Are you a driven professional with lots of ambition to make progress in your teaching career? If so, teaching could be the perfect career for you because many of the best schools expect this and also positively encourage it. So once you have completed your Initial Teacher Training and been awarded your QTS, it’s time to look at some career progression ideas.
Of course, this will depend on the size of the school you choose and the age group of students.
But you might be thinking, ‘What are my chances of making teaching a career instead of just a job?’ Now that you have invested so much time, effort and money into studying towards being a teacher, you want to be confident you can progress in your new career.
The good news for you is that there is a definite pathway to progress in your new teaching career, and it is better to think about your gameplan early on.
This is why we have created this post for you. We’ve covered all the essential details you’ll need to know now that you are an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) and interested in career progression in teaching.
Let’s dive in…
Which age group should I teach?
It’s important to decide which age group you would like to teach early on. There are two important two reasons for knowing which age group you want to teach. First, knowing the age group will help you plan a specific route in your professional career development. You could also work out how much job satisfaction you can achieve from your teaching career.
Think about which age group of children you feel you can help the most and why. The sooner you know this age group in your early career the better. Of course, it’s not like you can’t change your chosen age group later. But choosing the correct age group early and sticking with it, will help you plan your career progression accordingly.
Making this decision early, and truly understanding your reasons “why” will help you when you are applying for teaching positions. In addition, you’ll also perform better in interviews when you’ve thoroughly thought out your reasons for choosing a specific age group of children to teach.
Which subject/s should I teach?
Choosing the subject you would like to teach is also an important area you obviously have to think about early. In a competitive jobs market, you need to know which subjects are in higher demand for teachers. This is especially true if you are more choosy about the kind of school you want to work at and in what area.
You’ll need to do your research here, but if you have specialised in any of the STEM subject areas, there is a shortage of qualified teachers in these areas. Therefore, if you specialise in any of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, finding a good position quickly will be much easier. There are definitely more vacancies within these areas than there are for other subjects.
Which kind of school should I teach at?
Now, the next thing to think about is what type of school will suit you most.
For sure, there are a variety of different schools to think about, and that could lead to confusion. However, you’ll probably shine in many of the schools I’m about to discuss. So let’s get into the choices available to you.
First, there is the choice of state schools, often called maintained schools and independent schools. State schools are funded by public money and represent the largest pool for you to choose from. State schools differ in who controls them and how much freedom they allow their staff. In addition, the pay and conditions will differ.
Next, there are community schools which are controlled by the local council in their area and they do not have any influence from a local church. Community schools can include a variety of ages from infant, junior, primary, middle, to secondary. They can also include special schools and grammar schools.
Foundation and voluntary schools
Then there are foundation and voluntary schools. These types of schools generally have fewer constraints than community schools. This is because the local council has no direct control over them.
The next group are faith schools. These are usually but not always foundation or voluntary schools. Recently, more faith schools are becoming academies.
Academies are next, and they are also fully independent of the local council. These schools are run by a governing body or trust. Academies do not have to follow the national curriculum. But their pupils do sit national examinations. These schools have their own staffing structures, conditions and pay.
Independent schools are independent of the local council and therefore they are not state-funded. They charge fees and that’s why they are also called fee-paying schools, private schools or even public schools (even though they are private).
The independent school sector is varied. The conditions of work and pay can vary immensely depending on the specific school and their fees.
One last consideration you might like to think about is the current Ofsted rating of a school. If you are keen on career progression and advancing through the school quickly, it might not be wise to choose the best schools where the competition may be high.
You might find it easier to progress through a school graded 4, and ultimately have more satisfaction due to less pressure being exerted.
Career progression through your school
In this section, I’d like to cover some of the different levels where you can progress through your chosen school. These areas will allow you greater influence in the school and will give you the chance to set high standards and ensure your continuous development through the school.
The first rung is the NQT - Newly Qualified Teacher
Of course, your first year in teaching will be as an NQT - a Newly Qualified Teacher. Here you will receive lots of support, guidance and assistance. You’ll be assigned a designated member of staff to help you settle in quickly.
Even as an NQT, you should be thinking about teacher training. This will set you up to succeed from the very beginning. The variety of opportunities available to you will ensure you’re improving as a teacher and adding to your range of professional skills. You’ll develop the talents to succeed in your career, and realise your personal ambitions.
Early Career Framework reforms
As part of the Department of Education’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy in 2019, they published the Early Career Framework (ECF).
The ECF aim is to support the careers of new teachers. It forms the basis of the government’s teacher recruitment and retention strategy. This aims to increase the resources and opportunities open to teachers. The ECF sets out what you should learn about and learn how to do early in your career, to improve your chances of success in your first couple of years.
