How do you train to become a teacher?

Our overview of how to train to become a teacher explains the different options open to you, including the PGCE and the School Direct training programme.
How do you train to become a teacher?
For university or college-based PGCEs, SCITTs and School Direct programmes throughout England, Wales and most of Scotland, you apply through UCAS Teacher Training.

You need to have professional qualified teacher status (QTS) in order to work as a teacher in state maintained schools (excluding academies and free schools) in England and Wales.

To be awarded QTS you must complete a period of training, such as a one-year Professional or Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course or school-centred training, which recommends you for QTS. This is known as initial teacher training (ITT).

Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) then complete a period of induction, which is the first year of employment as a teacher in a school. Teachers in independent schools aren't required to have QTS, but most do.

Your teacher training options

There are several types of teacher training programmes available, all of which lead to qualified teacher status (QTS).

The different routes include:

  • University-based Postgraduate or Professional Certificate in Education (PGCE): full-time courses usually last one academic year but part-time and flexible learning options are also available. Academic staff at the university or college teach the course, but you'll also spend a minimum of 24 weeks for both primary and secondary courses on placements in schools.
  • School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT): primarily based within a school rather than a university or college. The majority of the training is carried out in one lead school and is delivered by experienced teachers. Most SCITTs also offer a PGCE, the training for which is provided by university staff. Courses usually last one academic year full time.
  • School Direct training programme: provides school-based training, mostly on a one-year full-time basis. The programme can be delivered by one school or by an alliance of schools and there's the prospect of being employed within the school or alliance once qualified. Some programmes also lead to a PGCE.
  • School Direct training programme (salaried): as above, but the salaried programme is for graduates with three or more years' career experience. The trainee is employed as an unqualified teacher by the school and schools receive funding which they can use to subsidise the trainee’s salary and/or training.
  • Teach First: a two-year school-based programme which is carried out in schools that experience high levels of poverty or underachievement amongst their pupils. Candidates are employed as unqualified teachers and a PGCE is gained in the first year and an NQT induction year is completed in the second. This route also offers the chance to gain a masters qualification.

Find out more about your postgraduate teacher training options from TARGETpostgrad.

When do you need to apply?

For university/college-based PGCEs, SCITTs and School Direct programmes throughout England and Wales you apply through UCAS Teacher Training, which is also the central online applications system for most postgraduate teacher training courses in Scotland.

The system operates in two phases:

  • Apply 1: opens on 21 November 2013 for training courses starting in 2014 and it's possible to make applications right up to the beginning of the academic year. Each training provider, however, can decide when to open and close their programme for applications, so the course you want may not be available on 21 November and many providers will fill their places well in advance of the start of the course.
  • Apply 2: begins on 1 January in the year the training programme begins. If you don't hold any offers from the Apply 1 phase, you can make further applications. They have to be made one at a time but you can keep applying until you're offered a place.

Teach First applications open in June for the programme starting in the summer of the following year. Vacancies are filled as soon as suitable candidates are found so it's best to apply as early as possible.

Find out more about how to apply for teacher training from TARGETpostgrad.

Funding for teacher training

Loans to cover tuition fees may be available to home and EU students on full and part-time courses. The loan won't have to be repaid until you're working and earning over £21,000 a year.

Home students may also be able to apply for a student maintenance loan to help with accommodation and living costs. Some may also qualify for a non-repayable maintenance grant that will be means tested.

Non-repayable scholarships and bursaries are available for trainee teachers on some full and part-time primary and secondary PGCE courses, SCITT schemes and School Direct programmes. The amount you receive depends on your subject area and degree class. For 2014/15, the following scholarships and bursaries are available:

  • Scholarships of £25,000 are available for the most talented graduates with a first or 2.1 who are training to teach maths, physics, chemistry or computing. For selected students, scholarships are paid instead of bursaries.
  • Graduates training to teach maths, physics or computing can access bursaries of £20,000 if they have a first or 2.1 and £15,000 if they have a 2.2. Bursaries of £9,000 are available to maths and physics trainees with a relevant degree and a good A-level in the subject (a B or higher).
  • Graduates training to teach chemistry or modern foreign languages can get £20,000 if they have a first, £15,000 if they have a 2.1 or £12,000 if they have a 2.2.
  • Primary maths specialists can get bursaries of £11,000 if they have a first or 2.1 or £6,000 if they have a 2.2.
  • Graduates training to teach primary education, design and technology, English, history, biology, geography or music can get bursaries of £9,000 if they have a first or £4,000 if they have a 2.1.
  • Trainees with School Direct places may be eligible for an additional payment worth 25% of their standard bursary. To qualify for this payment, trainees will need to be based in a school where more than 35% of pupils are eligible for free school meals.

Find out more about funding for teacher training from TARGETpostgrad.

AGCAS editors, 2013

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