Teach Portsmouth presents…

A brand new webinar series for those interested in teaching.

Each webinar will focus on a different theme and feature guest speakers who will share their experiences so you can learn more about what it's like to teach in Portsmouth.

Did you miss our webinar on routes into teaching?

November 2020

Thank you to everyone who attended Teach Portsmouth presents routes into teaching on Wednesday 4 November 2020. We hope you found it useful and enjoyed hearing Portsmouth teachers share their experiences of teacher training and gaining qualified teacher status.

A big thank you also to our host, Councillor Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council, and guest speakers, Abigail Abrahams and Emily Brown for taking part and sharing their experiences and advice.

Your top questions

During the webinar, attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions in a live Q&A. We've listed the questions with responses from our guests below.

I have a BA (Hons) in graphic design and would like to become a lecturer at FE level. I have worked for a local college and university as a support assistant with a myriad of qualifications. However, I only have a D in maths at GCSE. Will this hinder my chances from becoming an FE lecturer?

Cllr Suzy Horton said:

Over the years, I have worked with many people who want to be teachers but are in a similar position to you. There has always been a minimum requirement for teacher training. If you do not have a maths GCSE C/4 or above, you will need to complete a relevant qualification. There are many courses available that will get you where you want to be but you will need this qualification before applying.

How do I know if I want to teach primary or secondary?

Cllr Suzy Horton said:

It seems an obvious answer but can you see yourself working with children? Don't forget at primary level, you need to have a breadth of understanding about a lot of different subjects. If you have a passion for a particular subject and enjoy the depth of that subject, secondary may be more suited to you.

Emily Brown said:

For me I just knew. Honestly, the thought of teaching young adults scared me. It really depends on the age range you want to teach and if you want to teach one subject or to be able to teach a variety of different subjects. I think once you research the different routes into teaching things will become clear.

Abigail Abrahams said:

This entirely depends on the reason you want to teach. Teaching secondary gives you the opportunity to delve deeper into a specific subject and ignite a passion in that area. However, as you see the children you teach less, you will form different kinds of relationships. In primary, you work with the same children daily so form incredibly strong bonds with them, however you will be teaching a wide array of subjects so will spend less time developing detail in a specific area. I chose secondary because I love my subject and I was incredibly keen to help others love it too - especially when they least expected it!

How much time was spent in school when taking the university-based route when training?

Emily Brown said:

I had two big placements. The first one lasted 8 weeks and the second lasted 10 weeks. During these placements you can take on more responsibility. In addition to your long placements, you have 3 shorter special interest placements. For me, this included: four days in a secondary school, two weeks in a reception class and two weeks in a special school.

How long is your average working day? Do you work on your days off?

Cllr Suzy Horton said:

It's certainly longer than 9-3 as some people think, but there is no set time. It really depends on how you want to plan your day.

Emily Brown said:

I tend to arrive at school around 7:30am to set up for the day. The children will then arrive and the school day begins. Once they have left, I stay at school until 6pm. I often work when I get home until 8-8:30pm. At the weekend I try and take as much time off as I can. If I have to do some work, I try and squeeze it into one morning or afternoon. However, at some points in the year working at the weekend in unavoidable.

Abigail Abrahams said:

This is entirely dependent on your teaching style and your experience. When you first start, everything takes a long time and you will find yourself working 60 hours+ each week to get everything in. However, once this groundwork is laid, each year it gets easier and you become smarter to work in a way that suits you. Already I ensure I have a full weekend off every week, unless I have assessments to mark which occurs at the end of each term. To do this, I start very early in the morning, around 7am and will work late on a Friday. Others might choose a different approach - it's whatever suits you. Next year I will have all the lessons and resources ready to go when we repeat the same or a similar scheme of work! It's also a question of how you use your holidays- I spend some of this time doing term-wide planning during my time off to ease the burden whilst teaching full time, but others choose not to.

I have noticed that quite a lot of routes into teaching require classroom experience. What is the best approach to get classroom experience especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Cllr Suzy Horton said:

Ask local schools if you don't have that experience yet. Also, think of other jobs and experiences you have had that involve working with children. True fact: I used to be a 7ft turquoise octopus! (I worked at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth.)

Emily Brown said:

I think with the current situation training providers will be understand your situation. Try and contact as many schools as you can because some schools might accept visitors.

Abigail Abrahams said:

This is not essential - I didn't have any when I started teaching and in some ways I am glad of this, as it allowed me to develop a practice entirely my own, not based on what others do. Teaching is an incredibly individual experience and you will bring something of your own to the role. I didn't have any classroom experience, but I had experiences in business, marketing and theatre that benefitted me in many different ways and gave me my own set of skills to use- do not feel this is essential to have! If it's something you are keen on, then contact the receptions of schools in your area and just find out what they're currently offering - the worst they'll do is say no!

What are the schools like for progression towards leadership roles/heads of departments?

Cllr Suzy Horton said:

Progression opportunities in schools will vary. Be keen and volunteer to take on other responsibilities as well as looking for paid promotions. Your line managers and mentors will be the best people to talk to about this.

Emily Brown said:

Each school is different. At the school I am teaching in, if you want to progress - the opportunities are there. You could become a subject lead, year lead and so on. If you want opportunities to progress to a senior leadership role - make sure you say yes to all the opportunities you can.

Abigail Abrahams said:

Each school is different, but in a city like Portsmouth there's a huge number of options and a large number of schools with all different kinds of progression possibilities. The need for teachers is continually growing so the opportunities will be readily available when you're ready for them. As you teach, you will see what kind of progression suits your interests and then you can cater your continuing professional development to these areas.

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