NAME: Laura Jones AGE: 28 PERSONAL: Laura always did well at school and got good results in her GSCEs and A-levels. She decided to study for a degree in maths, but admits she had no idea what she wanted to do once she left university. After graduation, L

NAME: Laura Jones

AGE: 28

PERSONAL: Laura always did well at school and got good results in her GSCEs and A-levels. She decided to study for a degree in maths, but admits she had no idea what she wanted to do once she left university.

After graduation, Laura joined an insurance firm as an underwriter, but quickly realised it wasn't the right job for her and decided to give teaching a try instead.

Laura went back to university to study for her Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PCGE). Shortly after finishing the course she got a job as a maths teacher in a secondary school, and was recently made deputy head of her department.


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Teachers play a vital role in helping children and young people to achieve their potential.

Primary school teachers work with children aged between five and 11, and usually teach all or most subjects to one class, although they may teach a specialist subject to other classes. Special emphasis is placed on developing numeracy and literacy skills.

In secondary schools, teachers will usually teach one or two subjects to different classes.

Teachers also have other duties outside the classroom, such as planning and preparing lessons, setting and marking coursework and attending parents' evenings and after-school events.

They will also be expected to maintain order and discipline among pupils, and identify and support any students who are experiencing difficulties.

They will need to assess and record their pupils' progress, providing constructive feedback to the children and their parents in both formal and informal settings. They will also undertake self-evaluation and may have to supervise the work of other staff, such as teaching and learning support assistants.

Most of a teacher's work takes place within the school, but they may sometimes be involved in organising and supervising field trips, educational visits, sporting events and work experience placements.


Teaching can be a very tough, challenging job, so it is important to be committed.

Teachers should have the ability to involve and motivate children, and be able to explain their subjects to children of different abilities. Ideally, they should be passionate about their subject and able to keep up with new developments.

They need to be able to develop a good rapport with the youngsters they teach, while also maintaining discipline. Some pupils may shows signs of challenging behaviour, which teachers will have to manage.

Strong organisational, communication and presentation skills are also important.

Although dealing with children and young people is the main part of the job, teachers need to be able work and communicate effectively with other adults, such as fellow teachers, parents and governors.


Teaching is a graduate profession and to teach in the maintained/local authority sector, candidates will also need to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Some teachers achieve QTS with their first degree by studying for a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree or a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree (BA/BSc) that combines another subject with teacher training and leads to QTS.

Others choose to study for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PCGE). The course concentrates on teaching skills and candidates are expected to have a knowledge and understanding of their subjects before they start training. For this reason, you may find your chances are improved if your first degree is in a subject that relates to an area of the national curriculum.

Whatever their subjects, all teachers are expected to have the equivalent of a grade C GCSE in maths and English, and those born on or after September 1 1979, who want to teach primary school or Key Stage two or three, should also have achieved a grade C in a science subject.

Although these are two of the most common routes to becoming qualified, other types of training are available.

Some schools in England are involved in School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), which helps trainees to learn in a classroom environment.

It may also be possible to train while working. The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) is for graduates who are employed by a school as unqualified teachers. The course consists of an individual training programme and normally takes a year.

The Registered Teacher Programme (RTP) allows candidates to complete their degree and train at the same time. Applicants must have at least two years' higher education, for example a HND or part of a degree, and it usually takes a further two years to gain QTS.

Teachers will also have to undergo criminal record checks.


"Everyone knows teachers get long holidays, but they seem to forget that we also work very long hours. Your day doesn't end when the bell goes at half past three - there's work to mark and lessons to plan, not to mention parents' evenings and after-school activities."


"Facing a class of teenagers can be intimidating, but when you know you've got their attention and helped them to understand, and even enjoy, a complicated subject, it's a really great feeling."


The Teacher Training Agency. Visit www.teach.gov.uk