Getting into Teacher Training

Entry Requirements

A teaching qualification giving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) is required to teach in a maintained school in England or Wales.

National minimum entry requirements for all QTS programmes

GCSE English language and maths (and science for Primary) at grade C/4 or equivalent.* Some providers/programmes require you to have the GCSEs at the point of application whilst others state you need them before starting the teacher training programme.

Degree (some providers require a 2.1 minimum classification of degree)

Degree Subject  – Check that your degree is suitable for the programme for which you are applying:


Some providers accept any degree subject; others ask for a National Curriculum subject. General primary courses are available and sometimes you choose a specialism at the point of application. You might, therefore, be asked for an A Level or equivalent, or some content of your specialism within your degree. Currently Edge Hill offers Maths or PE specialisms, Early Years and General Primary. With General Primary, you choose a specialism within the programme.


Many secondary programmes require you to have at least 50% of your degree in the subject that you are hoping to teach. Certain priority subjects are more flexible, especially if you have industry-related experience e.g. biology, geography, maths, physics, chemistry, computing, languages, design and technology, and primary maths. (See Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses below).

Additional Provider- requirements

Check for any additional requirements for each Teacher Training provider/programme on their own website e.g. additional GCSEs in National Curriculum subjects

Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses

If you are interested in teaching priority subjects such as secondary maths, physics, languages, chemistry, computing, biology, geography, English, religious education, design and technology or primary maths but do not have a relevant degree, a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course can help develop the knowledge you need. Your teacher training provider will decide whether an SKE is appropriate for you so it is a good idea to speak to your identified teacher training provider before you apply.

Courses vary in length and are free with some bursaries available.

*GCSE Equivalency Programmes

If you want to apply to Edge Hill and do not have the GCSEs required for your course, the equivalency programmes might be suitable for you, instead of doing a complete GCSE.

Edge Hill runs 12 week courses and stand alone tests in GCSE equivalency Maths, English and Science. These meet the GCSE entry criteria for Edge Hill University and for some, (not all) other institutions. Always check what other institutions will accept.

There is no longer a requirement to complete Professional Skills Tests.

Types of Postgraduate Teacher Training Programmes

There are 3 main types of training, all of which include:

  • QTS
  • 120 days/24 weeks teaching practice in schools
  • Working towards Teachers’ Standards


University-based PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Education)

1 year, full time (part-time/flexible learning is sometimes available)
You will attend teaching sessions at the university where you are based, and will also spend a minimum of 24 weeks for both primary and secondary courses on placement in at least two schools. Placements are arranged by the university with their partner schools. You work towards a PGCE or PGDE qualification which involves completing academic assignments. PGCE=60credits, PGDE=120 credits.

Fees: c.£9250

Apply via UCAS Teacher Training from October in the year before you start.

(For 2022 entry a new system will be in place replacing UCAS Teacher Training).


School Direct Fee Paying

Most programmes are 1 year full time.

Training is mainly within a school which partners with an accredited teacher training provider (usually a university) and sometimes offers a PGCE. A School Direct provider might be a single school or a cluster of schools. Every School Direct cluster will have a lead school. You will also have short placements in other schools within the cluster.

You pay tuition fees (up to c.£9250 but sometimes less) and have access to the same financial support as a university-based route. There are two different programmes:

Apply via UCAS Teacher Training from October in the year before you start.

SCITT (School-Centred Initial Teacher Training)

Teacher training is provided by a consortium of schools and partner education providers and is usually 1 year full time. Similar to School Direct (above).

Some providers offer a PGCE.

Your training will be school based and the provider does not need to have a link to a university, although there will be a link if PGCE is offered.

This is a fee paying route and you have access to the same financial support as a university-based PGCE or School Direct fee paying route.

Apply via UCAS Teacher Training from October in the year before you start.

