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.
Hayley Richards – Business Studies Teacher at Portobello High School
“I chose teaching because I wanted a job where I did something different every day. I also have a keen interest in young people and keeping them engaged. One of the main things you need to achieve this is enthusiasm. You must be enthusiastic about the subject you teach for pupils to be enthusiastic about it too. It’s also important to have a sense of humour in the classroom as this helps sustain relationships with pupils. Having a good relationship with pupils is a must for teaching. If you get to know them well, this will encourage them to stay engaged.
"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."
Holly Mathie – Physical Education Teacher at Hazlehead Academy
“The fantastic support and educational experience from my Physical Education teachers when I was at school gave me aspirations to become one myself. I feel I bring enjoyment for the pupils and my colleagues with a fun attitude to learning and working.
"Physical Education is a subject that is extremely diverse in terms of pupil ability and activities. Each day presents different circumstances, for myself and the learners. There are always new challenges but that’s what makes it interesting.
"While it’s fantastic having elite performers in your classes, the pupils who fight to overcome struggles in Physical Education are often the most rewarding to work with. Assisting them with the slightest improvement in any activity is of great significance and importance to their development and confidence.
"Teaching isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. If you give it the dedication, passion and positive attitude it requires to thrive, you will have an enjoyable and rewarding life-long career."
Barry Wright – Principal Teacher of English at Vale of Leven Academy
“I’ve always been interested in teaching even when I was working in my previous job as a Marketing Manager. When I did decide to change careers, I was surprised at how many skills were transferrable, for example being able to present to big groups of people is the same regardless of the audience. It also helped that my family were very supportive and now they can see the satisfaction I have and understand I couldn’t get the same pleasure from another role.
"As an English teacher, you help develop a young person’s core skills of reading, writing, talking and listening by engaging them with fantastic literature and by embracing and dissecting current affairs. There is so much discussion in an English classroom and, when it’s taught well, pupils love it.
"If you love working with young people and you have a passion for an academic area, do it. Being a teacher is an enormous privilege."
Cheryl Mackenzie – Music Teacher at Aith Junior High School
“I enjoyed my previous job as a youth worker but it didn’t offer the same challenge and continual development of myself that I felt I needed. A teaching career seemed like the ideal choice and I wanted to raise awareness of the importance of music as a subject.
"No two days are ever the same. I need to be organised and ready for lessons but also adaptable and able to change tack if required. I listen to the pupils and what they want to learn then I try to incorporate it into lessons.
"If you are someone who really responds to continually developing yourself then consider teaching. You meet loads of amazing young people and work closely with them to help them achieve in school and develop skills they can apply later in life. If you have a passion for your subject and you want to share it, this is the perfect vocation."
Mark Pitblado – Primary School Teacher at Aberhill Primary School
“I decided to pursue a primary teaching career during high school when I was coaching younger children in sport. I’m glad I chose it as I love teaching and truly enjoy going to work.
"The job is always evolving. I did not anticipate how many changes and opportunities would take place in my career. I have also had a range of responsibilities beyond the classroom. Head teachers and senior leadership members are always keen to hand over responsibility on initiatives in schools to allow teachers to develop.
"I think it is important to have a good sense of humour and be creative in the role. This has helped me plan some fantastic lessons and I know the children appreciate how I make school as entertaining as possible.
"The biggest myth about primary school teaching is that “you just play all day”. The job is challenging and takes a great amount of planning but it is rewarding."