Sophie Ruane, teacher (BSc PGCE) and Now Teach Career Change Advisor shares her thoughts on why teaching is a secure job. 

When COVID struck, I panicked like everyone. I feared for the health of my family; the impact on my little ones… social unrest, even. However, I did not worry about my job, income or even career progression. I’m a teacher and that’s not going anywhere.  

My first career was in advertising. I ‘survived’ two rounds of redundancies after the 2008 recession, with the crash happening only a year after I graduated from university. 

“Most people I graduated with have never known real job security.” 

I’ve lost count of how many friends who have been stressed during restructuring; new contracts, market changes, industry competition... Not for me and my trusty PGCE.  

Job security did not feature on my list of reasons for becoming a teacher – I could blather on all night about why I love my job: “It was the best decision I ever made. I’m constantly rewarded etc...” But the older I get, the more I also love the security of my job. 

Even a looming super-recession concerns me far less than it does my friends, including those with much bigger salaries. My pay is secure and reliable (at £60k for a non-SLT role) and my pension is index-linked. 

Teaching pay scales are public domain – and pay automatically increases every year in line with your main pay scale. You can also boost this by taking on extra teaching and learning responsibilities.  

“Security of opportunity is also something that I really benefit from. Holding a PGCE means this career of ours is secure not just at home, but abroad.”  

My partner works for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and I hold a PGCE – so we can take our family anywhere in the world (I'm confident I could get a very good job abroad). In the past, I have travelled whilst working part-time and doing online tutoring for up to £70 an hour. 

To dispel a popular myth - and despite sensational newspaper articles - teachers are not appraised solely based on the numerical results of children in their classes and are not ‘only as good as their last observation’.  

There would have to be a serious and consistent issue with the progress (not attainment) of students in a teacher’s class to trigger any action. And, if that were the case – fair enough.  

There are 5 reasons a teacher could be fired: Capability, Conduct, Statutory Ban, Redundancy and Substantial Other Reason. There are very thorough and extensive procedures that must be adhered to.  

Capability isn’t vague, subjective, or based on employers' preferences, and you will be ‘capable of achieving’ if you have passed your training. If capability issues arise, your employer must: identify the problem, provide training, supervision, encouragement, monitor progress, and give a reasonable chance to improve.  

And the big ‘R’ – redundancy: sometimes it happens at random and other times it’s inevitable. I talk to potential Now Teachers all the time who have recently, or at some point, been made redundant. I can only imagine how stressful it must be thinking it could happen to you. That being said, redundancy is possible in teaching, but it is rare and mostly happens at an SLT level.  

Even in the most unfortunate of scenarios like a school closing and admissions fall – I feel totally sure that re-employment would not be difficult... especially if you teach a STEM subject. 

“The long and short of it: there is a national shortage of qualified teachers and no shortage of children needing to be taught.” 

There are approx. 636,000 teachers working in the UK right now, and 97% of them belong to a union. Most head teachers are members and there can be a thriving and much-encouraged union presence in schools amongst staff. This long-established national presence helps provide me with peace of mind. 

“If you look 20 years down the road, hair will still need to be cut and children will still need to be taught. This career is futureproof.” 

Something we learned through COVID is that a single ‘Super Teacher’ being beamed into every classroom, or home, in the UK might be physically possible, but does not lead to effective education. 636,000+ teachers do.