greater flexibility. But there’s no such thing as a typical private school, whether at primary or secondary level.

Class size and class
Going to an independent school doesn’t mean the pupils – or indeed the teachers – are ‘posh’. Many children come from hard-working families who have chosen to make sacrifices to pay for their children’s education.
Class sizes in the independent sector can be a real attraction to teachers; one of the first things parents expect is smaller class sizes than in the maintained sector. For teachers, this means less marking time and more chance to concentrate on individuals.
There is no doubt that parental expectations are higher in the independent sector. Expect more parental involvement than in the maintained sector, with lots of report writing.

Teaching and the extra curriculum
Independent schools don’t have to follow UK national curriculum but are free to decide which subjects and exams they offer. Many now work to the International Baccalaureate.
For many teachers, the extra-curricular activities available at an independent school outweigh the classroom work. On the whole sports, arts, drama and music facilities are far better and although you won’t be forced to do anything you can’t do, you may find yourself on the hockey field or supervising a canoeing trip to the local river.

Hours, pay and holidays
Teachers working in boarding schools will see their responsibilities expand into a more pastoral role, requiring more hours in the evenings and at weekends. Pastoral involvement is hugely rewarding because you get the chance to engage with the pupils as people. However, your working hours are different. Even in day schools, the teaching day tends to be longer and can involve Saturdays. In general, private school holidays tend to be more generous.
Pay in the independent sector is calculated differently across different schools. Some will mirror the maintained sector, and include some extra benefits including a housing allowance, or reduced fees for teachers’ children. The pension is the same as the maintained sector.

Read more on the Independent Schools Council website.

Further education

Further education offers a huge range of academic and vocational courses and qualifications to students aged 14-19 as well as adult learners. The atmosphere is very different from schools, with staff and students often on first name terms.

Further education (FE) can be full- or part-time, academic or vocational. Generally speaking, universities provide higher education whilst schools and colleges provide further education.

The 288 FE colleges in the UK are major providers of adult learning at a local level. In recent years the proportion of further education learners who are mature as increased so you may find yourself teaching people who are older than you!

Students can study an enormous range of subjects both academic and vocational at work, home and in community settings. It gives young people who have failed to thrive at school a second chance to succeed and progress to a career or higher education. With a variety of starting points, and an impressive variety of progression routes, further education can address the enormous backlog of underachievement and provide a comprehensive lifetime learning service for all.

Working as a FE lecturer
As a FE lecturer you’ll teach one or more subjects, whether in a college or sixth form. You normally need a Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, a Certificate in Education or a Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Working as a lecturer is varied and challenging, with responsibilities including:
– planning and preparing lessons across a range of qualification types and levels in day, evening classes and workshops
– researching and developing new subject matter and teaching materials
– monitoring, assessing and marking students’ work including setting examinations
– taking part in course team meetings
– attending parents’ evenings, open days and careers/education conventions.

Salaries and conditions
Salaries are influenced by experience, qualifications and subject and also vary between colleges and geographic locations. Lecturers can move up the career ladder to become senior lecturers, course managers, curriculum managers or heads of department. Another way to move up the career ladder is to take on additional non-teaching responsibilities. Standard working hours for full-time lecturers are a 37 hour week including evening teaching. Holiday entitlement is typically 37 days per annum, plus bank holidays, and annual leave should be taken outside term time.

Read more on the Association of Colleges website or the Association of Teachers and Lecturers website, or search for further education jobs on FEjobs.com.

4 thoughts on “Which school is right for you?

  1. It doesn’t appear as though the writer has worked in FE. 37 hours! As a full time maths teacher and course manager (which attracted no extra pay, just 72 hours remission a year) I could regularly put in circa 50 hours. And more when learning to teach A2 further maths modules. That said, I enjoyed the teaching as the opportunity to teach A-level meant that I was able to do higher level maths with the students which was really enjoyable. Also, there is a big shake up in FE at the moment, with funding cuts meaning redundancies – I never thought I’d see the day when good and qualified maths teachers were at risk.

  2. You have focused all your attention on teaching staff but I have been checking your website regularly for non-teaching roles and you do advertise some. I am particularly interested in a Finance or Admin role.
    Do you have any comments?

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