Secondary Teaching

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Secondary teaching is a hugely important career. Anyone approaching the Leaving Cert knows the difference a good teacher makes. An enthusiastic, passionate, and talented teacher can difficult areas of study vibrant and interesting.

Secondary teaching gives you the opportunity to concentrate on a particular area of interest. This could be music, art, language, or physical education. Inspiring others is also extremely satisfying, and you get to work doing something you love!


The most common path to becoming a secondary school teacher is to complete a primary degree in one or two subjects. After that, you take a Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Essentially, students must develop a thorough knowledge of a subject during their degree course. Once they have done this, they learn teaching skills.

Students who wish to become Art, Business, Home Economics, Music, Religion, Wood/Metal Work, and Physical Education teachers can take dedicated degree courses. These bypass the need for a postgraduate qualification. Dedicated Science Education degrees have also been recently introduced. Some subjects require you to demonstrate a certain amount of proficiency in your chosen area.

Teaching courses combine academic and practical classes with pedagogical and education-related subjects. These include teaching skills, administration, assessment, and educational philosophy. Teaching practice placements often form a large component of teaching courses. These give students the chance to gain valuable experience by teaching in a secondary school.

Graduates with general degrees can move on to the postgraduate diploma, while those who have taken a specialist education degree can enter the work environment directly.

The Work

The challenges of teaching are indisputable. Subjects, theories, and practical skills can be difficult enough for many people to master themselves without also having to pass this knowledge on to others.

Day-to-day work will depend on which subject you teach. For example, an English teacher’s day will be different to a P. E. teacher’s; a teacher of religion will have different tasks to a music or home economics teacher. What all teachers have in common is the necessity to abide by the curriculum and prepare students for their Junior and Leaving Certificates. The success of new examination practices (such as continuous assessment) and the growing use of technology in the classroom are also dependent on teachers’ efforts and skills.

Teachers may also be involved in devising study plans, teaching ‘grinds’, supervising exams and after-school study sessions, organising sports teams, and other extra-curricular activities such as drama, art, music or debating, and planning field trips and school tours.

Secondary school teaching is a tremendously rewarding and engaging career, where participants have the opportunity to make a real difference to young people’s lives by preparing them for the world beyond school.

Did you know?

Traditionally, a high number of TDs come from a teaching background. The trend has declined recently but with over 30 in the current Dáil, teachers still make up the largest professional group.

Further Resources

Teaching Council

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland

Scoilnet is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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