Accelerated Courses

Some School Direct/SCITT providers offer accelerated (or abridged) courses which offer a faster (2 terms) route to QTS. These are mainly available in secondary shortage subjects and aimed at experienced, unqualified teachers.

School-led salaried

School Direct salaried

The school employs you as an unqualified teacher and you do not pay fees.

There are fewer places on the salaried route than the fee-paying route.

Apply via UCAS Teacher Training

Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship

4 term salaried route, similar to School Direct salaried.

Apply via UCAS Teacher Training

Teach First

Two-year school-based salaried programme with no fees.

Operates in England and Wales, in primary and secondary schools that are in challenging circumstances. These are schools that experience high levels of poverty or underachievement amongst their pupils, as the aim of Teach First is to address educational disadvantage.

Includes a six-week residential training course in the summer, then employment as an unqualified teacher, in the first year and completing a newly qualified teacher (NQT) induction in the second year.

Includes Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) with 120 credits.

2.1 or above required (UCAS points no longer considered).

Available in specific subjects.

Apply direct to Teach First from the August in the year before you start.

Employment-based Teacher Training in Independent Schools (secondary only)

HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) is a professional association of Heads of independent schools offering teacher training very similar to School Direct (salaried).

2 years, full time including an induction period (IStip Induction). Teachers can move into the maintained sector and do not need to complete another induction year

You are employed by the school as a trainee and get paid a salary (which varies between schools).

Sometimes includes PGCE and no fees.

Applications – apply direct to schools via HMC

Vacancies advertised from November onwards to start in the following September.

Assessment Only

Available if you currently work in a school as an experienced unqualified teacher or HLTA with a degree.

Involves observations in your current school with a portfolio of evidence demonstrating that you have already achieved the QTS Standards.

No PGCE or bursary/loan because it is not classed as a training route.

Usually takes 3 months and fees vary according to provider.

You must have considerable whole class teaching experience across two consecutive age phases and in at least two establishments.

Applications are made directly to the provider.

TES Straight to Teaching

An Assessment Only option aimed at graduates working in schools e.g. as a Teaching Assistant or other support staff and is a programme that prepares applicants for achieving QTS via Assessment Only.

Available in primary and secondary schools.

Fees are £5,400-£9,000 depending in amount of support required by the candidate.

Takes between 2 and 6 terms.

Apply direct to TES.

Other organisations such as


Premier Pathways

also offer 2 year salaried programmes leading to QTS.

The different routes into teacher training can be complicated! If you are unsure, please book an appointment with a Careers Adviser

Which QTS route is best for me?

The table below outlines some of the factors to consider when choosing your preferred route, such as cost, qualifications and length of time spent training.

Name of Programme You could get a tax-free bursary during training Employed during training and salary paid You pay fees Minimum of 24 weeks spent in 2 schools Ideal if you work at or have an existing relationship with a school Opportunity to achieve PGCE/PGDE Duration of training
University-led training University *yes  *yes  *yes  *yes 1 year FT, 2 year PT
School-led training SCITT



 *yes  *yes  *yes Sometimes 1 year
School Direct (fee paying)


 *yes  *yes  *yes Sometimes 1 year
School-led salaried training School Direct salaried


 *yes *  *yes  *yes Sometimes 1 year
Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship  *yes *  *yes  *yes Sometimes 4 terms
Teach First



 *yes  *yes  *yes 2 years
HMC (secondary only)


 *yes  *yes Sometimes 2 years (including induction)
Assessment Only



 *yes  *yes  *yes  *yes Up to 3 months
TES Straight to Teaching


 *yes  *yes  *yes  *yes 2-6 terms
Premier Pathways/TIQ/  *yes  *yes  *yes üPremier Pathways only 2 years

* You won’t pay fees to achieve QTS but you would need to clarify with the provider whether you would be expected to pay for an academic qualification e.g. PGCE. 

