Born to teach? The why, who and what of teaching

Ahead of our Teaching & Education Fair on Monday 25 February let’s take a quick look at what is involved in a career in education, from why people do it to how to get started on your teaching career.

Whether you are studying your BA QTS, your PGCE/PGDE, or a non-teaching degree, if you are considering a career in education then this (and the fair!) is for you.

Why teach anyway?

Yeats wrote ‘Education is more than the filing of a pail, it is the lighting of a fire’. Indeed the desire to inspire others is often cited as the main reason for following a career in teaching.

Without inspirational teachers we might never (arguably) have had the poetry of Maya Angelou or Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’.

Other reasons given for pursuing a teaching career range from wanting to make a difference to the lives of pupils from all walks of life, to seeing that lightbulb moment in a pupil’s eyes, or for the sheer love of a particular subject.

Perhaps you have always felt you were born to teach, or your desire to teach has been a slow burn. Whatever your motivation, you need to be clear on what that is as you will need to be able to tap into that motivation as you embark on what is undoubtedly a rewarding yet challenging career.

Who do you want to teach?

The concept of lifelong leaning means that there are many opportunities to be an educator, outside of the traditional primary or secondary teacher that most people think of when they think of ‘teaching’.

You may want to help refugees settle in to the UK by teaching English and other necessary skills; to help offenders to learn valuable skills whilst in custody to help them reintegrate after their sentence; or use teaching as a way to travel and see the world. You might want to pursue a career related to educating others but don’t fancy standing in front of a class of students, such as teaching assistant, SEND coordinator, schools liaison officer in a museum…the list is endless.

Even amongst the more ‘traditional’ routes the focus can be varied. You may be drawn to teaching young people with particular needs, or drawn to an alternative style of education (e.g. Montessori, Human Scale) that aligns with your personal beliefs.

As you can see, there are many ways to be an educator to suit your interests, personality and career plan.

What is the current teaching landscape?

It would be remiss of a blog that discusses teaching to ignore the elephant in the room. Teaching is not for the faint-hearted so let’s not pretend that this is an easy job.  We hear on an almost daily basis in the media about the drop out rate, with newly qualified teachers pointing to workload, Ofsted inspections and pupil behaviour as key factors in feeling compelled to leave the profession.

What is clear, is that when teachers are able to have headspace and freedom of creativity, as evidenced when Andria Zafirakou won the 2018 Global teacher Award 2018, they can provide truly inspirational and impactful educational experiences.

However it is not all doom and gloom and there are signs of progress. Job sharing and a 4 day week are being mooted as ways to alleviate some of the workload pressures, improved mentoring for new teachers is being suggested, and Oftsed is looking into its own assessment procedures.

To thrive in this profession you are going to need a good level of self-awareness to answer the following questions – how resilient are you? what environment suits you best? what type of student and teaching style will help you be the best teacher you can be?

Next steps

The best way to discover the answers to these questions and more is to get as much experience in an educational setting whilst you study, whether or not you are currently studying a teaching qualification. Check out our current placements here or contact our placements team on 0151 291 3246 who can help you with your search.

The Teaching & Education Fair gives you a chance to meet face to face with over 15 local and national teaching organisations, recruitment agencies and local authorities. You will also have access to workshops and seminars from leading industry experts. There is no need to book, just pop along to the EDEN building on Monday 25 February.

Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. As with any weapon, its impact depends on who wields it. What type of educator are you going to be?


Questions about teacher training? Why not come along to the Initial Teacher Training Q&A drop in this Wednesday 20 February at 1pm in the Employability Hub, to ask any question about teacher training.

The Teaching & Education Fair takes place on Monday 25 February in the Eden Building from 9-3.

Drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at

Can your dissertation help you get a job?

The dissertation will likely be the most thorough and in-depth project you will have ever done and perhaps will ever do in the future. In a congested graduate labour market where degree subjects are very similar between universities the dissertation is one way to stand out from the crowd.

What is a dissertation?

An undergraduate dissertation is essentially an extended piece of research and writing on a single subject. It is typically completed in the final year of a degree programme and the topic is chosen based on a student’s own area of interest. It allows the student to explore a narrow topic in greater depth than a traditional module. The typical length of a dissertation is between 10,000 – 12,000 words.

Work that is truly your own


The dissertation as more than academics

Carrying out the dissertation can be more than just academic research and can help develop and demonstrate skills that employers value along with the opportunity to work with professionals within your area of interest. This blog will explain some of the main benefits of carrying out the dissertation and the potential opportunities to improve your employability before graduation.


Valuable insight into an area to see if you like it beyond academics


Have a clear purpose and keep it relevant!

