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PE teacher Physical education teacher

Physical education (PE) teachers work in secondary schools and colleges, teaching sport and fitness to young people.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,250 to £46,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 39 per week

1. Entry requirements

The most common way to become a PE teacher is to do Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) and gain qualified teacher status (QTS). 

Your ITET route could be one of the following:

  • university-led training through an undergraduate degree or postgraduate award
  • school-led work-based training

For either route, you’ll need:

  • GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and maths (and science, if you teach in middle schools)
  • passes (before starting ITET) in numeracy and literacy skills tests
  • an enhanced background check which your employer will arrange for you

You’ll also need experience of working with young people through paid work or volunteering at a school, through youth work or on a holiday scheme. 

If you’re a PE or sports graduate who’s gained some experience in secondary schools during your degree, you may be able to get into teaching by working as a sports coach in a school, then moving on to a teacher training programme. You’ll need coaching awards, like UK Coaching Certificates (UKCC), in your specialist sports. Sports Coach UK has more information on coaching.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to develop good working relationships
  • the ability to work in a team as well as use your own initiative
  • organisation and time-management skills
  • the ability to manage classes and deal with challenging behaviour
  • excellent communication skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll work in state or independent schools and colleges, including free schools, academies, sixth forms and the further education sector. 

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • preparing lessons and teaching materials
  • teaching classes of different ages and abilities, and adapting lessons so everyone can take part
  • managing class behaviour
  • arranging matches with other schools and colleges
  • setting and marking homework and assignments and preparing for exams
  • attending meetings and training
  • talking to parents and carers about students’ progress
  • attending general school events like open days and social activities

4. Salary

Starter: £16,250 to £30,000 (unqualified teacher)

Experienced: £22,250 to £38,000

Highly Experienced: £35,250 to £46,500

There are separate pay scales for teachers with advanced skills or in leadership roles, and additional payments for those who take on extra responsibilities.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work for 39 weeks a year, usually from 9am to 3.30pm but start and finish times can vary. You'll organise matches and practice sessions after school, so will be expected to work later several times a week and possibly some weekends.

Outside your teaching hours, you’ll plan lessons, mark work, attend meetings and training, and take part in school activities.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could become a leading practitioner, supporting other teachers while working with your own classes.

You could also progress to curriculum leader or head of department, then deputy or assistant headteacher or assistant principal.

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Last updated: 13 September 2017