What you’ll learn
How do teachers get pupils to be quiet and pay attention? Why do some people struggle with reading? Which is more important: nurture or nature? An education degree will teach you about the theories underpinning how we learn, and give you the practical skills and knowledge needed to be an effective teacher.
There are two degree types you can study: bachelor of education (BEd) degrees or bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BSc) degrees with QTS (qualified teacher status). Whichever you pick, if you want to work as a teacher, in most schools they must also confer QTS. Courses tend to last three or four years, during which time you’ll develop the specialist subject you need to teach, learn about the national curriculum for that subject, get up to speed with the latest government education initiatives (and get a shock when you realise how many there are and how often they’re updated), and learn about the legal and ethical responsibilities that come with the job.
You will also learn a huge range of strategies and practical teaching techniques, such as how to plan lessons, assess learning, manage behaviour, and teach in a way that best enables children to learn.
If you want to learn about education because you find it interesting, but don’t plan to teach, an education studies course is more appropriate. These courses will look at how education is delivered and focus more on how this fits into a cultural, political or historical context, rather than just how it is practically applied in schools on a day-to-day basis. You will probably look at other education models and their impact on society in other countries, and perhaps even start to develop a few ideas of your own.
How you’ll learn
You’ll have lectures, seminars and plenty of essay assignments, but you’ll also spend a good chunk of your time in schools. On placements, you’ll observe expert teachers and, in time, teach yourself. Throughout placements, you’ll be supported by a mentor from the school. When looking at courses, it’s worth asking about a university’s partner schools – some will have a focus on urban schools, while others might encourage you to spend time in specific settings, such as special schools.
What entry grades you’ll need
Entry requirements vary. The more selective universities require at least one of the following: art, biology, chemistry, computing, design and technology, drama (theatre studies), English, French, geography, German, history, ICT, Italian, mathematics, music, physics, physical education, religious studies (theology), Spanish or Cache qualifications (Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education).
What job can I get?
Teaching is the obvious one, but if you don’t feel like that once you’ve completed your degree, there are other possibilities inside and outside education. Teachers are highly skilled at working with people, organising and planning, and coping with stressful situations: these skills are valuable in many careers.
Most graduates with QTS do enter the teaching profession and some of those with education studies may choose to study for a postgraduate teaching qualification, though many of the latter follow other careers working with children and young people.