Future You podcast transcript

Launch your teaching career

November, 2019

This is a transcript of Episode 5: Launch your teaching career, from Future You - the careers podcast from Prospects


Host: Dan Mason


  • Hannah Smith, Teach First
  • Amy Carpenter, University of Suffolk.

Episode transcript

Dan Mason: Hello and welcome to Future You, brought to you by graduate careers experts Prospects. My name is Dan Mason. This episode is all about teaching and will focus for the most part on one particular route into teaching, the Teach First training programme, which I'm sure many of you will have heard of. Then our regular guest, careers adviser Amy Carpenter, will give us a more general overview about the different options for those of you who want to become teachers, how to get experience and what funding might be available to you. To listen to more episodes of Future You on topics including graduate schemes, job interviews, and getting the skills employers want, head to prospects.ac.uk/podcasts, or subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or whichever podcast app you prefer. And you can get in touch on Twitter, @prospects or by email to podcast@prospects.ac.uk with any questions about graduate careers or postgraduate study.

Hannah Smith, university recruiter at Teach First, welcome to the show.

Hannah Smith: Hi, thank you.

Dan Mason: Thanks so much for joining us. Anyone who's listening who may not have thought of teaching as a career path and might be about to switch off because they think that's not for them - what would you say that would really engage them to think about considering teaching as a route after university?

Hannah Smith: So firstly, I think it's massively rewarding. That probably comes above everything else that I'm about to say. But also research has kind of shown us that what graduates are most interested in finding after university is real responsibility, a structured training programme and tangible qualifications and a challenging role. And I think teaching is the kind of career option where you can have all of that, so every day is different. And the way that we operate our training programme means that you get all of that training, you get that qualification, as well as the added element of knowing that you're kind of doing something good, you're making a positive social impact. And you have a really tangible impact. So you can physically see the progress that kids are making because of your input.

Dan Mason: OK, so many students will have heard of Teach First, they may not know exactly what it does and how it differs from other routes into teaching. Could you just give us a bit of the background about Teach First?

Hannah Smith: Yeah, so there are a few things that kind of differentiate us from other routes into teaching. So firstly, it's our kind of vision, we're a charity and our kind of mission and our vision is at the core of what we do. So we don't work with all schools. We're here for schools who do a great job in challenging circumstances, but need kind of our help and your help. Education in the UK isn't fair at the moment, and a child's success is often kind of dictated by their postcode. So we're working in those schools and those areas where statistically children are less likely to do well, so that we can try and make things better. Try and build a fairer education for all.

In terms of the actual structure of the programme and the training that you get, our training programme is like a hands-on route into teaching. So you spend five weeks at our training programme in the summer, it's residential, and then you get straight into the classroom in September. So you're teaching from day one, you'll have your own classes right from the start, and you kind of learn on the job. So we don't just throw you in the deep end, you'll be on a slightly reduced timetable. You have three support roles, but essentially, you are a teacher from day one. During the two years on the programme, you earn a salary as well. So that's the big difference in our route into teaching, you're employed directly by the school. So you're working towards your PGDE, which is funded by us and you're earning a salary at the same time. So at the end of the two years, you're a qualified teacher, you've got your PGDE and you'll have received a salary for the whole two years while you've been teaching.

Dan Mason: Ok, so you mentioned that it's a two-year programme, could you just give us a bit more detail in terms of how many graduates you take on each year and the entry requirements for the programme. And also, as part of that, whether you need to have teaching experience already before you for your plan to Teach First?

Hannah Smith: Yeah, so this September, we had our largest ever cohort, so that was 1,735 teachers across nine regions and multiple subjects. The eligibility is quite complex. But as a kind of a basic you need to have GCSE in English and maths at a C or above which is a 5 in the new grading system, and be working towards a 2:1 or 2:2 in your degree. In terms of what subjects you can teach, again, it is quite complicated. So if your subject directly aligns with a national curriculum subject, for example maths, then obviously you can teach that. If it doesn't, then we'll look back at what you did before university at like your A-levels or equivalent. So if you have, for example a B or above in, in maths or in two sciences, then you can teach those subjects. And so we we look further back than your degree if it's not immediately clear what subject you would teach.

