Oxford graduates head back to the classroom

Education is the largest single industry sector for Oxford students immediately after graduation, according to the University Press Office.The Oxford University Careers Service has seen dramatically increased interest in the education sector over the past few years, with 96 Oxford students going on to work as part of last year’s 1200-person Teach First graduate intake.Teach First is one of several institutions that offers teaching experience to recent graduates; Oxford is currently the largest contributor of graduates to the programme.Teach First gives potential teachers six weeks of intensive training before letting them work in schools in particularly low-income areas for two years. More than half of those who complete the programme then go on to teach full-time, with more entering the education sector in other ways, such as doing access work or tutoring.James Darley, Teach First’s Director of Graduate Recruitment, told Cherwell, “It is inspiring then that so many of the country’s best graduates from universities across the UK, including Oxford, are choosing to work in schools in low-income communities and playing a part in closing the gap in educational disadvantage.”Recently, Oxford University launched a new Insight Into Teaching programme, which gives current undergraduates the chance to try out teaching in schools, both state and private. The next programme runs in ninth week of Hilary. Insight Into Teaching also runs placements in London, Newcastle and Birmingham, so that applicants can work near their homes. This year’s programme has proved popular with undergraduates, with over 60 applications received so far.“It’s great for people who can’t afford to stay up in Oxford for the extra week or travel down to London,” explained Jonathan Black from the Careers Office, “and it gives people a chance to ‘try out’ teaching. It’s such a practical thing – the only way to find out whether you like it is to try.”Why does teaching draw so many Oxford graduates? “I think people here generally appreciate education and don’t take it for granted – sometimes they want to give something back,” commented Grace McGowan, a fresher at Exeter College.Ellen Luckins, who is also a first year student felt similarly: “I wonder if the fact that Oxford students are supposedly super-committed to their subject means they’re more inclined to want to share it with others?”However, this is not to say that everyone at Oxford wants to become a teacher. “I reckon some of us feel like we’ll never be able to fill the shoes of our inspirational teachers,” said Howell Fu, a first year medic. “And then there are some who see teaching as less glamorous than the other stuff they could do with their degree.”Popular alternative options for teaching include sectors such as banking and law, with companies in these areas such as tax and audit gateway Discover EY frequently holding dinners and events for undergraduates.For some, teaching is just not in the cards from the outset. One student did not consider himself part of the movement back to the classroom, saying, “I don’t think I would become a teacher, just because I think I’d be absolutely terrible at it!”The number of those who have completed their PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) at Oxford who are employed immediately after completing the degree has also increased.Over the past three years, an average of 14.1 per cent of PGCE graduates have entered teaching and/or education six months after graduation through organisations such as Teach First and Schools Direct. read more