Taking on more responsibility
If career progression is important to you, then being able to take on more responsibility is essential. As you settle into your school and become a more confident teacher, taking on extra responsibilities and doing well, will put you in a good position when you are ready to apply for those more senior positions. Plus this extra responsibility normally means an increase in your annual salary.
This can include duties like coordinating a specific subject, becoming head of a department or being a head of year.
Special Educational Needs
It’ll depend on the size of your school but there could be opportunities to specialise in special educational needs. You could become the coordinator for special educational needs which will mean you’ll deal with educational psychologists, social services and other governmental departments. This area of education could take your career on a completely different path if this is what you are interested in.
Does being a Deputy Head Teacher appeal to you?
It depends on the size of your school, but you could find there is more than one deputy head teacher. In this position, you’ll usually find you’ll still be expected to teach rather than only being office-based. One great benefit of being in this position is that it’ll help you realise if you want to go further to the headteacher’s role or not.
From NQT to Headteacher
Many people who enter the teaching profession have no desire to become a headteacher. They want to stay in the classroom and at the coal-face so to speak. So, these teachers prefer to be hands-on with the development of their pupils. However, if you have the willpower and determination to make a school more successful, then this role could be a match made in heaven for you.
The Importance of Continued Professional Development for Teachers
Continued Professional Development (CPD) is important for every teacher, and especially if you are interested in career progression. In fact, the Department of Education says ‘effective professional development for teachers is a core part of securing effective teaching.’
So is CPD welcomed by most teachers or a hindrance? Well, according to a recent survey, 92% of teachers are motivated by ‘making a difference in pupils’ lives’. Consequently, CPD offers teachers an opportunity to improve and hone their craft. And as the British professor Dylan Wiliam says, ‘every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.’
So what is teacher CPD?
CPD is a process of recording and reflecting on your learning and development as a teacher. There are two main areas of CPD: training and ongoing development.
The training part is related to learning how to do something specific. It can be as simple as learning how to use an interactive whiteboard. And development is the progression from basic know-how to a more advanced and complex understanding. The development part is what will help you progress from your NQT position to become an experienced teacher. Then perhaps to the head of a department and beyond.
To give you a clear understanding of the difference between training and development, here is an example:
“Emily has been teaching for three years. She’s heard about a new teaching strategy that she wants to learn more about. So she asks her head to go on a day course. On the course, Emily learns all about the strategy and the theory behind the new strategy. At the end of the course, Emily has now completed the training part. The next step is to get back into the classroom and apply the new strategy. Over the coming weeks and months, Emily analyses her results and tweaks her technique. She then shares her findings with her colleagues and perhaps runs a ‘best practices’ type session to help them understand her new technique.”
This is solid continued professional development.
The Importance of Continued Professional Development for Teachers
So far we've covered how you should think about your teaching career progression in general terms.
But what does Lambeth offer so that you can develop your teaching career as effectively as possible?
Lambeth offers structured and planned training and support to all of the teachers in the borough.
This is carried out by all individual schools, but also by schools working together in school clusters, as well as by the availability of the specialist teaching schools in the borough.
Moreover, Lambeth has an overarching project called the Lambeth Schools Partnership which offers proven and innovative programmes of professional development.
The LSP programmes are specifically designed to help teachers in Lambeth to become the very best teachers possible. It operates to provide training at all levels – NQTs, subject leaders, qualified teachers, middle management or members of Senior Leadership Teams - and provides a framework for rapid career progression.
We offer an integrated approach to our training opportunities through the Lambeth school Partnership website.
This isn’t done through simply imparting knowledge; our training gives those attending the chance to talk with others in similar situations about what is relevant to what they need, and sharing good practice with one another.
By allowing this to happen, these opportunities allow teachers to flourish and provide the best opportunities for the pupils in our schools.
You can find out more about the training courses and events by visiting the Lambeth Schools Partnership website.
In the video below, Lambeth teachers explain how the opportunities and CPD available to teachers in the borough have helped their career progression.
The journey from NQT to headteacher all within the borough and in an accelerated period is not uncommon.
Final thoughts on Teacher Career Progression
In state schools, teachers spend 195 days in school, officially. Is the rest of the year spent on a Thai beach? Perhaps not. You’ll need to plan and prepare lessons, read and mark students’ work, prepare school reports, complete your admin duties, and attend staff meetings. Some experienced teachers might even say their job is a never-ending routine of tasks to complete.
However, while no one will say teaching is easy, the job is full of rewards and fulfilment. Also, there are a lot of opportunities for career advancement.
And finally, with a growing population in the UK and a shortage of teachers in many subjects and areas, it is a fantastic time to be a teacher.