What we do say is that apply, you kind of, you apply to the Teach First programme rather than to a specific subject. So it's not necessary for you to already know kind of what subjects you're eligible to teach before you apply. We have a team who can kind of help guide you through that process. And we've got particular focus on STEM and languages teachers, so across the UK, there's a massive national shortage. So they're the subjects where we can make the biggest impact on our education system. So if you have kind of A-levels at B or above in those subjects then we'll be asking you to teach those as a priority, even if your degree is something different. In regards to teaching experience, you don't need to have had any teaching experience at all. We look for some key competencies and as long as you can demonstrate those, it doesn't doesn't really matter where you've had that experience and where you've gained those skills, as long as you can kind of demonstrate them. We know that lots of other things are trainable. So we can pick that up as we go through the programme.

Dan Mason: And could you tell us about the application process as well?

Hannah Smith: Yeah. So you apply online via our website, and you do a written application there based on our competencies. What I would say here is that we have a dedicated application support team, and they get in touch with everybody who opens an application. And they'll give you a call, or they'll drop you an email and they offer guidance, top tips, advice, they talk to you about what subject you might be able to teach. So do take that support. Lots of people don't, but obviously people who do we tend to find are more successful. If you're successful in your written application, then you'll be invited to attend a selection day.

So we've recently changed from an assessment centre to a development centre. The reason for that is twofold. So firstly, we know how important it is for trainees to be able to take on board feedback. That's what you do all the time as a teacher. And we know that you're not going to be a perfect teacher straight away when you come to our development centre. So we're looking at how you can act on feedback. So during the day, you actually will teach a four-minute short mini lesson and then you get some feedback, and then you have another go. So we're not looking for you to be like a polished finished product, we're looking for you to be able to take on board feedback. The second reason for moving to a development centre is that we want you to get something out of comment. So we want you to feel like you've developed yourself, you've developed your skills throughout the day. So our development centre is kind of work in progress and it's constantly changing and evolving based on research.

And if you're made an offer after that, then you'll have some post-offer tasks to do, so the usual things like references and also a piece of work to help you assess your subject knowledge. So especially if you're teaching from like an A-level, as I said before, and that kind of helps us know how to support you later on in the process. So there's a few bits that you have to do once you've got an offer.

Dan Mason: And what time of year should students start thinking about applying? Is this application process is a long process or quite short, how does it work?

Hannah Smith: So the time it takes to apply and to get your offer can vary depending on what time of year it is. And we're open for applications already now. And each subject and each region will stay open until it's full, essentially. So we don't have a particular closing date. We recruit on a rolling basis. Applications are screened every day. Development centres happen every day. So it's a case of first-come first-served, I guess, with your application. If you're very set on where you would prefer to be placed in terms of what region or you're very set on which subjects you prefer to teach then applying as soon as possible really is the message because the subject and the regions will close once they're full.

Dan Mason: You mentioned earlier on that there's a lot of help and support available at the start of the application process and throughout. How do people go about getting that help when they're starting an application?

Hannah Smith: So you'll get, that contact happens automatically. So as soon as you've opened an application, you'll put your personal details and you'll put your number and your email address. And our team will get in contact with you once that application's open. And then they'll be your point of contact so you can reach back out to them if you have any more questions or before your development centre, they'll give you another call and talk through what to expectand things like that.

Dan Mason: Ok, so with that application process, what is it that you're looking for, what kind of students what kind of graduates, you know, what traits, personality traits, what is it that you want?

