Non-Teaching Jobs and Careers in Education
If you are interested in education but don't wish to teach, you may be interested in one of the many career options offered by the education sector.
With such a huge number of institutions, there are a considerable number of roles available.
All of these vary according to the organisation and the educational level it operates within.
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Education is an increasingly complex sector, meaning that non-teaching roles extend far beyond the more traditional secretarial and administration roles. There is funding to be administered, Ofsted school inspections, database management, marketing and fund-raising, etc. Some positions are for term-time only, while others match the usual working year.
Institutions You Can Work In
Universities provide higher education (HE) leading to Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees for students aged 18 years and over. In England and Wales, most students are studying at some distance from their home, so provision of accommodation is normal for first year students and sometimes those in higher years too. This means that the services provided by these universities are wider than those in other countries, where students attend universities near their homes. The career opportunities are consequently wider.
Further Education (FE) Colleges
These colleges are distinct from universities in that they offer education to students aged 16 years and over, or post-compulsory education age. Courses offer vary from basic vocational training, such as NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) or SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications), to HNCs and HNDs (Higher National Certificates and Diplomas) to Foundation degrees that enable progression to University degrees.
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In the UK, over 90% of children attend State-run schools between the ages of 3 and 16 years (and sometimes 18 years). Schooling is compulsory and free of charge, other than for special activities and trips. Some schools are faith schools, usually for the Church of England or Roman Catholic Church. Outside the state system are fee-paying schools, known as Public schools.
The education system varies between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, despite the presence of a National Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own system).
- In England, pupils progress through one of three routes between the ages of 5 and 16/18: infant, junior and secondary; or primary and comprehensive; or first, middle, high and upper schools or VI form.
- In Scotland, pupils progress through primary and secondary schools.
- In Northern Ireland, pupiIs progress through primary and secondary or grammar; plus VI form.
- In Wales, pupils progress through primary, secondary and VI form.
Areas of Work
Administrators organise and manage the administration, activities and support systems of educational institutions. Schools have relatively few administration staff, while HE and FE institutions have many more, reflecting their complexity. Areas covered include finance, admissions, data management, examination delivery and processing, human resources and quality assurance.
Central management may exist in smaller organisations, with separate faculty offices located in departments for larger institutions. Job titles and roles are enormously varied. Honours degrees are usually required, with preference often given to degrees such as Business Studies, Education, English, IT management, and Public and Social Administration.
In addition to an interest in education and very effective general management skills, including accounts and IT, administrators need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills, adaptability to deal with the changes in the public sector, and effective team working.
NVQ Assessors and Verifiers
NVQ assessors work in the FE sector to support and assess students of varying ages who are working towards NVQs. Many of these are apprentices who also work in a related job part of the week. The assessor's role is generally to ensure that occupation standards are met.
An assessor is involved in the actual planning of the training programmes and workshops. This also involves assessing apprentices in their workplace and examining their work submissions for quality. If standards aren't being met, the assessor needs to work with the organisation to make improvements. Records must be kept and close contact kept with the FE training provider as well as other assessors.
NVQ assessors need to have experience and knowledge of the occupational sector they're assessing, possibly with qualifications in that area, as well as a Level 3 Award in Assessing Candidates (A1). Personal qualities must include great interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to interact with young people, and strong report writing and record keeping skills.
External or Internal Verifiers further oversee the work of assessors in ensuring that training provision meets appropriate standards. They check that the assessment process is conducted properly, with no discrimination against particular provider or learner. This means checking assessments and quality assurance systems by taking cross section samples, while supporting a team of assessors. They also provide advice directly to training centres.
Assessors and Verifiers need to have a good knowledge of the UK examination framework, strong verbal and written communication skills, IT skills, knowledge of the relevant occupation and solid experience in that area. They need to be able to make objective decisions and judgements, work within teams and take assessment themselves.
Human Resources (HR)
As in any large organisation, the HR staff are instrumental in providing advice and guidance on recruitment and training, in line with the institutions' policies. They develop and implement systems for monitoring performance, assessing staff training and development needs, and ensure these are adhered to across the institution. Planning for the workforce, facilitating the involvement of visiting staff, contracting casual staff, inducting new staff and administering their probation period are other areas of work. Other concerns include salaries and leave, health and safety of staff, complaints procedures, ensuring diversity policies are adhered to and managing change as it affects the workforce.
