Moving to the UK and becoming a teacher

Moving to the UK and interested in becoming a teacher? Learn about the different types of schools, the National Curriculum and how to apply for QTS, as well as where to look for UK teaching jobs. By Monica Milne

In this article:

  1. What do you need to teach in the UK?
  2. What is a DBS check?
  3. Applying for QTS
  4. Types of schools in England
  5. The National Curriculum
  6. How much will I get paid?
  7. Where can I find out about teaching jobs?
  8. Working in the school

I know I am speaking to the converted when I say that teaching is the best job in the world! To know that you can have a positive impact on the lives of so many children and inspire them to be life long learners is a gift not many people have the opportunity to share. However, children in the UK are like any other children across the world, some are a delight to teach whilst others will challenge even the strongest of us so be warned!

There is currently a shortage of teachers in the UK particularly in secondary schools (ages 11-18) and especially in some subjects e.g. physics, chemistry, maths, computer studies and modern languages.

Availability will, of course, vary depending on where you want to live whilst in the UK with the demand for teachers in both the primary and secondary stages, highest around the London area.

So what do you need to teach in the UK?

  • To be a fully qualified teacher you need to have been awarded a Bachelor degree, from a recognised training institution. Don’t forget to take your original teaching certificate with you.
  • Be legally entitled to work in the UK by having a valid UK visa. For example Youth Mobility Visa, Ancestry, Right of Abode, Dependent Spousal Visa. If in doubt, check with the BritBound team
  • Have a valid passport.
  • Have proof of your current address such as a bank statement or utility/phone bill
  • Provide an updated CV with no gaps in employment including details for at least 2 referees who have seen you teach within the last 2 years. Where possible include a member of the senior management team from your last school as one of your referees.
  • Obtain an enhanced DBS (UK police check).

What is a DBS check?

A DBS check is a record of a person’s criminal convictions and cautions – carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

It’s an essential requirement for those applying to work with children or vulnerable adults (e.g. in teaching or healthcare) – and the information shown is used to ascertain a candidate’s suitability for a particular role.

The school will need to carry out a DBS check on you before you are allowed to work there however you need to bring the following documents with you to help them with their check:

From 1st April 2012, teachers who qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America (USA) will be recognised as qualified teachers and awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England without being required to undertake any further training or assessment. In order to be awarded recognition as a qualified teacher, you will need to have satisfied both of the following conditions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA:

(a) you must have successfully completed a course of initial teacher training (ITT) which is recognised by the competent authority in that country; and

(b) successfully completed or satisfied any additional conditions, including any period of professional experience comparable to an induction period, which are required for employment on a permanent basis in government schools (schools wholly or mainly government funded) in Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA.

Teachers who are barred or subject to any restrictions on their eligibility to teach in their country of qualification will not be able to be recognised as qualified teachers in England. To be recognised as a fully qualified teacher in England, you must be able to teach as a fully qualified teacher in the country where you were trained.

Applying for QTS

Teachers must apply to the Teaching Agency for the award of QTS before they can be recognised as qualified teachers in England. You should complete an application form and send it to the Teaching Agency with a letter confirming that that you are both qualified and eligible to teach permanently in the country in question. Only letters from the recognised authority where you are a qualified teacher will be accepted for this purpose. Application forms can be obtained from

Where to obtain you letter of recognition:

  • For Australia: a territory’s department for education or teacher registration board.
  • For Canada: a territory’s department for education or college of teachers.
  • For New Zealand: The New Zealand Teachers’ Council
  • For the USA: a state’s Department of Education

Once QTS has been awarded, teachers qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA will not be required to undertake statutory induction period in England.

