Job descriptions and industry overviews

Teacher (secondary): job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:39

Secondary school teachers educate young people between the ages of 11 and 18.

Scrabble with teaching words

Teacher (secondary): job description Secondary school teachers educate young people between the ages of 11 and 18.

What does a secondary school teacher do? | Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Secondary school teachers specialise in teaching a particular subject. Aside from working with teachers and students, you’re likely to come into contact with parents and carers as well as educational professionals such as psychologists and social workers.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • lesson planning and preparation, including creating and selecting learning materials
  • direct contact time with pupils
  • checking and assessing work
  • attending staff meetings
  • liaising with parents/carers and support professionals such as social workers
  • supervising extracurricular activities
  • keeping up your own ongoing professional development.

As a secondary school teacher you’ll focus on teaching a specific subject, which is likely to be the subject you studied at university or one related to it. This makes secondary school teaching a particularly good career choice if you’re enthusiastic about your degree subject and want to share your knowledge of it.

Find out more about what it’s like to work in secondary education from our specialist guidance.

Salaries for secondary school teachers

Newly qualified teachers (also known as early career teachers) working in state schools in England earn at least £25,000. Salaries depend on your location: you can earn up to £32,000 as an early career teacher in inner London. Salaries are reviewed every year. See our salary guide for the latest information.

Typical employers of secondary school teachers

  • State-maintained schools.
  • Private schools.
  • Sixth form colleges.
  • Pupil referral units.
  • Special schools/specialist resource bases.

Graduate careers in teaching advertised on, and on local and central government job sites. Vacancies are also advertised on national newspapers’ careers sites and those of specialist educational publications such as the Times Educational Supplement .

Our advice about when and where to look for teaching jobs gives more details.

Qualifications and training required

A degree in the subject you want to teach (or one closely related to it) is a standard requirement for anyone who wants to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) and teach in state-maintained secondary schools. There are some degree courses that incorporate QTS, but other graduates will need to undertake postgraduate teacher training. You’ll also need GSCEs or equivalent at grade 4 (C) or above in maths and English, and to pass a disclosure and barring services check.

You may be able to take a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course if your degree is in an area that’s not directly relevant to the subject you wish to teach.

There are several postgraduate teacher training routes open to graduates in England who wish to train as secondary school teachers. These include the PGCE (postgraduate or professional graduate certificate in education), school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT), employment-based School Direct training programmes and Teach First. Teacher training routes can vary in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

To finance your studies, there are loans, bursaries and scholarships available to help with the costs of training as a secondary school teacher. Amounts on offer can vary depending on the subject you want to teach: the most generous are typically for those wanting to train to teach science subjects or maths. Our advice on funding your teacher training explains what you could be eligible for.

Key skills for secondary school teachers

  • An understanding of how young people learn.
  • The ability to think on your feet.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Leadership skills.
  • IT skills.

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