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Education-related careers

Child looking at an exhibition piece at Lakeside Arts 

If you’re interested in working with young people in an educational role but don't want to train as a teacher, we've put together some suggested job roles and sectors you could investigate.

Questions you might like to think about as you are reading this page:

  • Which age group would you like to work with?
  • How would you like to work with them? Individually or in a group?
  • Do you have another passion to combine with your desire to work with children?

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Schools and colleges

Schools and colleges have a wide range of learning and pupil support roles which don’t require a teaching qualification although staff may have alternative qualifications or sometimes a teaching qualification.  The pay for non-teaching jobs is usually lower than that of teaching staff.  Job roles may vary and duties may merge depending on the school or college.

What are the job roles in schools and colleges?

Teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) are learning support staff who work with classroom teachers to support students either individually and/or in groups with their learning.

HLTAs are experienced teaching assistants who plan and deliver learning activities under the direction of a teacher and assess, record and report on pupils’ progress and may supervise a class in a teacher's absence. 

 

Cover supervisors supervise classes during teacher absence, using activities prepared by the class teacher.

Pupil support roles such as Learning Mentors and Attendance Officers work with pupils both one to one and in groups, supporting young people around issues such as educational achievement, attendance, social, emotional and behavioural issues.
 

Year leader positions are more challenging roles where you’d need a good understanding and ability to connect with young people as well as parents and other professionals.  Job titles can vary and include pastoral manager.

 
Non-teaching jobs such as learning mentor, progress coaches and careers and employability advisers are also available in the further education (FE) sector.
 
 

What are the trends in this sector?

Schools are managed and run in very different ways which impacts on their ethos and working environment. In Nottinghamshire, as well as other areas, many schools previously under local authority control are now academies and some are part of multi-academy trusts, run independently by their own governing body.

Over the last few years, there has been a trend towards employing non-teaching pastoral staff, which frees up teachers from dealing with non-teaching issues. 

Employing cover supervisors rather than paying for supply teachers to cover lessons has a cost benefit to the school as well as the advantage of having a member of staff who can build relationships with students.  Currently, with budget cuts and the formation of academies, recruitment of non-teaching staff appears to be fairly static.

 
 

What are the entry routes, challenges and career progression opportunities?

Entry routes

It’s important that you show genuine enthusiasm for the job, are empathetic and understand that the role is not about ‘being a friend’ but being somebody who can motivate the young person you're working with to achieve their best.  

Experience working with young people, which can be in a voluntary and/or the non-education sector is extremely advantageous. You’d need to be enthusiastic, have a clear understanding of the role you’re applying for and an understanding of safeguarding. A safeguarding question or scenario is often used during the interview process.  

It is fairly common for people with teaching qualifications to also apply for these types of jobs.

 

Challenges

Non-teaching jobs have more applicants than those advertised for qualified teachers, so competition can be fierce.  Working in education is attractive to many people not only as it’s seen as a worthwhile, interesting job but also having school holidays.

Career progression

Other than teaching, there is not a specific graduate pathway in this sector and progression pathways can be limited which is reflected in wages paid to non-teaching roles. Graduates interested in teaching often look for a non-teaching role to gain experience or test out whether teaching is for them.

 

Where can I look for vacancies?

  • Keep an open mind about job titles as they can vary depending upon the sector.  Putting in key words such as outreach, young people and education into job search engines such as Indeed may produce some job opportunities you have not thought of. 
  • Check out the job vacancies page on local city and council websites - many also offer an email job alert service.
  • Visit the websites of local schools/colleges in the location you want to work 
 
 

 

Higher education institutions

One of the conditions of universities charging fees is that they need to have an access agreement in place setting out how they intend to safeguard and promote fair access to higher education from under-represented groups.  This is called widening participation and universities deliver outreach programmes, services and activities to encourage young people from under-represented groups to consider university as a viable option.

What are the range of job roles in higher education?

Outreach officers within universities deliver widening participation activities. They arrange and deliver group sessions to young people in schools and colleges both on-campus and in schools and colleges.

Outreach officers will also work on other projects and events to encourage participation in continuing education.Team structures can varies, with some roles being part of student recruitment teams, while at other organisations there is a specific widening participation team.  

For example, at the University, 26 people work in the Widening Participation (WP) team and 14 members of that team work directly with schools. 

