Teach in the UK
Teaching in the UK is a popular choice for candidates hoping to teach abroad in Europe. And there are hundreds of UK teaching jobs out there for all kinds of subjects. It’s time to find the right teaching job in the UK for you.
Dreaming of living overseas and traveling around Europe? Want to teach in a world-class education system with unbeatable opportunities for career progression? Who doesn’t!
We’ve got some good news for you on that front. Whether you're an experienced teacher or just about to start your career in teaching, you can make that dream a reality this year by teaching in the UK. The UK is in the middle of a critical teacher shortage, so schools are eager to hire international teachers.
Feeling skeptical? We get it - it can be hard to figure out how to get started with teaching at home, never mind in an entirely different country!
That’s why we’ve created the ultimate guide to teaching in the UK, to help you jumpstart your UK teaching job search. All you have to do is read along, email it to yourself for later or jump to the section that interests you most:
Primary school teaching in the UK
Primary school teachers in the UK are expected to teach all subjects as outlined in the curriculum.
Secondary school teaching in the UK
Secondary school teachers will usually teach a subject they majored in at university.
Many schools throughout the UK are finding it hard to recruit new teachers in secondary school subjects, including English, maths, science, history, music, modern languages, and TEFL teachers.
As a result, new and experienced overseas teachers in these subject areas are in huge demand all across the country.
Substitute teaching in the UK
If you’re looking for a flexible way to teach in the UK, then becoming a substitute teacher might be a good option for you.
Don’t forget that you’ll still need to have QTS (more on this further down the page!) before applying for substitute teaching jobs anywhere in the UK.
About the UK teacher shortage
Due to a rapidly expanding student population, many schools throughout England are struggling to fill vacancies in several subject areas, especially STEM and modern languages.
According to UK Department for Education figures, in 2016 there were 920 teaching vacancies at UK schools, up 26% from the previous year. As a result, recruitment efforts directed at newly-qualified and experienced overseas teachers over the coming years will be at an all-time high.
Educators who hold a teaching license from Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland who specialize in these subject areas are in particularly high demand for full-time vacancies at schools throughout England.
How teaching in the UK furthers your career
Due to similarities in curricula, UK teaching opportunities are increasingly sought after by newly-qualified Australian and Canadian certified teachers currently experiencing a shortage of teaching roles in their home countries and seeking opportunities for rapid career development.
You’ll gain real classroom experience
Whether you’re looking to gain real-world teaching experience to take back to your home country or to kickstart a long-term career in international education, teaching in the UK offers plenty of opportunities for rapid career development.
You’ll jumpstart your international teaching career
For teachers looking to find employment at international schools and programs in the Middle East and Asia, UK teaching and curriculum experience is highly valued by hiring schools abroad.
Teaching in the UK also offers a unique chance for you to foster effective classroom and behavior management skills - skills that tend to be highly sought after by hiring schools back home and abroad.
Teaching in the UK for overseas trained teachers (OTTs)
Overseas trained teachers looking to teach in the UK need to follow the steps outlined below:
The education system in England
Education in England is overseen by the UK Department for Education and is broken up into five key stages:
- Early years education
- Primary education
- Secondary education
- Further education
- Third-level education
|3 - 5||Early Years Education||NC Tests|
|5 - 11||Primary Education||NC Tests|
|11 - 16||Secondary Education||GCSE|
|16 - 18||Further Education||A-level, BTEC, IB, Cambridge Pre-U|
|18+||Third-Level Education||University Degree|
Currently, there are almost 7,900,000 students enrolled in state-funded primary and secondary schools all around England.
State school education in England
There are approximately 460,000 teachers working in state-funded schools in England. State schools in England are typically divided into two categories:
- Grammar schools
- Comprehensive schools
Primary education in England
Primary education begins in the UK at age 5 and continues until age 11.
Secondary education in England
Around the age of 16, UK students typically take state examinations, known as the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE).
In the UK, education is compulsory up to age 16, at which point students can opt for two additional years of studies in order to obtain one of the following qualifications:
- General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (A-level)
- General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ)
- Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC)
- International Baccalaureate (IB)
- Cambridge Pre-U
Private school education in England
England is also home to a large number of private, fee-paying schools (commonly referred to as “public schools”).
