Looking to get into teaching? Our comprehensive guide on getting into postgraduate teacher training covers everything you need to know, including the various routes you can take, entry requirements, fees and funding and more. If you’re interested in undergraduate (QTS) routes into teaching, you can find out more here.
Routes into teaching
Before you get into teaching, you need to decide which age range you wish to teach – primary, secondary or the Further Education and Training (FET). FET includes further education colleges, sixth form colleges, adult learning centres, prisons and training providers.
If you are interested in secondary or FET teaching, you need to select a subject to teach.
Primary teacher training has a range of options:
- Early Years – Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1
- General Primary – Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.
- Primary with a specialist subject such as PE or maths. This covers the whole Primary curriculum but you will develop a specialism in your chosen subject.
You need to complete a teacher training programme that gives you Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). QTS is required to be a school teacher on the national teaching pay scale in maintained schools in England and Wales. QTS is a status achieved by meeting the National Teachers’ Standards.
Many teacher training routes include a PGCE/PGDE. PGCE/PGDE is a postgraduate Level 7 academic qualification that includes assignments and is awarded by universities.
PGCE is 60 credits, PGDE is 120 credits.
You do not need a PGCE to achieve QTS but it is a well-recognised qualification and particularly recommended for:
- teaching abroad and in Scotland
- if you wish to complete a Masters qualification in future
- senior management roles
There are two main routes into teacher training, university-led and school-led. All give you QTS and involve teaching practice in schools (minimum of 120 days in schools over 2 schools). You will work towards the Teachers’ Standards and undergo observations in the classroom.
You attend university and complete two main blocks of school placements plus a third smaller one. PGCE or PGDE is always included and you pay tuition fees.
You are generally based in one main school with a short additional placement in another school.
PGCE is not always offered so you need to check with individual providers.
Most are fee-paying, requiring you to pay tuition fees, but some are salaried where you are employed by the school as an unqualified teacher.
Examples of school-led programmes include School Direct, SCITT, Teach First, Postgraduate Apprenticeships and HMC – the private sector. If you already work in a school such as an unqualified teacher or teaching assistant you could consider Assessment Only or TES Straight to Teaching.
Read more about the different routes into teacher training via the links below:
- Government website about teacher training: Get into Teaching.
- Prospects website summarising different routes: Teaching training and education
You can apply to more than one type of teacher training.
QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning & Skills) is the industry recognised status for FET. The appropriate option for graduates is usually a PGCE/PGDE in Post 14 Education leading to QTLS.
Some FE colleges offer graduate teaching schemes although we are not aware of a database of these.
QTS and QTLS have parity so if you have QTS you can teach in a college and if you have QTLS and membership of the Society for Education & Training, you are eligible to teach in schools.More information on QTLS – Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills status
To become a school teacher there are national requirements plus individual requirements set by individual providers:
- The classification depends on the provider, Edge Hill requires 2.2 or above. For secondary teaching, your degree should be relevant to the subject you wish to teach, though there is flexibility with this, especially in certain subjects. In some subjects, you can complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement Programme if you do not have enough subject content in your first degree.
- GCSE Maths, English (and Science for Primary/Early Years) grade C/4 or equivalent. Equivalency tests are available if you do not have the required GCSEs
- Individual providers/universities can set extra requirements such as additional GCSEs – always check.
- Classroom experience is recommended but not essential at the point of application.
- There is no longer a requirement to complete Professional Skills Tests.
Teaching in Further Education and Training (FET)
You need a degree in a subject relevant to the FET curriculum to teach academic subjects. Individual providers will decide what classification of degree is required. Edge Hill University accepts 2:2 and above.
GCSE Maths and English grade C/4 or equivalent are preferred, this depends on the provider.
Experience is desirable but not always essential.
Fees and funding
The tuition fee for PGCE/PGDE is typically £9,250. You can apply for a further year of loans for fees and maintenance (full time and part time students)..GOV teacher training
You might be able to get extra financial support if you have children or other caring responsibilities, or if you live with disability.
Some subjects award you a non-repayable bursary or scholarship, the list is updated each year. There are also some FET bursaries available for further education and training programmes. Bursaries are usually paid in monthly instalments.
Providers sometimes offer extra financial support. Edge Hill scholarships offer up to £2,000 for excellence in volunteering, creativity, enterprise, achievement, sports.
On salaried courses, you do not pay fees and you are paid a salary. Some providers might require a contribution to PGCE/PGDE fees.
Learn more with our PGCE and PGDE funding guide.
How and when to apply
For university-led PGCE, apply at Apply on the .GOV website which opens in October for applications starting the following September.Search for providers via .GOV
The application form will ask for the below information:
- Contact details.
- Qualifications including expected degree classification.
- Work experience (paid and unpaid). For each job/volunteering that you include, you are prompted to write 150 words about the skills/experiences/responsibilities involved in the role.
- Personal statement.
- There are also optional sections for you to provide information relating to the Disclosure and Barring Service and requirements for additional support.
Applications are free and you can apply to up to four courses.
You will need to choose 2 people who can provide a reference when you apply, although references won’t be contacted until you accept an offer for a place on a course. One referee should be academic such as someone from university. Speak to your tutor about the policy for providing references. Your second referee should be someone who knows you from work/placement/volunteering, who can comment on your potential as a teacher.
It is recommended that you apply as early as possible because courses can close when they are full.
Once your application has been submitted, it is circulated to each provider who decides whether to offer you a place within 40 working days. Those 40 working days are likely to include you being interviewed for the course.
If you are not accepted onto a course following your initial application you can make further applications, up to four courses at a time. You can do this as many times as you would like to get a place and you can edit your personal statement if appropriate.
