what is a secondary teacher?

As a secondary teacher, you impart knowledge on a particular subject to students. Your pupils are mostly teenagers between 11 and 18 years. You support their personal development by building a good learning culture. Your role involves planning lessons, teaching, assessing learning in line with curriculum objectives and recording pupils' progress.

As a secondary teacher, you also play a role in your students' personal and social development. You monitor and observe the pupils' progress or changes in their behaviour to provide or offer appropriate support.

You can teach one or two subjects as a secondary school teacher. You have to be conversant with proven teaching methods for both subjects. You should also be familiar with the content necessary for passing GCSE exams on your subjects. It is essential to stay updated on the developments in your subject area. If the subject has new national objectives, methods and resources, you must be updated on the changes.

The role also involves liaising with parents, carers and professionals formally and informally. You attend meetings with parents and help them support their children through school. You can also participate in extra-curriculum activities in school to improve learning outcomes.

Would working in education as a secondary teacher suit your patience and knowledge in a specific subject? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a secondary teacher role.

secondary teacher jobs

average salary of a secondary teacher

According to National Careers, the average salary of a secondary teacher starting out is £25,714 per year. The salary scale is incremental as you improve your experience and skills. Secondary teachers with many years of experience earn over £41,604 annually. Private academic institutions set their salaries based on teachers' experience and qualifications.

Secondary teachers receive various allowances, including medical and transport allowances. Employers also pay contributions to pension schemes and bonuses.

what factors affect the salary of a secondary teacher?

As a secondary teacher, your salary depends on the employer and your experience level. You earn an entry-level salary when you are a newly-qualified teacher (NQT). As you improve your skills and become an experienced secondary teacher, your compensation package increases gradually. Private schools also pay more than public schools due to less limited resources.

Secondary teachers have multiple opportunities to increase their earnings. You can improve your salary prospects by specialising in subjects with a shortage of teachers. Some schools offer higher pay for specialising in maths and sciences (STEM subjects). If you take on additional responsibilities, your earnings also increase. For instance, you often receive a stipend for facilitating school events and sports.

smiling male sitting at table with laptop
smiling male sitting at table with laptop

types of secondary teachers

Secondary teachers are classified based on the subjects they teach. Some of them include:

  • secondary English teacher: as an English teacher, you enable students to have a good command of spoken and written English. You prepare students for their GCSE exam by teaching them how to read and analyse literature.
  • secondary science teacher: as a secondary science teacher, you impart knowledge to pupils of various scientific disciplines. You guide students through experiments in disciplines such as chemistry and biology.
  • secondary maths teacher: as a secondary maths teacher, you educate pupils on general and advanced maths topics. Your job involves planning learning activities and recording students' progress.

working as a secondary teacher

Working as a secondary teacher involves imparting knowledge to pupils to prepare them for GCSEs and other specialised exams. You prepare them for their future careers and mentor them. Let's explore the specific tasks and duties of a secondary teacher.


education and skills

Some of the routes of becoming a secondary teacher include:

  • university degree: to become a secondary teacher, you must achieve Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) by completing an undergraduate degree. If your first undergraduate degree doesn't have a QTS, you should complete a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). A PGCE is usually a work-based qualification, combining placements in schools with university lectures and coursework.
  • apprenticeship: if you want to join teaching through apprenticeship, you need a first degree in any field. With the degree, you can pursue a postgraduate teaching apprenticeship to qualify as a teacher. Some schools offer salaried teacher training that offers on-the-job training.
  • work experience: before you become a secondary teacher, you need extensive teaching experience. If you have an undergraduate degree, you can start as a teaching assistant while you complete your PGCE. Volunteer programmes also improve your experience and employment prospects.

skills and competencies

The following qualities and characteristics are crucial for secondary teachers:

  • communication skills: as a secondary teacher, communication skills are vital for your career. You need to explain concepts and relay information to your students. With good communication skills, you can establish classroom expectations, understand student goals and preferences and deliver effective lessons.
  • expertise in a specific subject: you need expertise in teaching a particular subject. For instance, if you teach maths, you require specific skills for teaching the subject. You should be familiar with teaching methodologies to impart knowledge to students and help them excel in your subject.
  • mentorship: secondary teachers don't just teach students; they mentor them to become successful adults. Mentorship skills help you guide students and encourage them to pursue their goals. You need to know your students personally, understand their interests and passions and help them achieve their ambitions.
  • empathy: as a secondary teacher, you need to empathise with your pupils' situations. When you are empathetic, you can understand the needs of your students. If a student is struggling with coursework, you help them overcome the challenges.
  • patience: sometimes, students have difficulty understanding new concepts. You need the patience to explain the same concept multiple times and help them understand at their pace. Patience also helps you build confidence in their skills and abilities.
smiling male pumping arms
smiling male pumping arms


FAQs about working as a secondary teacher

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