Physical education (PE) teachers prepare and give lessons in gymnastics, athletics, dance, swimming, team sports, outdoor pursuits and other physical activities. They encourage all young people to take part in activities. 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 work and demonstrations
- using a range of materials including gymnastics equipment, sports equipment, audio visual-aids and work sheets
- organising and directing games, coaching sessions and sporting events, and refereeing matches
- helping and encouraging individuals, some of whom might not like physical activities
- setting assignments, projects, tests and exams, preparing and carrying out continuous assessment, marking pupils’ work and writing reports
- keeping good order and dealing with discipline issues
- doing administrative work which includes keeping a register of pupils
- preparing for and attending parent-teacher meetings and staff meetings
- sometimes supervising out-of-hours activities such as training sessions, competitions, matches, outings or social events.
Teachers in Scotland are paid on a national salary scale. The starting annual salary for a probationer teacher is £22,866.
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 £27,438 and increase an increment each year up to £36,480.
If you teach in a remote school or on certain islands you may get an additional allowance. £1,941 for a distance island and £1,371 or £2,574 for a remote school.
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 can earn up to £51,330, while the scale for depute head teachers and head teachers ranges from £45,111 to £88,056, depending on the size of school.
Salaries in independent schools may differ slightly.
- You would work in a gym or outdoors on playing fields, sometimes in bad weather.
- Your working hours are based on a 35-hour week and are usually 9.00am to 3.30pm or 4.00pm.
- You would probably teach for 22.5 hours a week, so you would have some time for preparation and marking or assessment in school. But you would often have to do more at home, in 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.
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To become a secondary school teacher of physical education, you must have: a degree in a suitable sports subject plus a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) OR the MA Hons degree in Physical Education with Qualified Teaching Status, from the University of Edinburgh OR a BSc with Honours in Professional Education (Secondary), Sport Studies and Physical Education from the University of Stirling.
You must also demonstrate that you are involved in sporting activities at a high level.
- For entry to a degree course in sports subjects you normally need 3-4 Highers, sometimes including science subjects.
- You must also have Higher English and National 5 Maths. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- For entry to the MA (Hons) at the University of Edinburgh you need 4 Highers at ABBB (first sitting) or 4 or 5 Highers at AABB or ABBBB (two sittings) including English plus National 5 Maths at B.
- For entry to the BSc at the University of Stirling you need 4 Highers at AABB (first sitting) or AAAB (two sittings) including English at B plus Maths at National 5.
- You must also have evidence of practical ability.
- Your degree must include at least 80 credit points. 40 credit points must be at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 8 (second year undergraduate level) or above.
- 80 credit points must normally be from subjects involving practical performance, such as sport, dance or outdoor pursuits and subjects involving the analysis of aspects of physical education, such as movement analysis, choreography, sports coaching, biomechanics, sports science, exercise physiology, sports psychology, studies in sports or dance or outdoor pursuits, sports development, health and fitness or special needs in movement education.
- For entry to the PGDE, you need an approved degree together with Higher English plus Maths at National 5. National 5 Applications of Maths is accepted in place of Maths at all universities with the exception of University of Edinburgh.
- The University of the West of Scotland and Edinburgh and Strathclyde universities offer the PGDE in Physical Education.
- You must demonstrate that you are competent in practical skills and are involved in relevant physical activities.
- There is a lot of competition for places in these courses. It helps if you have experience of working with children or young people.
- For PGDE courses, apply through UCAS.
You would require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
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.
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- an interest in child development and an awareness of differing physical abilities
- patience and adaptability
- enthusiasm and energy
- a firm and assertive approach when necessary
- good organisational skills
- a sense of humour and positive outlook.
You need to be able to:
- hold the attention of pupils of all abilities and encourage them
- work on your own and as part of a team
- stay calm under pressure
- get on well with parents and carers.
- You will do in-service training (often provided by local councils) throughout your teaching career.
- You might also take part time courses in specialist aspects of education, run by universities.
- You may be promoted to be a principal teacher or head of department.
- You may then become a depute head teacher and then a head teacher.
- You might move into related work such as learning support teaching, further education lecturing, advisory work, education authority administration or schools inspection.
Most teachers work in local authority schools but there are also jobs in independent schools, British schools abroad, such as schools for the children of British armed services and in private tuition.
Job vacancies are normally advertised on local authority websites or look on the myjobscotland website.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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