For other routes you need to apply directly via provider websites:
Your personal statement
Your personal statement is an important part of your application. We recommend that you draft it in Word and ask Careers to check it, for structure and content, before you submit it.
Find more useful tips on writing a personal statement for teacher training on the Get into Teaching website.
Your statement should be no more than 1000 words and you are prompted to use the structure below. We have provided a guide with some short examples to help you get started:
Personal statement guide with examples
Your personal statement should include your reasons for wanting to train to be a teacher, as well as why you are passionate about training to teach your chosen age group or subject. You should also demonstrate your suitability for training to teach.
Be sure to include:
- Skills or personal qualities you have that are relevant to teaching.
I have excellent organisational and time-management skills. My current part-time job involves busy shift work which I fit in around my studies and I have developed a system for allocating time for my assignments which I have always submitted on time.
- Any experience of working with young people and what you learned.
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.
- Your understanding of why teaching is important.
Whilst volunteering in a local primary school as a learning support assistant, I observed the importance of inspiring young minds as a teacher. The class teacher often taught in creative and innovative ways, such as introducing a numeracy game for multiplication. This approach inspired an enjoyment for maths and increased the children’s confidence in multiplication, a skill that they will use throughout life.
- Any activities you’ve done that could be relevant to teaching like first aid courses, sports coaching, or volunteering.
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.
- Your interest in the subject or age group.
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.
You could also include:
- Your understanding of the demands and rewards of teaching…
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, extracurricular activities, and parents’ evenings are all part of a teacher’s role.
- How you could contribute to a school outside of the classroom…
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 that children could use.
I am proficient in conversational French and would love to be involved in a lunchtime French club.
- Your thoughts on welfare and education…
It is important that you are aware of the issues facing education and could make reference to anything particularly pertinent.
- Having an understanding of safeguarding and keeping children safe in a school in education: Keeping children safe in education – GOV.uk
Whilst working as an outreach careers adviser I realised how easily children could become disengaged in education: along with social workers I used to regularly visit areas in my town where children might be truanting and would engage with them and gain their trust. This not only helped improve truancy figures by persuading them to return to school but also protected them from potential exploitation.
If relevant, the knowledge and interest you bring to the subject(s) you’d like to teach. Evidence can include:
- The subject of your undergraduate degree,
- modules you studied as part of your degree,
- postgraduate degrees (for example, a Masters or PhD),
- your A Level subjects,
Relate the above to the National Curriculum, and consider specific modules, your dissertation topic and more. Did you achieve high marks in a particular subject at school or college? For information on the National Curriculum see National Curriculum and Curriculum and Qualifications.
Remember to include action verbs including achieved, created, delivered, co-ordinated, improved, planned.
Once you have drafted your statement Careers can check it for structure and content.
Find useful example personal statements for teacher training on the Prospects Website: Teaching personal statement examples | Prospects.ac.uk
Although you don’t have to have classroom experience before you apply, it is recommended because it demonstrates your commitment to teaching, gives you something to reflect on in your application and interview and helps you decide that you definitely want to become a teacher.
You can find more on how to get school experience on the Get into Teaching website: Get school experience | Get Into Teaching GOV.UK
You could approach local schools directly, or schools/colleges that you attended before coming to Edge Hill, or schools near to your home to arrange to help out in the classroom for a specific length of time. Many schools near Ormskirk already have large numbers of Edge Hill teacher training students.
If you are interested in a school-based route eg School Direct, consider gaining experience in a school that offers School Direct teacher training. This allows you to make your impression on the school before your School Direct application. Search for School Direct providers on Find 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.
Email a brief formal letter to the headteacher. Find out the name of the headteacher, 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 the experience of including year groups, subject/national curriculum, age range and more. 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 for example.
Be polite and offer to call into the school at their convenience to introduce yourself. If you have not heard from the school within a fortnight, follow this up with a phone call to check they have received your letter.
- Get as involved as you can, eg helping the teacher and facilitating small groups. Suggest ways in which you can help eg 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.
Teacher training interviews
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 eg 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 and more.
- 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 and staff.
You can practice psychometric tests, including literacy and numeracy tests using Graduates First.
Use Shortlist.ME to help you practice your interview technique –be sure to make use of the on-demand practice interviews for teacher training.
You can also book a mock interview appointment to build your confidence and practice in advance of the real thing.
Re-read your application and be prepared to be questioned on what you have written.
You need to develop your own ideas on:
• Why do 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 and more.
Keep up to date with what is happening in education and schools. Information is available at:
- tes.com – 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.
- Gov.uk/Department 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
- How does your degree subject relate to the National Curriculum?
- What experience of good practice did you observe observe when volunteering in a school?
- How would you motivate uninterested pupils?
- How would you cope with a disruptive child?
- How would you deal with an aggressive parent?
- What strengths could you bring to teaching?
- How do you think children should be taught?
- Read this story – then suggest ways it could be used to teach the National Curriculum.
- How important is IT in schools today?
- What are the most important issues facing schools now?
- 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)
- Why did you choose the School Direct route?
Teacher training routes
- Prospects website summarising different routes: Teacher training and education | Prospects.ac.uk
- Get Into Teaching Government website with current information about teacher training.
- UCAS UCAS summary of teacher training routes.
- Get into Teaching – Teacher Training options Government website – teacher training options.
Applications and personal statements
- Careers Edge Hill Careers page about getting into teaching including links to a video.
- Get into Teaching – Applications advice about writing your statement.
- Get a Teacher Training Adviser you can receive support from a government adviser about getting experience, your application and the application process generally.
- You can also ask Careers to check your personal statement, before you submit it.