With so many routes into teaching now available, it can be confusing to work out which way to go. You will definitely need a degree to qualify as a teacher, but there are several ways to go about it. we have put together a brief guide on “What should I study at University if I want to be a teacher?”.
Which subjects are the best for would-be teachers to study?
If you have decided to complete your degree before you train as a teacher, or if you aren’t quite sure that teaching will be for you, choose a subject that you enjoy at degree level. An enthusiasm and passion for your subject will certainly make you a better teacher and in depth study of an area that interests you will only enhance that. Also remember that, in some subjects, higher levels of funding are available for higher degree results, so in the long run you could be doing yourself a financial favour as well. Another advantage of a higher degree result is that it will give you more choice in gaining a teacher training place.
If you want to teach at primary level, some training providers will only accept degrees which are relevant to a National Curriculum subject. Also bear in mind when teaching at primary level you will be required to teach the entire curriculum so you really need to be a good “all-rounder”. Don’t let this put you off if there is a subject you are really not confident in, nobody is good at everything and your training will give you the skills you need.
The National Curriculum Subjects at primary are:
- Design & Technology
- Art & Design
- Modern Foreign Language (at Key Stage 2)
In addition, schools also teach RE and PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education).
If you are thinking about a career in Secondary teaching, your degree subject should be relevant to the subject you wish to teach. If your degree does not entirely cover the this requirement, Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses are available to “top up” your knowledge. So for example, if you studied a related subject to A level and now wish to teach it (perhaps you have a maths degree, and want to teach computing, but only studied it to A-level) you can take one of these fully funded courses, either before you start your training or alongside it. Courses can be directly taught, online or a mixture of both, and vary in length depending on the amount of top up needed.
Can I do an undergraduate degree which leads to a teaching qualification?
Degrees which lead to qualified teacher status are a popular choice among trainee teachers. In England there are two routes to choose from:
- Bachelor of Education (BEd) – A three or four year course combining school experience with subject knowledge. There are more courses for primary teaching, but it is possible to follow this route into Secondary teaching too.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS – More popular with secondary teaching trainees, this focuses more on subject knowledge but still provides plenty of classroom experience. It takes three or four years to complete (full-time) and some providers have a part-time option.
These degrees are best for people who have already decided that they definitely want to become a teacher. It is important to decide which age range you would like to teach. If you are undecided you may be better advised to complete an honours degree and then apply for teacher training.
What kind of funding is available for teacher training?
The funding landscape is complex at the moment, and also changes each year, so you need to check the most up to date figures from https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/funding-and-salary
- An undergraduate degree with QTS is subject to the same funding rules as any other first degree, so student loans are available.
- Students on secondary Maths and Physics courses leading to QTS may be able access a £9,000 bursary, payable on the final year of the course, or the final two years if the course leads to a Master’s degree.
- Under the Future Teaching Scholars Scheme, Maths and Physics Undergraduates can access a grant of £15,000 and extra training. There are more details at the Future Teaching Scholars website – https://www.futureteachingscholars.com/
- Tuition fees are payable for postgraduate teacher training courses (except school direct (salaried).
- Student finance is available to most students, but check your individual circumstances as the rules are complex.
- Early Years Teaching offers a grant to cover course fees and a bursary of up to £5,000, depending on your class of degree. https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/explore-my-options/become-an-early-years-teacher .
- Primary teaching currently attracts a bursary of £3,000 providing you have at least a 2:1 degree.
- It is possible to get scholarships of £30,000 in Physics, or £25,000 in Maths, Chemistry and Computing, from a professional body. These are administered by the Institute of Mathematics and its Application, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
- Graduates on some Secondary courses can apply for a non repayable bursary, with the most generous ones currently available in Maths, Science Subjects, Computing and Languages.
- It is not possible to get both a scholarship and a bursary, but applicants who are not successful in applying for a scholarship can still apply for a bursary.
I would like to study for my degree overseas. Will I still be able to train in the UK when I return?
If you have a degree from overseas, whether or not you are a UK citizen, you can train in England providing your degree is recognised as equivalent to a UK degree. The DFE publishes a spreadsheet on the Get into Teaching site so you can check. https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/explore-my-options/overseas-graduates Funding is also available but varies depending on individual circumstances, so contact the DFE for advice.