Music teachers at school
December 14, 2008 11:15 AM   Subscribe

How hard is it these days to get a job teaching kids music as a part of an after school or part time program? Are there many hurdles involving police checks etc?

This is for a story I'm writing. If a guy who's good at music and needs a job but no experience teaching at schools has a friend who says "hey, my school is needs a music teacher for a few hours a week for this program", how plausible is that? Do you need more qualifications than just being musical? Are there background checks and do they take ages? Is it different in the US, Canada, UK, Australia etc?
posted by mooza to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Well, I've got a part-time job teaching kids as part of an after-school program, although not one related to music, and I didn't have to do a background check. At least, if they did one on me, they didn't tell me. However, I'm officially an independent contractor, not an employee, which may have been a loophole. Also, this program is run out of a non-profit, not a public school.

I briefly worked at a non-profit music school which ran parent/child music classes for pre-schoolers, and as far as I know, most of the faculty had no qualifications other than being local musicians who were good with kids. I don't know if they had to do background checks, but I don't think most of them had any formal training or certification. Again, though, this was a non-profit, rather than a public school, where there's presumably more regulation.

All of this is in the U.S.
posted by craichead at 11:33 AM on December 14, 2008

To work in a US public school, you must have a valid teaching certificate in music. This means a college degree in music education and passing the requirements for certification in that state. This usually includes a background check. Private schools might be more lax about having the proper certification but not if they are trying to get any kind of accreditation. I taught both public and private and had a background check for each. I'm sure that there are some after school programs or clubs that will accept volunteers. I know that Kindermusic and Music Together (both programs for young children) have a training course but I'm not sure if it includes background checks.
posted by pearlybob at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2008

Just one data point here... I have taught kids on a part-time, after-school basis at private and public middle schools in NYC -- though these were computer classes, not music classes. Usually it's the PTA that paid for my services in that situation. I've never needed a background check or teacher's license -- although if a school does want to hire you as an employee, you will need such certification.
posted by lgandme0717 at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2008

I should have said the degree could be music education or some close equivalent. That has been my experience at least.
posted by pearlybob at 11:46 AM on December 14, 2008

Wow...I'm surprised to hear that there are no background checks for teaching done after school in (at least some) public schools. I work for an educational non-profit that runs some after-school programs for teens, and all of our teachers (as well as all employees at the non-profit) must pass a background check and get fingerprinted as a condition of employment.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2008

In Ontario, to teach part-time in the school you need to be a part of the college of teachers (so, a B.A. and one year of teachers college). It is a hard gig to break into and requires a police check and experience. To work in an afterschool programme all the ones I am familiar with have a high barrier to entry (education, police check, experience) with very low wages. heck, I am a volunteer at my children's school and they required a police check, and my experience and education helped me get in. My children's school "fires" volunteers (or usually just doesn't let them work) that aren't up to par and there is a shortage of volunteers.
posted by saucysault at 12:36 PM on December 14, 2008

I started a music class for young kids in the UK and before they would rent me the venue (a public town hall) I had to provide proof of a police background check for myself and all the other musicians in the class.
posted by gfrobe at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2008

I work at a non-profit where we do art stuff with kids after school (visual, performing, creative writing, etc). We submit our instructors' information to the school district we work with for them to do background checks.

As far as teaching goes, at least at our non-profit, we often find new instructors through our current instructors. I have, in fact, said to friends who I think are good artists and have the capacity to work well with kids, "hey, this program I work with is looking for instructors, you should submit your resume."
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 1:29 PM on December 14, 2008

UK schools would require you to have a police check done, through CRB in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or Disclosure Scotland in Scotland. Checks take about 6 weeks - 3 months to come back depending on how busy the checking service is and whether you've moved around the lot, changed your name a lot or lived abroad in the last 5 years. You have to fill out a fiddly, fussy form which asks you for things like address from 5 years, and several different ID documents.

Most afterschool activities are either organised through the school or by external specialist organisations, I don't think it's inconceivable that someone with no experience but musical ability could be asked to do music lessons by a friend, but it's more likely that they would be hired directly by the school or through an agency or organisation that delivers after school activities. I suspect they would have to be hired properly with an interview and someone looking at their CV and so on.

Afterschool activities here are one of the governments big ideas (google "Extended Schools" if you are interested, but that's probably more than you need, unless you're writing a story about New Labour education initiatives...).
posted by Helga-woo at 1:56 PM on December 14, 2008

The afterschool programs in my city require background checks for not only staff, but volunteers. There is a $30 cost which the program picks up for volunteers.
posted by Miko at 2:38 PM on December 14, 2008

Another data point: my school district, in California, fingerprints every employee, from the Superintendent to the building maintenance guys, whether they have direct contact with the students or not.
posted by SPrintF at 6:22 PM on December 14, 2008

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