Our Premier Plus service offers a range of exclusive benefits, including access to the School Experience Programme (SEP) if you want to train to teach secondary maths, physics, chemistry, languages, computing or design and technology* in 2014, hold (or are predicted) a first class, 2:1 or 2:2 degree, and there is availability in your subject/local area. Find out more about Premier Plus and the eligibility requirements.
If you would like to arrange your own school experience it is recommended that you approach schools in your local area. They may be happy to arrange for you to spend a day or so observing one of their classes or shadowing a teacher. You will need to contact your preferred school directly to arrange classroom experience. You could ask to speak to the person in charge of Teaching and Learning. This could be a deputy or assistant head.
Schools can be busy at certain times of the year and it is worthwhile addressing any emails to a specific person rather than using a generic email address.
It also helps if you can be flexible with the dates you could be available to visit the school. Classroom experience may have to fit around training placements, exams and other activities. Schools may find it difficult to accommodate you if you have fixed dates for a school visit.
You may need to contact a number of schools in your area to be able to gain classroom experience. The EduBase portal lists all educational establishments across England and Wales. The database allows you to select education phase and location to quickly find a suitable school.
To improve your chances of success you could offer to volunteer at a school rather than merely observe – perhaps as a classroom assistant. Volunteering in general is a great opportunity to gain experience in working with children. You could also volunteer to work in a youth club or as a Scout or Guide leader.
You could look for volunteering opportunities at after-school clubs or gain valuable experience through sports coaching, student tutoring, community education and youth schemes. Some of these may be available during the evening or at weekends, allowing you to fit volunteering around your existing commitments.
*Note that the SEP for design and technology will not be available until January 2014
As a former teacher, you bring with you valuable life and work experience. These skills can be transferred and used on your return to teaching.
Schools generally like to have a balance of more experienced teachers as well as newly qualified teachers, so you should find that your teaching skills are still very valued and relevant.
You will also be able to incorporate any skills and life experiences you have acquired whilst taking a break. These are often considered an asset by schools across the country.
Ways of returning popular questions
Please see the Returning to teaching page