There are around 2,500 independent schools in the UK, enrolling almost 620,000 children, many of which are member schools with the Independent Schools Council.
All about the UK school year
The school year in the UK runs for just under 40 weeks (or 200 days). School terms are divided up as follows:
UK school term overview:
|Autumn term||Spring term||Summer term|
|September - December||January - March||April - July|
School holidays for teachers in the UK
Teachers in the UK get half-term breaks, as well as winter and Easter holidays. UK schools typically break for the summer in late June until early September.
What is Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)?
Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is required in England and Wales in order to teach in state-funded schools. The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) is the authority in England responsible for awarding QTS.
Once you’ve been granted QTS and are employed to teach in a state-funded school, you will be paid according to the teacher pay scales outlined below. There is no charge for applying for QTS.
Teaching in the UK without QTS
In rarer cases, QTS may not be required for teaching roles at independent schools and academies across the UK.
Schools seeking individuals to teach certain shortage subject may also choose to waive the QTS requirement, although this is unlikely as applicants with QTS are strongly preferred.
How can overseas teachers get QTS?
If you’re a fully qualified teacher in any country in Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand or any country in the EEA, then you can apply for QTS using the online application form.
If you completed your teacher training in a country outside of those listed above, then you will first need to undertake an accredited teacher training program in the UK in order to be granted QTS.
Teachers certified to teach in Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand
In order to be eligible to teach in a UK school, you will first need to apply for QTS online and also provide a letter confirming your eligibility to teach in your home country, issued by the relevant authority.
Once your qualifications have been assessed and verified by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), you’ll be issued a letter confirming you’ve been awarded QTS.
Teachers who trained in the UK or EEA
If you completed an accredited teacher training program in England or Wales, the UK government will automatically award you QTS and your name will be listed in the database of qualified teachers.
Teachers who trained in Scotland, Northern Ireland or within the European Economic Area (EEA) need to apply online for QTS.
Qualifying to teach primary school in the UK
If you’re looking into primary school teaching, one of the most popular qualifications include either full or part-time undergraduate degree programs, leading to QTS.
Most programs include the option to specialize in a particular subject.
Qualifying to teach secondary school in the UK
There are two main routes into secondary teaching in the UK:
- University-led teacher training
- School-led teacher training
Routes into teaching in the UK
|University-led teacher training||School led-teacher training|
|Training at university with school placements||Training at a school leading to employment once qualified|
|PGCE leading to QTS||ITT leading to QTS|
1) University-led teacher training programs
Before being admitted into a UK graduate teacher program, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree of 2:2 or higher as well as meet other requirements, including obtaining a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
After graduating, you’ll need to gain QTS in England and Wales (or Teaching Certification if you choose to teach in Scotland).
Note: As part of the university-led route, you can also study for your postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). Although PGCE is not required in order to gain QTS in the UK, it is an internationally-recognized qualification that UK teachers will likely need in order to teach in other countries.
2) School-led training routes
UK teachers who prefer to opt for a school-led training program undergo a mix of classroom teaching and practical training. Depending on your chosen subject, the UK government may offer a bursary to help you cover your training costs.
You’ll need to undertake either Initial Teacher Training (ITT) or Initial Teacher Education. This will include 120 days of in-class teaching experience and continuous assessment.
School-led programs usually take a year to complete and result in QTS. You can search and apply for school-led training courses taking place over the coming year by visiting the UCAS Teacher Training site today.
Finding a teaching job in the UK
For new teacher graduates in countries like the US, Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, it can be tricky to find a teaching job with little classroom experience. Teaching in the UK is the perfect way for new teacher graduates from these countries to grow their resume!
UK teaching jobs for Canadian and US-qualified teachers
In an effort to combat the acute teacher shortage the UK is currently experiencing in a number of critical subject areas, we’re currently on the lookout for a large number of STEM and modern language overseas teachers to teach in schools across the UK.
UK teaching jobs for Irish teachers
As a result of reduced pay for newly qualified teachers and an ongoing shortage of teaching jobs in Ireland, many teachers in Ireland choose to seek teaching opportunities abroad.
Teaching in the UK is a great option for Irish teachers struggling to find work in their home country, as the Irish government's 100-day post-qualification employment requirement can be completed at schools in the UK.
