Teachers play a vital role in the development of children, and a career in Education and Teaching can come in a variety of forms.
Graduates interested in pursuing the traditional classroom route of Teaching will require an excellent degree classification in a related field such as English, Science or Maths. Education is an increasingly competitive field, so a classification of 2:1 or higher may be required, though some postgraduate courses will accept a 2:2.
Some less traditional routes which still offer many of the same challenges and rewards as Education and Teaching include counselling, tutoring, student welfare and children's programming at community centres, museums or galleries.
How to Get a Job in Education
Candidates should display the following:
1. Relevant degree
A degree in English, History, Science or Maths is perfect for teaching at primary and secondary levels, while other specialised degrees may be relevant to specific teaching posts. Whatever the subject, applicants should demonstrate a thorough grasp of the material.
2. Experience working with children
In any educational sphere, experience working with children is a must. This could comprise volunteer work with a local children's initiative, part-time work at a nursery centre or a summer spent as an au pair. It is important for candidates to be able to show employers that they are able to manage and communicate with children effectively, and understand their specific requirements.
3. Experience teaching, tutoring or running educational groups
Tutoring and similar experience gives graduates the opportunity to explore one-on-one teaching, and puts them in good stead to demonstrate the necessary skills to succeed in a career in education. Many PGCE programs will include placements designed to give graduates this kind of experience.
4. Excellent communication skills
Teachers must be comfortable speaking in front of groups and be effective at communicating with younger students. Children in particular are learning to develop their own means of communication, and it is important that graduates going into education are able to converse with students in a productive and clear manner.
Graduates in education are also expected to possess excellent written communication skills in order to mark work, assemble lesson plans and provide progress reports to parents.
5. Time management skills
One of the essential skills for all employment, the ability to manage schedules and plan ahead is vital for teachers. Traditional classroom teachers will be looking months down the line to develop and execute lesson plans.
Candidates can demonstrate their time management skills by outlining their own experiences developing study schedules and sticking to them.
Graduates interested in Education and Teaching are not restricted to the traditional classroom route. There are many fields related to education which offer similar careers.
Education positions related to teaching include:
Nursery or after school education centres
Centres like Explore Learning give graduates the opportunity to not only work closely with children in an educational capacity, but to manage a business as well, which may appeal to candidates who want to do more than just stand in front of a class.
Graduates interested in going into this type of work need to possess both education and business skills. Experience working with children is valuable, as is any business-related experience. Career progression in this field can be very profitable and allow successful candidates a chance to be involved in meeting educational needs outside of the national curriculum.
Graduates interested in pursuing a career in counselling must have a solid grasp of the relevant theories and practices, such as from a Psychology degree. They must also demonstrate skills such as communication, setting out structured plans and educational techniques to enhance the work they do with attendees.
Student welfare may include working with students at higher education levels and dealing with financial or legal issues. The skills developed working in student welfare can be applicable if candidates choose to return to education at a later stage.
For these roles, interpersonal skills are essential. Communication is vital, as is knowledge of procedure and relevant laws and policies such as study visas or benefits.
Local authorities often have positions dealing with child engagement and participation, and coordinating initiatives between councils and schools. These jobs offer graduates the chance to work closely with education systems and organisations without being limited to the classroom. Positions might entail visiting schools and leading groups or teaching children about new council or government programmes.
Many organisations and centres offer extensive children's programming, including museums and galleries, leisure centres, libraries, zoos and aquariums. The coordination of these programmes requires specialist knowledge of the topics and subject matter, and many positions include the chance to engage directly with children leading tours and answering questions. Graduates with specialised degrees and a passion for education may want to consider a position in children's programming, as it can offer the opportunity for them to share their excitement for their specific field.
Education & Teaching Case Studies
The role is very people focused, we are looking for people who can instantly build rapport.
The Employer - Emily Wilson (Graduate Recruitment Manager - Explore Learning)
Name: Emily Wilson
Job Title: Graduate Recruitment Manager - Explore Learning
University: University of Portsmouth
Course: Creative Arts & Media
What competencies do you like to see in candidates?
We look for people who will be positive role models for children. One of the most important things are interpersonal skills, whether they're confident, can build rapport and show enthusiasm. We also look for them to have strong academic backgrounds from GCSEs to degree level.
Can you talk us through the application process?
They start by submitting a full application which consists of a cover letter, application form and CV. If they are unsuccessful at this point we always provide constructive feedback outlining why. If successful they will progress to a telephone interview or face to face interview at one of our centres and the final stage is an assessment day at our Head Office.
What is the most common mistake you see in an application that leads to candidates being rejected?
Candidates often rush their applications and don't tailor them. People who give very brief generic answers to the application form questions tend to really undersell themselves and not draw fully on their transferable experiences.
What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate entering the sector?
The role is very people focused so we want to see that candidates have the confidence and ability to really sell themselves. We are looking for people to come into the business and promote our centres so we need them to be able to sell their skills first.
What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?
It's quite overwhelming sometimes. They come into a management position and they are trying to juggle all aspects of the role. They might find the sales side of the role difficult as they were originally interested in teaching.
Where do you see company in two years' time?
We currently plough our profits back into opening new centres; by March 2014 we will be opening our first centre abroad, in Dallas Texas. As well as international expansion we are looking to launch a further 15-20 new centres each year in the UK.
The Employee - Melissa Pitt (Centre Director - Explore Learning)
Name: Melissa Pitt
Job Title: Centre Director - Explore Learning
University: Brunel University
Course: Psychology Bsc (4yr)
Graduation Year: 2010
How did you find your graduate job in Education?
I used advanced searches to help match my skills to job specifications. Using keywords from my degree I would find jobs that were more applicable and I knew that I could get.
Why do you think you were successful at Explore Learning?
I was tutoring at Explore before I applied for the full time role. When I attended the Assessment Day I realised there were candidates from all different experiences and backgrounds. I did modules in child psychology and development with my degree but also had some project management work with BT which involved working in more of a business environment.
What do you actually do?
I work 5 days a week and during the day we run workshops, speak to parents, arrange advertising and marketing and generally see to the needs of the business, after 3pm we open for our members and I'll be tutoring as well as mentoring part time staff and chatting to parents.
What skills do you need?
People might be amazing at maths but can't explain it to a child. If they've got the mentality and the patience, you can take it from there. We find at Explore that you get a lot of different people, but they all have similar mind sets and attitudes.
What is the best thing about your job?
What I find most rewarding is when you can track how much progress a child has made. When you get the chance to sit down and help someone with their handwriting or times tables. If not that, it's when we do workshops in schools. We take a class of thirty or so for an hour and make maths exciting for them. They want hugs and high fives at the end!
What is the worst thing about your job?
I'd say time management. You can be tutoring 6 pupils at a time and having to juggle the business side of things. As a Centre Director you have to be aware of all 320 children and what their needs are.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
We are always striving to get our staff to the next level. I am looking at getting involved with the curriculum, more training and adding to my own skill set. I'd potentially like to launch a new centre, to source the demand and establish a centre in a community.
What advice would you give to graduates applying to Explore Learning?
It's not about the degree or work background, but the skills you can offer. We get CVs here from people who want to be tutors. One thing we note is when a CV or covering letter is tailored to the role. We get CVs that are too generic and don't show why that person would be good at the role.
If you want to find out more about Explore learning, please take a look at their minisite.