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Overview of the teaching and education sector in the UK

As well as options to teach a variety of subjects and age groups, there are many other roles in the education sector for graduates to consider…

What areas of education can I work in?

Employment opportunities can be grouped into:


  • adult and community education;
  • early years (aged 0-5);
  • further education;
  • higher education;
  • non-school - home, pupil referral unit, hospital, prison;
  • primary;
  • private tuition - English, maths, music, dance;
  • secondary;
  • special educational needs (SEN);
  • teaching English as a foreign/second language.

Other education roles include:

  • academic or school librarianship;
  • careers guidance;
  • education administration;
  • educational psychology;
  • educational publishing;
  • education social work;
  • schools liaison;
  • museum education;
  • outdoor education/environmental education;
  • training and development.

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)- for state school teaching;
  • private schools;
  • further education colleges;
  • universities;
  • local government;
  • educational charities.

Organisations that offer opportunities in education include Teach First , a charity which recruits and trains high-achieving graduates to teach in challenging schools in low-income communities. Graduates are employed by the Field Studies Council (FSC) for its trainee tutor scheme, and school trip and adventure holiday employers such as PGL , recruit instructors.

What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the teaching and education sector can expect:

  • jobs to be available throughout the UK;
  • job satisfaction from helping students and from sharing enthusiasm for a subject you enjoy;
  • the need to be flexible in a sector that is subject to constant change;
  • a long working day - with extra work outside your normal working hours for marking, lesson planning and other paperwork - balanced by long holidays;
  • possibilities for self-employment (as a private tutor/teacher).

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?

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 (NCTL). For information on funding and getting into teaching see Get into Teaching .

There are financial incentives to encourage graduates to teach shortage subjects such as:

  • chemistry;
  • physics;
  • maths;
  • computing;
  • languages;
  • design technology.

Incentives include training bursaries, which range from £4,000 to £25,000, dependent on your degree classification and the subject you want to teach. For example in the academic year 2015/16 if you have a 2:1 and want to teach physics, chemistry, maths or computing, the full bursary of £25,000 is available. If you have a 2:2 and want to teach English or history there is no bursary, but you may be eligible for a tuition fee and/or maintenance loan.

Training for early years teachers in nurseries and pre-school education has become more structured. Completion of an early year's initial teacher training programme leads to Early Years Professional Status (EYPS), which is equivalent to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) - awarded to primary and secondary teachers. Course fees are paid and bursaries are available, depending on your degree classification. It is now possible to qualify to be an early year's teacher through work based training on a School Direct scheme.

Teacher qualifications for the further education (FE) and skills sector changed from September 2013. There are now a range of awards, certificates and diplomas in education and training from Level 3 - Level 5. See the Education and Training Foundation's advice on Becoming a further education teacher .

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
December 2014

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