In an effort to tackle the UK teacher shortage, newly qualified and experienced Irish teachers are in huge demand at schools all across the country. As a result, Irish teachers encounter little difficulty securing a teaching position in the UK.
Visa options to teach in the UK
If you’re fortunate enough to possess either a UK or EU passport, you can teach in the UK without any restrictions. Otherwise, you can teach in the UK under the following visas:
Visas for overseas teachers in the UK:
|UK Visa Type||Duration||Fee||Turnaround Time|
|Youth Mobility Visa||2 years||£235 (approx. $335 USD)||3 weeks|
|Skilled Worker Visa||Up to 3 years||£446 (approx. $635 USD)||3 weeks|
|Ancestry Visa||5 years||£496 (approx. $705 USD)||3 weeks|
|Dual Citizenship||Lifetime||More info on fees here||3 weeks|
Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa for overseas teachers
The Youth Mobility Visa is a reciprocal agreement that allows Canadian and Australian teachers between the ages of 18 and 30 to work in the UK. Find out more about meeting Youth Mobility visa eligibility requirements and how to apply by visiting the UK Government's Department for Education site.
Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa for overseas teachers
If you’re an overseas teacher who’s qualified to teach in a hard-to-fill subject area (including STEM and modern languages), a Tier 2 Visa is the right option for you!
UK Ancestry visa for overseas teachers
This visa is available for any overseas teaching candidates who are a Commonwealth citizen or have at least one grandparent who was born in the UK. Visit the UK Government’s Department for Education site to discover more about ancestry visas for overseas teachers in the UK.
Dual citizenship for overseas teachers
If either you or your parents were born in the UK then you may be able to apply for a British passport in order to teach in the UK. Visit the UK Government’s Department for Education site to discover more about dual citizenship for overseas teachers.
Please note that you’ll need to apply for your visa at least three months prior to your arrival in the UK.
PS: Don’t forget about background checks!
Before you can teach at a state-funded school in the UK, you are required to undergo a criminal record check. Visit the UK government’s department for education site to find complete guidelines on criminal record checks for overseas teachers.
Any domestic UK teachers will need to get an enhanced DBS (British Police Clearance), which is mandatory for any profession working with children.
Salary ranges for teachers in the UK:
|Experience level||Pay scale|
|Newly qualified (NQT) teacher||£23,000 - 35,000 (approx. $33,000 - 50,000 USD)|
|Qualified teacher||£36,000 - 47,500 (approx. $51,000 - 68,000 USD)|
Headteachers in the UK can expect to earn an annual salary in the range of £45,000 - £117,000 (approx. $65,000 - 165,000 USD). While there is no set pay scale for teaching assistants, starting salaries fall around £14,000 ($20,000 USD) annually.
In addition to your base salary, other benefits for qualified teachers in the UK include a generous pension and extended holiday time (up to 13 weeks a year).
Curious how UK teacher salaries compare with the rest of the world? Check out our free salary calculator!
Want even more deets on all things to do with UK teacher pay scales? Check out the UK government site for more info on teaching salaries in the UK.
Tax implications for overseas teachers in the UK
PAYE for UK teachers: How does it work?
Whether you’re teaching on a full-time basis or working as a part-time or substitute teacher in the UK, it’s important to figure out what tax you should be paying in advance.
The UK operates a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax system. This means that tax will be deducted from each paycheck, helping you avoid having to pay one large tax bill at the end of the year.
The tax year turns from April 6 through to April 5 the following year. As an overseas teacher working in the UK, you are entitled to a tax-free Personal Tax Allowance of £10,000 (approx. $14,000 USD) on a yearly basis.
UK tax rates range from 20% to 45%, depending on your salary. National Insurance contributions are also deducted for teachers in the UK, which can range from 0 - 2%, again depending on your salary.
TEFL jobs for UK teachers
Are you TEFL certified? Teach Away has the widest range of teaching jobs for TEFL teachers looking to teach English language learners around the world. As some of the fastest growing TEFL job markets for new graduates and qualified teachers looking to teach English abroad, English teaching jobs are booming in Spain, China, South Korea and Mexico, to name just a few!
So don’t miss your chance to teach English abroad and travel the globe - search for the latest TEFL jobs and apply online with Teach Away today.