Hannah Smith: So our whole recruitment process is based on a series of competencies. So as I said before, it doesn't matter where you've kind of developed these skills as long as you have them. So the skills are effective interaction, humility, respect and empathy, leadership, planning and organising, problem solving, resilience, self-evaluation, and understanding and motivation. So by understanding and motivation, we mean, you understand Teach First you understand our vision, and you're motivated to have the impact that we're trying to achieve. So it's entirely based on those, at all stages of the application process you're being assessed on when you've demonstrated those competencies and whether you can demonstrate them live. Everyone who, who kind of meets the standard will be made an offer provided that the region and subject is not full yet. So you're not particularly in direct competition with other people. Everyone, everyone at a development centre day could get an offer if they all meet the bar, or no one could get an offer if no one needs to bother. You're not kind of competing for a set number of places.

Dan Mason: For those candidates who are successful and get onto the programme, who will they be teaching at what level?

Hannah Smith: So it depends on what subjects you're eligible to teach. We do recruit all the way from early years through to secondary. So you can teach early as primary or a specific subject at secondary. The caveat to that is that with primary, the current demand is not particularly high. So earlier, I said that we only work with schools who need us and who we can kind of have a real impact with. And at the moment, the market for primary school teachers is quite saturated. So primary is not really where our focus is, because that's not where we're needed. So primary, we are almost full for this year already. So it's likely that if you're eligible for something else, then that's what you would be offered a place to teach. If you are given a subject at secondary then you will teach at least one Key Stage 3 and at least one Key Stage 4 class. So people often ask me, will I be teaching Year 11 and it depends on the school, the individual school and their timetable. So some people will be teaching Year 11 some people, it will just be Year 10. So it depends largely on the school as to what age group once you get into secondary.

Dan Mason: You mentioned earlier that during the programme, you'll be working towards a qualification the PGDE. Can you tell us a bit more about what that is?

Hannah Smith: Yeah, so, you might have heard of a PGCE. So a PGCE is a postgraduate certificate in education, whereas a PGDE is a postraduate diploma in education, so it's worth double the credits of a PGCE and it's actually two-thirds of a Masters as well. So it's a higher qualification and it's also got a leadership aspect. So you get your PGDE in education and leadership. So it has that added element and with it being two-thirds of a Masters, you can top that up afterwards. So in your third year there's a subsidised top-up year, where you can you can get that Masters and use those credits that you've already worked towards.

Dan Mason: So this is a two-year programme. What happens when you reach the end of that programme? Is there is a job, is it experience that you can use to go on to do something else with your career? How does that work?

Hannah Smith: Yes. So at the end of the two years, you're a qualified teacher, so many of our trainees do stay in their partner school. And that's kind of, that's the conversation between the trainee and the partner school. Often our partner schools do want to keep the trainees on. Just over 60% of our trainees stay in teaching after the two years, some in their partner schools, some decided to go on to other schools, and we have dedicated leadership pathways to help those trainees who do want to stay in school and do want to progress. So we now have 60 headteachers and we're starting to see applicants coming through who have been taught by a Teach First year as well. So we're starting to kind of see the reach that we can have with an education of people who do stay in teaching and do progress into senior leadership. We would love for everyone to stay in the classroom.

But we know that some people may want to use that, you know, the new skills that they've developed to work on our vision in other sectors. So we work with over 80 partners across all industries. So from PwC and finance companies through to like Amazon, Google, the civil service, but also like small social enterprises, some of which are set up by our ambassadors and people who've done our programmes. So some people will go on to work with those companies or you know, found their own social enterprise, but they might keep their their link to our vision in another way. So for example, they might be a school governor or they might work on an outreach programme in their new career, so the possibilities are endless, really. We run exclusive internships as well. So between our first and second year on the two-year programme, you can get involved with those partner companies and kind of get some experience in different sectors to see if it is something you're interested in long term. We're seeing a trend now of people who trained with us right back when we first started 17 years ago, now coming back into teaching, having experienced other industries. So we're also starting a new programme to help qualified teachers return to the profession, so that we can kind of help people achieve whatever it is they want to achieve, but still have that contribution to our vision and our mission.

