Modern studies teachers prepare and give lessons on political, social and economic issues of local, national and international importance. They deal with the impact of events on the lives of individuals in different countries. They work to guidelines set up by the Curriculum for Excellence and prepare pupils, aged 11 to 18, for national exams.
You could be:
using a variety of teaching techniques such as whole class lessons, group or individual project work and discussions
using a range of materials including text books, worksheets, computers, interactive whiteboards
organising and directing the whole class and helping individual pupils as required
setting assignments, projects, tests and exams, preparing and carrying out continuous assessment, marking pupils’ work and writing reports
keeping good order in the classroom and dealing with discipline issues
doing administrative work, including keeping a register of pupils
preparing for and attending parent-teacher meetings and staff meetings
sometimes supervising out of hours activities such as visits or social events.
Teachers in Scotland are paid on a national salary scale. The starting annual salary for a probationer teacher is £31,584 (April 2023).
If you do your probationary period on the Teacher Induction Scheme, and are prepared to work anywhere in Scotland during that probationary year, you can also apply for the Preference Waiver Payment. For secondary school teachers, the payment is £8,000 before tax and national insurance.
After your probationary year, your salary will increase to £37,896 and increase an increment each year up to £47,565.
Where a teacher is employed in a remote school on a distant island both the remote schools allowance and the distant islands allowance are paid, in addition to the teacher’s normal salary.
A principal teacher earns between £51,858 and £66,927 a year, while the scale for depute head teachers and head teachers ranges from £58,818 to £109,209 a year, depending on the size of school.
Salaries in independent schools may differ slightly.
You would work in a classroom.
Your working hours are based on a 35-hour week, working in a classroom 9.00am to 3.30pm or 4.00pm. You would use the rest of the time for preparation and marking.
You may have to do some preparation and assessment work at home, in the evenings or at weekends.
You would have 13 weeks holiday each year, but would probably use some of this time to prepare next term's work.
You would have to prepare for and attend parent-teacher meetings, which are usually in the evening.
You should be aware that teaching is a mentally and physically demanding job.
To become a secondary school teacher of modern studies, you must have a degree (SCQF Level 9-10) which includes two of the following subjects: economics, geography, history or economic history, international relations, law, politics, sociology or social policy plus a Professional Graduate Diploma (SCQF Level 11) in Education (PGDE) OR a degree in Professional Education (Secondary) and two of the above subjects from the University of Stirling (SCQF Level 10).
For entry to a degree course you normally need 4-5 good Highers in relevant subjects.
You must also have Higher English and National 5 Maths. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths.
For entry to the degree in Professional Education and two teaching subjects at the University of Stirling you need 4 Highers at ABBB (first sitting) or AABB (two sittings) including English plus Maths or Applications of Maths at National 5 at B.
Your degree must have at least 80 credit points from two of the following subjects: economics, geography, history or economic history, international relations, law, politics, sociology or social policy. Of these 80 credit points, at least 40 must be from either politics or sociology.
40 credit points must be at second year undergraduate level or above – that is, at Level 8 or above in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF).
For entry to the PGDE, you need an approved degree, together with Higher English plus Maths at National 5 - some institutions specify at B. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths.
Aberdeen, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities offer the PGDE in Modern Studies.
There is a lot of competition for places in all PGDE courses. It helps if you have experience of working with children or young people.
For PGDE courses, apply through UCAS.
There are a number of new teacher training programmes available, most linked to local authorities. See Teach in Scotland for full details and to see which subjects are covered.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
Newly qualified teachers who want to teach in local council schools must complete a probationary period to demonstrate that they meet the Standard for Full Registration of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTC Scotland). Those who wish to teach in independent schools may also require to be registered.
You are guaranteed a teaching post with a Scottish local authority for a full school year to complete this probationary period.