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Overview of the teaching and education sector in the UK

There's plenty more to this sector than being a classroom teacher - discover what areas you can work in and what it's like working in the sector

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:

  • academies;
  • educational charities;
  • free schools;
  • further education colleges;
  • local education authorities (LEAs) - for state school teaching;
  • local government;
  • private schools;
  • universities.

To become a qualified teacher in England you will need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), for more information see routes into teaching.

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?

You 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?

As the training can be quite expensive, one of the main considerations is how you will fund it. The good news is that there are financial incentives to encourage graduates to teach shortage subjects such as:

  • biology and geography;
  • chemistry;
  • computing;
  • languages;
  • maths;
  • physics.

Incentives include training bursaries of up to £30,000 dependent on your degree classification and the subject you want to teach. Get more information and find out if you're eligible for funding for teacher training.

Schools and universities start processing teacher training applications soon after the UCAS application portal opens. So you shouldn't wait too long to submit your application, as many popular courses fill up quickly. Find out more about applying for teacher training.

Remember to brush up on your numeracy and literacy, these skills are essential for all teachers and you'll have to pass the professional skills tests before you begin your teacher training. You can view practise papers at Department of Education - professional skills tests.

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.

Written by Editor, Prospects
November 2015

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