Becoming a Teacher Educator in a University
After a number of years – say 10 or 12 – teaching successfully in a school, some people feel that they have a gift for supporting other teachers and wonder if they could move on to become lecturers in a department of education at a university.
The answer is that, yes, it is possible – how do you think the lecturers already there got their jobs? But, of course, it is not a career where there are a lot of openings. In fact, as the emphasis is moving away from teacher training in universities and towards training on the job in schools, including the Teaching Schools, there are fewer and fewer posts coming up.
I’ll start off by asking a number of questions aimed at someone hoping to become a university lecturer:
Q1 Can you be precise about what subjects you would wish to lecture in?
Q2 Do you have a PhD in this subject or subjects?
Q3 Have you done original research in the area of these subjects?
Q4 Has this research been assessed externally?
Q5 Has this research been published in academic journals or books?
Q6 Have you attended any academic conferences or fora at which you gave a paper by invitation?
Q7 Have you been invited to do the above but were unable to attend?
Q8 Do you have experience in the design, delivery and accreditation of undergraduate or graduate study programmes?
Why I am asking all these questions?
When I was lecturing (I used to be a Senior Lecturer in a University, teaching on undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including the B.Ed. And, yes, I can answer positively to all the questions!), these were the sort of criteria that we had for appointing new colleagues to join us in teaching.
To check current requirements, I have just looked at the jobs on offer in the Times Higher Education, and they were pretty similar, with most of them mentioning strong research record, or strong track record in research.
Now it may be that questions 2-8 all have negative answers. Don’t despair! Despite this, you can nonetheless possibly be a suitable applicant because you are interested in doing research into your subject – which I guess is likely to be education – and actually have a specific area in mind which would contribute very well indeed to the research profile of the university department. So check that out.
Look at the professor and the lecturers already there, see what their research interests are from their published works and decide if your area of interest fits in with this or complements it.
And of course your experience in successfully supporting and developingcolleagues is a big pointer to how you could contribute to the development of B.Ed or PGCE students.
- Are you regularly acting as a mentor to NQTs?
- Do you work with the students on school placement?
- Do you lead regularly in CPD in your school?
- Do you contribute to local authority training days or similar?
- Even better - is your school involved heavily in ITT, with you playing a major role?
The main point is to look at their person specification, and see if you fit the profile, meet their criteria. If they are looking above all for an experienced school practitioner with outstanding teaching skills, an excellent track record of supporting colleagues and an interest in developing an area of research, you could fit the bill.
And if not, then perhaps you should try to join a Teaching School where you can gain extra experience.
A teaching school will
have an outstanding rating from Ofsted
provide evidence of successful partnerships
show excellent leadership with a proven track record of school improvement
have an outstanding headteacher with at least 3 years’ experience
have a leadership team with the capacity to lead the 6 core areas of the teaching school role
Teaching school status is open to all schools in England regardless of type or phase, such as:
primary, middle, secondary, all-through and special schools
pupil referral units and short-stay schools
academies, chains and free schools
So working in a teaching school could, in fact, be very rewarding. The target is to have a network of 600 teaching schools making significant improvements in the quality of teaching, leadership and pupil attainment by Easter 2016.
There may be one near you.