Most teachers in the UK need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or the Teaching Qualification (TQ). Many training programmes also award you the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in England and Wales or the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in Scotland. These are academic qualifications focusing on developing teaching skills. You still get QTS, but you obtain a PGCE as well. The PGCE is at the same level academically as the final year of an honours degree course.
There are 4 routes into teaching as a graduate, three of which involve training in a school and the other training at university. All routes lead to QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) and many to PGCE.
- School Direct Training Programme
- Teach First
- School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)
- Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
The School Direct Training Programme
There are two School Direct training options you can apply for – one that's open to all high quality graduates, and a salaried option for high quality graduates with at least three years' work experience. School Direct places are available in some of the best primary and secondary schools across England and programmes generally last for one year.
1. School Direct Training Programme
This is the option most applicants go for.
- Although your training is based in a school, they're not your employers, and in many ways your training will be similar to training programmes in universities and colleges.
- You'll pay fees but you might be eligible for funding through tuition fee loans, training bursaries or scholarships.
2. School Direct Training Programme (salaried)
- This route allows you to train 'on the job'.
- This is an employment-based route for high-quality experienced graduates with at least three years’ work experience. You will earn a salary while you train, which is at least the minimum point on the unqualified teacher pay ranges (£16-£20k). Depending on your responsibilities, experience and location, your school may pay you more.
- Schools can decide to accept applications from candidates with less work experience to attract high-quality candidates in hard-to-fill subjects, such as maths and physics.
- You won't pay any tuition fees, but you may need to pay for a qualification such as a PGCE, if awarded.
Teach First is an employment-based training route leading to Qualified Teacher Status. It's a two-year Leadership Development Programme and you'll spend the first six weeks in training before you begin your time in a school in a low-income community, where you will achieve a PGCE, a full-time salary and real responsibility in the classroom from day one. More than half of those who successfully complete the two-year programme continue to teach.
The programme is currently offered in the following regions: East Midlands, Greater London, Kent and Medway, North East, North West, South Coast, South West, Wales (South), West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Teach First participants are paid and employed by their primary or secondary school throughout the two years. In your first year you are paid a basic salary as an unqualified teacher. In the second year participants are newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and are paid according to the qualified teacher pay ranges.
For the two years on the programme, participants are guaranteed a full-time salary, paid by the school they are working in. There are no tuition fees.
In order to apply for the programme, you need;
- 2:1 degree or above, 300 UCAS points
- have a degree or A levels that satisfy the teaching subject requirements - more information on these can be found on the Teach First website
- grade C in GCSE maths and English (grade C in one science GCSE also required for primary teaching eligibility)
- flexibility to work anywhere where the programme is offered
- commitment for the duration of the two year Leadership Development Programme
You apply directly with Teach First.
If you train on a SCITT Course you'll spend all of your time training in a school. SCITT programmes are designed and delivered by groups of neighbouring schools and colleges.
They provide a full range of primary, middle years and secondary options.
Often their training programmes are tailored towards teaching in the local area.
They're taught by experienced, practising teachers, and are often tailored towards local training needs.
You'll usually be based in one school from the consortium – the lead school – while completing teaching practices at others within the group.
Training programmes generally last for one academic year full-time, running from September to June. Some start earlier.
Many, though not all, will also award you PGCE validated by a higher education institution.
The PGCE is a one-year full-time (or 2 years part-time) teacher training course open to graduates. The programme is university-based and focuses on developing your teaching skills; you can choose to go into either primary or secondary teaching. You'll get classroom experience by spending time teaching and being trained in at least two schools, probably for 120 days (24 weeks) of the programme.
PGCE courses are available at universities and colleges throughout the UK. You apply through UCAS. You may be eligible to receive funding while you train for your PGCE. Find out HERE
Go HERE for the UCAS Teacher Training website where you can search for vacancies:
You will have to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees vary depending on the course and the higher education institution. They are in the region of £9,000. You will be eligible for a tuition fee loan.
- You'll need to hold an undergraduate degree awarded by a UK higher education provider or a recognised equivalent qualification.
- You’ll need to have achieved a standard equivalent to grade C or above in the GCSE examinations in English and mathematics (or grade B or above if you're applying in Wales).
- If you intend to train to teach pupils aged 3-11, you must also have achieved a standard equivalent to a grade C or above in a GCSE science subject examination. Requirements in Scotland are different – check Teach in Scotland for more details
- In England and Wales you'll also need to have passed the professional skills tests. Click here for practice tests.
- You'll also need a strong understanding of the subject you want to teach before you start training. If your degree subject doesn't link closely to your chosen teaching subject, you can take a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course before starting teacher training. You can only do these in England and in certain subjects (maths, chemistry, physics, computing and modern languages).
Check these requirements with the training providers you're interested in too – some training programmes have many more applications than places available, so their requirements might be higher.
How to Apply
UCAS Teacher Training accepts applications from November to June for courses starting the following September or October. However, be aware that courses in primary teaching, physical education (PE) and history are very popular and there is considerable competition for places. So apply as early as possible.
There are 2 routes:
- Apply 1 and
- Apply 2
You will start up making an application in Apply 1 from 21st November. In Apply 1 you can make up to 3 choices. You can choose from any route, subject or age group, in any combination. You can apply through UCAS for training in School Direct, school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) or PGCE programmes.
You can only apply for a training programme when it's open. Each training provider will have a set plan for when they're opening theirs – so keep a look out. When a training programme is opened for the first time, it stays open for a minimum of two weeks. If they don't fill all their places the first time they open their programme, it might be open again later, but not definitely, and maybe only briefly. It's worth doing some research into the open dates and what three choices to make. You can only apply for a training programme when it is open, and you have to make your three choices at the same time.
Before you can be offered a place, you'll have to attend an interview.
You only use Apply 2 if you didn't get a place in Apply 1 or you declined your offers. In Apply 2 you can make one choice at a time. You'll be able to make an unlimited number of additional choices, one by one. Apply 2 begins each year on 2nd January. As with Apply 1, programmes open at different times throughout the application cycle, so you can still search for programmes to apply for. Later in the process most training programmes will already have opened for their first period – a minimum of two weeks. So if they're reopening later it might be for a briefer time, so you should keep checking to see what's available.
Funding for postgraduate teacher training is available for eligible graduates on postgraduate routes including the non-salaried School Direct programme. Bursary amounts will vary depending on the subject you wish to teach and the degree class you hold.
Financial payments are made for certain subjects and for certain degree qualifications. These are the standard payments (for 2014/5):
Other: Trainee teachers in maths and physics with a relevant degree (e.g. maths, physics, engineering) and at least a B at A level in maths or physics (or equivalent). You are not entitled to this if you qualify for one relating to a higher-class degree.
Other priority subjects: Other priority secondary subjects are English, history, biology, geography, music, and design and technology.
Primary Maths specialists: Available to trainees with a B or better at maths A level on primary maths specialist courses only
Scholarship: Trainee teachers in maths, physics, chemistry and computing with a 2:1 or first are able to apply for scholarships with the relevant subject association group.
School Direct trainees may be eligible for an additional payment worth 25 per cent of their standard bursary. To qualify for this payment, trainees will need to be based in a school where more than 35 per cent of pupils are eligible for free school meals.