Returning to teaching

Whatever path your career has taken to date, if you’re considering a return to teaching, now is a very good time.

What you need to do now

If you’ve been away from teaching for a while and your registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland has lapsed, you will need to re-register. It’s very straightforward; just request an application pack.

You will also be asked to join the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scheme (your local council will need to apply on your behalf) or have your membership updated if you are already a member. In some cases, if you have been living overseas for a period of time, you may have to have an overseas police check.

Some local authorities also insist on a ‘return to teaching’ refresher course. These are currently offered by the University of Edinburgh and by the University of Strathclyde.

Are your skills up to date?

Even if you don’t need to complete a refresher course, it’s worth reading up on curriculum changes. The Curriculum for Excellence information can be obtained from Education Scotland and the syllabus for your secondary subject from the Scottish Qualifications Authority. It’s also possible to ask local schools if you can observe some classes – just contact the headteacher directly.

Find out more about the requirements for returning to teaching in Scotland.

Mary Osei-Oppong – Business Education and ICT Teacher at Brannock High School

“I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. I knew I could help young people to better themselves and felt my work would have purpose. As a Business and ICT teacher, I cover a variety of subjects including Business Management, Administration, IT and Tourism. I teach pupils to be enterprising and develop practical skills for creating and running businesses while acquiring ICT skills.

"If you’re interested in teaching, my advice would be go for it but be prepared for the hard work. The role requires a lot of dedication but the rewards do outweigh any negatives. There is no greater benefit of teaching than seeing pupils progress to achieve their goals and aspirations. "

Lynn Robertson – Home Economics Teacher at Cults Academy

“I came to teaching after having worked in other jobs and this gave me many transferable skills I could bring to the classroom. I had always enjoyed imparting knowledge, training and counselling staff and knew I wanted to work with young people so teaching felt like the ideal career.

"Being a Home Economics teacher is very rewarding as you are teaching young people essential life skills, giving them the opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals from scratch and, most importantly, showing them the enjoyment this activity can bring.

"If you are considering a career in teaching I would say take some time to come into a school to see what it is really like and speak to teachers about the profession. It is a varied, fast paced job which allows you to work with and have an impact on a large number of young people."

Zoe Halliday – Geography Teacher at Douglas Ewart High School

“I love teaching Geography. It’s a modern subject that’s relevant to pupils, covering topics such as climate change, and it teaches pupils to have a respect for their natural environment and shows them the vast timeline of the world. I enjoy the time with pupils, exploring my subject and encouraging them to be enthusiastic about it.

"I want to help my pupils succeed and get as much out of school as possible. I run after-school clubs three nights a week and contribute to wider school events. I think it’s great for pupils to see their teachers taking a genuine interest in them and their lives, not just their performance in the classroom.

"There are lots of opportunities for career progression in teaching and to keep challenging yourself. It’s the kind of job that if you want to keep learning then you can. Every day is different when you are working with young people."

Rachel O’Connor – Home Economics Teacher at St Kentigern’s Academy

“I chose teaching as I wanted to work with young people and make a difference. I always bring enthusiasm and passion for my subject which I pass to my pupils. I want them to learn, become independent and use the life skills I’ve taught them. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing pupils instinctively use the knowledge or skills you gave them.

"I had a brilliant experience of Home Economics at school and my teacher encouraged me to go into teaching. It’s a fun and fast paced subject which encourages you to be creative. For example, old recipes can be adapted and new ones invented. Lessons give pupils a sense of achievement as they have a final product at the end.

"If you’re thinking of becoming a teacher I’d say do it! If you're passionate about your subject, and you want to make a difference to young people’s lives then teaching is definitely for you."

Kate Riddell – History Teacher at Hawick High School

“I worked as an administrative assistant before becoming a teacher but found office work tedious and knew I had more to give. I chose teaching because I really enjoyed working with people and wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives.

"Teaching History can sometimes be quite challenging as students often ask why they need to learn about the past. Once I explain the skills they learn in class are invaluable and show how they’re relevant to future jobs then they do get on board.

"I’m enthusiastic and hardworking and I genuinely care about the students. I’m not just their History teacher but also someone they can confide in and come to if they’re worried about anything. If you’re willing to work hard, can time manage well and are committed to young people then I’d recommend teaching to you. It’s an extremely rewarding career."