Teaching in a school

This page covers:

  • Why teach in a school?

  • GCSEs and A levels

  • Support for school teachers

  • School leaving age

  • QTS status

  • Useful websites for new teachers

  • FAQs

Why teach in a school?

Teaching in a school can be very rewarding as you can help shape the future of your learners. For some teachers, the transition from FE to a school can be easy. However, for others it takes time to adjust to the different age ranges and the challenges they may bring. There are some weblinks at the end of this page which you might find useful. You might also like to contact the school you are thinking of applying to, to find out what the role will involve, along with the pay and conditions.

Many people begin teaching and/or assessing in the further education (FE), skills and training sector, then decide to teach in a school. There are some benefits, e.g. longer holiday periods, however, the contact time with learners might be higher per week than teaching in a college or a university.

Some FE organisations collaborate with schools to offer vocational subjects, and although you might be employed by an FE provider, you might go into a school environment to teach. 

The pay and conditions will be different in a school to that in FE, and there will be policies and procedures which you will need to find out about and adhere to. These will probably be different in every school, for example, some schools have a uniform policy and others do not. You will need to be aware of safeguarding, this is about ways to protect the health, well-being and human rights of children, young people and vulnerable adults. You also need to know about The Prevent Duty, which is part of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (2015).

Teaching in a primary school may involve delivering many different subjects to one group of children, whereas teaching in a secondary school might involve teaching one or two specialist subjects to lots of different groups of pupils. Class sizes in schools will probably be larger than those in FE.

You might also have to teach and/or embed topics such as:

  • attitude and behaviour

  • British Values

  • citizenship, enterprise and sustainability 

  • employability and employment skills

  • functional skills (maths, English and digital skills)

  • personal development, behavoiur and welfare (PDBW)

  • personal learning and thinking skills (PLTS)

  • personal, social, health and economic knowledge (PSHE)

  • professional behaviours. 

GCSEs and A levels

You will probably be teaching GCSE subjects, of which the grading structure has changed (in England).  

The grades are now 1-9, with a U for ungraded.

You can see a comparison of the grades in this image, and you can find out more at this link.

If you will be teaching A levels, you can find out more at this link.

Scroll down this page for information regarding T levels and Applied General qualifications.

Support for school teachers

  • You could search Facebook and LinkedIn for relevant groups regarding teaching your specialist subject.

  • Resources to support teachers and learners of relevant qualifications can be found by clicking here.

  • Videos can be seen by clicking here.

School leaving age

Children can leave school on the last Friday in June if they will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays (in England). Click this link for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

They must then do one of the following until they are aged 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a school or a college

  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship

  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.


QTS status

Teachers in schools in England must hold QTS status if they are teaching in a maintained school or a non-maintained special school. Maintained schools are state funded, the requirements differ elsewhere

In order gain QTS, you will need to hold a first degree granted by a United Kingdom higher education institution (or equivalent qualification) and GCSEs of level 4/grade C or above in Maths and English (you will also need grade C in Science if you plan to teach at a Primary level). Legislation does not specify that teachers must have a degree in a particular subject or discipline. It is the Teachers’ Standards that specify the subject knowledge required for the award of QTS.

QTS can be achieved through both school-led and university-led initial teacher training (PGCE) or an assessment only route.

If you are a teacher in the FE, skills and training sector in England, have QTLS status and are also a current member of the Society for Education and Training, you will be pleased to know that QTLS status is equivalent to QTS for teaching in schools (in England) and should be accepted by law in the school you wish to teach in

This should mean you are entitled to work in a school without undertaking the Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) induction year. However, although QTLS has parity with QTS by law (in England), many schools now make their own decisions as to what qualifications and experience their teachers must have, particularly in free schools and academies.

If you qualified outside of England, and would like to teach in England, you can access information hereYou can find out about international iQTS here.

Useful websites for new teachers

Please contact me if any links on this page no longer work.


1. I currently teach in a college, how can I make the transition to teach in a school? 

Contact a school where you would like to teach and ask them what their requirements for new teachers are. Most schools can make their own decisions as to who they employ. See the weblinks above for guidance regarding becoming a teacher.

2. I have QTLS status and I have taught in the FE, skills and training sector for many years. I have applied to a school but they won't accept my QTLS as being equivalent to QTS.

QTLS is recognised in law as being the equivalent to QTS (in England), however, some schools won't accept it. The Gov.UK website states: "If you have QTLS status and membership with the Society for Education and Training, you will be eligible to work as a qualified teacher in schools in England." Scroll about two thirds down the page at this weblink and look for 'QTLS' to find out more.

3. I am worried that if I teach in a school, the behaviour of the learners will be hard to deal with.

There will more than likely be behaviour issues which you will have to deal with. Your school should be able to give you guidance. However, it's not always easy and you will need to remain in control, whilst being firm and fair.  A free book about managing difficult behaviour in colleges can be downloaded here. Although it relates to FE, you should be able to apply the content to schools.

4. I currently teach in a school and I would like to make the move to further education.

As a qualified school teacher you are already fully qualified to work in the FE, skills and training sector. See this link for further information. You can find out more about the FE, skills and training sector by downloading this guide from the Education and Training Foundation.  

5. I have a question which isn't here.

Please ask it in this LinkedIn group, it's free to join.       

  • You could search Facebook and LinkedIn for relevant groups regarding teaching your specialist subject.
  • Resources to support teachers and learners of relevant qualifications can be found by clicking here.
  • Videos can be seen by clicking here.