I have been waiting for first hand information for a while now about teaching in the UK and here it is. A guest poster very kindly agreed to write a blog post about teaching in the UK for my blog and I am most thankful! I hope it helps those of you planning on trying to get work over there. I don’t think it’s for me but who knows!
Teaching in England…
I trained in Mary I and graduated in 2011, job prospects were limited and after sending nearly a thousand applications I eventually got a part time role as a learning support/ resource teacher, after that I worked full time as learning support and the following September started a temporary position.
I moved to England in September 2013 and it has been a very interesting few months.
Applying for Jobs
Before I left Ireland I began applying for jobs through council websites. I knew I wanted to be in Brighton/ East Sussex so I looked at these websites and applied for every job that came up. I was invited for 3 interviews and spent a fortune on flights and accommodation but was unsuccessful.
Next I registered with some agencies, (Teaching Personel, Capita Education, Randstad etc) and within two days of moving over was offered supply work.
Overall my advice would be to register with agencies and wait until you get here to start applying to individual schools. Doing day to day supply is brilliant for getting to know different schools and the system in general.
If you are applying to individual schools you will be required to arrange to visit the school and meet the head teacher , this gives you a good opportunity to ask questions and to take note of the environment and the type of school.
Each school is graded by Ofsted. The top score is Outstanding, then Good, Requires Improvement and finally the dreaded Special Measures. If a school is in Special Measures, they will get continuous assessment by another inspection team called HMI as well as extra observations and ‘support’ from the council/ local authority. These schools are often high stress environments with ample criticism for every little thing and not very nice places to work.
The curriculum differs between schools but generally is made up of Literacy, Numeracy and Topic, which covers History, Geography, Science, R.E., PSHE (SPHE), P.E. D.T. (Design Technology). Topics can be about anything from Ancient Egypt to Dinosaurs depending on the year group. Its very like thematic teaching which is beneficial for the children as each topic is covered in great detail.
Each teacher is entitled to PPA time once a week. This time is out of the classroom for planning, preparation and assessment. The class is covered by either a high level teaching assistant or a PPA cover teacher who may specialize in a subject such as Music or P.E.
PPA time, although valuable is no where near enough time. Most days I arrive in school for 8.00 and don’t leave before 5.30pm. Lunch is usually an hour but most teachers only take 25-30 mins max with some not taking a lunch but gobbling down a sandwich while marking books.
Corrections and marking take a longtime. Each school has a different policy, some use 3 stars and a wish, others use a detailed description of where the child met the learning objective and what they can do to improve. Some schools are very strict on the colour pen used when marking.
Paperwork varies greatly between schools. Some expect a very long and detailed weekly plan that gives every detail about what will be said/ done during the lesson. Others accept a brief overview of what will be covered in daily lessons. Overall it does take up quite a chunk of time.
Differentiation is again done differently in schools. The main thing I noticed is that most schools stream children into three categories; HA (higher ability) A (average) and BA (below average). Usually the A category has 2 parts those closer to high and then those who are lower. All lessons must be differentiated with 3 different tasks/ objectives depending on the group.
I have found this quite difficult, especially with older classes as it has a very negative impact on children’s self esteem.
Some schools have adopted a better approach of providing 3 differentiated tasks and the children then choose the task they feel they can complete competently.
Children are assessed according to National Averages and using a document called APP (Assessing Pupils Progress).
Children must make progress and individual targets are set for children at the beginning of the year and they are expected to reach these levels by the end of the year. Individual targets are sent home at the beginning of each term and referred to in the marking of children’s work. There needs to be evidence for reaching individual targets e.g . 3 pieces of writing, a leveled Maths assessment etc.
Overall things are very different here in the U.K and the hours and amount of work are much longer but it’s a great experience to teach elsewhere and there are a lot of jobs both long term and subbing.