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A Guide for Teaching in the UK

Posted: May 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Country Teaching Guide | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Teaching English in the UK can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience, and it is not difficult to find work. Before you go, however, here are a few points you will need to know in order to prepare for and seek a position in the UK educational system.

Visa requirements: Check your situation before you go

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland may live and work in the UK without a visa, but must have either a valid passport or national identity card and be able to support themselves and their families. The exceptions are citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, who will have to obtain permission to before obtaining employment. Non-EEA or Swiss citizens will have to obtain a work visa. Accompanying family members may need visas if they are not EU citizens.

Working Holiday visas allow you to teach in your field on a temporary basis (“supply” teaching), for example daily substitute teaching or a short-term contract. Those with Resident’s Visas or Ancestry Visas can obtain permanent employment. If you are not a citizen of an EEA country or do not qualify for a visa, you can apply for sponsorship for a permanent job, with the future employer applying for the visa on your behalf.

The UK Border agency website provides details on immigration and work requirements:  http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/eucitizens/rightsandresponsibilites/

Language level:  Brush up your English!

If you are not a native speaker and want to get a job teaching English in the UK, make sure you are sufficiently fluent to interact easily in your job. A minimum level of B2 (“upper intermediate”) with respect to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) is required by many employers.

Diplomas and experience: What qualifications will you need?

You may teach in the British school system for up to four years if you have earned a teaching degree in your home country. After that, teachers from all countries except Canada, the USA, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand must have their qualifications verified. EU citizens with teaching degrees automatically qualify for Qualified Teacher Status. If you are seeking long-term employment, you will need to have 12 months’ teaching experience in your home country. Beginning teachers will therefore have better luck looking for daily supply positions until they can get proven experience.

Available jobs: What types of jobs are there?

Schools in the UK are either State-funded or privately-funded. Though most job offers for teachers can be found in the London area and other large cities, you will want to include smaller towns and rural areas in your job search as well; you may find some very pleasant positions there.

Teaching jobs in Britain are Day-to-Day (“Supply”), Long Term or Permanent. You can get Day-to Day jobs via recruitment agencies, and this is a good way to get started. You’ll see a variety of schools and if you like one, you can tell the agency and perhaps get repeat jobs. It may be a bit stressful as you must get in touch with your agency in the evenings to find out if you work the next morning, but day-to-day jobs can be a stepping stone to longer-term positions. A five-week or more contract is a Long Term contract, and this guarantees you all the benefits of full-time staff and the stability of a five-day working week. Permanent contracts include holiday and sick leave pay, and in general you will be asked to commit to the job for a year.

In long-term and permanent positions, you will have full classroom responsibilities as well as preparing lesson plans, grading homework and tests, staff meetings, parent-teacher meetings. You may also be asked to participate in professional development as well. Math and science teachers are currently needed in secondary schools, though positions are available in all subjects. Special needs education may also provide interesting opportunities, and specific qualifications are not required to teach SEN classes.

The best time to apply for long-term positions is two to three months before the start of the term. Hiring is more frequent in June and July, November and February.

Organization:  What is the UK school system like?

Primary and secondary school is organized according to seven “Key stages”:  Foundation 1 (nursery school), Foundation 2 (Kindergarten), and then Key stages 1 to 5, from ages 5 to 18. At the end of Key Stage 4, students must pass the mandatory General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and at the end of stage 5 they sit for their A-levels.

Working hours and school year: What hours will you work and what holidays will you have?

The school year runs from September to July, with in general three terms: Autumn, Spring and Summer. Between each term is a week’s holiday called “half-term”, and schools close for two weeks at Christmas and Easter. Daily class time is usually from 9.00 AM to 3.30 PM, with a mid-morning recess and a lunch break, and after classes there can be meetings or other responsibilities. Exact hours will differ from one school to another.

More information can be found at the UK Department for Education website:


You may want also want to check the EURES website for more details on working and living in the UK: http://ec.europa.eu/eures/home.jsp?lang=en

All the best in finding your teaching position! Cheers!


This Guide for Teachers in the UK was originally published on TeacherHit


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