How to become a Secondary School Teacher

We’ve already covered how to become a Primary School Teacher, but being a secondary school teacher poses a different challenge.

Those children are now older and if you thought they asked questions before, you’re going to be in for a surprise! That’s not a bad thing, however, as it’s one of the best parts of the job.

The path to becoming a secondary school teacher is similar to teaching in a primary school. Therefore, we’re going to explore both the role and the qualifications that are needed. We hope you’ve brought a notepad and pen for this lesson, because you might need them!

What does a secondary school teacher do?

To be honest, a little bit of everything. You’ll be marking work, speaking to parents, solving problems with students and generally working your socks off. This will happen both at home and in the classroom, as the work doesn’t mark itself!

It’s important to know the truth about the role. Many teachers do get stressed due to their workload and commitments. However, the job satisfaction rate goes through the roof when you consider the positive impact that a teacher provides.

In layman’s terms, a secondary school teacher works with children from the ages of 11-18. In England and Wales, that’s Year 7 to Year 13. (Scotland is S1 to S6, whereas Northern Ireland is Year 8 to Year 14.)

Just as in a primary school, you’ll create lessons based on a National Curriculum. UCAS has more details, but you’ll generally need exceptional communication skills, alongside proven excellence in numeracy and literacy. This is usually in the form of an exam.

As a secondary school teacher, you’re required to motivate and inspire students from all walks of life. A charismatic personality is beneficial, but not necessary for the role. However, you need to be able to convey knowledge in a way that’s easy to understand.

A passion for your teaching subject should help with this and you’ll always have fellow teachers to talk to if you need help.

How do I become qualified?

We’ll start at the beginning. To become a teacher, you need to complete your education, gain a degree and obtain a recognised teaching qualification.

This may involve GCSEs, A-Levels and other qualifications. Once you’ve got these, or if you’ve already finished compulsory education, you need to apply to a university.

The direct route

For a direct path into teaching, you could take an undergraduate teacher education programme.

As mentioned in our blog on Primary School Teachers, this option is usually reserved for that path, but some universities offer secondary-level Bachelor of Education Degrees too. It’s always best to do your research to ensure your success.

The indirect route

You could also specialise in a subject that you enjoy. For example, you could take a degree in Maths, English or Science and then take a PGCE or PGDE at postgraduate level.

This also gives you a useable qualification if you discover that teaching isn’t for you. It’s important to note that your chosen degree must relate to the subject that you want to teach. You can’t take marketing and teach Maths, for example!

That sounds great, but what are the challenges?

We’ve mentioned the stress that comes with the role, but it’s important to point out specific aspects that all secondary school teachers come across. The first problem concerns the workload. To put it simply, you’ll have marking coming out of your ears.

You’ll be working at home, in the classroom and maybe even in your car. Teaching is listed as a 37 hours-per-week role, but you’ll be arriving early and staying late. It’s a common part of the job that many people fail to mention when you’re applying, so be sure to keep this in mind.

Another common problem concerns the students themselves. You’re going to run into troublemakers and those that don’t want to listen

You’ll need to work together to find a solution. Arguments do happen in the classroom, even though you have the best interests of your pupils at heart.

You need to remain level-headed, you need to remain honest and you need to remember why you’re there. The child that argued with you while they were in year 8 may thank you once they leave. It’s funny how things work out.

So, where do I go from here?

You can go wherever you want! No, really, you can. Chances are, you’re reading this blog post with your whole life ahead of you. So, do your research, knuckle down, and become the teacher you’ve always wanted to be.

REESON has plenty of job opportunities for you once you graduate, and CV-Library is also a great tool for applications throughout the wider industry.

About the author: Gavin Doyle is an educational recruitment consultant at REESON Education, London’s premier teaching recruitment industry. Originally from Truro in Cornwall, Gavin now resides in Kingston-upon-Thames and has worked in recruitment for 11 years. Prior to this, Gavin spent six years teaching PE in schools across Cornwall.

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