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Overview of the teaching and education sector in the UK

As the third-largest employer in the UK, the teaching and education sector has a lot to offer graduates…

What areas of education can I work in?

Employment opportunities are grouped into:

  • adult and lifelong learning;
  • environmental education;
  • further education colleges, sixth form colleges and specialist; 
  • higher education;
  • pre-primary education;
  • primary education;
  • private education e.g. music, sport, dance or drama education;
  • secondary;
  • special needs education.

For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in teaching and education.

Who are the main graduate employers?

The main employers are:

  • local education authorities (LEAs) - in the UK, teaching and support role vacancies for state-funded schools are governed by individual LEAs;
  • universities and further education colleges - in some UK towns the central university is the largest employer. In 2011/12 there were 181,385 academic staff working in UK higher education institutions and 196,860 non-academic staff;
  • local government and other educational organisations - there are education departments at local government level, roles available in the local education authority itself and you could work for some of the supporting and funding organisations in education.

There is also Teach First , a charity that recruits and trains graduates to teach in low-income communities.

What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the teaching and education sector can expect:

  • a friendly, sociable environment where people at all levels work together;
  • salaries to vary depending on the job and type of institution you work for;
  • a pay freeze for teachers in schools in England due to government cuts in public spending;
  • extra work outside your normal working day for marking and lesson planning;
  • to work in the evening and through the summer if you work in higher/further education.

To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see types of jobs.

What are the key issues in the teaching and education sector?

There has been a lot of adjustment to the regulations surrounding the training and continued assessment of teachers in schools in the UK. For example, on the 1 April 2013 the Teaching Agency and the National College for School Leadership merged to become the National College for Teaching and Leadership. The information held on the Teaching Agency website has been moved onto the Department for Education website. Therefore it's important that you keep up to date with the changes in case they affect routes into teaching and education.

Recent changes to childcare policy will impact upon early years and nursery education. Some of these changes include:

  • rising childcare costs;
  • proposed cuts in staff to child ratios;
  • more rigorous Ofsted inspections;
  • the requirement for better qualified staff.

Higher education has also been at the centre of government reforms. As part of the government spending cuts in 2010, higher education institutions in England had their teaching budgets cut by 40%. A rise in tuition fees to £9,000 also resulted in many institutions having to make teaching and support staff redundant.

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
May 2013

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