I decided to write this blog to help fellow teachers who may decide to begin their teaching careers in the UK. This could be for several reasons may be one’s partner has taken up employment or maybe you would like to take a leap of faith and complete your NQT year.
For me it was the latter, I took a leap of faith to ensure no matter what I would be dipped at the end of the year. I taught in England from 2017-2018, it was my first year out of college. At the time, it was difficult to secure a fixed-term teaching contract in Ireland. I had sent out 200 plus e-mails and about 50 written applications. It became very disheartening not to hear any word back. Then, I decided to take some control back, get a job, and complete my NQT year.
For me, I wanted to experience something new after university. A new country, new experiences, new people, and the challenges that come with that. I couldn’t have anticipated the challenges I faced in that year. They were the biggest struggles but most rewarding obstacles I have overcome in my life. I made memories and friends for a lifetime. I have some crazy stories, to say the least, and isn’t that what it’s all about!
How to start the process?
I know people have bad things to say about agencies, but they make the transition to teaching in the UK a lot easier. A good agency will comfort your worries and doubts because there will be plenty of doubts. You do need them to give you a push even if it feels a bit pushy.
Words of wisdom: Don’t settle for a bad location or school. Make sure you’re going to a well-populated and safe area as there are so many dodgy areas in the UK.
Words of wisdom: Research the school yourself and don’t just agree to the first school offered. If the area is bad don’t accept the interview offer. Also, as schools are graded according to Ofsted, I noticed that the best schools to teach in are the ‘good’ schools as the ‘outstanding’ schools have unrealistic expectations. You may end up having no life outside school. Although ‘outstanding’ school might seem like a good option, this is not always the case in terms of teaching and maintaining a work/life balance.
This will be mainly be carried out over Skype unless you attend a job fair then they will be completed in a face-to-face manner.
Words of wisdom: The interviewers will always ask you about assessment. Standardized Assessment is the main type of assessment in UK schools. They will ask you about safeguarding which is like the DLP in Ireland. The safeguarding officer/DLP is normally the principal and deputy principal. The rest of the interview is pretty similar to the questions you’d be asked for an interview in Ireland. The agency will assist you in preparing answers for the interview.
At the end of the interview, it is crucial to ask the headteacher about what class you may have. In the UK, Year 2 and Year 6 are the two years in which the children complete SATS (National Standardised Tests). Year 1, 3, 4, 5, are a lot of nicer classes to teach as you don’t have to prepare the children for the SATS. The preparation for SATS is a year-long process and is extremely stressful for the teacher and students.
Word of Wisdom: I taught Year 2 and it was the hardest year of my life. I wish someone had told beforehand how extremely taxing it is and I wouldn’t have taken the job. I would suggest you request Year 3 or Year 4 to teach as they are the most relaxed classes in terms of assessments.
Words of wisdom: Enjoy this moment before you begin to get overwhelmed and start doubting your decision.
If you go through the agency, they will either pay for your flight over or refund your flight out in August. So, keep receipts. Now you need to begin looking for accommodation. You might go over before school starts to secure accommodation or go out early August, sort accommodation and stay out there. It’s up to you!
Words of wisdom: The websites that will help are sparerooms.co.uk and myroom.co.uk.
Words of wisdom: In Ireland, you can apply for a moving grant as you are moving to another country within Europe. The agency will tell you where to claim this moving grant and it’s approx. 1000£. It is such a nice boost as it covers deposits and general expenses.
Words of wisdom: If you are traveling solo, it’s important to live with people your age. Don’t settle living with a grandad in a cheap studio apartment. You will end up sad, lonely, and depressed. This is the most important part of a successful year and settling in period. Remember they don’t have to be Irish just live with plenty of people your age and you’ll have a ball. I got very lucky and ended up living with four girls, we had the best time.
Words of wisdom: I begged The Ulster Bank to open my bank account before I left Ireland. They refused at first because I was not a resident in the UK. I told them my friend set up one without being resident in the UK and they accommodated me hehehe. Otherwise, the school wouldn’t have been able to pay me for a month or so as they didn’t pay into Irish bank accounts. You don’t need this financial stress, set it up before leaving.
Words of wisdom: DON’T BRING YOUR CAR. I had so much hassle and expense changing my tax and license plate and registration to UK forms. Please believe me it was not worth it. I had to NCT my car from scratch, contact the car manufacturer to get forms, etc, etc, etc. The whole process cost me 1000 euro and a lot of grey hair. If I were back again, I would have bought a cheap car for the year or maybe a teacher in your school could lend you a car for a while. There are always easier ways.
Starting the job
Get used to feeling out of your depth, confused, overwhelmed, and stressed.
Words of wisdom: Just go with the flow, take it day by day. You will not figure out a new curriculum in the first week and the funny thing is no one is expecting you to. So, don’t be hard on yourself.
Few months in
Even after four months of teaching in the UK, you still won’t have a clue.
Words of wisdom: You are beginning to find your routine and are quickly getting used to things. You still won’t have a clue so keep winging it and going with the flow. Don’t be hard on yourself for not having all the answers.
Relax and Enjoy
Words of Wisdom: This is the best part, you’ve made buddies and are exploring a lot more. If you end up in London, go to parties, go to all the museums, go to the parks, landmarks, streets, and cafes. London is amazing and you’ll have the best time exploring it. Forget about school at the weekends and enjoy the lifestyle because you need to remember you’re not being paid millions to stress about school.
It is over!
Words of wisdom: You will have finally figured out the UK system with its weird and wonderful ways of teaching. Boom! The year has flown by and you will reflect on the highs and lows. Since it is the end of the year, the highs will be greater than the lows. You will be asked do you want a job there next year. Well, that’s going to be your story to tell.
Finally, this is quite a long post, I tried to include all the detail I needed to help me when I was researching Teaching in the UK.
I would love to hear about your experiences! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.