In your final year of study it’s easy to see the dissertation as a huge task to clear however you can, but this would be a mistake. Firstly, consider how you could relate your research interests to an occupation or profession or a part of their practice.

Creating an in-depth insight into the work of a particular organisation or profession can be a great way to demonstrate your skills and knowledge around the area and can provide a strong counter-argument to experience.


Most research seeks an explanation or new knowledge of a concept and, importantly, its practical applications”  


The collaborative approach: connecting with employers

Meeting with professionals has two obvious benefits to your dissertation and employability.

Firstly, working alongside professionals can give you an industry-related opinion on where to take your research and potential access to participants and practices within the industry. This can only strengthen the credibility of your work.

Secondly, using any contacts made as part of your research are also introductions to you as a future professional. This is an opportunity to get an insight into a particular profession or company and particularly what qualities they would look for as a graduate entering the profession – LinkedIn can be an invaluable help with this.


This is also a great opportunity to discuss creating a mentoring relationship and/or shadowing work to help prepare yourself for graduation. An employer could also see this as an opportunity to consider recruiting you in the future.

There could be an opportunity for an interested party to use the outcomes of your research.

Lastly, this can be a way to get access to other professionals and organisations in order to create more opportunities.


Access to the hidden jobs market and a head-start in securing advertised employment


Skills, Knowledge and Experience


Enhanced insight into the particular functioning of a profession and associated language



Planning             Proposing            Research methods             Enhanced sourcing techniques

Using software and IT        Report writing        Editing            Applying theory and practice


Employability Skills

Problem-solving               Using data               Communications            Project management

Decision-making              Organisation            Initiative               Critical thinking

Prioritising                        Time-management


Why not come to see the Careers Team to discuss further? Drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (10.30-12.30), or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at

No idea about your career? Handy tips to get you started

The future depends on what you do today’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Whether you are in your first year or your final year, it is never too early or too late to start considering your career options. But instead of trawling through page after page of job sites waiting for your ideal job to jump out at you, it’s time to take some positive action. Take a look at these tips to get you started on your career journey.

#Tip 1: Reframe your perspective

Some people know what they want to do from an early age. And that’s great. For them. But if you are one of the many students who do not know what they want to do, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Advice such as ‘follow your dreams’ and ‘find your passion’ can lead to frustration and inertia as you wait expectantly for a ‘lightbulb’ moment to happen. The chances are, if it hasn’t happened already, it won’t without help.

So why not take a different perspective. Rather than fixate on how you can shoehorn yourself into a job description, start thinking about your career as the uniqueness you can bring to the world of work. That may sound abstract, but if you can identify your ‘Unique Selling Point – USP’ you can open up a range of career options and approach your career journey with flexibility and fluidity – essential in today’s global job market.

Everyone has a Career USP – you just need to identify yours.

#Tip 2: Getting to know yourself

Choosing a career without knowing the real you is like sticking a pin in a random list of job ads and expecting to find the perfect fit.

Understanding your interests, likes and dislikes, and perhaps most importantly – your values – can help you understand what you want from a career.

A fun way to start developing your self-awareness is to take an online quiz. Try these as a starting point

A word of caution – an online quiz is just one tool you can use to kick-start your thinking and is most useful when you take a critical standpoint. Ask yourself the following questions

What is my reaction to the results?

How do the results make me feel?

I would/wouldn’t like to do that job – why? What am I basing this on?

#Tip 3: Channel your inner detective

Ever fancied yourself as the next Luther/Sherlock/Holly McStay? Well now is the perfect time to hone those detective skills, by noticing those everyday clues which will help you deduce your career interests.

One simple way that some students do this is to make a note of when they felt a sense of flow, when they were fully immersed in the moment.  This might be during class, playing a sport or spending time on a hobby. Ask yourself What were you doing? What did you enjoy about it?

Similarly, note when you felt disconnected to what you were doing. Perhaps you had to do a presentation in class and felt uncomfortable and nervous. Finding out what you don’t want to do is just as important as understanding what you are drawn to.

Noticing these clues will help you generate themes around the types of environments you thrive in, the activities that give you a buzz. You can then test these themes out in real life.

#Tip 4: Take Action…say Yes more!

As you begin to develop your self-awareness, it is important to start taking action to test out your findings. There is no substitute for real world experience, whether this be a volunteering role, part-time work, placement or internship. Work experience is valuable even if it only shows you what you definitely do not want to do!

One way to get experience is to take advantage of the wide range of support at Hope – from the Service and Leadership Award which encourages you to undertake volunteering during your degree, to our dedicated Placements team who advertise placements and internships here


These tips can help you build a picture of what you want your career to look like.  So the next time someone asks you what you want to do with your life, instead of answering ‘I have no idea’ you can confidently say ‘I’m working on it!’.

