Secondary school teachers teach one or more subjects within the school curriculum to secondary students. Subject areas include English, mathematics, science, history, geography, drama, dance, art, music, health and physical education, design, information technology, languages other than English, and home economics.
To become a secondary school teacher you usually need to complete a four-year integrated course in which the subject area and teaching components are taught throughout (for example, a Bachelor of Secondary Education majoring in visual arts). Alternatively, you can complete a degree in a subject area related to the current secondary school curriculum, followed by a postgraduate qualification in education (for example, a Graduate Diploma of Education). To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, geography and physics are normally required. Some courses may have additional requirements. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in subject areas relevant to the secondary school curriculum. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of a bachelor degree. Postgraduate courses in secondary education are available at a number of universities in Australia. They are also available by distance education. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information about teaching specialisations. See entries for Teacher - Art, Teacher - Music and Teacher - Physical Education for more information.
Secondary school teachers may perform the following tasks:
Secondary school teachers need to continually update their subject knowledge and teaching methods through private study and professional development activities.
Secondary school teachers work in government and non-government schools. Some teachers are able to work in private practice, offering tutorial and subject-coaching services to students. Competition for positions in metropolitan government and non-government schools is strong. Teachers should be prepared to move to areas of need (rural areas, for example) to secure a job or a promotion to a senior position. Once employed, the prospects for advancement can be enhanced by obtaining higher qualifications. With further training and experience, a secondary school teacher may be promoted to a position of educational leadership, such as secondary school principal.
An aboriginal education teacher (secondary) teaches specially designed programmes to Indigenous secondary school students.
An English teacher - secondary teaches students communication, writing and critical thinking skills in response to a wide array of literature and media. They guide students in understanding the different concepts and themes that are present in literary and media-based material and inform them of their historical context.
A mathematics teacher - secondary teaches the fundamentals of mathematics in areas such as geometry, calculus, algebra and statistics. They help students to develop analytical skills through the application of mathematics in everyday life.
A science teacher - secondary teaches students the scientific principles of the world around them. They may also specialise in areas such as biology, human biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science.
A teacher librarian - secondary manages the school's learning resources in addition to undertaking the duties of a teacher. Teacher librarians play a key role in teaching cross-curricular skills in information literacy and provide professional development for other teachers. They help students to seek, critically evaluate, synthesise and present information using a range of resources and information technologies. They expose students to a variety of genres (writing styles) in print and digital formats and promote the best quality literature and authors to reflect different cultures and themes. Teacher librarians ensure the library resource centre is multi-functional and a focal point for student learning.