Types of schools in England

There are many different types of schools in England and before applying for a teaching position in a school it is worth knowing a little about the types of school it is:

  • Community schools, controlled by the local council and not influenced by business or religious groups
  • Foundation schools and voluntary schools, which have more freedom to change the way they do things than community schools
  • Academies, run by a governing body, independent from the local council - they can follow a different curriculum
  • Grammar schools, run by the council, a foundation body or a trust - they select all or most of their pupils based on academic ability and there is often an exam to get in
  • Special schools. Special schools cover both the primary and secondary section and can be for physical or mentally disabled pupils. Special schools can specialise in 1 of the 4 areas of special educational needs:
    • communication and interaction
    • cognition and learning
    • social, emotional and mental health
    • sensory and physical needs

Schools can further specialise within these categories to reflect the special needs they help with, for example Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairment, or speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

  • Faith schools. Faith schools have to follow the national curriculum, but they can choose what they teach in religious studies. Faith schools may have different admissions criteria and staffing policies to state schools, although anyone can apply for a place.
  • Faith academies. Faith academies don’t have to teach the national curriculum and have their own admissions processes.
  • Free schools. Free schools are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how they do things. They’re ‘all-ability’ schools, so can’t use academic selection processes like a grammar school. Free schools can:
    • Set their own pay and conditions for staff
    • Change the length of school terms and the school day
    • They don’t have to follow the national curriculum

If you are responding to an advertisement in a paper for a post in a specific school then you should research the school, looking on its own website and reading their Ofsted report (this is a government report on the standard of teaching)

The National Curriculum

Before you start teaching in a school you need to have an understanding of what is taught in the different ages ranges in a school.

The national curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so children learn the same things. It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject. It covers learning for all children aged 5-16 in state schools, and sets out:

  • which subjects should be taught
  • the knowledge, skills and understanding your child should achieve in each subject (according to your child’s age)
  • targets - so teachers can measure how well your child is doing in each subject
  • how information on your child’s progress should be passed on to you

The National Curriculum is divided into four Key Stages that children are taken through during their school life. For example, Key Stage 1 is taught during Years 1 and 2 of primary school. Targets defined in the National Curriculum are assessed at the end of each Key Stage.

Follow the link to the national curriculumfor further information.

How much will I get paid?

Your salary as a qualified teacher depends on where you work and your place on the teacher pay scale.

As a classroom teacher at a state school, your salary. For the 2018/19 school year this could range from £23,719 for newly qualified teachers outside of London, up to £118,489 for headteachers in inner London. On the main pay scale your salary will most likely start on M1 (£23,719 – £29,663) and can increase to M6 (£35,007 – £40,371).

As a classroom teacher you’ll start on the main pay scale, which ranges from point M1 to M6. Newly qualified teachers usually start on point M1, although other teaching experience may push you higher up the scale.

Schools may also award discretionary points for other relevant experience. Each school’s pay policy should explain how these points are awarded.

Qualified teachers who reach the top of the main pay scale can apply to cross the ‘threshold’ to the upper pay scale, which ranges from point U1 to U3.

To qualify for post-threshold pay teachers have to meet criteria set out in the school's pay policy based on government criteria.

On the upper pay scale your salary will range from U1 (£36,645 – £44,488) and can increase to U3 (£39,405 – £48,243).

To check the pay scale chart go to NAS/UWT website :

Where can I find out about teaching jobs?

Your local paper will have jobs advertised, however there are a number of online companies advertising. Here are some of the main ones but you can always Google for a more extensive list: › Education and learning › Schools and curriculum

It is a good idea to do some supply teaching first of all to get a feeling for the schools in your area. Supply teachers cover for absent teachers either short or long term. Most people go through a teaching agency so do your research to decide which agency best meets your needs. Avoid signing up to a number of different agencies. Choose one that meets your criteria and can best match your skills set.

Some good tips can be found on the TES website –

Working in the school

No matter whether you are teaching in a school for a short or long period, it isimportant that you:

  • Find out about the structure of the school day, staffing etc
  • Find out what the school’s policies are, for example, on safeguarding, behaviour management, rewards and sanctions, homework etc
  • Be organized and punctual
  • Plan lessons that are engaging, challenging and meet the needs of your pupils.
  • Find out about the pupils you teach. Be friendly but firm and consistent in following the school’s procedures. You are not their friend but it doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly!
  • Try to get involved in the school outside the classroom to help you make friends with other teachers in the school.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Good luck in your quest to become a teacher in the UK and hope to meet you at a BritBound event one day and hear how you are getting on...