Thinking about teaching? There are more routes into teaching in the UK than ever before. The choice may seem bewildering, but whether you are a recent graduate or a career changer, there are options designed for you.

First things first, have you got the right GCSEs?

To teach at secondary level, you will need at least a GCSE grade C in Maths and English. For primary, you also need a C in science.

Graduate or Undergraduate?

If you don’t already have a degree, you are going to need one! There are 2 undergraduate routes;

  • Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree – more focused on teaching and learning – a good choice if you are sure you want to be a teacher, especially in primary.
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees with QTS – more focused on subject knowledge, more often offered for secondary teaching.

These can take up to four years, depending on the course and your previous undergraduate credits. Apply through UCAS, or direct to the University in Northern Ireland.

What about Subject Knowledge?

If you want to teach a different subject to your degree, a range of SKE (Subject Knowledge Enhancement) courses are available to “top up” your knowledge. Depending on the amount of “top up” you need and your circumstances, these can either be taken before or alongside your training course. Some are available online. These courses are usually fully funded and you may also be entitled to a bursary – more information here.

University-Led or School-led?                                      

The traditional PGCE route of a year-long course based at a University with at least 24 weeks in school is still the most popular. Nearly 56% of trainee teachers chose this route in 2014/2015. If you are training in Scotland or Northern Ireland, this is the only route available.

School-led options are becoming increasingly popular and in England break down into 3 types.

School Direct (tuition fee) or (non-salaried)

This is a school based course for which fees are payable. You will gain experience in at least two schools during your training.

School Direct (salaried)

This is also based in school, but you are paid as an unqualified teacher while you train and don’t pay any fees. You will usually need three years’ work experience, but it does not need to be in education.

School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT)

As the name suggests, these courses are also run in schools, this time often in close partnership with a University.

Apply via UCAS for all of these training schemes.

In Wales, the Welsh Graduate Teacher Programme also places trainee teachers in school to complete their training.

If you chose a school-led programme, check whether it includes a PGCE and/or Master’s level credits. While you only need to have QTS to be a qualified teacher, the PGCE is an internationally recognised qualification and Master’s credits will be helpful if you decide to pursue a Master’s degree.

What about teacher funding?

Apart from the Schools Direct (salaried) route, fees are payable on all ITT courses. However, there are bursaries, scholarships and loans available to help. Be warned, it is very difficult to maintain a job alongside teacher training, the course is extremely demanding in terms of hours spent and intensity of work. Find out about funding options here.

Specialist routes into teaching

The vast majority of teachers train by one of the above routes, but there are a range of specialist routes you may qualify for –

Future Teaching Scholars A new undergraduate route for exceptional maths and physics students. Promises bespoke support and a £15k Grant.

Troops to Teachers A route for ex-service personnel to gain a degree and QTS within two years. No applications are being taken at the moment.

Teach First  Aimed at high flyers looking for leadership roles in the future. Around 40% of the people who have train through this route do not work in schools beyond completing the program. In order to get on the program you will need a 2.1 or better in your chosen subject and you need to be able to work in any location.

Researchers in Schools: Maths and Physics Chairs programme Only Doctors of Maths or Physics need apply here. If this is you, it looks like a great deal – 3 years of bespoke training while earning a salary and one day a week to “pursue the wider aims of the programme.”

Assessment Only This is designed for teachers with a degree and practical teaching experience who do not have QTS. To qualify, you need to have been teaching for at least two years. Your teaching will be assessed and if you can demonstrate you meet the standards you can achieve QTS.

Overseas Qualified Teachers Teachers from EEA member states can apply for QTS if they are recognised as a qualified teacher in their own country. Teachers qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA must apply for the award of QTS which will be granted after checks to verify qualifications. If you trained anywhere else in the world, you will need to follow a UK teacher course to gain QTS. More information is available here


 What do all these letters mean again?


Stands for… Which is…
QTS Qualified Teacher Status Required to work as a teacher in a Local Authority controlled school in England.
Bed Bachelor of Education A degree focusing on teaching and learning, leading to QTS.
BA Bachelor of Arts A degree in an arts subject (in other words, not a science subject!)
BSc Bachelor of Science A degree in a science subject.
PGCE Post Graduate Certificate of Education A one year course leading to QTS for people who already have a degree.
PGDE Professional Graduate Diploma in Education Equivalent to PGCE, awarded by Scottish Universities.
SCITT School-Centred Initial Teacher Training Training delivered in schools.
ITT Initial Teacher Training The initial training required to gain QTS.
SKE Subject Knowledge Enhancement A course designed to improve subject knowledge for candidates wishing to teach a different subject from their degree.