Human Resources training and experience is usually required, with experience of creating demonstrable benefits. Managing casework is important. Experience of working with policy development and procedure is very useful. Personal qualities include strong interpersonal and communication skills, with the ability to follow and apply standards embedded in policy and protocols.
Invigilators assist with the examination process in schools and colleges by ensuring standards are met in the examination rooms. This includes ensuring candidates are sat in the right places and have all the right paperwork. They give out instructions, answer questions quietly during the exam, mark the start and finish times, and accompany candidates who may need to leave the room temporarily. They also ensure nobody is cheating and confiscate mobile phones that ring.
This is casual work. Invigilators need to be responsible, patient and observant. They need to be able to diplomatically handle any problem that arises during the exam, although a head invigilator is usually present from the institution concerned.
As with the rest of the world, the education environment has been transformed by the digital explosion, with administration and lessons themselves delivered with the use of information technology. ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is a subject in its own right. Technical support staff are now vital members of the workforce at colleges and universities, while in schools, technicians support both administrative and teaching staff.
Tasks may include: data storage and management, network support, hardware maintenance, software installations and configurations, hosted web services, user support, daily backups, fault reporting, repairs and purchasing new equipment and systems as required.
Qualifications in computer science or information technology subjects are usually required, while personal skills include problem solving, good listening and interpersonal skills, workload prioritisation, patience and attention to detail.
Learner support is a large area of college and university provision for students. The department covers everything from delivery of prospectuses to careers information and advice on student loans, benefits and childcare assistance. Counselling services are provided for those who need them, as well as support for students with disabilities.
Qualifications and experience in relevant professional areas are required for the different positions. Staff share a desire to make academic life a positive experience for all students by helping them resolve non-academic problems.
Marketing and PR
In colleges and universities, the marketing department researches, develops and implements a plan to promote the institution and its courses, with the aim of attracting funds and the best students. This may mean marketing to the domestic market but also overseas to attract international students.
The marketing team undertake many tasks: press releases and interaction with the media, website content development, researching and identifying potential markets, overseeing production of all printed marketing literature, working with management and departments to ensure consistency, and much more.
Professionals will need a marketing or related business degree, plus experience and a track record of success. Personal qualities include being an extremely strong verbal and written communicator and creative thinker, with the ability to analyse data and information while working within a team. Strong interpersonal skills are needed when interacting with other departments and management.
Teaching or learning assistants are involved in helping students in the earlier years who have special requirements in the classroom. They are supporting the teacher by providing attention to small groups, frequently listening to children read. If there are any problems, they report back to the teacher, not being teachers themselves. They may also help by preparing resources such as handouts or setting out equipment before the start of a lesson.
Many people starting in this role have been involved in nursery care or childcare. NVQs are available for learning assistants, although many schools appoint on the basis of experience. Personal requirements are a love of children and an interest in education, plus patience and the willingness to take instruction from a teacher.
To ensure the safety of children, schools are required to ask candidates for all jobs in schools for a check known as an Enhanced Disclosure by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Schools register with the CRB and the candidate then applies with their form countersigned by the school.
The CRB then checks their criminal record against the Police National Computer and lists of people considered a risk to children. With the Enhanced Disclosure, this includes instances where no conviction has occurred. Copies of the completed disclose are sent to both the candidate and the school. However, if the police have additional reason to be concerned about an individual, they will write to the school separately, without showing a copy to the candidate.
Be aware that even if applying for a non-teaching job, you will be asked to undertake this check.
Education Job Sites
- Eteach.com, specialises in teaching jobs and is one of the top UK education recruitment agencies and job boards.
- For jobs in education generally, plus more information, see the Guardian newspaper on Tuesdays or visit the site: The Guardian or Education jobs.
- Also see the Times Educational newspaper on Fridays or visit the site: The Times Educational Supplement (TES)
- For jobs in Further Education as well as more information: FE Careers and Jobs.ac.uk