FAQ – Teaching in the UK

Teaching in the UK - FAQ

Schools in the UK

Like all countries, the UK has many exceptional schools with high academic standards, exceptional behavioural expectations and good management processes. Equally it has some challenging schools with low academic standards, poor behaviour and poor management. OFSTED looks for continual improvements in schools and following inspections will rate them as outstanding, good or required to improve. Outstanding and good schools are expected to improve year-on-year and only get inspected every 3–5 years while schools rated as required to improve are placed on special measures and given extra resourcing and normally undergo a change of management.

OFSTED reports for schools can be found here.

For more information about the National Curriculum click here.

QTS stands for Qualified Teacher Status.

It is the accreditation awarded to teachers in England once they have completed a period of initial teacher training and passed a variety of skills tests.

Teachers from Australia

You must be fully registered at home to be issued with automatic QTS.

Teachers from New Zealand

You must be fully registered at home to be issued with automatic QTS.

Teachers from Ireland

You must be fully registered at home to be issued with automatic QTS.

Teachers from Canada

If you are a qualified teacher from any state besides Alberta you will be issued with automatic QTS. If you are from Alberta you must have completed your registration period to qualify for auto QTS.

Teachers form the EU

You will be issued with automatic QTS.

Teachers from the USA

If you are state certified you will qualify for automatic QTS.

Teachers who do not qualify for automatic QTS

If you are a qualified teacher in your home country and do not qualify for QTS you may be eligible to teach in the UK for up to for years. If you intend to work in the UK beyond four years you must obtain QTS within four years of your first day worked in the UK.

TimePlan Education also offers assistance with gaining QTS through the 'assessment only route' for those who do not hold a specific teaching degree but have at least 2 years teaching experience and a Bachelor's degree.

The education system in the UK is separated into Key Stages (KS) that look like this:


Early Years Foundation Stage (pre-school; non-compulsory)

KS1 – Key Stage One (4 to 7 years old)

Students sit a phonetics screening test in Year 1

Students sit SATS (standard academic tests) in English and maths in Year 2

KS2 – Key Stage Two (7 to 11 years old)

Students sit SATS in English, maths and science in Year 6 and a multiplication tables test in Year 4

KS3 – Key Stage Three (11 to 14 years old)

KS4 – Key Stage Four (14 to 16 years old)

Students sit GCSEs or IB in 10/11 subjects at the end of Year 11

KS5 – Key Stages Five (16 to 18 years old)

Students sit A-Levels/ Btec/ HNDs/ IB at the end of Year 12 and 13

All children from the age of 5-16 are entitled to a free place at a state school. There are many types of schools such as academies, faith schools, grammar schools and specialist schools. There are also private schools, which charge a termly fee for attendance. Every school is inspected by OFSTED the official body for inspecting schools, who regulate standards.

There are a variety of different types of school in the UK.

State schools are funded by the UK government and follow the UK Curriculum. At the secondary level, state schools may be mixed (co-educational) or single-sex. Grammar schools are also run by the state, but students need to score highly on entrance exams to be accepted. Additionally, there are also schools affiliated with certain religions, such as Church of England, Jewish, Muslim and Catholic schools.

Students attending independent and private schools in the UK pay tuition fees in order to attend. These schools are not required to follow the UK curriculum, although many do.

The school day differs in each school. For the majority of schools, the day starts between 8:30am and 9am Monday to Friday and finishes between 3:00pm and 3:30pm.

Primary schools have a morning break, and some have an afternoon break as well. Students usually spend breaks outside, weather permitting. Teachers may be asked to supervise during some breaks. Secondary schools usually just have a morning break.

Lunchtimes vary from school to school; however, most are 30 minutes to an hour long. Teachers sometimes supervise lunch or run activities for students during this hour. All schools have a canteen or dining room where students and staff can buy their lunch.

The school year runs for three terms: September to December, January to April, and April to July.

At the end of December and March there is a two-week holiday followed by a six-week holiday in July. In addition, there is a half-term holiday each term, usually for one week. That leaves plenty of time to travel around Europe or to make a trip home!

While it changes a little each year, the school year often follows this pattern:

Term 1
September to third week in October – 6 to 7 weeks
Last week October – half term holiday, 1 week
November to a few days before Christmas – 6 to 7 weeks
Christmas holidays – 2 weeks

Term 2
January to third week February – 6 to 7 weeks
Last week February – half term holiday – 1 week
March to Easter – 4 to 6 weeks
Easter holidays – 2 weeks

Term 3
Easter to last week in May – 5 to 7 weeks
Last week in May – half term holiday, 1 week
June to third week July – 6 to 7 weeks
End July to beginning September – 6-week summer holiday


The easiest and most cost-efficient way of setting up a bank account is to wait until you arrive in the UK. TimePlan or JSA our payroll provider will be happy to assist you in opening an account.

To do this you will need the following:

  • Your passport
  • A biometric card (an immigration document with your photo and fingerprints)
  • A UK address

If you don’t yet have an address JSA can help with a short-term online bank account which you can open as soon as you have a UK phone number.

TimePlan Education pays every week directly into your bank account. You will be required to complete weekly timesheets on our online system. You must ensure you do this on time to be paid on time. If you are asked by a school to stay longer than the original assignment, make sure that you tell us straight away. It helps us to get your pay right first time.

