How do you get your first job in teaching?

Vinny Potter from The Careers Group, University of London provides guidance on the job hunting process for teachers to help you identify the role you want and succeed in getting it.


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This article has been written in partnership with AGCAS.

Finding your first teaching post is a process that doesn't have to be stressful or difficult if you are well prepared and plan ahead. The following advice and tips on job hunting, applications and interview preparation will be helpful as you work towards getting your first teaching job.

The job hunting process involves a number of stages. You will need to find the area where you want to teach, apply for any available positions and perform successfully at the interview stage.

While much of the information that follows will be relevant to applications for teaching jobs across all of the UK, make sure you read the specific advice for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:

How to find the right teaching job for you

To identify teaching jobs you want to apply for, think about your preferences:

  • location – you probably won't want a long commute during your first year as an early career teacher (ECT)
  • type and size of school
  • year group and key stage
  • teaching methods
  • school performance and reputation.

Application routes include:

  • specific vacancies advertised by the school
  • teacher registration schemes, databases and pool applications
  • speculative applications
  • agencies.

The job titles vary within the UK. In England, you will be applying for a job as an early career teacher (ECT). This is the new term for newly qualified teacher (NQT). The term NQT is still used in Wales and in Scotland you would be a probationer.

Specific vacancies are advertised from January. Teacher registration schemes and databases may start in the autumn and close in the spring. Speculative applications can be made at any time.

When you apply, make sure each application is tailored to the needs of the individual school and post applied for. This is mainly achieved through the personal statement or letter of application.

Applicants for teaching posts will be interviewed, usually by a panel, and required to teach a sample lesson.

When do you find out if you have succeeded at interview?

Most job offers are made shortly after the interview, usually on the same day. Some applicants may even be asked at interview if they would accept the role if offered. Head teachers are likely to expect a prompt answer to an offer of employment.

Unsuccessful candidates will usually be offered feedback on their application and interview, which can be very helpful when preparing for future applications.

What to expect during your induction

All teachers in the UK are required to complete an induction. In England this is now a two-year induction period as part of the early career framework. In Scotland and Wales it is still a one-year induction.The early career framework entitles early career teachers to a fully funded two-year package of structured training and support for professional development. The support package includes:

  • 10% extra time away from the classroom in the first year of teaching and 5% extra time away from the classroom in the second year
  • training and CPD for ECTs
  • the support of a designated mentor, who will also receive funded time and training to support ECTs

The early career framework can be completed through supply teaching (and also part time pro-rata), but the duration of each temporary role must be at least one term.

See Hwb for specific information about the Welsh induction year and The General Teaching Council for Scotland about the Scottish probationary year via the Teacher Induction Scheme. Information on induction in Northern Ireland can be found at Education Authority Northern Ireland .

Usually the induction period is completed within a state-maintained school. However, it can be completed within an academy or free school, an independent school, nursery school, pupil referral unit, further education college or one of the British Schools Overseas (BSOs) – subject to compliance with the regulations.

Teachers with early years teacher status (EYTS) working with children from birth to five years old do not complete the statutory ECT induction.

This article was last updated August 2021.

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