Study for a PGCE at Edge Hill

Learn more about studying for a PGCE at Edge Hill University

Finance (England) for fee paying courses

Student Loans (Repayable)

Full and part time students can usually have a further year of tuition fee loans and maintenance loans.

Teacher Training Bursaries (non-repayable)

Additional bursaries are available for trainees particularly in priority subjects. These bursaries are usually paid automatically in monthly instalments.


Classroom Experience

It is recommended that you have practical classroom experience by the end of Year 2.

Where can I get experience?

You could approach local schools directly, or schools/colleges that you attended prior to coming to Edge Hill, or schools near to your home to arrange to help out in the classroom for a specific length of time. Be aware, however, many schools local to Ormskirk already have large numbers of Edge Hill teacher training students.

If you are interested in a school-based route e.g. School Direct, consider gaining experience in a school that offers School Direct teacher training. This allows you to make your impression on the school prior to your School Direct application in the future – search for School Direct providers on UCAS or ask schools if they are School Direct providers.

You can arrange placements for half or full days or week blocks around Easter or May/June onwards when exams are over. Late June/early July can be a good time because teacher training students are usually no longer in schools.

Read more about arranging your own school experience .

How do I contact the school and what should I say?

Email a brief formal letter to the head teacher. Find out the name of the head teacher, introduce yourself with your year/subject and state your intention to apply for Teacher Training.

Be clear about the days/times that you are available and what you would like experience of e.g. year groups, subject/national curriculum, age range etc. Include what you can offer the school – an extra pair of hands in the classroom, someone else to help motivate the pupils, and also to encourage them to aspire to higher education – a role model etc!

Be polite and offer to call into the school at their convenience to introduce yourself. If you haven’t heard from the school within a fortnight, follow this up with a phone call to check they have received your letter.

Get School Experience

Get School experience is run by the Department for Education and helps people gain experience in primary and secondary schools in England. Some schools charge for this – this should be clearly stated in their information.

Paid Internships Programme

Available for penultimate year STEM students interested in teaching secondary maths or physics.

Teacher Training Adviser Programme

Enhanced service from a government Teacher Training Adviser for those interested in teaching.

When you are in school

Get as involved as you can, e.g. helping the teacher and facilitating small groups. Suggest ways in which you can help e.g. your areas of expertise or knowledge such as subject/s or IT skills.

Record your experience of the placement

Keep a diary logging the time you spent in school and which activities you helped with, age of children, ability levels, how you made a difference! Collect examples of lesson plans, displays, projects, children’s work and take photos of displays or work you have contributed to. Compile a portfolio of evidence to take along to a Teacher Training interview which includes a reflection on what you have learnt from the experience, demonstrating that you have thought about the processes taking place in the classroom. You should have opinions about the teaching and learning in which you have participated!

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Sometimes you will need to have a DBS check done before you can undertake work experience. Explore this at an early stage with the school when setting up experience to avoid delays.

How to apply via UCAS Teacher Training

Applying for a University-based PGCE, School Direct, SCITT or PG Teaching Apprenticeship

  • Apply via a single online system, UCAS Teacher Training.
  • Applications open in October 2020; you can usually search for courses before UCAS opens.
  • The application process is in two parts. You begin with Apply 1 and make up to three choices which will be considered simultaneously by your chosen providers. All three choices must be made at once. If you do not receive an offer through Apply 1 can you can apply further to one provider at a time, through Apply 2, which opens in November 2020.
  • Providers must notify you of their decision within forty working days of receipt of the application. You might, therefore, receive invitations to three interview days within a very space of time
  • Courses must stay open for applications for at least two weeks initially, after which they can open and close as they wish.
  • There are no deadlines. The application system remains open until the start of the academic year although it is sensible to apply early as many providers fill up quickly.
  • You must provide details of two referees with your application. One referee should be able to comment on your academic ability and the other referee can be someone who knows you from work/placement/volunteering who can comment on your potential as a teacher. Further information about references can be found at UCAS Teacher Training – References. Your application will not be processed until both references have been received.

