Teacher Training Explained

There are many routes into teaching. All of these will involve studying for a degree as well as some time spent on school placements.

There are many reasons why teachers enter the educational profession, and whilst the motivating factors are highly personal for those who undertake teacher training, one theme always remains, the passion to enrich, positively affect and educate the lives of others.

The desire to influence children from all different backgrounds and communities by teaching, making an impact on lives now and in the future is a powerful force which attracts many educators to the profession and is the highest calling. The rewards of teaching are endless and teachers are in a unique position of being able to empower children from all backgrounds with equal opportunities, which in turn helps communities and greatly impacts on others. In essence, the ‘snow ball’ effect is born, the influence of a wonderful teacher reaches far beyond one person.

Teaching is a career and a highly skilled and worthwhile profession that gives all those who teach the ability to learn and progress within their specific areas of education. It is not just a way to earn a salary and offers diversity, it always provides challenges and high satisfaction levels.

Teachers are role models and leaders who carefully shape the skills of children, ultimately affecting how their future develops and eventually what they become. Always acting as the ‘expert’, but importantly being an approachable mentor and guide.

By sharing knowledge, enthusiasm and energy, those who teach are a powerful force on individuals and communities and by teaching their specialised subjects, encourage and directly shape the learning of children and young people.

If you want to teach in state primary or secondary schools in England, Wales or Scotland, you need to complete one of the following types of course successfully:

  • an initial teacher training (ITT) course in England or Wales that gives you Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
  • an initial teacher education (ITE) course in Scotland the gives you the Teaching Qualification (TQ).

If you are not a graduate, you can apply through UCAS. for 3 or 4-year undergraduate degree courses that provide QTS or the TQ.

If you are a graduate or expect to have a degree by September 2016, the UCAS Postgraduate Teacher Training is open for applications from 21 November to 31 October 2015 for Professional Graduate or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses in England and Wales and for Professional Graduate Diploma of Education (PGDE) courses in Scotland.

Most of these courses are full-time and last one academic year, but the Course types section provides information about the different kinds of course provision.

In England you can take a PGCE or QTS course based at a university or college, or take a school-based course run by groups of schools that have formed school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) consortia.

University and college courses normally incude lectures at the institution and school-based training in at least two of their partnership schools. Primary teaching courses include at least 18 weeks of school-based training and if you are taking a secondary teaching course, you will spend a minimum of 24 weeks training in schools.

SCITT consortia run their courses almost entirely within their member schools. Each consortium will offer training in primary or secondary schools. You will usually be based in the ‘lead school’ and undertake teaching placements at other schools within the consortium. Teachers in the schools act as mentors to organise and monitor your training. Most SCITT consortia run courses that have been validated by a university or college for the award of their PGCE or QTS. You may be required to attend some lectures at this university or college as part of your school-based course.

There are currently no SCITT consortia in Wales or Scotland, but some consortia in England may use schools in Wales to deliver their training.

All PGCE courses in Wales and PGDE courses in Scotland are based in universities or colleges of higher education.

Where to train

Deciding where to do your teacher training can seem like a difficult task because there are so many training providers to choose from. You may wish to remain close to home or decide to live in a different part of the country: your choice may depend upon training providers’ facilities. In England you can take a course based in a university or college or in a consortium of schools. Whatever your criteria, it is important that you research training providers and their locations before applying.

Which is the best training provider?

There is no one training provider which is perfect for everyone: different places suit different people, so it depends upon your preferences.

How do I choose the right route?

Anyone wanting to teach in England must complete initial teacher training (ITT). There are many different types of ITT – the route you choose to take will be specific to the age group and/or subject you’d like to teach.

If you’d like to teach a subject to an advanced level, for example, you could be more interested in secondary teaching, rather than primary.

You can complete your ITT alongside a degree, straight after a degree, as a part-time course alongside work, or as a full-time course, including employment-based routes. The option that is right for you will depend on your circumstances.

University-based training

If you already have a degree, consider a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). A PGCE course mainly focuses on developing your teaching skills, rather than the subject you intend to teach.