The team is sub-divided into those that work with primary and secondary schools and those working within a vocational pathways academic enrichment programme.

Depending upon how a team is structured, contact with young people may be through one-off visits rather than regular interactions.  Some teams do work with a caseload of schools and many outreach officers work with the same group of young people for a week or two during residential summer schools. 

 
 

What are the entry routes, challenges and career progression opportunities?

Entry routes

A degree is often an essential requirement, as the job is about promoting higher education to young people.  Experience working with young people is usually required and those appointed sometimes have a teaching qualification.  University students, involved as student ambassadors in outreach work, are becoming more likely to see this pathway as a conscious career choice.

Challenges

The number of jobs varies depending upon funding and may initially be on short-term contracts.

Career progression

Progression to higher graded jobs either within the team or within the wider university or at other universities.

 

How can I gain work experience?

 

Where can I look for vacancies?

  • As well as using the two websites opposite and generic sites such as Indeed, visit the websites of local higher education institutions and sign up for their email job alerts.
 
 

 

Culture, heritage and museums  

This section covers museums, galleries, science centres and heritage, as well as theatre and performance organisations.  This sector is keen to provide opportunities to encourage access for young people and on developing education and skills which can complement the school curriculum.

What are the job roles in this sector?

Job titles in the sector vary but could include Education Officer, Learning Officer, and Schools Officer. 

Working in this role, you would to engage and educate young people involving the preparation and delivery of programmes, events and resources for schools and other visitors.Roles and responsibilities vary depending on the size and type of organisation worked for.

In some smaller  museums, for example, the Learning Officer would be responsible for the full range of ages from under 5s to university age students and both formal and informal learning (families and weekend visitors).  They might also be responsible for a volunteer programme working with people of all ages.

In larger organisations such as Nottingham City Museums and Galleries the roles tend to be split into officers responsible for volunteers, formal learning with schools and colleges and then informal learning.  Sometimes there are freelance opportunities available to deliver education sessions.  

The level of actual delivery to pupils by education officers also varies greatly.  In larger organisations they would co-ordinate a team of other staff or freelancers who actually deliver the education sessions while in smaller organisations they might do all of this themselves.

 
 

What are the entry routes, challenges and career progression opportunities?

Entry routes

Some applicants are from a teaching background, but this is often not a specific requirement and many successful applicants come through different routes.

If you are applying for roles that are subject specific, like Drama Education Officer, then a degree in performing arts or drama may be a requirement.

Gaining work experience through volunteering is a really good way to get some experience for your CV and most organisations run volunteering programmes.  Volunteering with children and young people is ideal but any experience in the type of organisation that interests you is useful. 

Challenges

This is a competitive sector which has faced many cuts over recent years.  Contracts are frequently offered on a short-term basis and may include freelance work.

Career prospects

Large organisations may offer the opportunity to progress through graded posts, for example, from assistant education officer to education officer.  Promotion could also be into broader management roles within the sector.

 
 

Where can I look for vacancies?

  • Keep an open mind about job titles as they can vary depending upon the sector.  Putting in key words such as outreach, young people and education into job search engines such as Indeed may produce some job opportunities you have not thought of. 
 
 

 

Charities 

Some charities advertise jobs which involve working with young people to engage or educate them around the aims of their specific charity. Jobs are as diverse as the charities. Perhaps start with a web search for 'educational charities'. 

Some examples are: supporting young people into employment, working with young carers, delivering financial education programmes and delivering programmes to promote animal welfare.

Some large charities such as IntoUniversity, who offer widening participation programmes to young people, have specific graduate employment opportunities.

Spotlight On: Lucy Hemsley, NCOP Project Worker

Lucy Hemsley, psychology alumna, talks about her role as a project worker at IntoUniversity. Lucy offers advice on how to secure your first role after university.

Spotlight On: Claire Perry, Childline Volunteer Co-ordinator

Claire Perry talks about why she moved from teaching to work for the NSPCC and what her role involves on a day- to-day basis.

 
 

 

How do I find out more about working for a charity?

Explore the charity sector, entry routes, roles available, where to look for vacancies and work experience opportunities on our dedicated charity work page:

Charity work - entry routes, roles, vacancy sources and work experience

 

 

 

Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
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telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
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email: careers-team@nottingham.ac.uk