Ask your tutor about the policy for supplying references. Often it is your Personal Tutor who will supply the reference.

What to include in your UCAS Teacher Training Personal Statement

When applying to UCAS Teacher Training you are required to submit a Personal Statement:

"Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education and details of any teaching experience, including visits to schools and other work with young people. Providers are interested to know the range of skills you will bring to the training programme, for example; practical experience, managing people, working with/leading a team, communication skills etc."

You are allowed up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines whichever comes first (with a maximum of 80 characters, including spaces in each line) so you must write concisely. Write your statement in a Word document and use Verdana font, point size 11, saving it on a regular basis then paste it into the UCAS form.

 Why do you wish to teach?

This is your ‘opener’. Was there a specific time when you decided to become a teacher? How did you come to this realisation? Examples of possible openers include:

  • “What attracts me to teaching is…”
  • “I am interested in teaching because…”
  • “Teaching appeals to me as a career because…”

Mention your experience, skills and qualities that are important for teaching. Avoid clichés such as “I have always wanted to be a teacher” or “I believe that teaching is my vocation”.

“I helped train eight year-olds in rugby during the school holidays and really enjoyed seeing the children develop their coordination and game skills. This led me to train as a rugby coach and I developed a desire to take this further and train as a teacher.”

“I taught English to children in France as part of my language degree and I found it
challenging and stimulating to select appropriate resources for the age group and rewarding when they learnt new words.”

Evidence that you understand the rewards and challenges of teaching

Reflect on any school-based experience. It might be helpful to look at the current Teachers’ Standards.

What did you do/observe/achieve/learn? You could include positive feedback quotes from schools.

How did your experience help you understand the role, rewards and challenges of teaching?

Identify and comment on a particular aspect of your experience and demonstrate how it affected the teaching and learning process.

You could consider:
• the layout of tables and chairs, different tasks and teaching methods
• the individual teacher’s personality or behaviour management techniques
• the way the teacher assessed work and gave feedback to pupils, and
• how the teacher worked with other staff in the classroom.


“When I work-shadowed a teacher in school, she read a book aloud to a group of children. The teacher used the children’s names as a technique to engage their attention. I tried this myself with the children, and it was rewarding when they smiled and spoke to me. I saw that positive reinforcement can really help the group to focus.”

“Working as a volunteer Teaching Assistant at my son’s school, I learnt that a teacher’s job does not finish at the end of the school day, and that lesson planning, marking, report writing, attending meetings, extra-curricular activities, and parents evenings are all part of a teacher’s role.”

You do not need to provide dates and names of schools here because the UCAS form also contains a separate section for you to summarise your work experience in schools

Details of your previous education and how you benefited from it

Highlight relevant degree modules, high achieving marks in relevant topics e.g National Curriculum, modules relevant to your chosen age group and dissertation topic.

Match your skills and experience in your specialist subject(s) to that of teaching. Reflect on what subject knowledge you have, how you developed it and how it is relevant to the curriculum.

For current information about the National Curriculum, see

National Curriculum Overview
School Curriculum

Any additional experience working with young people

E.g. as a classroom assistant or running a youth group or a sports club, Camp America, helping at brownies/scouts etc. or holiday clubs.

Range of relevant abilities and skills you can bring to teaching

Focus on other skills you have that would be of benefit to a school.
These could be:
• language skills, including community languages such as Urdu or Punjabi
• interests, e.g. photography, ICT, sport, drama or music
• Employability skills, such as team working, resilience, time management, and creativity
• Leadership and management skills you have gained in other employment

“As a native Punjabi speaker I can use my linguistic skills and cultural understanding with both pupils and parents.”

“Part of my job involved me travelling extensively and I have many pictures from all over the world. I could use these to set up an image library which children could use.”

