Educator : High School

High school educators specialise in the education of learners in Grades 8 - 12. They usually teach in selected subjects only and therefore are required to have a solid understanding of their subject and a mastery of core teaching skills.

They follow the syllabus of work laid down by the relevant education department and may use various teaching methods and demonstrations, as well as audiovisual aids. They prepare teaching outlines, assign tasks and correct homework. They give learners tests to evaluate their progress and prepare them for examinations.

In addition to the implementation of the curriculum in the classroom, high school educators also have various administrative tasks to perform, such as recording of results, the issuing of progress reports to parents, keeping attendance records and participating in departmental and professional meetings and educational conferences. Educators may also be required to coach learners in various kinds of sports and cultural activities during the afternoons and/or be responsible for special activities or school societies.

The work of educators is challenging because each learner is different and often a learner will require individual support and encouragement. By the same token, educators are required to enforce discipline in the classroom in order to create an environment conducive to learning. They should also be able to respond to evidence of child abuse and neglect and be able to cope with emergencies. Increasingly, schools work with a range of external agencies such as employers, local partnership and anti-poverty networks, health boards, etc, to ensure that the school is responding to students’ needs and the needs of the local community.

The work can be very rewarding and educators are providing a valuable service to the community, which can be demanding and pressurised at times but equally rewarding at other times. It is possible for secondary school educators to branch into more specialised areas such as career guidance, remedial teaching, etc. Many secondary level schools provide adult education programmes for the local community.

Personal Requirements

  • have both a liking for and a keen interest in teenagers
  • have a sense of humour
  • have good subject knowledge
  • have a balanced and sober view of life
  • have tolerance and patience
  • set a good example for others to follow
  • have good health and stamina
  • be able to speak and write well

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Choose subjects you enjoy and would like to teach one day

Complete a matric (National Senior Certificate) meeting the requirements for a degree or diploma course. Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: there are different ways of obtaining a teaching degree:

One of the more flexible options is to first complete a bachelor degree at a university of either 3 or 4 years, depending on the course concerned, followed by a one year PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) for grades 7 to 12. The bachelor degree must include as major subject(s), those that you wish to teach, (a major subject is a subject taken for the full term of the degree programme).

Note: Every institution will have its own subject requirements to qualify for acceptance. It is advisable to contact the institution at which you wish to study before making a final choice of subjects.

A second means of obtaining a teaching degree is via the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree. The Bachelor of Education degree is a 4-year programme of study that integrates academic and professional training, intended for prospective teachers and those wishing to enter other educationally-related fields, which is offered by universities and universities of technology. In each year of the curriculum, academic and professional studies are integrated with school-based practical teaching experience. Students taking the BEd may choose one of the following school-phase endorsements (each having a particular combination of core and phase-specific modules):

? Intermediate & Senior phases (grades 4-6 & 7-9)
? Senior phase & Further Education & Training:
FET (grades 7-9 & 10-12)

For a Senior phase and FET endorsement, specialisation is offered in:

? Services
? Engineering and Technology
? Business & Management Studies
? Science (including Mathematics, Physical
Sciences and Life Sciences)

Qualifications in Education may be obtained at all universities.

Postgraduate qualifications, such as Advanced Certificates, are offered by UNISA, NMMU, UJ, US, UCT, RU, UKZN, NWU, UP, UFH, UV, UZ, WSU, Wits.

A South African teaching qualification is highly regarded in most other Commonwealth countries. It also provides an excellent foundation for entry into other career paths outside of the education industry.

Diploma:?diploma courses in teaching provide a practical and focused teaching qualification targeted at specific levels of education, i.e. foundation phase (grades R-3), intermediate, senior phases and FET. The teaching diploma is offered by a number of universities and universities of technology, such as CPUT, DUT, TUT. A diploma can be upgraded to a degree at a later stage.


  • government schools
  • provincial schools
  • private schools
  • self-employment
Educators can work for themselves if they have the necessary resources to establish a private school and pay for services rendered by teachers that they employ. However, a private school must be registered with the government and has to follow the prescribed syllabus and conform to set standards. To earn an extra income a teacher can give extra or part-time classes, for example in Mathematics or Adult-education.

Further Information

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa
Tel: (012) 324-1365

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work as a senior school teacher’s assistant or do voluntary work at a children’s home, where there are teenagers try to obtain a position as camp leader or leader of a youth group for teenagers
  • arrange to speak to senior school teachers about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations

What is the BEd programme (Wits University)


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