London is home to almost nine million people and is celebrated for many things: from its rich and intriguing heritage, spanning almost 2000 years, to its vibrant and ever-changing contemporary cultural scene. Voted the best city in Europe time and again, it never ceases to attract people from all over the world for both work and pleasure. It is a city comprised of many faces, and it is also, unsurprisingly, home to some of the UK’s best and most improved schools.
Ten or so years ago, some schools in London were struggling to meet the UK’s rigorous education standards, however, after government initiatives and increased funding in local areas, they are now not just thriving but succeeding, and thus attract the very best practitioners in the profession. Attainment and exam results are on the rise each year, with a growing amount of pupils achieving A* to C at GCSE. That being said, London schools have so much more to offer than just good academic results. They embrace all that the eclectic city has to offer, and they capitalise on it academically, constantly striving to enrich pupil’s and staff’s cultural horizons. London is a place of opportunity for all who inhabit, learn and work in it.
So, why should you choose London as a place in which to teach? Here are some of the main pulls and incentives for individuals considering making the move:
Diversity, culture and experience
There are over 300 languages spoken in London schools today, and the student body is comprised of pupils from a vast array of backgrounds and cultures, making it an exciting and inclusive place to teach. It’s true that you end up learning a lot about the communities in which you teach, whether it be about a religion, a cultural custom, or a different language. If you choose to teach in an area of London in which English is not the mother tongue, you get to diversify and develop your own practice as an EAL teacher, adding another string to your bow and another point to your CV.
London itself is perceived by many as one huge, interactive classroom. Opportunities for creating fun learning experiences are readily available and at your fingertips. Museums and parks are eagerly visited by schools so as to enhance student learning in a subject. Greenwich Observatory, the British Museum, Tate Modern and the Imperial War Museum are among the most popular with secondary schools and have their own education departments who work with teachers.
Career prospects and benefits
London is undoubtedly an expensive place to live. That being said, teachers who work in inner-city London receive higher wages, as well as the London weighting which compensates for the higher rental and travel costs. To put it into context, an NQT outside of London earns around £21,000 a year, whereas those working inside London receive a minimum of £27,000. Quite often, Academy schools will offer slightly higher wages as an extra incentive to attract outstanding teachers. It is now also obligatory to enrol on a teacher pension scheme, and the teacher pension in the UK is among one of the most rewarding.
Due its transient and ever-growing population, London is a great place to teach if you’re ambitious, career-minded and want to develop professionally within your chosen school quickly. As well as ongoing teaching practice training and CPD sessions, many London schools offer management courses.
There are interesting places you can go to develop your own subject knowledge too. Places like The Wellcome Collection and many of the London universities (including Kings College and UCL) offer free talks and lectures on a range of subjects.
Getting to and from
There are 33 local education authorities in Greater London, and within those catchments, there are dozens of schools. This gives teachers the opportunity to teach in different boroughs and offers a degree of choice when picking a place to work. An efficient and sophisticated transport system makes London easy to navigate, and allows you to live at one end and work at the other. Look at a tube map to work out commuting distances and times. Some people prefer to live in walking distance to their place of work, however living a tube journey away can allow you to switch off and avoid being spotted by the students!
Teaching in the capital city can be challenging and sometimes exhausting, yet it can also be one of the most enlightening and fulfilling experiences. Future employers look upon London teachers favourably and really appreciate the additional skills they've acquired in the classroom.
In the words of the legendary scholar, writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”- not least of all when it comes to teaching!
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