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Living in England: Articles, Resources and Websites

Teaching in England

Teacher Trainees Work Without Credentials

For those coming from abroad to look for work in England, the opportunities are extremely limited. But certain sectors of the economy are willing to hire non-British citizens. Besides nursing, engineering, and other careers that require specific experience, the list includes teaching.

To become certified you must complete a 1-year course that’s sponsored by the government that is only available to British citizens and citizens of the European Economic Area.

However, I found that at least some secondary schools (the equivalent of an American middle school and early high school) are willing to hire American college graduates without a teaching certificate, and provide them with free on-the-job training.

A friend who is a teacher spoke to her headmaster regarding my situation: that I’d come to England to visit, wanted to stay, and was neither a British citizen nor a certified and experienced teacher. The headmaster said I might be able to find a school that would offer me training on the job. He emphasized that this was not a common practice and would require convincing and negotiating.

I began applying for jobs at secondary schools as an English teacher (since I had a BA in that subject) stating I’d be interested in completing the “graduate teacher training course” on-the-job if I was hired. I mostly applied for vacancies in schools outside London, figuring there would be less competition and the students better behaved than in the innercity.

The Times Educational Supplement was an invaluable resource. It has the largest listing of jobs in education across England, as well as news, current events, and tips on everything from classroom management to places to go on field trips. I was lucky to be job-hunting in the summer, when many schools were looking to hire new teachers for the upcoming year.

Phone calls to headmasters were easier than filling out applications and going to interviews. But I found the more interviews I went to, the more schools I toured, and the more questions I asked, the greater was my familiarity with the system and my confidence in getting my foot in the door.

The sample lesson plan I was asked to teach included points on the National Curriculum. Being familiar with the curriculum was a big advantage. The National Curriculum Online website has resources for teachers.

Once I got hired, the school applied to the Home Office for a work permit on my behalf. The application process took about a month.

After that, I found a “bedsit” in the local paper in a house shared with two other roommates. Bedsits are easy to find in the local paper and are a lot less expensive than an apartment.

The greatest challenge a new teacher faces is maintaining classroom discipline, and the best advice I got was to go in “hard” and not to loosen up until Christmas. That meant not letting even a slight transgression slip (a student talking in class or being a day late with homework). Once you let a tiny transgression slip, things build up until you lose control of the whole class.

Taking weekend trips to London and other surrounding cities was a well-deserved reward for working those long hours. It was also affordable, even on my teaching salary, to take a train and stay at a hostel for the weekend. The Hostels.com section for hostels in London includes ratings from people who have stayed at each location. I soon found a favorite that was across from Piccadilly Circus.