Get Into Teaching: deciphering the different routes into teaching


You might be interested in embarking in a career in teaching but are unsure of which route to choose. From PGCE courses, Schools Direct, Now Teach, Researchers in Schools to TeachFirst the teaching training landscape can be a complicated one to navigate with different pathways and terminology you might not be aware of. 

In this article, we provide a summary of the different routes into teaching, eligibility criteria to enter the profession and options for accessing funding.

What qualifications do I need to teach?  

The Get into Teaching website explains that to teach as a qualified teacher in England, you’ll need qualified teacher status (QTS) by following a programme of initial teacher training (ITT). If you already have a degree, you can complete a postgraduate teacher training course to achieve this. 

Additionally, you’ll need to have a GCSE at grade C / 4 in maths and English, as well as science if you want to teach primary. 

If you don’t have a degree, you can apply for an undergraduate teacher training course. You can teach in independent schools, academies, and free schools in England without QTS.

The skills test is no longer part of the entry requirements for Teacher Training in England. We have written a blog post about this topic here.

If you haven’t achieved the required GCSEs, there are options to study the qualifications through local colleges or at home, through organisations like NEC (National Extension College)

If you studied outside the UK, check the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) website to find out whether your qualifications are of an equivalent level to UK GCSEs, A- levels, and an undergraduate degree. If you have non-UK qualifications, you will need a Statement of Comparability from NARIC.

What are subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses?

The UCAS website explains if your degree subject doesn’t link closely to your chosen teaching subject, you may still be able to apply for a postgraduate teacher training programme by undertaking a SKE course. Training providers may ask you to take an SKE course as a condition of your offer if they feel you have the right qualities to become a teacher, but need more subject knowledge first.

  • SKE courses are available in maths, physics, languages, biology, chemistry, computing, English, geography, and design and technology. They can be full-time or part-time, classroom-based or online. Contact your chosen training provider and ask them about their SKE offer
  • SKE courses last between eight and 28 weeks, depending on the subject you want to teach and how closely related your subject knowledge is. Most applicants complete their SKE course immediately prior to starting their teacher training programme.
  • SKE courses are fully funded, so you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. You may also be eligible for a tax-free SKE training bursary – these are paid by your training provider

What is the Schools Direct route?

UCAS explains that School Direct is an employment-based route for graduates, typically with at least three years’ experience of transferable work history. You’ll earn a salary while you train towards your QTS recommendation, and won’t need to pay any tuition fees. 

This route is available for both primary and secondary teaching, and is run by individual schools or a group of schools. These providers work closely with a university or school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) consortium, that is able to certify successful trainees.

  • Students who opt for a School Direct training programme are employed as an unqualified teacher while they learn on the job. In some cases, this may be a school the student is already working at, or has an existing relationship with
  • While the majority of School Direct training programmes lead to a PGCE qualification, not all do. Where this is an option, there may be an additional cost required for completion of the PGCE – if gaining master’s credits is important to you, check with your training provider before applying, to confirm exactly what is included on your chosen training programme. 
  • If you decide to apply for a School Direct training programme, one of your references must be from an employer. If you’re self-employed and unable to provide a reference from a former employer, your referee should be someone who knows you from work, who can comment on your work and suitability for teaching
  • Some schools may consider part-time placements – you’ll need to approach a school directly if you’d like to be considered for a part-time placement

With School Direct (salaried) programmes you won’t need to pay any tuition fees. You’ll be employed by a school directly as an unqualified teacher. The amount you’ll earn will be dependent on the school you train in, and the subject you’re teaching.

What is the PGCE route?

UCAS explains Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) training programmes at a university or college are available for prospective primary and secondary school teachers. You’ll get classroom experience by spending time teaching and being trained in at least two schools, as well as time at the university or college you’ve chosen, working with a group of other students, and being taught by university staff.

  • Typically one year, PGCE programmes are a popular graduate route into teaching, combining academic study on campus with a minimum of 24 weeks on school placements, while you train towards your QTS recommendation.
  • PGCE programmes can contain up to 60 credits at master’s degree level. The number of credits at this level can vary, so check with your chosen provider if gaining master’s credits is important to you. Some training providers may also give you the chance to study for the credits you’d need for a full master’s degree, after you’ve completed your training
  • You don’t need a PGCE qualification to teach, although you may find it useful later on if, for example, you want to teach in another country, or go on to complete a master’s degree
  • If your degree subject doesn’t link closely to your chosen teaching subject, you may still be able to apply for a PGCE programme by undertaking a SKE course. Your chosen provider may ask you to take an SKE course as a condition of your offer, before you start your initial teacher training programme

The amount training providers charge varies, it can be up to £9,250 per year for a full-time programme. However, there’s often funding available to help you. UCAS does not arrange student finance, but it can give you information and advice about funding and support to help point you in the right direction.

  • Scholarships – for certain in-demand subjects, you can apply for a tax-free scholarship to support your training. To be eligible, you will typically need a 2:1 degree or above in the subject you want to teach (or a closely related subject). Visit Get Into Teaching to find out more
  • Bursaries – tax-free bursaries are available for training to teach a range of subjects. The level of funding and eligibility will vary depending on the subject you choose to teach, and your degree classification. For more information, visit Get Into Teaching
  • Tuition fee and maintenance loans – if you’re not eligible to receive a bursary or scholarship, you can still apply for a student loan to cover your training programme fees and living costs. Find out more from Student Finance England
  • Extra student funding – if you have dependents, you could access further funding to support your teacher training, such as Parents’ Learning Allowances, Childcare Grants, or Child Tax Credits. The student finance calculator from Student Finance England allows you to estimate the level of funding that may be available

What is Now Teach?

Now Teach is the only teacher recruitment programme specifically designed for experienced career-changers. Now Teach supports those that are looking to start teaching in secondary schools and typically on a fee-based teacher teacher training course which attracts bursary or scholarship routes. They are mainly looking for teachers to train in maths, computer science, languages (French and Spanish), geography and all sciences.

Through Now Teach you can achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by completing a school or university-based route at one of Now Teach’s partners. Where you will train will depend on your location, as training varies depending on where you live and what subject you want to teach. Find out more here.

What is TeachFirst?

Teach First is a charity working to end educational inequality. They are building a movement of leaders who inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their full potential. They do this by supporting applicants to become influential classroom leaders through their training programme.

The training programme offers a two-year, paid position in a school where you’ll teach and lead from the front, making a real difference from day one.

The programme lasts two years. You’re placed into a school straight away in September and gain QTS in your first year and complete your ECT placement in year two.

You’ll receive teaching and leadership training, which will include a fully-funded Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGDE), worth double the credits of a PGCE. Find out more here.

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