Did you know that in UK you can be accepted for post-graduate teacher training after ANY Bachelor’s degree? Or that lessons in primary schools may last even 1,5 hour?
What are the requirements to be a primary teacher in UK? What is a school day like?
Our protagonist today is Kamila (30,Poland) who teaches at a primary school near London and will share her story with you!
Why did you decide to work as a teacher in UK?
After I graduated in Poland, I worked as a class assistant at a private school in UK for a couple of months. I enjoyed working with kids and one of my colleagues suggested I could become a teacher at a primary school. My level of English was C1, I had a degree in English Philology and I had studied in Birmingham for a year as an Erasmus student. So, I applied for a Primary PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) program at the University of Southampton.
What are the requirements for foreign students to study the PGCE course?
You must have GCSE passes or equivalent, at grade C or above in English Language, Mathematics and Science. However, if your qualifications are not considered appropriate, you can take a GCSE equivalent at the British university where you’re applying for a postgraduate teaching program. You also need to pass the Professional Skills Tests before you start training. It is also very useful to have teaching experience.
What is the cost of the program? Is it possible to obtain financial support?
Back in 2008 the course cost 3,900 I had a scholarship of around 400£, which was just enough to hire a room in a shared flat, so I taught English classes to Poles living in Southampton to earn some extra money. Today the program cost is 900£, but there are different bursaries available.
How is the course organized? Did you enjoy it?
I enjoyed it a lot. The university offers introduction to the primary curriculum as well as Teaching and Learning, a module that helps you to understand how children learn and how teachers teach. I also had 3 months of practical training in different schools around Southampton.
Was it easy for you to find a job after the course?
Yes, it was; in May, when I was about to finish the course, many local schools were sending recruitment leaflets to the university and I started to apply for jobs. I was lucky; I was accepted for the third post I applied for.
How much can a newly graduate teacher earn? How long are working hours?
A graduate teacher earns around £ 21.000 a year; the salary scale rises gradually to £31.000. Teachers who work in London area earn a little bit more. You work long hours, even 50-60 hours a week; remember that there are no course books in UK, so you have to prepare a lot of teaching materials on your own. Normally lessons in UK start at 8 am and finish at 3pm, you have to be at school before the pupils come and often stay there in the afternoon. All the teachers also have to prepare lessons and mark exams at home. Plus after-school activities, parents’ evenings, school trips and all these “extra” things that make you work more hours.
How is an English school different from a Polish school?
As I’ve told you, we use no coursebooks, which means more preparation for the teachers at home. State schools pay for the kids’ school supplies, so parents don’t have to buy notebooks and pens. The only important expense is a school uniform, obligatory in some schools, but parents can also get financial support for that. Thanks to all that help pupils from low-income families in UK don’t have to worry about lack of necessary supplies.
Another difference is that kids in UK schools come from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It’s an amazing experience to get to know the kids’ cultures, and very enriching for teachers.
How old are the kids you teach?
I teach kids at Key Stage 2, who are 7-11 years old. I teach all subjects, like English, Maths, science…One year I taught kids from year 3 (7 year olds), another year from year 5. Primary teachers can also work with kids at Key Stage 1, aged 5-7.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching?
If you like working with children, teaching is a very rewarding job. You teach them new things, you help your pupils to achieve their goals and believe in themselves.
Are you satisfied with your salary? What are your daily expenses?
I think the teacher’s salary is very good in UK. I live at my boyfriend’s house in a town near London, we spend around £300 each month for bills and council tax. It’s not a very expensive area. My main expense is my car as I drive to work everyday. My salary allows me to have a good standard of living.
Do you hang out more with the English or the Polish?
I made a lot of English friends during the course and we enjoy spending time together. My boyfriend is English, so we hang out a lot with his friends and family. I also have a few Polish friends here,
Do you miss Poland? Are you planning to go back one day?
I miss my family and friends, but I visit Poland at least twice a year. I’m not planning to go back, I like to live here. I’ve made a lot of friends and I’m happy with my job.
What advice would you give to people who want to work in UK as teachers?
Try to get as much experience at school as you can; that will help you to see if teaching is the right job for you and if you’re enjoying yourself in the classroom. Experience is also valued when you apply for a post-graduate training. You also need to have excellent English skills; minimum C1 level is required. And, like in any country in the world, to be a teacher you must enjoy working with kids and have a lot of patience.
USEFUL PAGES & TIPS:
If you’d like to become a teacher in UK and you don’t know where to start, visit the official website of the Department of Education: www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching
Are you searching for specific information about entry requirements, training and career development? Visit Prospects: the UK’s official graduate career website.
Would you like to check if the qualifications from your home country are appropriate for a teacher training program in UK? Visit UK Naric site, the national organization responsible for recognizing international qualifications: www.ecctis.co.uk/naric/
Are you planning to volunteer in a UK school before applying for a teaching job? It is an excellent way to improve your English skills and get experience! You can search for volunteering opportunities on www.charityjobs.co.uk