Teaching gives you the opportunity to shape the lives of young people and teach a subject you’re passionate about, two great reasons to consider teaching as a career.
It’s also dynamic and varied, offering scope for career progression and professional development.
Perhaps you’re a recent graduate with a passion to make teaching your career, or you’re a career changer who’s thinking now is the right time to make the move into teaching. Regardless of the category you fall into, you can use this guide to find out more about two of the most popular and successful routes into teaching; university-led and school-led, what funding is available to you while you train, and what happens after you gain QTS.
What qualifications do I need for teacher training?
Individuals who wish to take up teacher training in England or Wales should have GCSEs grades A- C in English, maths (with a grade B in maths for those who want to teach in Wales) plus science, if you intend on teaching at primary level.
If you don’t have GCSEs in these subjects, speak to your preferred university about any equivalency options that may be available to you. You also have the option to study for the required GCSEs in your own time.
You also need to have a degree or equivalent gained in the UK. If you intend on teaching at secondary level, ideally your degree should relate to your preferred subject specialism, so the subject you want to teach. Primary school teachers, teachers at KS1 and KS2, teach across the curriculum.
If you studied abroad, you can get a statement of comparability for your qualifications by visiting the National Academic Recognition Centre website (NARIC) website, linked to at the bottom of this article.
Once qualified, some teachers want to know if they can move from secondary to primary or vice versa. After being awarded QTS, you are qualified to teach across the key stages, however, it can be challenging to find suitable opportunities. Some local authorities offer short conversion and refresher courses for those who want to change stages, which you can find more information on by contacting the relevant local authority.
What university-led training options are there?
If you’re an undergraduate, you can choose from a degree in Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSC) with QTS. These degree options are typically full-time, lasting between 3-4 years in duration and combine the academic knowledge needed to teach with hands-on school placement experience. Be sure to check that QTS is awarded on completion of study with the degree you choose.
After completing your degree, and before you are awarded qualified teacher status (QTS), trainee teachers need to pass the professional skills test which is designed to assess teachers’ competency in numeracy and literacy. Further information on skills testing can be found on DfE’s website.
University-led postgraduate teacher training options
If you have already graduated, then a university-led PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education) will give you the relevant qualification and practical experience needed to teach in England.
Typically, you can choose to study full-time or part-time with a secondary or primary programme. The secondary PGCE programme includes your chosen subject specialism, while primary PGCE is an over-arching programme of study. School placements lasting 24 weeks in two schools makes up part of a 36-week course.
Are there any bursaries available to trainee teachers?
The Department for Education’s recent guidance outlines that bursaries are available in a range of subjects with the amounts available varying according to their relative priority. The bursary level awarded is dependent on the subject in which a trainee teacher wishes to teach and the grade of their highest academic qualification.
So, for example, for the academic year 2016-2017 an individual with a first-class degree or a PhD is eligible to apply for funding of £30,000 as a trainee secondary physics teacher, while a trainee geography teacher could be eligible for a £15,000 bursary if they have a 2:2 or above, Master’s degree or PhD.
These are just two of the subjects in which funding is available, there are also bursaries for trainee language teachers, maths, chemistry, IT, English and RE. For primary school trainees, general primary teachers could be eligible for a training bursary of £3,000 with a first, 2:1, Master’s or PhD. For full details of funding, see the Get into Teaching website.
What can I do if my degree isn’t in my preferred subject specialism?
If your degree isn’t related to your chosen subject specialism, you may be recommended to pursue a subject knowledge enhancement course (SKE) to consolidate your learning. Courses run from 8-36 weeks, and are usually free, with some cases of bursaries being made available to students.
What options are available for those who want employment-based training?
If you’d prefer to train on the job, there are a number of options available, with the School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), the School Direct Training programme and the Teach First programme.
School-led initial teacher training
The SCITT programme brings together groups of neighbouring schools and colleges that work together to equip the student teacher with the experience and knowledge needed for QTS.
Geared with a more local focus, trainee teachers can choose from primary, middle and secondary options. This route of study includes a training programme that is taught by experienced teachers and usually takes place over one academic year.
School Direct Training programme
School Direct offers on the job training in schools that have partnered with other schools and a university. Trainee teachers train in two different schools while studying at the partnered university.
This route offers two options; a School Direct Training programme and a salaried programme. The salaried option is best suited to those who have a degree and 3 years’ work experience in any field, while the non-salaried option is aimed at graduates without work experience.
Teach First programme
Teach First tackles the issue of educational inequality, so if you would like the challenge of working in a disadvantaged school, then this could be the route for you. The charity recruits candidates for the Teach First Leadership Development Programme (LDP) which comprises training, coaching, work experience and a PGCE qualification gained over a two-year period. The programme is also suitable for those who want to change career, and there’s no perquisite to have any prior teaching experience.
Recruitment is carried out on a rolling basis, and you can check eligibility and application requirements by visiting the website, linked to under ‘Useful links and resources’.
Being awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
Attaining QTS is a momentous achievement and the culmination of a steadfast commitment to studying and training. After being awarded QTS, you become a newly qualified teacher (NQT) and at this point you’re ready to begin the next phase; induction. Statutory induction aims to support your transition from teacher training to a career in teaching, and its mandatory for those who want to work in maintained schools. While there’s no requirement to start your induction straight away, many teachers do.
After completing the programme of induction, usually over three terms, you’ll be able to step onto the first rung of the ladder in your career as a teacher. This means you can now apply for jobs in maintained schools in England and Wales. Congratulations!
Useful resources and links
These links provide further information on teacher training, the various routes into teaching, bursaries and funding, as well as the entry requirements and qualifications needed to gain QTS.
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