Once you can get over the difference in temperature, the United Kingdom is an excellent opportunity for Australian teaching professionals looking to springboard their career. A selection of well-funded schools and colleges, excellent promotion opportunities, and great career benefits are among some of the reasons why the UK is a great destination for both newly qualified and experienced teachers the world over.
However, making the decision to relocate to another country for work – especially one on the opposite side of the globe – can be daunting. Finding a job in a different time zone, navigating the logistics of the relocation process itself, and arranging the correct travel documents and visas can feel like a complete minefield.
If you’re an Australian teacher with your heart set on moving to the UK for work, you might have found yourself at the very beginning of a seemingly overwhelming process. So, we’ve put together this guide to help you work out what you need to do, step-by-step.
Can You Teach in the UK With Australian Qualifications?
First of all, you’ll need to work out whether or not your Australian teaching qualifications are suitable for teaching in the UK. You should be good as long as you have:
- A teaching degree
- An academic transcript from your university
- A qualification recognised with British Teacher Status (QTS)
- ‘Proficiency’ teacher status
In order to gain ‘proficiency’ status as a teacher, you will need to work in an Australian school or schools and be observed and assessed. You will be eligible for this classification after a set number of hours or days. The time needed to gain this status will depend on the state or territory that you are working in. In general, it takes around a year for new graduates.
A teacher moving from Australia to work in England will be able to apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK if they have gained proficiency status in Australia.
Having QTS once teaching in the UK will ensure that you are paid to scale, have opportunities to work in all kinds of UK schools, and are able to work long-term as a teacher in the UK.
Can You Work in England as a Teacher With ‘Provisional’ Status?
If you have not gained proficiency status as a teacher in Australia, you will be allowed to move to the UK and work as a teacher for up to four years. You will not be allowed to apply for QTS, and there may be some limitations to the type of schools that you can work in.
And, non-QTS teachers are not automatically eligible to be paid on the QTS pay scale. However, your Australian experience and already gained expertise as a teacher will be taken into account.
If you are only registered as provisional in your home state or territory, you will need to go through an overseas teacher training programme in order to be able to apply for QTS in the UK. This is not widely taken up as it is at the school’s expense and involves several school placements, along with coursework and observations.
What If I Don’t Yet Have a Teaching Qualification?
If you want to work as a teacher in the UK but have not yet gained a teaching qualification, there are several routes that you may wish to consider. These include:
- Moving to the UK to work in a school as a teaching assistant or school support worker
- Gaining a teaching qualification in Australia before moving to the UK
- Gaining a teaching qualification in Australia and obtaining proficiency status before moving to the UK
- Moving to the UK as an international student on a teaching degree programme
- Studying online for a UK-based teaching degree programme such as this one from the University of Exeter
Getting Support When Moving to the UK
Once you’re in a position to move in regard to your qualifications and experience, you probably feel like there’s a very long road ahead. You might be wondering:
- How can I find teaching jobs in the opposite time zone?
- How can I interview for teaching jobs in the UK?
- Which area of the UK is best to relocate to?
- What cost of living can I expect in the UK?
- Which work permits and visas will I need?
- How can I find accommodation before moving?
For many teachers relocating from Australia to the UK, a specialised agency is the best option when it comes to getting all these issues taken care of.
An agency designed to help teachers relocating from Australia to teach will be able to:
- Search on your behalf for suitable teaching positions available in the UK
- Arrange face-to-face interviews via events or video calling technology
- Provide resume and interview prep advice
- Arrange flights to and accommodation in the UK
- Offer career advice based on working in the UK to prepare you for your new role
- Offer support for visas and other necessary travel documents
- Offer support for essentials like setting up a UK bank account and mobile phone
Moving to the UK: Visas and Travel Documents:
In 2016, Australian nationals were in the top five non-EU citizens to get visas for the UK, so the good news is that as long as you’re bringing something to the table and have a clean record then you shouldn’t have a problem being accepted.
If you’re planning a permanent move to the UK to work as a teacher, then you will need a visa. If you’ve never been to the UK before and want to travel there to get a feel for the country before you decide whether moving there for work is the best decision for you, it’s worth noting that Australian citizens can stay visa-free in the UK for up to six months on a tourist basis. So, you will not be able to gain UK work experience as a teacher during this time, but it’s a good way to familiarise yourself.
Do You Have Right of Abode in the UK?
Before you head down the path of applying for travel documents, it’s worth double-checking whether you actually need to bother getting a visa. As an Australian, if you meet the following conditions, you will be able to live and work freely in the UK:
- One or both of your parents were born in the UK and were a UK citizen at the time of your birth.
- You were born before 1st January 1983 into a Commonwealth country.
- You have been a citizen of the Commonwealth since 31st December 1982.
But if none of these conditions applies to you, then you’ll need to consider the following:
UK Points-Based Immigration System
The UK’s points-based immigration system was largely inspired by the Australian one, and so you need to score a certain number of points before you are eligible.
The main score determinants are:
- English language proficiency
- Previous experience
- Your age
- Future employment outlook
- Financial situation
These can vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for. Luckily for Australians, having English as a first language means that you’ll get ten points before you even begin the process.
How to Apply
Start by heading to the UK visas and immigration website. Once there, you’ll need to:
- Choose the relevant visa
- Fill out the provided form
- Pay the necessary fees
If you’re applying for a visa for longer than six months, you will be required to get a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which you can get from a UK visa application centre. Centres are located in:
You will need to take various documents to the application centre. They will record your fingerprints and take a photograph of you.
Once your visa has been approved, it’s time to start mapping out your life in the UK. Assuming that you’ve already been offered a teaching job, you’ll need to do the following:
Agencies can help you with finding temporary accommodation when you first arrive in the UK, but eventually, you’ll want to find a place of your own. Many teachers find that it’s useful – and cheaper – to share accommodation with other professionals. If you’re planning to teach in London, this might be the only option unless you’ve got tons of money. You can find accommodation using apps and sites like:
- Spare Room
- Right Move
Setting Up a UK Bank Account
Once you have a UK address, you can open a UK bank account. You’ll need this to receive your teaching salary. The process is easy; just walk into any high street bank with your ID, visa and proof of address and you can get an account opened there and then.
Getting a UK Mobile Phone
If you’re already using an unlocked mobile handset that you got back home, you may be able to continue using it in the UK by switching the SIM card. You can choose from UK mobile networks like:
- GiffGaff (online)
- VOXI (online)
- Tesco Mobile
We hope you found this guide helpful, and wish you the best of luck with your teaching career!