Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaching is not an option

It seems impossible for me to get a teaching job in the UK. It really doesn’t matter what my experience, certificates and education – no British school really cares what I’ve done in Florida.  I’m hoping my posting this frustration will bring around someone who says, “Oh yes, I have this problem too.”  I can’t be the only one who is having such a hard time because the rules for US teachers in the UK may change this year

I’ve talked about my quest to find work as a librarian or as a teacher since I have experience in the latter: Right now I don’t have Qualified Teacher Status but since I am an Overseas Trained Teacher I can get a job teaching and get my QTS within four years of my first day of work.  The trouble is all the jobs listed require QTS. A big Catch-22.  Plus, in order to get into a college program such as the Postgraduate Certificate in English (PGCE) they need you to have experience in a UK classroom. Again, it doesn’t matter that you’ve taught for however many odd years in another English speaking country and that the PGCE will take you into the schools and give you proper teacher training.

None of this makes sense.  It’s like the opportunity is out there but it can’t be reached.

I finally contacted the TDA’s support line today to ask them what I can do about this whole situation since I’ve been looking for a year to find work, registered with teaching agencies, had my Criminal Records Background check done, had my credentials verified and been told that I should be able to get a job.

TDA let me know that the rules regarding US, Canadian and Australian teachers who want to work in the UK may be changing per a proposal this school year. Since any teacher in the European Union (regardless if their first language is English or not) can get QTS in the UK and can begin teaching.  For those who aren’t European (the Overseas Trained Teacher – OTT) has to go through the process of obtaining QTS through work or university coursework.

What it boils down to is that a bunch of people who are fully capable of teaching and are more than happy to learn the UK Curriculum are sitting around without jobs. Granted a lot of people are sitting around without jobs and if UK schools are now requiring QTS for all teaching positions in order to give first priority to those British teachers who are looking for work too, then I understand that completely.

But the TDA isn’t saying that’s the case. They told me that it really isn’t that hard to get a job without QTS because you will have to get QTS through the job anyway. So from the chat I had with them today, they suggested that I contact local schools directly and ask them if I can at least volunteer so I can be a part of the school’s system somehow.  I can always let them know that the PGCE Department of Newcastle University told me that this is what I would need to do before applying for their program anyway. I know as Floridian that’s not really something they just let anyone do but here maybe that’s something they’re willing to allow.

However, in Florida we take library volunteers whereas in the UK I was flat out told by my local libraries, “we don’t do that.” So…

And as an aside, I’m sure I mentioned the GCSE test scores that kids take in high school here. They ask for those on every job application regardless of what college degree you have. Seriously. What you do when you’re 16 and 18 in the UK does stay on your permanent record. I still don’t understand that at all. You need those to get into college so who would care what you did in high school if you’re 40, worked 20 odd years as a teacher and had a Master’s in Education?

That’s the beauty of the American school system: the child can leave their school behind.


  1. Bizarre, especially that part about your high school test scores. And a library that doesn't take volunteers? Inconceivable.

  2. You're telling me. I had this delusion that it would be easy to get a job here but nope - a whole lotta rules.
    The high school scores make no sense to me. I love the efficiency and organisation of the UK but the difficulty to get things done still amazes me.