Is Teaching in London Right For You?

Our job here at Teach Lambeth is to attract the highest calibre of teachers and education support staff to come and work in our borough and our schools.

In some ways that isn't the challenge you might expect because a large number of excellent teachers already live and work in London and many others of similar talent are excited to come to London to do the same. Whilst there’s a lot of different areas in London to choose from, Lambeth is a great choice for those coming to London to teach.

Elsewhere on this site you’ll find many reasons to choose Lambeth as the best place to teach in London. These include the fact that Lambeth has extremely high standards of performance in its schools. League tables show there is further improvement in recent years and the borough is well regarded for the training and support given to all teachers, especially through its nationally recognised teaching schools.

In addition, there a few places as exciting to live as this cosmopolitan culture packed borough which can therefore also provide a stimulating work environment with incredible teaching resources right on your doorstep.

But, there are still many teachers who are anxious about deciding whether to live and work in London, and even in Lambeth in particular, because of things that they have heard or have come to believe.

Teaching in London is hard, right?

First amongst these reasons for not choosing to work in London is that it is supposed to be harder to teach in London schools.

The short answer is that it quite simply isn't!

There’s actually lots of strong arguments and recent studies to support the belief that teaching in London is easier than in other areas of the country.

You’ll likely hear many stories of extremely large class sizes, unruly behaviour and under-resourced schools and even that it can be harder to cope because some children have English as a Second Language.

In fact, the opposite is true of most of the schools across London and especially so in Lambeth which have been the recipient of an enormous amount of investment in recent years.

The motivation of some commentators to highlight any issues with English as a Second Language (a supposed by product of the number of children of immigrant families in London) is there to be questioned when the truth is that it has no medium to long-term impact on the performance of the children in schools. Rather the opposite, since data shows that these children outperform their classmates in almost every department.

Put that concern aside as it’s just not going to be an issue. As is the case with most other spurious objections.

Here’s why it isn’t harder teaching in London

The children in London schools are more motivated

There has been a ‘startling turnaround’ in London’s schools and they ‘are now the best in England’ as an FT study concluded a few years ago. Since then, London schools have received further investment and results have continued to improve.

The Mayor of London’s Annual London Education Report shows that London overall is England’s top region at the end of primary and secondary school and that 92% of London’s schools are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted, the highest of any region.

Lambeth goes even better with more than 93% of primary and secondary schools are judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ in recent Ofsted inspections (41% outstanding) and all schools are improving year on year.

In short this means that pupils in London schools (and in Lambeth) receive a better education than anywhere else in the UK.

In the Centre for London’s major impact study they concluded, “London’s schools have shown exceptional improvement. Up to date evidence shows that pupils in London do better at GCSE than they do elsewhere in England, this is markedly so for pupils receiving free school meals. Ofsted data shows that there have been important developments in the quality of teaching and leadership too.”

In fact one of the core revelations of this study showed that where London was having a lifelong impact was in how the school improvements were helping transform the GCSE and A-Level qualification prospects of the most disadvantaged London children.

The study goes on to reveal many other startling facts about the performance of London schools, not least that the quality of teaching and leadership in London schools far outsrips other parts of the country.

So it seems that if the schools and pupils are getting the best results in the country and the quality of teaching and leadership are the best in the country, then it’s hard to argue that those same children are hard to teach!

London uses financial incentives to recruit the best staff

With the national shortage of teachers, London plays a unique card by offering extremely attractive recruitment packages for those working in London.

The exact package varies depending on each school and whether the Outer London or Inner London allowance is applicable.

When you work at a school in Lambeth you’ll receive the Inner London allowance which means for an NQT you’ll be paid £29,664 as your starting salary - a not inconsequential £6000 more than the UK standard. Or, to put it another way that’s a full 25% more than the standard NQT starting salary of £23,720.

Not bad.

London has amazing school infrastructure

London has been the stand out beneficiary of the government’s schools investment programme over the last 15 years. Introduced in 2003, the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme has seen £1.3 Billion invested in building, updating and refurbishing London’s schools.

The same report by the Centre of London looks at the part that new school buildings has to play in the performance of London schools concluding that, “Teachers saw new buildings not as a mechanistic cause of improvement but as a symbol of renewal and a useful resource for professionals who were keen to transform outcomes for students.”

It’s no surprise that working and teaching in new state of the art premises where everything works and the children feel encouraged becomes a positive motivating factor for teachers.

London needed an overhaul of a good proportion of its older school buildings but now across London you’ll find many of the country’s best school environments.

In Lambeth look to Elm Green School and St Gabriel’s College to see just two schools who have between them seen £50 million of investment to create next generation centres of learning.

Great for pupils and teachers alike.

London teacher training and support is exceptional

London has an unfair advantage over the rest of the country when it comes to CPD and training support because it has more teaching schools and research schools than anywhere else.

In addition, the amount of schools in each borough enables the LEA’s to have more developed teacher training and inter school support.

Lambeth, in particular, has its own teaching schools and a great reputation for CPD from existing Lambeth staff.

London teacher career trajectory is fast and positive

London schools have an older average age for headteachers which means that a higher proportion are approaching retirement.

This, coupled with the sheer number of teaching positions and the national shortage of teachers means that there are a lot of opportunities for rapid career advancement right across the capital.

It is not uncommon to go from NQT to headteacher in less than eight years, which is several years faster than the national average.

Ambitious teachers looking for rapid career development are best suited to the wide range of potential roles on offer throughout London.

It’s London!

That’s a pretty solid rebuttal of why you might have thought teaching in London was tough, but there’s one more thing that no other part of the country can compete with.

London itself!

If you're a dyed in the wool country boy or girl then you’re probably not thinking of moving to live and work in London at all. But many people wonder if they’ll like it and many are keen to give it a try.

If you’re one of those, you owe it to yourself to give London a go.

After all it is one of, if not the best, world capital and if you’re looking for a full on metropolitan experience there is nowhere better.

Just take a look at some of what we have to say about living in Lambeth here. Much the same applies all over the capital.

Is Teaching in London Safe?

It's understandable to be worried about personal safety when there is so much mention of violence and particularly knife crime across the media and when so much of this seems to be centred on London.

Of course knife crime is a problem across the Capital, but without wishing to belittle the risk, there is, in fact, very little incidence of physical violence in schools anywhere in the country and London is no different. If anything the actual threat of physical violence to teachers in school is falling.

The threat of violence or actual harm to one teacher is one too many but the data shows that it simply isn’t a real world likelihood.

As to a concern for your own personal safety living in any part of London, in many ways the same applies. It's not as bad as the media make out and apart from moments of unforeseeable tragedy that affect a tiny number of individuals, residents of London are no more concerned about violent crime than residents of any other part of the country.

None of us should live our lives worrying about the risk of violence but there is absolutely no reason that you should have any greater fear of danger because you choose to live and work in London or indeed Lambeth than if you were choosing to live and work anywhere else in the country.

Are you ready for London Teaching?

Hopefully we’ve persuaded you that coming to live and work as a teacher in London has a lot of upsides and pretty much nothing in the way of downside.

We know that there’s people for whom London just isn’t where they want to be but if you’re thinking it might be right for you, come and give it a go.

It might just be the best decision you ever make!

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