Amazon Future Engineer, our comprehensive childhood-to-career programme for computer science, is working with education charity Teach First to support the recruitment and training of new secondary school computing teachers.

Students from Uxbridge sitting in an IT lab at their school.

Research shows that the UK needs more computing teachers – and the current shortfall can result in both educational and economic inequality if young people leave school without in-demand digital skills.

For example, the Royal Society found that 54% of secondary schools in England didn’t offer GCSE computer science, largely due to a shortfall in qualified teachers. The Department for Education has also reported that recruitment for computer science teachers has fallen short by 25% or more since 2015.

In addition, research commissioned by Amazon from Capital Economics shows that the UK needs 21,000 more computer science graduates on average per year – or the economy could lose out on an estimated £33bn per year by 2030.

Amazon Future Engineer and Teach First are tackling this problem together by supporting the recruitment and training of 50 secondary school computer science teachers, and the development of a further 200 Teach First careers leaders.

Opportunities to train as a computing teacher with Teach First are open to almost everyone regardless of age – not just recent university graduates but all those interested in teaching, considering a career change, or who just want to make a difference in the world.

So why should you pursue a career as a computing teacher, what opportunities are available, and how can you get started? We spoke to teachers and Teach First recruiters to find out more.

Help to build a fair education for all

We see the impact of technology in every aspect of our lives, and it plays a major role both in our education and our economy. Digital skills are vital for some of the most rewarding roles in sectors such as media and entertainment, transportation, information technology, engineering and much more. However, the digital skills gap is growing globally and the majority of British businesses report struggling to recruit for vacancies with digital skills requirements.

Within my first month teaching in London, I realised I wanted to teach for the rest of my life!
William Lau, Head of KS4 Computing, Central Foundation Boys’ School

The first place to address this challenge is in the classroom – as Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, explained: “Having better access to computer science skills and the chance to be taught by highly trained teachers who have experience in a digital environment can be a transformative opportunity for young people – especially those from underrepresented backgrounds who might not otherwise have access to these opportunities.”

Headshot of William Lau in front of a blue curtain.
William Lau, Head of KS4 Computing, Central Foundation Boys’ School

William Lau trained with Teach First and has first-hand experience of how rewarding teaching can be – in fact, he was inspired to further his career in teaching and is now Head of KS4 Computing at Central Foundation Boys’ School in East London.

“Within my first month teaching in London, I realised I wanted to teach for the rest of my life!” William explains. “It was a completely different environment to my own childhood. My students were exposed to some really tough things outside of school. No two days were the same, and I realised that being a teacher here meant much more than just sharing my subject – it meant looking out for young people.”

He adds: “With computing, you can give students freedom to explore their own ideas, both in the classroom and in their own time. The young mind knows no bounds. They go home and spend hours developing concepts into something amazing. It’s what keeps the job interesting.”

Boost your career and skills

Saskia Cooper, Partnerships Manager for Teach First, explains how a career teaching computer studies unlocks skills and opportunities both within the education sector and beyond.

“At Teach First, we are not just a charity or a teacher-training provider,” Saskia explains. “We are in the top ten of The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers across the UK, and we recruit from some of the top universities in the world.”

If you can manage a class of thirty fourteen-year-olds, you can manage just about anything!
Saskia Cooper, Partnerships Manager, Teach First

Saskia adds: “Although individuals with in-demand digital skills can access lucrative careers outside of the classroom, the opportunities in teaching to train while you earn, learn throughout your career and impact young lives are incomparable to other careers.”

Spending time as a teacher early in your career can also add much-needed soft skills, which can boost your career in the long-term if you decide to work outside the education sector.

“Studying the technical side of your subject is hugely valuable – but most careers in tech will also require strong skills in ‘soft’ areas such as leadership, teamwork and communication. Working as a teacher can be a brilliant way to hone those skills. If you can manage a class of thirty fourteen-year-olds, you can manage just about anything!"

Benjamin Mulvihill, Experienced Hire Recruiter and Teach First Ambassador, explains how Amazon is helping to break down barriers to entry for new computer science teachers: “Unfortunately, myths around the salary, career prospects and social status of teaching still linger – when the truth is that teaching can be a financially and personally rewarding career path which opens up a number of options for your future. By working alongside Amazon, we’re better-placed to show the impact of working in the classroom. We’re now seeing really strong individuals coming through who see teaching computer science as a viable option.”

What’s on offer?

Opportunities are now open for individuals to earn a salary while training to become a computing teacher.

A school boy from Uxbridge siting at a computer in an IT lesson.

The fully funded Post-Graduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGDE) awarded on completion of your training is worth double the credits of a standard PGCE and two thirds of a Master’s degree.

Saskia adds: “Each trainee has a dedicated support team, including a subject tutor from our partner universities, a mentor from their school and a Teach First Development Lead, who’s an ex-senior teacher personally invested in their personal and professional development.”

As well as a Development Lead, each trainee will have exclusive access to opportunities with Amazon, for example the bespoke Techspert Programme, where each trainee is linked with in-house tech specialists at Amazon to offer regular refresher and support sessions on the latest updates on the tech industry. These ‘Techsperts’ will also offer up to date information about the career opportunities for the pupils in the trainee’s class, improving access and social mobility.

Following in-depth training, computing teachers will be placed in schools serving disadvantaged communities, where the need is greatest, and where they will continue to have access to bespoke opportunities with Amazon.

These perks, combined with the opportunity to impact young lives and to build your own career in tech, make this an unmissable opportunity.

Want a make difference to young lives? Applications for 2021 are now open!