Teaching In The UK – FAQ’s

When talking to teachers about living and teaching in the UK, we often get a lot of questions about schools, the curriculum and what England’s like. We know it’s a big change for teachers heading over from Canada, Australia and New Zealand so we’re here to help answer some of your questions!

Why Is There Such A Teacher Shortage In The UK?


The teacher shortage in the UK is largely down to the huge population boom. The population of young people is increasing dramatically as a result of the baby boom which means more and more teachers are needed for the increasing number of schools and children.

What Is The Support Programme Like For Teachers From Overseas ?

The support programme will vary from school to school. Supply Desk provide a UK dedicated account manager for your placement. You will have the opportunity for career professional development and if you are a Newly Qualified Teacher, a mentor and PPA time. You are never on your own, Supply Desk strive to go above and beyond to support you in any way possible to make the transition into England as easy and enjoyable as possible.

When Are The School Holidays?

The schools holidays in UK schools vary depending on the county that you teach in, but there are 3 terms:

Term 1: September – Christmas

October half term (1 week)

Christmas break (2 weeks)

Term 2: January – Easter

February half term (1 week)

Easter break (2 weeks)

Term 2: Easter – July

May half term (1 week)

July break (6 weeks)

How Do I Open A Bank Account? Do I Need To Do So Before I Relocate? Is It Difficult?

Opening a bank account is really easy to do and you don’t have to worry about doing it before you relocate. When you’ve arrived and settled in, we will help you to set one up as it is part of our induction program. There’s usually a few different banks on every high street in every town so you’ll have no problem finding one. We recommend setting up an account with Lloyds or HSBC.

With All Of The Planning And Marking Involved In Teaching, Will I Even Have Time To Travel?


Yes! We’re not going to lie, schools do expect you to work hard and plan good lessons and get your marking done, but it’s all about managing your time effectively. Our top tip is to use term time to knuckle down and work really hard and use school holidays to travel Europe. The amazing thing about Europe is that everywhere is really close and easy to get to which means if you have a spare few days here and there you can easily see somewhere new and tick it off your bucket list!

You also have the chance to make the most of public holidays. Click here for the full list.

Is The Behaviour In Schools As Bad As They Say It Is?

Behaviour in UK schools largely depends on the individual school, as well as other influences such as the area that the school is in, quality of teaching and the background of students. We recommend reading the schools OFSTED report to find out more about student behaviour and whether strong classroom management is needed in that particular school. Our consultants will guide you as to whether a school is particularly challenging when we talk to you about our live vacancies so you won’t go into a teaching job in the dark about the behaviour of the children.

How Does The Cost Of Living Compare To Australia and New Zealand?


The cost of living in England is far cheaper than it is in Australia and New Zealand. Costs are largely dependent on where in the UK that you live; if you choose to live in London, rent prices are often double what they are outside of London or further North. The further North you go, the cheaper the costs are for groceries, nights out, taxi fares etc. If you live outside of London, you will find everything significantly cheaper than Australia. Supermarkets have huge discounts on groceries and you will discover the life changing discount clothes store that is Primark!

How Does The Cost Of Living Compare To Canada?

The cost of living in the UK compared to Canada all depends on where you live. In some areas of Canada it is cheaper to live than the UK, however, if you live in Vancouver or Toronto it is comparable in cost of living. Because you are earning in pounds, you are paying in pounds to live, so it’s often easier not to compare the dollar to the pound! All you need to know is that can pay off your rent in a few days worth of work with the salary that you earn!

Is The Curriculum Very Different In The UK?

The U.K. curriculum and the Australian, Kiwi and Canadian curriculum are very similar. We teach Literacy and Numeracy in Primary Schools, plus cross curricular projects are taught. In Secondary, the core subjects that are taught are English, Maths and Science etc. Pupils then have options that they can choose, for example Design Technology, IT, Drama, languages etc at GCSE level.

What If I Need To Go To The Dentist?

Like many other places you have to pay to go to the dentist. When you arrive in England it is super easy to get yourself registered with a local dentist in case of any dental emergencies or if you want a check up whilst you’re over there.

Register with a local NHS dentist in your area. Do a quick google search using your postcode to find out who is taking on new NHS patients.