“While working in IT support for the local authority I spent a lot of time in schools resolving IT problems and, in some cases, working alongside teachers and pupils. I experienced how technology is linked to effective learning.”


Have you:

  • Ensured your statement is no more than 4000 characters?
    If you are over the character limit, check that you have not used unnecessary words.
  • Included action verbs? (E.g. achieved, created, delivered, co-ordinated, improved, planned).
  • Used additional resources if required, e.g. UCAS – Filling in Your Application or Get Into Teaching – How to Apply
  • Spellchecked and proof read? Ensure you have used English spelling and grammar, not American.
  • Send to Careers for checking

Once you have completed your statement, Careers is happy to provide feedback on its content and structure. We strongly encourage you to book an appointment or use our Ask a Question service.


You could be invited to interview by each of your chosen training providers. Allow a full day for each interview.

In addition to a formal interview you might be given other tasks including:

  • Writing about an educational topic
  • Participating in a discussion e.g. planning a lesson, discussing current educational issues, commenting on a video of a lesson, discussions about discipline and classroom management, discussions around your subject area and teaching and learning strategies etc.
  • Writing a lesson plan
  • Teaching/micro teaching a lesson
  • Selection Tests – many primary interview days will include Maths, English and Science written tests. Information on these should be available from the provider.
  • Tour of the institution
  • Talk to current teacher training students & staff


Re-read your application and be prepared to be questioned on what you have written.

You need to develop your own ideas on:
• Why you want to teach
• What personal qualities make you suitable
• Why students should study your subject
• Your own school experiences – good and bad
• Your degree course and its relevance
• Your experience in schools with children
• Your interests relevant to teaching
• Your potential contribution to a school, outside teaching
• Your opinions on current educational issues

Think about questions you want to ask: placements, assessment, opportunities for special projects, teaching other subjects, employment prospects etc.


Keep up to date with what is happening in education and schools. Information is available at:  Information resource about teaching and education issues

BBC News/Education  Education section of BBC News

GOV.UK/Schools-Colleges  including information about National Curriculum reforms and is a vital source of information. for education provides details of the Department for Education’s press releases, policies, publications and consultations.

Websites to help you prepare:

Department for Education – Applying for teacher training – help with your interview

UCAS – preparing for teacher training interviews

Examples of Interview Questions

  • Which parts of the National Curriculum have you helped to deliver?
  • What experience have you had of teaching your degree subject in the classroom?
  • How does your degree subject relate to the National Curriculum?
  • What have you learnt about your teaching experience?
  • What was the most difficult aspect of teaching for you?
  • How were the children learning?
  • What experience of good practice did you observe?
  • How would you motivate uninterested pupils?
  • How would you cope with a disruptive child?
  • How would you deal with an aggressive parent?
  • What makes a good teacher?
  • How do you think children should be taught?
  • Examine this e.g. rock – how would you develop lessons around it?
  • Read this story – then suggest ways it could be used to teach the National Curriculum.
  • How important is IT in schools today?
  • What do you think of the national league tables?
  • If you walked into a classroom and two pupils were fighting what would you do?
  • What are the most important issues facing schools at the moment?
  • Who is your favourite children’s author and why? (PGCE English)
  • What Shakespeare play would you choose to teach to a mixed ability class of 14 year olds and why? (PGCE English)
  • What is the role of the Teaching Assistant in the classroom?
  • How would you make History interesting? (PGCE History)
  • What particular practitioners or drama theories do you like and why? (PGCE Drama)
  • What would you say to someone (such as perhaps a parent, co-worker) who thinks drama is not important (PGCE Drama)
  • Why did you choose the School Direct route?

Further information and help

Book an appointment with Careers or submit a question online .

Register with the Teacher Training Adviser Service – a government service which provides support and information for students interested in teacher training. (helpline 0800 389 2500) – funding and other information about teacher training

Target Jobs Teaching Information  Teaching information

Targetjobs  Graduate Career Guide – Teaching

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