Careers Network recently hosted an ‘Insight into… Education’ event where a range of speakers working in education shared their insight with students at the University of Birmingham. Speakers included:

  • Holly Bee, Education and Communications Manager, GEM: The voice for heritage learning
  • Scott Brierley, School Business Manager, St Thomas More Catholic School
  • Rebecca Clark, Outreach Manager, University of Birmingham
  • Richard Ellam, Regional Manager (Midlands), Inspiring Governance
  • Nikema Taylor, Qualified High Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust
  • Clare White, Area Education Manager (West Midlands), WEA: Workers’ Educational Association
  • Symeon Ververidis, Development Officer, London Metropolitan Archives

What is Education?

Formal education is commonly known as teaching in preschool, primary school, secondary school, college, apprenticeships and university. Individuals within the sector are from a wide range of backgrounds. Most people who work in the education sector will not have studied education before (although some will have) – so this area is open to graduates from any degree discipline.

There are various jobs within education beyond being a teacher, including student support, admissions, outreach and library services. Read more about alternatives to teaching.

What qualifications do you need?

To teach in most schools in the UK you will need a PCGE or PgDipEd qualification. Find out more about routes to becoming a teacher.

People often rule themselves out of education because they believe they do not have suitable qualifications for the job, but most jobs do not specify a particular undergraduate degree. What is more important is focusing on the skills the employer is looking for and conveying your interest and enthusiasm about the job. If you’re interested in non-teaching roles in education visit Jobs.ac.uk to see what skills, qualities and experience employers look for.

Volunteering and Internships

All of the speakers stressed how important this is. Schools are always looking for volunteers, and this will give you an insight into the sector and build up your experience. It’s a great way to gain basic skills, such as talking to groups of pupils and mixing with staff. Shadowing people in roles that interest you will give you insight into their work, and is particularly important if you want to be a teacher.  Rather than focusing on internships which aren’t very common in the education sector, volunteering is more flexible and can fit around your studies. You can find voluntary roles in education through Do-it.org and the Guild of Students.

If you’re interested in working in a non-teaching role in the education sector, keep an eye out for the Birmingham Undergraduate Internship Scheme which give UoB undergraduates an opportunity to learn more about working for a university.

How to stand out from other applicants

If you can, showcase your practical work at an interview to impress an employer. Even if it is not specifically related to the job, it may demonstrate skills that are transferable for the job you are going for.

If you can’t create a portfolio, make sure when you send in an application you focus on how you have created an impact in previous roles or volunteering. Too often students focus on describing their tasks instead of showing the impact they have made which will much more impressive to an interview panel.

The dos and don’ts before applying

DO: Develop personal networks with your past or current employers

Make sure you build relationships with people you have worked for. This is not just following them online! If you show interest in what contacts are doing, then they are more likely to help you when it comes to you looking for a job or work experience than if you do not keep in contact. It is not just those from privileged backgrounds who can build networks – you can do it too if you put in the effort!

DO: Make a good first impression at interviews

You will stand out from the crowd if you work hard and prepare well for an interview. Ensure you come across well to everyone you come into contact with, as interviewers are likely to ask other staff how you behaved outside of the interview room. Dress well for the interview, and do not scroll through your phone beforehand, or it may come across as though you do not take the job seriously.

DO: Read their Ofsted reports or other literature about the institution 

If you’re applying to work in a school, ensure you read their Ofsted report and get your head around the grading system. A really good tip is to explain to your interviewer how you can help to improve their score. Reciting a few stats can be really impressive to the interviewer, and shows you are passionate about the job.

DO NOT: Have social media accounts public

Social media accounts can be a huge determiner on whether you get a job or not. You may be highly qualified and be fit for the job on paper. However, your social media accounts may include statuses or pictures which are not professional. They can be easily viewed by employers, and anything they do not like may result in you missing out on your dream job. Having a private account will be needed while you are working within schools as it will make it more difficult for children to find your profile.

Do: Fill in gaps in your knowledge

It may seem daunting to familiarise yourself with job descriptions for roles within education, however, it is useful to start looking at these now. They are helpful to identify gaps in your CV. Try and get the experience you need while you have the chance.

This event gave a great insight into education and showed that it’s never too late to get a job in education, as many of the skills needed can be picked up in other roles. If you would like to get more work experience, Careers Network have plenty of volunteering and job opportunities available to students and recent graduates.

This post was written by Danielle Bill, Digital Marketing Assistant/SET member for Careers Network.

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