Try before you buy: volunteer teaching schemes

Teaching is a big commitment.  As well as being a hugely rewarding career, it is also a greatly demanding one and for this reason it is crucial that potential teachers find out all that it involves.  One of the best approaches is to actually spend time in schools and there are several ways to do this:

Open Schools programme
Potential teachers spend a day observing in a school to gain insight into the role and responsibilities of teachers.  You get a chance to observe lessons in your chosen subject or year group and with over 700 schools in the programme, you’re sure to find a school to suit.  Contact the Training and Development Agency    for further details


University ambassadors’ scheme
If you are a maths, science, engineering, technology or modern foreign languages undergraduate you will eligible to take part in a scheme, run by over 40 universities, that offers work experience in your chosen subject area in a local school.  Contact your university to find out more.


Taster courses and open days
If you are male, from an ethnic minority or have disabilities then you could benefit from a three day taster course offered by an initial teacher http://webvision.tes.co.uk/cms/storyEdit.aspx?storyCode=6008257#training course provider.  The scheme aims to provide a taste of teaching to groups that are under represented in the profession and is tailored to different subjects and age groups.  Why not try a new pilot maths online taster course.  Contact the Training and Development Agency or call the Teaching Information Line on 0845 6000 991


Students associates scheme
If you’re a current student you could spend 15 days working in a school under the supervision of a teacher and get a tax-free bursary of £40 per day.  Call the Teaching Information Line on 0845 6000 991 or visit the Training and Development Agency. 


Student tutoring programmes

University students spend a morning or afternoon each week working under the direction of a teacher in a school for around 10 weeks to learn more about the role of a teacher.  Contact your university to find out if they offer the scheme.


Paid work (learning mentor, cover supervisor, teaching assistant)
There are now a number of posts available in schools that provide potential teachers with the chance to learn more about the classroom experience.  These include:

Cover supervisors
These are paid positions in schools where cover supervisors provide cover for absent teachers usually on a short-term basis.  They work under the guidance of a qualified teacher.

Teaching assistants
These roles are salaried and provide assistance to qualified teachers in the classroom and frequently work with small groups under the direction of the class teacher.

Learning mentor
Learning mentors are paid to work alongside pupils in schools and colleges to provide academic and pastoral support to students to help them to engage in learning more effectively.


Voluntary work
If you can spare an afternoon or a block period of time, try approaching local schools to find out if they would like to have a volunteer. Some local authorities run schemes for voluntary mentors to work with pupils on a one-to-one basis

Here are some thoughts from former volunteers:

“Being a volunteer can be liberating, experiential and a positive addition to a curriculum vitae and a very powerful aid in the interview process”
Dr Len Parkyn, senior teacher, special needs, secondary


I found that my voluntary experience prepared me for the challenges of teacher training, the teachers at the school gave me an idea of the paperwork involved, and the amount of work that is completed out of school hours.  Without this, I don’t think I would have lasted the four years of my degree and QTS course!  I would thoroughly recommend voluntary work in a school before considering a teacher training course.”
Lynn Bourke Y5 teacher and ICT coordinator in Golborne, Cheshire


I have undertaken voluntary work in a school. I found it valuable because it enabled me to grasp a fuller understanding of what happens in schools and how the structures operate.”
Pauline Spider, secondary school teacher, citizenship

For further information,  contact the Training and Development Agency or call the Teaching Information Line on 0845 6000 991

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