Arts and culture in the UK
One of the most multicultural countries in the world, the UK is a diverse and tolerant place where hundreds of languages are spoken.
Home to a world-leading arts and cultural scene, the UK is a hub for art, theatre and museum lovers. London's Tate Modern and the National Gallery are two of the UK's most famous art spaces. Some of the world’s best live music venues and festivals are located in the UK - including the O2 arena and Glastonbury.
Social life in the UK
Although the UK has historically had a bit of a bad rep for serving up bland meals, consisting mostly of meat and potatoes, that couldn’t be further from the truth today. Whatever mood you’re in, you’ll find places to eat, to suit every taste and budget, on any UK high street.
Pubs and bars are popular hang-out spots for overseas teachers in the UK. British people, in general, are also big into watching sport. Don’t be alarmed by the colorful language that’s bound to ensure during an Arsenal v Chelsea match!
Oh, and take note - British pubs love holding pub quizzes. So start brushing up on your general knowledge now!
Finding a place to live
Once you arrive, one of the first things you’ll need to do is decide where you want to live. You can either try to rent an apartment before you arrive or set up viewings when you land. If you don’t have a couch to crash on, Airbnb is a great option for short-term stays and can often work out cheaper than paying for a hotel.
If you’re single, you might want to consider flat or house-sharing at the beginning, which will save you hundreds of pounds in rent.
The further you live outside a city, the cheaper your rent will be. But don’t forget that travel costs can add up in a hurry, depending on how long your commute is. Be sure to take that into account when you’re figuring out your living arrangements.
You’ll also need to have enough savings to cover a full month’s rent upfront.
Some good sites to kickstart your accommodation hunt include:
Healthcare for overseas teachers in the UK
Your best bet is to get some travel medical coverage before you leave - especially if you’re planning on visiting other countries while teaching in the UK. Pro tip: Don’t forget to register with a local GP on arrival!
Setting up a bank account in the UK
High on your to-do list when you arrive should be opening a UK bank account. You’ll need a bank account to set direct debit payments for household and mobile bills as well as paying rent to your landlord.
If you’re a teacher from Canada, the US, Australia or New Zealand, you’ll need to bring your passport and visa with you on your bank appointment. While you might have no fixed address and credit history in the UK, don’t worry. Most UK banks specialize in assisting new arrivals with setting up a bank account in the UK.
Getting a National Insurance number (NI)
Trust us, you’ll need to apply for a National Insurance number - you can't get paid without this! You can apply for yours online for on the UK government's site.
Getting an Oyster card
An essential if you’re living and teaching in London. You can quickly grab yours at a nearby newsstand or tube station for £5 and simply reload as needed.
Cost of living in the UK
While the cost of living in many of the bigger cities in the UK is fairly high, your teaching salary will be adjusted to reflect this. If you’re relocating to teach in the UK from a different country, you’ll also benefit from a favorable pound to dollar exchange rate.
Budget supermarkets, like Aldi, are also hugely popular in the UK. If you’re shopping around for a gym membership deal or a discount on popular activities, don’t forget to sign up for Groupon alerts in your area.
The UK is home to a temperate climate, with average temperatures ranging from anywhere between 6 degrees Celsius (42 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter and 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) in the summer. Rain is pretty common year round.
Living in London
London is one of the world’s most livable cities. Rental prices are higher in central London but tend to decline the further out you go. In general, houses or apartments in close proximity to a tube station will be a little pricier.
Travel for teachers in the UK
The great British outdoors
The UK happens to be a beautiful place to live and explore. The UK is home to 15 national parks offering plenty of recreational activities. Due to its relatively small size, traveling around the UK on the National Express is easy and cheap.
From the wilderness of Dartmoor and the many miles of rugged coastline on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, the UK offers new teachers arrivals fantastic outdoor adventure activities to suit any interests.
Just remember to invest in a good rain jacket before you go trekking anywhere!
Traveling around Europe
Due to its proximity to Europe, one of the best perks of teaching in the UK is undoubtedly the extensive travel opportunities on offer. France and Belgium, for example, are a quick train ride away, while other destinations across Europe are easily accessible by air. And not only are flights affordable, many travel vendors also offer special discounted rates for teachers working in the UK.