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Teaching & education Career Pathways For School Leavers



Working in teaching and education you’d be helping to inspire future generations and giving them the tools and knowledge they need to make their way in the world. Whether you’re working on the front line, as a teacher, or in the background developing curriculum and conducting research, you’re helping to shape the minds of the future.
Teaching assistants and other classroom support staff provide help to qualified teachers, working in schools and assisting with many different aspects of the learning process. You could be helping children complete their work, building displays and preparing educational materials, or supervising children in sports or in the playground at lunchtime.

There are lots of fun roles to be had working in a school, and you’ll also get great benefits – including long holidays, early finishes during the week, and the ability to utilise any childcare skills you have whilst working around children all day.

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People with all different kinds of personalities can do an amazing job working in this sector. However, there are a few key skills that will help you across the board - patience, for example, will help you when dealing with challenging situations and difficult students.

Above all else, you’ll need to be passionate and enthusiastic about your subject, and about education overall - this is how you’ll help the teacher get their class excited about the subjects they’re learning.

- Communication
- Leadership
- Patience
- Self-Confidence
- Verbal Communication

Progression opportunities

You should be in a position to apply for teaching assistant roles or assistant roles in the wider education sector at any point, as long as you have GCSE maths and English (or equivalent) and experience working with children.

You can find specific information about what you need to do to teach at different levels in this sector on the Training and Development Agency for Schools website.

If you want to progress to a higher level later, you should take on an NVQ or similar.

Career development

If you’ve completed an apprenticeship in this area, you could consider going on to university afterwards. This is the route that you will need to take if you want to become a teacher, whether in infant, or primary school, or with older children – by law you need to have a degree to become a teacher in a state school in the UK, though some private schools might have more relaxed criteria if you have established your abilities as an assistant.

After university you’ll need to complete a Postgraduate Certificate of Education) PGCE to become a teacher. The first step after your PGCE is to become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), and eventually a Qualified Teacher (QT).

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Earning potential

As an apprentice, you’ll earn a minimum of £3.70 per hour if you’re under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship, or the National Minimum Wage if you’re over 19. This works out at around £150 - £240 per week.

The starting wage for a teaching assistant in the UK, according to the National Careers Service, is £15,600, with some teaching assistants earning up to £18,200.

A newly qualified teacher (NQT) will earn between £23,720 to £29,664 depending on the location of the job. The higher rates of pay will be paid in schools that are based in London. Private schools also tend to pay higher salaries

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

To get a job in this sector as a school leaver, it’s a good idea to undertake a vocational qualification. A teaching assistant short course can give you the practical skills you need to get a job. Local technical colleges can provide these qualifications.

Alternatively, you could look at teaching assistant apprenticeships. Apprenticeships will see you studying and working for a company at the same time. You will work alongside experienced staff and will have one day off per week to study, usually at a local technical college or equivalent. This can be a great route for those who know what they want to do early, and don’t want to burden themselves with the time and debt of university.

All applicants to positions in schools will need to pass enhanced background checks through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) - schools will usually do this for you when they are thinking of offering you a position.

Industry Bodies


Skills for Schools

National Careers Service

National Union of Teachers (NUT)

National Association of Professional Teaching Assistants

National Association of Primary Education

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