Looking To Swap The Parade Ground For The Classroom? Get Into Teaching Today

Looking To Swap The Parade Ground For The Classroom? Get Into Teaching Today

Off By Ed Hanna

With many of the personal and professional qualities of Military veterans an ideal fit for the teaching profession, we look at the opportunities for Service-leavers wanting to swap the parade ground for the classroom.

By Alison Dando

When it comes to career searches on the internet, the teaching profession consistently scores the hits, with ‘teaching assistant’ currently the most searched for job via Google this year. Teaching in general remains in the top seven new job searches, showing that as a rewarding and stimulating career, the education sector is still top of the class.

There are currently over 450,000 full-time teachers working in state primary and secondary schools in England alone, with almost 270,000 teaching assistants working alongside them. And this teaching force is boosted by around 44,000 newly qualified teaching professionals every year.

Despite reports of growing numbers of teachers leaving the profession, retention rates have remained largely static over the last few years, with around 68-70% of teachers in post after five years of service. These are all encouraging signs that the teaching profession is still a good option for suitably experienced, motivated or qualified Service personnel looking for a second career after the Military.


That’s not to say the profession is without its challenges, not least growing pupil numbers across the board that’s been linked to a recent boom in birth rates. And, although there has been an upturn in the number of new teachers working within primary schools, there are concerns that this is still not enough to cope with the anticipated demand over the next few years.

Subject shortages also remain a major issue, particularly for secondary schools, with maths, physics, sciences, design and technology as well as languages the key areas of shortage when it comes to qualified, permanent teachers.

There’s also still work to do when it comes to boosting the less than perfect recruitment and retention rates, with government cash incentives aimed at recruiting and keeping teaching staff, particularly in those subjects where shortages exist.

When it comes to the earning potential of a move into the teaching profession, the numbers can also add up if you’re looking for longterm career change. Newly qualified teachers can expect to earn a minimum of £23,700, with teaching assistants starting on an average of £15,000, rising to £25,000 per year, depending on skills and experience. Furthermore, since the Government has just agreed a 2.75% pay rise for teachers, these figures are set to rise from this autumn.

Transferable skills

With an acknowledged shortage of teachers for key subject areas, there are real opportunities for suitably knowledgeable, experienced or qualified former Service personnel to transfer their skills to a rewarding teaching role in their new civilian life.

The current National Curriculum taught in schools covers the
education of pupils from ages 5 – 16, and aims to not only support their ‘spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development’ but also to prepare the children for all the ‘opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life’. With their varied life experience, many ex-Service personnel are more than well placed to teach across all the key stages of the current National Curriculum. However, it is not just their professional experience that can make Military veterans stand out in the classroom.

According to education recruitment specialists, Randstad, the top five qualities to look for in a teacher or teaching assistant are discipline/ professionalism, knowledge, approachability, enthusiasm and communication skills – all qualities that can easily be found in Service personnel coming out of the Forces. Service-leavers also have a reputation for a strong work ethic which many parents would happily see passed on to their children as they go through school.

Working hours and holidays

With both full-time and parttime opportunities in the classroom, there are flexible opportunities for former Military personnel to move into the teaching profession. Teachers can work no more than 1,265 hours over 195 days of the year, with 190 days used for direct teaching, and the remaining five days used for in-service training days.

Typical daily hours for a full-time teacher are between 8am and 5.30pm, to include teaching, preparation and administration, while marking pupils’ work is often done outside these hours. However, the holiday allowance for a state school teacher in the UK – on average around 10 weeks a year – is well above the general holiday entitlement and a bonus for people looking to get into the profession.

Is teaching the career for you?

To become a state-school qualified teacher in the UK, you need to undertake Initial Teacher Training (ITT) or Initial Teacher Education (ITE), which leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England and Wales, and the Teaching Qualification (TQ) in Scotland.

You will need a degree – or an equivalent qualification – as well as GSCE grade C/4 in English and maths (plus a science subject for primary trainees) to obtain your QTS status.

You can either choose to do an undergraduate course with Qualified Teacher Status which will generally take three to four years full-time. Or, if you already have a degree, you can complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), which can take up to two years. With a PGCE, you can opt to complete the course via a university or a school. There are also options for applying for a place on a School Direct programme, which is salaried. Or you might choose to take on a Diploma in Education & Training (DET) with QTLS programme that combines teacher training and practical teaching placements, developed in conjunction with Ofqual and recognised by the Society for Education and Training.

For more information on the qualifications and experience needed to train to become a teacher, as well as the grants and funding options available, visit: getintoteaching.education.gov.uk

Get a bursary

Last year the Department for Education launched a new bursary scheme to encourage more Veterans to consider teaching as their second career, post- Military.

Eligible ex-Service personnel can apply for a taxfree £40,000 bursary if they are planning to study for an undergraduate degree with qualified teacher status (QTS). The teaching degree must be in one of the priority subjects of biology, physics, chemistry, computing, maths or modern foreign languages.

The bursary scheme aims to significantly boost the number of ex-Military personnel moving into the teaching profession by offering greater flexibility and support. There are, however, minimum eligibility requirements – you must have left the Armed Forces in the five years prior to the start of your course, don’t already have a degree but have GCSE grade C/4 (or standard equivalent) in mathematics and English – as well as a science subject for primary school trainees.

For more details on the bursary, visit: getintoteaching.education.gov.uk and search for ‘troops bursary’.