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A career as an independent school teacher is rewarding and fulfilling in so many ways, making it a popular choice for those already in the education sector or those looking to make a change. 

As independent schools provide only the best education for their pupils, that means you also have to be able to provide the highest standards of teaching. 

In this blog, we explain what the career path to an independent school teacher could look like... 


Skills and qualifications  

There are lots of paths that lead to being a teacher, but all of them need to start with an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) qualification, or an equivalent qualification if you have trained outside Scotland. 

You can get this ITE qualification through either a four-year undergraduate degree or through a postgraduate Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). 

You can find out more about becoming a teacher in Scotland here.  

However, if you are aiming for a more advanced or specific teaching role, schools recruiting in senior school roles often require candidates to have a very good degree and high levels of knowledge in their subject area, in order to teach to university entrance exam level. 

It is a legal requirement for teachers in Scotland to be registered for registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). Some schools will employ you based on the fact that you are eligible for registration and will register before taking up your post. 

To apply for the GTCS, you must have completed some form of teacher training course – whether in Scotland, the rest of the UK or elsewhere.  

In addition, you will also need to become a member of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme.  

If you’d like to gain some experience in independent schools before taking the plunge into a full-time role, you could look into volunteering at a school or working in a classroom assistant role.  


Progressing in your career 

There are lots of varied opportunities to progress in the independent school sector. You could be given extra responsibilities outside of the classroom – such as running an extra-curricular activity club or taking on a pastoral role. 

Independent schools have a well-developed senior management structure. Senior roles, like head of department and head of year, are highly sought after, and with experience and dedication you can progress. Set your sights high and one day you might even reach the goal of becoming head teacher! 

Gaining a varied and rich experience at different schools can be really beneficial – no matter how large an independent school is, it’s always valuable to gain experience working at a broad range of schools.  


Why work at an independent school? 

Scotland’s thriving independent school sector is a fantastic place to learn, work and grow in your teaching career. Having the freedom to direct their own curriculums, you can gain experience teaching courses you won’t find anywhere else – for example, the International Baccalaureate. 

Independent school teachers likewise have the freedom of choice to teach in a way which benefits their pupils best. Rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach, decisions are made based on what suits individual learners. 

To hear first-hand about the benefits of teaching at an independent school, read our blog with Johanna Urquhart, head teacher at Lomond School.  


If you are considering teaching at or sending your child to a Scottish Independent School, the SCIS can help you with your search – use ourfind a schooltool orget in touchwith us today.