Dan Mason: And just finally, almost going back to the start, what really makes this stand out compared with other routes into teaching?

Hannah Smith: So I think, as I said right at the beginning, the main thing is how rewarding a job it is. And it's even more rewarding because you've got that real responsibility from day one. So you're not still at university. You are a full-time teacher. So you're seeing the impact that you're making day-to-day, you're seeing that tangible difference in students because of what you're doing. So you're able to make a real difference in a genuinely challenging role. And another key element is the qualification. So you'll get your PGDE, you'll get qualified teacher status, fully funded, so you'll have also a salary for the entire two years. And so that's real kind of experience but as well, you're being paid. There's also the leadership element. So we're number eight in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers at the moment and part of that is because of the quick progression into leadership that people who do our programmes have, so whether that's in school with all leadership pathways that support you to get into leadership positions and to headships or whether it's outside of the classroom and people who've taken those skills, and use them elsewhere in other industries.

Dan Mason: Ok Hannah, thanks very much for joining us.

Hannah Smith: Thank you.

Dan Mason: Amy Carpenter joins me, employability and progression adviser at the University of Suffolk. Welcome back, Amy.

Amy Carpenter: Hi, Dan.

Dan Mason: So we're talking today about teaching. Firstly, just to start with the many different routes that you can take into teaching can be a bit confusing for students. Could you just give us an overview of where they stand in terms of the routes into teaching?

Amy Carpenter: Yeah, definitely. So there's lots and lots of different ones. If you go and have a look online at perhaps the government website Get Into Teaching, or on Prospects, any of those types of websites, that there's lots of different sources of information, but in summary, the main ones are the salaried or the non-salaried routes. So the non-salaried routes are where you would probably go and get a tuition fee loan, potentially a maintenance loan. You may receive a bursary depending on the subject and the grades you've achieved in your degree, to then financially support you through the year of your teacher training. The salaried route is where you would go and work in a school and be paid a salary as an employee, but you typically you need a little bit of work experience before getting on to these ones. So that route is often slightly more targeted at people who are perhaps having a career change or have worked in industry for a few years and want to then enter teaching as a result so they pursue that route. They could obviously pursue the non-salaried route as well. But the salaried route is targeted at them a little bit more.

There's also recently the launch of degree apprenticeships into teaching, which is very new. But that could be another option that you could pursue, which is employment based, as well. And there's lots of different names as well for the teacher training versions. So you might have your School-Centred Initial Teacher Training, which is often called SCITT, and then you have your School Direct again. But the main thing to look at with these is to look at which schools it offers. So if you particularly want to work in a certain school in a certain area, you might be better to see what opportunities they offer instead of attempting to look through the different routes and to ensure that it offers you the QTS, which is qualified teacher status, so you will need to make sure that your course gives you that at the end if you want to work in a primary or high school setting.

Dan Mason: Ok. And you mentioned briefly there, the availability of loans and also bursaries, could you just go into funding for teacher training a bit more? Because it depends on the subject you want to teach and things like that, doesn't it?

Amy Carpenter: Yes. So at the basic level, there is a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan available from Student Finance England. So that works very similar to the undergraduate loan that most of you will probably have received if you're eligible. So there's some basic eligibility criteria there but Student Finance England can, you know, give full information of that and step you through how to apply for that. There's also the bursaries and scholarships, so if you're wanting to teach in a subject that is applicable to this, you might be able to access a bursary and it can be in the region of £20-£25,000 that you would receive during the year. So for example, perhaps maths, some of the sciences, the subjects where there's quite a shortage of teachers, you need to have ensured that you've got a high enough degree grade. So typically, it's a 2:2 or above that you would need to have achieved in maths or at least a subject very close to maths so perhaps an accountancy degree, if you can demonstrate that there was enough maths in that, may be eligible. So it's always worth checking if you particularly want to work in one of those fields, because there's, it's a lot of money to be able to support you through that year. But things like maths, science, computing, I think some of the languages as well offer it. So it's worth doing your research to see whether your course might be available to you for the bursaries.

