Lance Craving portrait

Written by Lance Craving

Freelance Content Producer and Researcher

Having graduated from university and/ or your teaching training pathway, now’s the time to apply your newfound knowledge to your first teaching role in the big wide world of work. Whilst this is an exciting time, it’s also a chapter of your life that involves lots of apprehension and perhaps anxiety around taking the next step. 

There will be so many new challenges, and suddenly you’ll have to contend with all of the responsibilities that come with any form of employment. To make the transition a little easier, it’s essential that you are aware of your employee rights and any obligations your employer will have towards you, so you know what to expect. These may change as you undertake different roles, but for graduates, here are three things you need to know when starting your new job.

Written terms and conditions 

If you have gone straight from school to university to a teacher training pathway, there’s a chance that your entry position in the school system could be your first experience of employment. If this is the case, you’re likely to be unfamiliar with employment contracts, so it’s vital that you familiarise yourself with what should be included in yours. If you’re ever unsure, speak to family members, student services or senior members of staff at your school to ensure nothing has been missed out, and you’re not being unfairly treated. 

You may not have necessarily received anything in writing pertaining to your employment status, but there will still be a contract in place. The contract will detail all of the rights and obligations both yourself and your employer have to one another during your term of employment. It is important that you keep a copy of the contract to hand, to prevent any disputes further down the line. 

Pension contributions 

If you’ve just finished studying, chances are you won’t be worrying too much about your pension contributions – it’s a long time until you’ll see them again, after all. But even in the early stages of your career, it’s worth considering how you want to approach your pension payments, since the earlier you start, the longer you’ll have to save up for your retirement. 

Most teachers who are working in state schools will be automatically enrolled into the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. This was set up to help secure the financial future of those working to educate the younger generations, but the scheme underwent a major review in 2015 which could affect what you’re entitled to. Be sure to check which terms apply to you to prevent any confusion further down the line.

Rest breaks 

Whilst a teacher’s daily timetable will be structured slightly differently to a standard 9-5, you are still entitled to lunch and break times like workers in any other profession. As the amount of break time teachers have varies from school to school, you can expect to see your employer’s expectations outlined within your written contract. 

Under the UK Government’s School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), teachers are entitled to at least one break every teaching day for a “reasonable length” of time. This typically equates to 20 minutes (but it can be more), which is often taken between 12pm and 2pm.