Secondary School Teacher

Secondary school teachers teach one or two national curriculum subjects to pupils. Teachers support, observe and record the progress of their class. They also plan lessons in line with national objectives, with the aim of ensuring a healthy culture of learning. A secondary school teacher must keep up to date with developments in their subject area, new resources, methods and national objectives. The role involves liaising and networking with other professionals, parents and guardians, both informally and formally.

Typical work activities

  • Preparing and delivering lessons to a range of classes of different ages and abilities.
  • Marking work, giving appropriate feedback and maintaining records of pupils’ progress and development.
  • Researching new topic areas, maintaining up-to-date subject knowledge, and devising and writing new curriculum materials.
  • Selecting and using a range of different learning resources and equipment, including podcasts and interactive whiteboards.
  • Preparing pupils for qualifications and external examinations.
  • Managing pupil behaviour in the classroom and on school premises, and applying appropriate and effective measures in cases of misbehaviour.
  • Undertaking pastoral duties, such as taking on the role of form tutor, and supporting pupils on an individual basis through academic or personal difficulties.
  • Communicating with parents and carers over pupils’ progress and participating in departmental meetings, parents’ evenings and whole school training events.
  • Liaising with other professionals, such as learning mentors, careers advisers, educational psychologists and education welfare officers.
  • Supervising and supporting the work of teaching assistants, trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers.
  • Participating in and organising extracurricular activities, such as outings, social activities and sporting events.
  • Undergoing regular observations and participating in regular in-service training as part of continuing professional development.

Technical Skills

  • Classroom experience as an observer or classroom assistant.
  • Volunteer work experience placements.
  • Experience with children, e.g. through sports, play schemes, summer camps, youth clubs, tutoring or mentoring.
  • Familiarity with the national curriculum for your subject.
  • Enthusiasm, motivation, commitment and strong communication skills.

Career Development

Career progression may be through a specialist curriculum or pastoral role, or by moving into management. Teachers may become heads of department, heads of year or coordinators of a cross-curricular area, such as special needs or careers education, as well as subject or professional mentors for trainee teachers on placement.
Classroom expertise is recognised external assessment as having excellent classroom practice and they share their knowledge and expertise with colleagues in their own schools and other schools in the locality. They receive additional pay and increased non-contact time. Accelerated leadership development programmes, including the National Professional Qualification for Headship for teachers who are aiming to become head teachers or principals are provided by the National College for School Leadership . Some teachers move out of schools and into other related jobs, such as further education lecturing, school inspection with the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills , advisory or consultancy roles, initial teacher training, or administration in local education authorities or examination boards. Organisations such as museums, art galleries and zoos employ teachers as education officers. There are some opportunities for self-employment, which include private tutoring, writing educational materials or running a small private school. Employers outside education value many of the skills gained through teaching. Some teachers retrain for other careers, such as: social work; the police; guidance work; management roles within the public or private sector.

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