8 careers beyond the classroom

For a lot of Education undergraduates teaching can be the logical next step in your career path but what if you know that teaching’s not the right route for you?  Our Careers Adviser, Anna Worsley, recently attended an Education Alternatives training event where eight speakers working in education related jobs gave an insight into their careers. In this blog Anna shares what she learnt on the day and explores a range of alternative careers for those with an interest in education.

I always knew that undergraduate students studying within the Faculty of Education go on to do fascinating and interesting jobs in a really broad array of roles. But attending the Education Alternatives training gave me a deeper insight into the variety and range of options open to those who study education or related degrees. Each speaker was passionate and inspiring. If you’re an undergraduate studying in the Faculty of Education here are 8 career options (other than teaching) for you to consider…


Offender Education

1. Offender Education, Training and Employability (Richard Wakelin, Novus)

Richard was a secondary school PE teacher who progressed to senior level before moving to Novus for a career change. Within Novus he delivers training and teaches a broad curriculum to adults and young people within prisons.

Novus employ over 3,000 staff nationwide in roles as Trainers, Tutors, Student Support Workers, Employment Brokers, Administrators and more. Staff raise learners’ aspirations, support them back into purposeful activity, prepare them for the world of work and consequently reduce the risk of reoffending. Each year Novus enrol over 60,000 learners and give offenders the knowledge, self-esteem and confidence to thrive in the world of work.

If you went into a directly educational role at one of their sites you can expect to be working with up to 12 learners teaching the broadest possible curriculum. Teaching staff are expected to have a PGCE or be willing to work towards this qualification.

What are the challenges Richard faces in his job? Limited internet access and restrictions on tools/materials you can use in the classroom so effective planning is essential. You will come across challenging behaviours but there’s fantastic security support (Richard feels safer in this job than he did teaching in a secondary school!)

What’s unique about the job? You can be creative with your curriculum. You’re working with small groups (8 – 12 per learning group). Activities are thoroughly risk assessed and there’s a strong security support. You can’t take work home with you. You can take annual leave at any point in the year rather than having set school holidays (and the leave policy’s generous!).  Novus offers endless career progression opportunities. You’ll be working with individuals with complex backgrounds who are able to change their path in life so it can be an extremely rewarding job.

For more information on Novus or to search for current opportunities visit www.novus.ac.uk

Behaviour Support & Training

2. Behaviour Support & Training (Steve Brown)

Steve has worked in education across a wide range of ages from pre-school to post 16. He’s now self-employed delivering bespoke behaviour support and SEND training to schools. To get into a career like this you’ll need to build your experience and knowledge within a role and be regarded as an established practitioner. Steve had a lot of experience and had built a strong network of contacts before he moved into consultancy/training.

If you career shift into delivering training it’s always useful to keep your hand in on the practical side of the job too – policies and procedures change and unless you’re doing the job it can be difficult to stay up-to-date. You need to be able to offer practical solutions from observing or listening to clients, it’s useful to have a repertoire of ideas that you know have worked in similar situations. You might also find your business needs to fit around the schedule/needs of another business e.g. as the majority of Steve’s clients are schools he’s in higher demand during school term-time so needs to plan around this.

If you’re passionate about Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) this can be demonstrated in your dissertation research topic. Areas Steve suggests are around policies on physical touch – what’s the research, what are the policies? Or environmental set-up – does an overly creative/decorated classroom overstimulate learners?

play and creative arts

3. Play & Creative Arts Therapy (Sabrina Persiano)

Sabrina is PTUK certified Play and Creative Arts Therapist with over 20 years experience of working with families. She has her own private practice based in Sandbach, Cheshire where she offers Play and Creative Arts Therapy to children aged 4-12 with emotional,  behavioural, social and mental health difficulties. Sabrina is also a PTUK (Play Therapy UK) Trainer.

For those looking to get into Play Therapy Sabrina advises getting your degree plus work experience – any experience working with children is relevant and useful, it doesn’t have to be therapeutic. Sabrina recommends after-school clubs or working with children with special educational needs or therapeutic disabilities as good options for gaining experience.

Play Therapists come from a range of degree backgrounds; education, psychology, arts, drama, nursing etc. but no matter what you’ve studied at undergraduate level you’ll need to undertake accredited Postgraduate training after your degree. Visit PTUK for full details of training courses.

Play Therapists can be self-employed or employed by the NHS, Schools, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) or charities. Sabrina is self-employed which means she can fit her work schedule around her young family.

If you’re interested in Play Therapy as a career perhaps show your interest via your dissertation topic – is there an area of child development you are interested in? Do Play Therapists use technology (iPads, computer games etc) in their sessions? What’s the research/benefits?

