Like working with kids? Want oodles of holiday as well as a decent salary? Well, join the queue – a survey last week revealed more Londoners than ever are considering a career in teaching. The Teaching Line survey showed most people think the career has kudos. Here, TNT explains how you can get ahead of the rest.
Down Under stars
Schools might be tightening budgets, but there’s still a definite demand for teachers – especially for those with enthusiasm, good behaviour management and patience. Headteachers admit they see these qualities in Antipodean candidates, and therefore are more inclined to take them on, says Greg Brown, of SANZA teaching agency (sanzateaching.com. He adds: “Some schools ask specifically for Aussie and Kiwi teachers – the Anzac attitude puts them in good stead.”
Positions are highly concentrated in densely populated areas such as Wandsworth and Peckham, particularly for high school teachers. “Teachers are now recognising the necessity to consider converting their primary experience into secondary capability,” Margaret Howell, of Classroom Teacher Limited (classroomteachers.co.uk), says. It’s important to be flexible, too – don’t assume all schools in a bad area will be filled with problem pupils. Brown says: “Don’t let the reputation of an allocation steer you away from a job. It’s not like cities in the southern hemisphere where you’ve got a town on the wrong side of the tracks.
“London is a collection of small villages, so you might go into a nice area that has a terrible school and vice versa.” Primary teacher Jen Ward, who hails from Sydney, has worked in London for nine months, and hasn’t experienced any behaviour issues from the children she teaches. “I understand this is the exception,” she says. “But the biggest shock, if anything, is having a teaching assistant do my photocopying in the morning.”
Get the ball rolling
The best way to get a foot in the door is by obtaining contract work with a teaching agency. Brown says: “Short-term work is a great way for a teacher to check out schools in London, to find out where and what they like and dislike, and to network. “If a school likes you and vice versa often it can lead to permanent work.”
The plus side to short-term contracts is that you can travel between jobs, outside peak holiday periods. When doing short-term work, don’t miss out on professional development opportunities. These could help you earn more cash when home. And get involved in social events. “They’re great way for teachers to share war stories over a can of beer,” Brown says.
You must hold a UK-recognised teaching qualification to work. Overseas Trained Teachers (OTT) need to register with the General Teaching Council (GTC), which is the central governing body. It costs £36.50 to join, but all you need to do is fill in a form when you register with an agency. As an OTT, you’re allowed to teach in the UK for a maximum of four years before you’ll need to have obtained Qualified Teacher Status. If you have no relevant qualification, you can work as a cover supervisor, or supply teacher. Your criminal history will be checked so make sure you can provide records.
Contract teachers earn about £120 a day – or up to £150 a day for longer roles. Teachers can earn £27,000 a year in London.
Register with a specialist teaching agency to find work, keeping in mind the school year ends in July. Even at that time, maintain a good relationship with your teaching agency – they may tee up some work for you for when you return.
Tips for Teachers
Richard Knell of Hays Education
• Don’t join too many agencies.
• Be clear about where you want to be long-term, and build a relationship with your recruiter.
• Move on to jobs with a full written reference from a previous employer or teaching placement.
• Do research the UK curriculum and have lesson plans prepared before working as a supply teacher.
• Go out of your way to impress your employers. Schools like continuity and they will ask you to come back if you get off on the right foot.