Dan Mason: So despite all the jokes about long holidays and things like that, for teachers, it is a really tough profession to go into, as most people know. How can a student or recent graduate know that teaching is right for them for making that commitment?

Amy Carpenter: Yeah, I think it's so important to get experience and when you apply for teacher training, they are going to want to see that you understand teaching, understand working with children, young people, whichever age group that it is you're targeting. And I would recommend getting experience in a school setting or high school setting, college setting as soon as you can, before you apply so that you can start to understand whether it really is somewhere you want to work. And schools, particularly are often very willing to accept people to shadow in classes or do observations. So it's always worth contacting local schools nearby. I know in our university, we often get schools contacting us as well to say, 'we've got opportunities for volunteers to come in and work with students'. And it can be quite specific things as well. They could be actually targeting students if you're thinking about a slightly different career route, like an educational psychologist. There can be opportunities to volunteer in schools in a actually quite a niche field, or speech and language therapy as well. But until you go and do that volunteering or that shadowing or the observation, I don't think you can truly decide if you definitely want to be a teacher or not. And there's always schools out there that are willing to support people through the process.

So another option that you could consider as well is that some areas will offer graduate internships in teaching roles. So you could actually go and work in a kind of teaching assistant role for a year, but it's structured. So it's almost like, a little bit like a mini graduate scheme, as well. So you might get the chance to rotate so you would work in classrooms, also pastoral work, some of the speech and language therapy, perhaps or specific behavioural support as well. So it allows you to get exposure to a lot of different parts of the school environment, and not just the teaching side of it, actually all of the other bits that are involved in it as well and could help you inform actually, do you definitely want to be a teacher? Or actually, are you more interested in perhaps pastoral and special education needs work or is it a therapist role that you'd like to pursue? Or is it even policy, something like that and working in a, perhaps in the local council informing policy in that area or in government as well. So I would definitely encourage you to have a look in your local area or where you're based or where you might consider moving to and seeing what opportunities are available in that field as well.

Dan Mason: And once you've made that decision to go into teaching, obviously the next step is applying for the teacher training route that you've chosen. Could you just tell us a little bit about how that works?

Amy Carpenter: Yeah, so most applications will go through UCAS and they open in October. So it's very important that you're looking early on, similarly with graduate schemes as well that you're starting your job hunting process as soon as you sort of commence your studies in your final year if you're hoping that you will then go into teacher training immediately after your degree. Because the spaces are often filled on a first-come first-served basis. So if you know that you specifically want to be an English teacher, in a certain, in high school in a certain area, then I would recommend applying as soon as positions open in that October window, because you can increase your chances of actually getting an interview, being accepted onto it. And actually, the sooner you know that you've been accepted onto it, then it makes the rest of your year of study a lot less stressful because you know what you're doing ready in the next summer. So actually, you can just focus on your work for the rest of the academic year. Focus on your studies focus on whatever else it is that's going on. Because you know that you've got your next move lined up ready for the next summer and September, the following year.

Dan Mason: As ever, thanks very much, Amy, for your time. And we'll speak again soon.

Amy Carpenter: See you soon.

Dan Mason: That's everything for this episode of Future You. Thanks to Hannah and Amy for joining me today. For lots of detailed advice about getting into teaching, go to the teacher training section of the Prospects website. And of course, you can search for graduate jobs there too, to find your ideal role. You can subscribe to Future You in your favourite podcast app or listen to all the episodes on prospects.ac.uk/podcasts podcast, follow us on Twitter @prospects, and you can also email us on podcast@prospects.ac.uk with any questions or comments. That's all for now, I'll speak to you soon.

Transcript ends.

Note on transcripts

These transcripts are produced using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. The audio version is definitive and should be checked before quoting.

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