Alternative Education

4. Alternative Education Tutor (Rob Pickersgill)

Rob is an Education Tutor offering formal or informal learning (lifeskills, mentoring,  behaviour management) to children who are not in full-time education due to illness, behavioural issues, refusal to attend school or temporary circumstances. He is self-employed working on a freelance basis for agencies, Local Authorities, schools or families.

This role involves delivering coaching and mentoring with minimal background information. A strong understanding of core curriculum subjects and a PGCE qualification would be useful. Rob recommends getting as much, varied experience as possible.

“Say ‘yes’ to everything! Why not?

Museum Education

5. Museum Education (Katherine Snell, Birmingham Museums Trust & Hugh Simmons, Ironbridge Gorge Museums)

Katherine and Hugh talked about their roles as Education/Learning Officers within a museum. Museum Education involves interpreting displays and bringing exhibits to life for visitors. Each day is different and varied and could involve delivering hands-on education to school groups or to families. To be successful in this role you’ll need to be passionate and enthusiastic.

“I get to teach my favourite lesson every day, sometimes several time a day.  School visits to museums live long in the memory of a child!”

For school sessions you’ll need to be aware of the national curriculum but are not constrained by it. Having a PGCE would be advantageous but it’s not an essential requirement. Work experience is essential, the sector is extremely competitive so you might need to undertake unpaid volunteering prior to securing your first paid job.

If you’re looking to get into Museum Education Katherine & Hugh offered the following advice;

  • get experience
  • volunteer and show enthusiasm
  • research the museum – detail why you want to work there specifically
  • Show your passion/interest in a subject – this can be via Instagram, a blog, your own project – if you’re interested in a topic/subject bring it to life
  • look at small, voluntary-led museums
  • get your foot in the door – any role within that organisation will give you an insight into how it works so if you need to work & earn why not work in their cafe or gift shop?

Healthcare play specialist

6. Healthcare Play Specialist (Tina Clegg, HPSET – Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust)

Tina is Chair of the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust, she is extremely passionate about play for children and the benefits it can have within a healthcare setting (neonatal, burns, neurology, allergy, A&E etc). Play can be used to explain complex medical procedures, allow a young person to explore their feelings/fears, prepare effectively and develop coping strategies whilst undergoing treatment and aid recovery.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a Healthcare Play Specialist Tina recommends the Foundation Degree in Healthcare Play Specialism a part-time, two year course for people who have experience in working with children and young people to develop professional competence in the field of therapeutic play for children in a hospital or community setting. You will need to evidence current, regular and relevant employment (minimum of 2 years experience working with children and families).

family support worker

7. Family Support Worker (Wendy Thompson, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity)

The Rainbow Trust provides support to families with a seriously ill child. As a charity Rainbow Trust’s Family Support Workers fill the gaps that statutory services cannot provide. They are extremely flexible so might spend their day at the child’s home reading to or playing with the child, helping with household chores (ironing, shopping etc), giving a parent a break or providing emotional support. If the child’s in hospital the Family Support Workers might sit with the child while their parent/carer takes a break, gets some rest or takes a shower they also offer support to siblings and link families with others going through similar experiences.

To be successful in this role you will need to be enthusiastic, empathetic, friendly and flexible with a can-do attitude. The role requires an ability and willingness to learn about how conditions and treatment can affect behaviour and you will need to deal empathetically with grief and loss.  If you’re interested in this or a similar role try to get experience of working with families and young people and develop your listening and communication skills. Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers typically come from the following backgrounds – Health Visitor, Neonatal Nursing, Teaching, Nursery work and as graduates with relevant work placements.

family court adviser

8. Family Court Adviser (Saima Ali, Cafcass)

Cafcass represents children in family court cases in England. Putting children’s needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure the child’s voice is heard and that decisions made are in the child’s best interest. All Family Court Advisers are social work qualified, registered with the HCPC as a social worker in England and experienced at working with highly vulnerable children and families.

Saima would recommend Cafcass as an employer if you’re looking to go into Social Work. The support and training offered is high quality and streamlined. The role can be challenging but you get peer-to-peer support, the flexibility to manage your own workload and a lot of autonomy in your role. To be successful in this role you need to be organised, passionate and resilient. You are the voice of the child so you need to prevent delay and be responsible for the decisions and recommendations you make.

Cafcass run a graduate programme and recruit to fit their business needs. If you’re interested in working for Cafcass register for alerts here.

If you’re a Hope student who wants to know more about career options open to you, or you’re looking to gain relevant experience, why not come to see a Careers Adviser? You can book a one-to-one appointment at the front desk in The Gateway Building or by e-mailing careers@hub.ac.uk

If you’d like to explore more education related career options take a look at the newly updated Education Alternatives publication.

One Comment on “8 careers beyond the classroom

  1. Pingback: BA Education Careers Insight Event – Careers and Employability

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