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Get into Teaching

Updated on February 8, 2013

Teacher training routes

There are several different teacher training routes available in the UK open to people who wish to become teachers. This article will describe all of them so that you will be able to work out the route that would be best for you.

Undergraduate Degree in Education

These degrees are aimed at people who are certain that teaching is the career for them when they are at college and applying to University. They last 3 to 4 years and you can apply to the different institutionsthat offer them through UCAS. You can either do a degree in Primary Education or you can do a degree in Secondary Education, specialising in a particular subject. During your course you will complete several placements at different schools that increase in length as time goes by. You will spend lots of time in University completing assignments and learning all about pedagogy and current affairs in education. Before finishing your course you will also need to complete and pass tests in Literacy, Numeracy and ICT in order to be awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and be able to teach in state schools.

Undergraduate degrees in education are fantastic if you are certain that you want to teach as they will give you the chance to go into many different schools and decide the type you would like to eventually work in. Some people think that these degrees encourage you to specialise and decide your career when you are too young. They believe that there is not a lot you can do with a degree in education if you change your mind about this career later on. This, however, is a misconception - you will have developed skills on your course that would be sort after in many different industries.

Postgraduate Certificate of Education

If you have already done an undergraduate degree you will be able to do a PGCE in a related subject. To do a Primary PGCE, it is preferred that you have a degree related to a Primary subject, like Art, English, Maths, Music, Science or Child Development. The course can be full time, lasting 9 months, or part time, lasting just under 2 years.

You will split your time between University and schools, completing placements in 2 contrasting schools by the end of your course. PGCE qualifications are Masters level, and you will complete assignments that give you credits worth a third of a Masters degree.

You can get a tuition fee loan from the Student Loans Company that will not need to be re-payed until you are earning over £15,000 a year. Some subjects may also qualify for a government bursary. For more information on these, visit the TDA website at

To apply for a PGCE you will need to visit the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) website. There is a small fee to pay in order for them to process your application, but you will be able to search all the institutions in the UK that offer the course you are interested in. You will need to complete the online application forms and submit a personal statement explaining why you are suitable to be offered a place on a course. You will also need two referees, one of whom will need to write you a reference that they will have to submit online.

PGCEs are very intense with a high workload, but get you qualified within a year on a full time course. You will need to take and pass QTS tests just as you would with an undergraduate teaching degree in order to teach in state schools.

Graduate Teacher Placement

GTPs are suitable for people who already have a degree and have experience of working in schools, either as an instructor or teaching assistant. You will be employed as an unqualified teacher, earning approximately £15,000 and have responsibility for a range of classes (Secondary) or your own class (Primary). You will have to plan and deliver lessons from the start but will have plenty of help and support from a designated mentor. One day a week will be spent at a University who will give you various assignments to complete that are at Masters level.This course also allows you to earn some credits towards a Masters degree. As with the other ITT options, you will need to complete and pass tests in Literacy, Numeracy and ICT in order to gain QTS and be able to teach in a state or grant maintained school. You will need to find a training provider and apply for a place on the GTP program. Some providers will expect you to find a school before applying, but others will find you a school if you are successful in gaining a place. Applications need to be placed through the TDA website.

As I said above, GTPs are more suitable to those who already have a lot of experience in schools. Providers would probably want you to have a lot of experience before considering you. It would be very daunting for someone with no school experience to go straight into having responsibility of their own classes. If this is the case a PGCE may be more suitable.

All of the options above will give you qualified teacher status (QTS) if you pass the course and the QTS tests, and will allow you to teach in any school in England or Wales. Hopefully you will now have an understanding of the three main ways available for you to qualify as a teacher and can think about which would be best for you to apply for.

If you are still weighing up whether or not teaching would be right for you, read about the pros and cons of the profession.


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