Teaching in the UK

The UK is and has been well regarded within the education industry for some time, with a number of well-renowned schools and higher education industries, the UK has long provided a path for some of the world’s most influential personalities via its four-part education system.

These four main parts include primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education, all of which children aged from 5 years old to the age of 16 years will progress through, advancing their own knowledge and developing their opportunities as they make their way.

And not only are there great opportunities for the child to progress within the education system but also for the teacher, with the ability to choose where you’d like to teach and how through many different types of schools, colleges and universities, including some of the world’s most prestigious schools such as Eton, Harrow, Wellington and Winchester.

More about the UK's education system​

The UK’s education system is split into a number main key stages for children, including Key Stage 1, 2, 4 and 4, which break down into the following ages:

  • Key Stage 1: 5 to 7 years old
  • Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 years old
  • Key Stage 3: 11 to 14 years old
  • Key Stage 4: 14 to 16 years old

Most of the time teaching for key stages 1 and 2 will be undertaken at a primary school, after which a child will move onto key stages 3 and 4 at a secondary school. Once completed, a student will need to either process onto further education and then to higher education, or just to further education and then to their chosen workplace.

In order to progress, a student must meet certain GCSE requirements during their time at secondary school, this is different at every further and higher education establishment.

What qualifications are required to teach in the UK?

In order to become a qualified teacher at a school maintained by the state in the UK, you will be required to undertake your Initial Teaching Training (ITT) or Initial Teacher Education.

You can complete this via a course at one of the UK’s great universities, which often offer training through BEd or PGCE courses.

You will also have the option to undertake a school-centred training course.

All of this will lead you to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England and Wales or the Teaching Qualification (TQ) in Scotland.

You may not need this at all establishments as some independent schools, academies and free schools do not require this.

What other clearance is needed to teach?

A common security clearance step is often performed before you will be able to teach by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

This check is called a DBS (formally a CBS check) and is often considered as an essential pre-requisite for any workplace where an employee wishes to work with children or vulnerable adults, regardless of the role.

A lot of the time, this will be an enhanced disclosure check,  this takes between three and six weeks from the initial application.

You should visit the Disclosure and Barring Service for information on services, your rights and details of the check.

Where should you teach?

The UK has a broad and varied range of school types that you can choose from, all of which offer a number of opportunities and experiences.


There are a number of academies across the UK, these are publically funded independent schools that are run by an academy trust within the region.

The trust employs the staff and manages the school, which some are able to do via a number of sponsors.

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Independent Schools

There a number of independent or private schools across the UK that offer their own teaching curriculum, instead of the national one.

These schools often charge fees to attend and are not funded by the government. Teachers are often employed directly by the school.

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Free Schools

Free schools in the UK are funded by the government like academies but are instead run by a private group like a trust, faith group or investors, allowing them more control over their curriculum and teachers.

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Primary Schools

At a primary school, a teacher will often work with children between the ages of 3 and 11, with the requirement to teach all of the subjects that are within the national curriculum, generally under KS1 and 2.

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Secondary Schools

Secondary schools and their teachers work to teach children between the ages of 11 and 18, specialising in the teaching of one of two subjects from the national curriculum, alongside stability, discipline, direction and general knowledge.

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Special Education Needs & Disabilities (SEND) schools will usually work with children with learning difficulties, behavioural problems, or other physical/ sensory disabilities. They often offer an adapted version of the national curriculum to better serve pupils.

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Getting into your first teaching job

There are already a number of ways to get into your first teaching role, in order to start, you will have to choose what route of teaching training that you will progress through.

For this, there are a number of options at universities across the UK.

Once you have done that you are ready to apply for your first role.

Finding your first role on UK School Jobs

There are a number of sites and publications that provide listings of jobs across the UK, but we like to think that with UK School Jobs, you will get the best opportunity to find the right role for you, in your area.

Feel free to search through our listings now.

Recruitment Services

There are a number of third-parties around the UK that provide schools with advanced recruitment knowledge and seek out new teachers across the UK and beyond to fill roles on their behalf, these include agencies.

At UK School Jobs, we believe that these also have their place, however, they do not provide the service that some schools expect, nor do they charge correct prices to those schools, often overcharging for the service.

So we too offer our own recruitment services to all who subscribe to our services, often for a lower fee than that of other services.

You can find out more about our recruitment services here.

Speak to a school directly

You can also speak to a school directly if you are interested in working with them, to do so, you could arrange a call or visit them directly.

Join a talent pool

Should you wish to, you can join a talent pool of applicants who wish to find a role in an educational institution.

We have a number of these on our talent pool listings here.