How Do I Find A Place To Live In The UK?


Supply Desk are here to help you every step of the way with relocating to England. This includes guiding you on where to look for places to live. We recommend checking out Gumtree, Spare room and Flatmate finder to find a share house. There are so many available so it won’t be difficult for you to secure somewhere. In terms of cost, one month’s rent is usually required to secure somewhere as a deposit, but of course you get this back when you leave. We definitely recommend getting a room in a shared house as it’s a great way to meet new people and make life long friends which will make you feel at home immediately. Another option is to ask your consultant if we have other overseas teachers moving to the same area as you. If we do, there’s always a chance that you could buddy up with them and share a place to live.

Will I Have To Get Travel Insurance?

You will need to organise your own travel insurance as we do not provide it for you, however, we have lots of contacts with travel companies so we are able to guide you where to go to get the best deals.

Will I Have To Get Private Health Insurance?

Private Healthy Insurance is completely optional and not essential. This is why you pay 12.5% National Insurance to cover you for the UK’s National  Health Service. If you need to go to the doctors or hospital, it’s free but you do have to pay a small amount for your prescriptions.

As A Teacher, Are We Paid Enough To Live?

Yes! Depending on the location that you choose, depends how much you are paid. You often get paid a larger amount in London, but the cost of living is much higher so it evens out. In a couple of days you earn enough to cover your rent so you have plenty of spare money to save for travelling Europe and seeing amazing places that you wouldn’t get to see teaching in your home country!

Does It Ever Snow ?

We’re not going to lie, it can get extremely cold in the Winter. And yes! You can definitely expect some snow. It tends to happen any time from December – February  and it’s usually more common in the North of England. If you’re a real snow bunny, plan a weekend in Scotland or book a ski trip in the French Alps for guaranteed snow – it’s right on your door step!

How Cold Does It Get ?


During the Winter months the temperatures vary from -2 degrees to around 10 degrees, maybe higher if you’re lucky! But don’t worry, everywhere is equipped to deal with the cold so schools are all heated so you’ll be nice and toasty all day. Our top tip is to wait until you get to England before you buy all of your layers and Winter coats. Because England is geared up to deal with cold temperatures, the coats and jumpers are far better (and there’s a much bigger selection!). Plus, you can get your hands on super cheap coats in stores like Primark and H&M when you arrive.

Do I Need A Car To Get Around?

If you live in a major city (London, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield) then I don’t think a car is necessary as public transport links are brilliant. Especially in London, a car is more of a burden than anything as there is no where to park and high fees apply if you drive in congestion areas so I would highly recommend using public transport over a car. For more rural areas, a car is necessary to get around but a great thing about England is that you can get your hands on a decent car for next to nothing!

How Do We Know A Good Place To Live And If It Is Safe?

All of the consultants in our 16 branches live locally so we can provide local information on accommodation to ensure that you are living in a nice and safe location.  We also have links within the local community and some schools offer accommodation but this is usually limited. We have a list of websites that are a trusted source of finding a place to live so ask your consultant about this and they will do everything they can to help you.

What Is The Public Transport Like?


Public transport in England is brilliant. It very much depends if you are living in a big city or a more rural area but generally they have a great selection of buses, trains and trams that run frequently. In London, the underground is the best way to get around. Tubes come every couple of minutes and take you across the whole city quickly. It’ll take you a couple of weeks to adjust to the different routes but maps are available in all tube station so you won’t struggle to know which one to catch. In Manchester, they have the largest bus network in Europe which take you all over the city. They are super cheap and the main bus road across Manchester is being developed into a bus and bike only road to make the commute even faster. To help you with public transport, I recommend downloading some of these useful apps:

  • TFL – Transport app for London. This app helps to plan your route on the London underground.
  • National Rail – An app that offers live departure boards as well as detailed journey planning.
  • Google maps – A saviour wherever you are in the world. An easy way to find your way around and to find the nearest bus or train station.
  • Uber – The best app to download for taxi’s in many cities across the UK.

If you have any other questions about living and teaching in the UK, contact Supply Desk on teachintheUK@supplydesk.co.uk




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