Why not book onto the ‘No Idea about a Career’ workshop on Wednesday 30 January at 1-2pm in the Employability Hub through My Careers Centre/Events, drop into Careers Express in the Hub on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or book a 1:1 career consultation by contacting the Careers Team at

3 ways to make part-time work more than just money in the bank.

Firstly let’s discuss the myth around the irrelevance of part-time work while studying.

If I had a pound for every time a student or graduate told me that they didn’t put their part-time job on their CV or application because they thought it wasn’t relevant, I would be writing this from the deck of my super-yacht sailing down the French Riviera!

It is relevant, I have not got a clue why people think it isn’t. There are more ways but here are 3 ways to make part-time work more than just money in the bank.

  1. Develop Transferable Skills (also known as ‘soft’ skills)

A cliché? No, they are very significant. Just look at a person specification for any job. Are there any transferable skills within the criteria?  Yes, there is. Through my experience I would say anywhere from 40% to 70% of the selection criteria for the majority of jobs are transferable skills.

Transferable / ‘soft’ skills are skills which can be transferred into different contexts. Obviously, demonstrating that you have utilised a skill to achieve outcomes in the same context of the job you are applying for add more value than an example transferred from a different context   There are the obvious ones Communication, Leadership, Teamwork. (Our SALA focuses on these for that reason).

This Article from the World Economic Forum outlines skills needed to survive in the robot invasion of the workplace. It draws from earlier research suggesting 10 skills you will need to thrive in 2020.

Get as much experience using all types of transferable skills as you can. Keep a journal / reflective log and use these examples when applying for graduate jobs in the future.

You could look up job description person specification for jobs that you intend to progress into after your studies, review the required skills and then make sure you get good examples of using those from your part-time job.


  1. Take initiative

A part-time role is the perfect environment to develop your confidence by using your initiative, fully understand the purpose of your role, how it fits in the organisation, what value you add and how you fit within the strategic aims of the company. When you fully understand this, you can use initiative to add further value to the organisation. You could be in any job, understand how processes and functions operate, notice improvements and suggest them to your line manager. If you get to implement them and they are a success, this will be a great outcome for you. A great example for you to use in other applications, and you would have developed confidence using your initiative. I love it when people in my team improve our performance outcomes or make my job easier by bringing in new ideas, processes and functions, would you?

  1. Connect

Connect with every person you can, getting to know them, what they do, and their story.  This builds relationships with people but it can really help you to understand how other people achieved their goals (or not), which in turn can help you understand what you have to do to achieve your ambitions.

You can then connect digitally too. E-meeting people and connecting online without ever meeting in person, is a thing these days, but having a personal interaction before connecting adds extra value, they can place you better, you can make a better impression, plus there is more chance they will accept your connect request on LinkedIn, friend request on Facebook or follow you back on Twitter or Instagram. I would suggest to consider everyone as a contact who can add value to your network and career development. You could be selective with who you choose to connect with on particular social media platforms but Networking and connecting with people and building up an online presence is essential in all sectors today. You will never know where your next opportunity can come from, it could be to add value to your current job or accessing new opportunities in the field you are interested in or accessing opportunities in areas which you would never have considered, that isn’t a bad thing.

Chris Biggs

Senior Careers Adviser


3 New Year Resolutions – Careers & Employability

Kick-start 2019 by committing to doing at least 1 thing to improve your future prospects. Here are our recommended top 3 career & employability resolutions.

  • Volunteer

Develop skills and add to your CV whilst giving your time and experience to a valuable cause. Find your perfect opportunity via

No matter which course you’re studying, or career area you’re interested in, we’re certain you can find a volunteering opportunity to suit you. Every job will ask for experience and volunteering is a great way to add experience to your CV.

Whether you’re passionate about health & social care, culture & heritage, crime & justice or the environment there are organisations that need your skills and time. Even if you’re not sure what job you want to go into volunteering can give you an insight into a sector and help you develop skills.

& don’t forget to get your volunteering recognised via Hope’s Service & Leadership Award SALA.

  • See a Careers Adviser

You don’t have to know what you want to do when you graduate to see a Careers Adviser, in fact it’s often those who don’t have a clue what they’d like to do that say we’ve helped them the most. Our expertise and services are relevant from the moment you start university and all our support is free of charge.

Drop in to The Employability Hub for Careers Express Mon, Tues or Thurs 10.30-12.30 for a chat and start thinking about, planning for and taking positive action to secure your future.

  • Read your Career & Employability Bulletins

Every week we send advice, event details and handpicked jobs and internships direct to your inbox. Reading your bulletins, booking and attending our events and applying for jobs and internships that appeal will all make you more employable. We’re here to help every step of the way and reading your bulletins is just one way you can commit to improving your employability in 2019!