If you do not currently have an undergraduate degree, you can complete a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or Bachelor of Arts (BA)/Bachelor of Science (BSc) with qualified teacher status (QTS) course. These courses enable you to study for a degree and complete your initial teacher training (ITT) at the same time. Both postgraduate and undergraduate courses are available at universities and colleges throughout the UK.

Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)

If you already have a degree, consider a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). A PGCE course mainly focuses on developing your teaching skills, and not on the subject you intend to teach. For this reason, you are expected to have a good understanding of your chosen subject(s) – usually to degree level – before you start training.

Undergraduate ITT courses

To become a teacher, you need to hold a degree and complete a course of initial teacher training (ITT). If you don’t have a degree yet, an undergraduate ITT course will enable you to study for your degree and complete your ITT at the same time.

There are two types of undergraduate ITT which lead to qualified teacher status (QTS). These are:

Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS
This option allows you to specialise in a certain subject (for example, maths, physics, chemistry or languages), while gaining your honours degree and QTS.

Bachelor of Education (BEd)
This is an honours degree course in education. BEd degrees are available for both primary and secondary teaching, but are a particularly popular choice for those who are interested in teaching primary school children.

School-based training School-based training

If you’re a graduate and want to complete your training in a school environment, consider school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT).

SCITT programmes are designed and delivered by groups of neighbouring schools and colleges.

Taught by experienced, practising teachers, and often tailored towards local teaching needs, all SCITT courses lead to qualified teacher status (QTS). Many, though not all, will also award you a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) validated by a higher education institution.

If you prefer to spend more time training in the classroom, putting theory into practice and gaining confidence through increased contact with the school environment, then a SCITT programme is a good option for you.

School Direct
School Direct is an exciting new training route for top graduates. Your school will have a job in mind just for you when you finish your training.
School Direct places are available in some of the best primary and secondary schools across England and programmes generally last for one year. Financial support is available throughout your training. Successful completion of the programme will lead to the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). School Direct programmes may also include a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).

There are two separate School Direct training options:

  • School Direct Training Programme is for high-quality graduates who want to be part of a school team from day one. You may be eligible for a bursary of up to £20,000 or a scholarship of £25,000 to support you while you train.
  • School Direct Training Programme (salaried) is an employment-based route for high-quality experienced graduates with at least three years’ work experience. You will earn a salary while you train.

Teach First
Teach First’s employment-based training is designed to help participants become effective teachers and leaders in challenging schools.

Entry requirements

Undergraduate degree Route

To get onto a degree course, you will usually need at least two A levels and at least five GCSEs (A-C). Universities may accept other qualifications such as an Access to Higher Education course. Check with course providers for their exact requirements.

PGCE Route

Before you can start a PGCE course in primary, middle years or secondary teaching

you must have:

  • a degree awarded by a UK university or college or a recognised equivalent qualification
  • and be able to show that you have
  • the knowledge of English required to obtain a GCSE at grade A* to C.
  • the knowledge of mathematics required to obtain a GCSE at grade A* to C.

If you want to take a PGCE course in primary or middle years teaching, you must also be able to show that you have:
the knowledge of a science subject required to obtain a GCSE at grade A* to C.

Training providers are responsible for assessing your knowledge of English, mathematics and, if applicable, science. They may be able to ascertain that you have the required knowledge of these subjects from your qualifications or work experience. Some training providers may ask you to take their own equivalency tests in English, mathematics and/or science to assess your knowledge.

Post-compulsory and further education courses
Before you start a course for post-compulsory or further education teaching in England or Wales, you must have a degree awarded by a UK university or college or a recognised equivalent qualification.

You do not need to have GCSEs at grade C or higher in English, mathematics or science as standard entry requirements for these courses, but some training providers may ask for one or more of these qualifications. Visit the training providers’ websites to find out the specific entry requirements for their courses before you apply.

When to apply

UCAS Postgraduate Teacher Training is open for applications from 21 November to 31 October 2015.

You can choose when to apply but it will depend on when your chosen training providers open their programmes.

If you are applying through the Undergraduate degree route you should also apply though UCAS

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