UK tax and National Insurance will be deducted directly from your weekly pay. This is termed Pay as You Earn (PAYE). The current basic rate of tax is 20%. Most employees will be entitled to a Personal Tax Allowance. This allowance is not given all at once but spread over the 52 weeks of the tax year, which runs from April to April. After the taxable allowance, any remainder is taxed at 20%. National Insurance contributions will also be deducted from your salary. Altogether, you will pay approximately 30% of your salary in tax and National Insurance contributions.

For those teachers who are not on a work permit, TimePlan Education can advise on methods of minimising tax liability through our payroll provider JSA. This will increase net pay and also allow teachers to offset teaching-related expenses against their earnings.

No. Once you start earning, you’ll also start paying National Insurance, healthcare payments are automatically deducted from your salary. This gives you access to the National Health Service, which covers your healthcare for free.

TimePlan Education teachers from countries requiring a visa to work in the UK will also have to pay an additional immigration health surcharge (IHS) the cost of which varies depending on the visa type and length.

It is important that when you arrive and have found accommodation that you register with your nearest NHS doctor.

Prescriptions can be filled at your local pharmacy and cost a dispensing fee of £9 per item.

NHS direct walk-In centres throughout the UK offer fast and convenient access to healthcare advice and treatment for minor injuries and illnesses. No appointment is needed at these centres, although often there are long waiting times. The walk-In centres are not meant to replace your local family doctor, services and appointments should be made with your registered general practitioner (GP) where possible. The NHS also provides dental services at a heavily discounted rate. Again, you will need to register with an NHS dentist once you arrive in the UK.

You will need some savings to help with accommodation. Most landlords will want between a month or two months of rent as a deposit. Your rent, and subsequently, the size of your deposit is dependent on where you live. Our experience tells us that approximately £300-£750 is the norm for monthly rent. Only you know your spending habits, but you will need in the region of £1,500 to £1,750 to tide you over until you get paid for the first time. It is important to remember that once you arrive in the UK, it could be a few weeks before your first pay date. This is due to the time it takes to set up a bank account and also depends on when you arrive in our pay calendar.


The UK is a very multi-cultural society. Students are accustomed to having teachers from a variety of backgrounds teaching them. At first, you might find things more demanding – some overseas teachers find the UK lesson planning system quite onerous initially. However, the majority of teachers trained outside of the UK appreciate how straightforward the UK curriculum is and find they are able to implement unit plans effectively.

In the UK, most schools rely on teacher recruitment agencies to find them suitable teachers for day-to-day (supply, substitute, relief, etc.), short-term and long-term positions. TimePlan Education was the first recruitment agency to specialise in placements in the education sector back in 1989. Over the years we have established a very solid relationship with a vast range of schools in England, Wales and Scotland.

Registering with TimePlan Education is similar to registering with the department of education, a local school board or school district. Here at TimePlan Education, we pride ourselves on providing schools with quality teachers. As such, our standards are very high. You will need to supply supporting documents, have a successful interview with us and show evidence of good subject and curriculum knowledge before being considered for the jobs we recruit.

Recently in the UK, there has been an explosion of new teacher recruitment agencies. We are aware that teachers have a choice in recruitment consultants and we want to stress the importance of registering with a reputable company. In the UK, it is illegal for recruitment agencies to charge the candidate, that’s you the teacher, any fee for their services.

Not at all! For starters, you are going to be working in a school environment where school staff are generally very friendly and welcoming to new colleagues.

In addition, as a TimePlan Education teacher you will be invited to our social events, held monthly all over the UK. This is a great way to meet fellow TimePlan Education teachers as well as local consultants on the TimePlan Education team. You will soon see familiar faces at every event.

We pride ourselves on offering wrap-around care for TimePlan teachers. That means your emotional wellbeing is as important as your professional development. If you are struggling, please don’t hesitate to contact your TimePlan Education consultant or relocation consultant. We will do whatever we can to assist you.

TimePlan Education is very proud of the relationship we have with the local authorities in Scotland. Since 2001, TimePlan Education teachers have enjoyed the unique opportunity to live and work in areas ranging from the Scottish Highlands to the Islands.

The academic year in Scotland is slightly different from that of England, in that it usually begins in the second or third week in August and runs through to the end of June. Apart from a number of single-day holidays, schools break for a week or two in October, Christmas, February and Easter.

In terms of the curriculum, it is non-statutory in Scotland and so is not dictated by the government. Local authorities and schools decide what is to be taught, taking into account national guidelines and advice. If you are interested in learning more about the national guidelines for Scottish schools, have a look at the Curriculum for Excellence online.

For teachers looking to work in Scotland, the only significant difference in your application to TimePlan Education will be your registration with the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS). In order to secure a position in Scotland, teachers must be registered with this governing body. While the process involves additional forms to complete and documents to submit, it is an entirely achievable task and TimePlan Education has helped many teachers through the process. TimePlan Education is also able to assist with the fees associated with the GTCS application. Please allow 8 – 12 weeks to get your GTCS. Our dedicated Scotland office is always available to help with further queries about the unique teaching experiences available in Scotland.

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Contact one of our International Teams

For more specific information based on your home country visit one of our international team pages below.

The United Kingdom
+44(0)20 8066 0711
+1 807 699 0498
+61 1800 710 592
New Zealand
+44 (0)208 371 8058
+44 (0)208 371 8058
+1 807 699 0498
South Africa
+44 (0)208 371 8058
+44 (0)208 371 8058