Secondary school teachers are trained to teach one or more subjects to students in Years 7 to 12 (typically aged between 11 and 18). In NSW Public Schools, there are eight key areas of study, including mathematics, science, human society and its environment, technological and applied sciences, English, creative and performing arts, languages, and personal development, health and physical education.
Secondary teachers are generally experts in their chosen subjects and have a strong desire to share their knowledge of their subjects with adolescents.
Types of secondary teachers
Mathematics teachers in NSW public schools teach a common course to students in Years 7 to 8 and a range of courses to students in Years 9 to 12.
Mathematics teachers are high-demand teachers in NSW public schools.
Science teachers in NSW public schools teach science as an integrated subject to students in Years 7 to 10 and a range of science courses to students in Years 11 to 12, including biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, physics and senior science.
Science teachers who are approved to teach physics are high-demand teachers in NSW public schools.
Technological and applied studies (TAS)
TAS teachers teach a range of subjects including agriculture, industrial technology, design and technology, engineering studies, food technology, and software design. Students in NSW public schools complete a mandatory technology course in Years 7 and 8.
TAS teachers who are approved to teach design and technology in combination with engineering studies or industrial technology (timber, metal or graphics) are high-demand teachers in NSW public schools.
English is taught from Kindergarten through to Year 12, and is a compulsory subject for the Higher School Certificate (HSC). Many English teachers also have approval to teach a related subject, such as drama or history.
Creative and performing arts
Creative and performing arts teachers generally specialise in teaching dance, drama, music, photographic and digital media, and visual arts to students in Years 7-12.
All NSW public school students are required to study a second language in the early years of high school. Students in Years 7-12 can also undertake additional languages study. There are currently more than 30 languages available at HSC level, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Personal development, health and physical education (PDHPE)
PDHPE teachers in NSW public schools teach PDHPE as an integrated subject to students in Years 7 to 10 and a personal development and health education course to Years 11 to 12. They may also teach a range of additional courses to students in Years 11 to 12, including community and family studies, exploring early childhood, physical activity and sports studies, and sport, lifestyle and recreation.
Role and responsibilities
Secondary school teachers are experts in their subject areas and, therefore, must keep up-to-date with developments in their subject area, including new resources, teaching methods and curriculum changes.
A typical work day for a secondary teacher in a NSW public school may involve:
- Preparing and teaching a range of lessons to different ages and abilities (up to six different Years levels from 7 to 12)
- Using a variety of methods, including formal lessons, discussions, practical activities, experiments, assessments and excursions to engage students and enhance their learning experiences
- Preparing, setting and marking assessments, including providing feedback
- Assessing, evaluating and recording student development
- Teaching additional classes when other teachers are absent
- Encouraging students to maintain effective study habits
- Implementing classroom management practices
- Discussing students' development with parents
- Supervising students outside the classroom (i.e. during breaks)
- Undertaking professional development
- Attending staff meetings
- Assisting with organising sporting activities, excursions and other extracurricular activities
- Networking with other teachers, particularly those who teach the same subjects
To become a secondary teacher, you will need to complete at least four years of tertiary study at a recognised university or higher education institution. Your studies will need to include an accredited teacher education program and adequate study of the subject(s) you would like to teach. Appropriate teacher education courses include:
- a Bachelor of Education (Secondary)
- a combined or double degree, such as a Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Education (Secondary)
- an undergraduate degree and an accredited graduate entry teaching degree, such as a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary) or a Master of Teaching (Secondary).
Find out what secondary teachers get paid in NSW public schools.
At present, there is an adequate supply of secondary teachers in NSW public schools, except in the high-demand subject areas identified above, some specialist teaching areas and high-demand locations.
Find out how to become a teacher in NSW public schools.