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How to apply for postgraduate initial teacher education and training

How do you apply for postgraduate initial teacher education and training?

The application process for teacher training varies depending on the programme you want to carry out. Paul Barnes from the University of Portsmouth fills you in on how to apply for PGCEs, PGDEs, early years initial teacher training, School Direct and other routes.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, training providers may have changed their recruitment process in the short to medium term. Check with individual providers to see what they have planned in relation to applications, interviews and deadlines.

Most initial teacher training programmes in England and Wales use the UCAS Teacher Training website for applications. If you live in Scotland, use UCAS Undergraduate. For other programmes, you may need to apply directly to the provider.

The Department for Education (DfE) provides a search tool for all teacher training programmes in England. See Get into Teaching for details. This will help you search for training courses starting in the following autumn.

What is the application process?

For most university or college-led PGCEs, PGDEs, SCITTs and School Direct programmes throughout England and Wales, you apply through UCAS Teacher Training. However, the Department for Education is setting up a new GOV.UK application service for postgraduate teacher training, which will eventually replace UCAS Teacher Training. This new service, called Apply for teacher training, went live in November 2019 for a limited amount of training providers. It is being rolled out so that all providers and courses will use the new service by October 2021. Until then, the two application services will run side by side.

You will be able to see the service that your chosen provider is using when you search for courses. It’s recommended that, if all your chosen courses are available through the new application service, you should use that. If, however, they aren't all available and you’d rather not use two different services at the same time, you should stick to using UCAS Teacher Training. Deadlines for both application services are the same and the way that training providers process applications will also be the same.

UCAS Teacher Training Apply 1 opens on 6th October 2020 for you to search for training courses that start the following autumn. You can begin making applications through Apply 1 from 13th October. You should apply as soon as possible to maximise your chance of getting the training place you want

The system operates in two phases:

Apply 1: You can make up to three choices, which must all be submitted at the same time. They can include both primary and secondary choices and may be across the three routes of PGCE, SCITT and School Direct. The choices are considered by your chosen training providers simultaneously. The training providers will normally make a decision on your application within 40 working days of receiving it. Once you've heard from all your choices, you will have ten working days to respond to any offers; you can only accept one offer. These timings might be amended due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, so check carefully when you apply and a make a note of the deadlines.

Apply 2 (known as ‘Apply Again’ in the new Apply for teacher training service): This phase opens a little later in the autumn. If you don't hold any offers from the Apply 1 phase, you can then make further applications. They have to be made one at a time but can be for any route and you can keep applying until you're offered a place.

Applications for PGDE courses in Scotland are made through the undergraduate UCAS system which opens in the autumn. Applications for PGCE courses in Northern Ireland are made directly to the institution. In Wales, if you want to take the new salaried PGCE route, which is available for both primary and secondary schools, you should apply directly to the Open University.

How do you apply to the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship?

You can apply from the autumn - usually October - and should follow the steps above for applying for School Direct places. When searching for available courses on UCAS Teacher Training, select ‘School Direct (salaried) training programme’ and available postgraduate teaching apprenticeships will be shown.

How do you apply to Teach First?

Applications are made online through the Teach First site. Recruitment is carried out on a rolling basis, with vacancies being filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. It's best to apply early as the participating schools' requirements in some subjects will be met quickly. If you're successful at the online application stage, you will then be asked to attend an assessment centre, or virtual assessment centre. Activities could include group activities, individual interviews and possibly a practical activity such as a sample lesson.

How do you apply for early years initial teacher training?

Applications to the main graduate entry route are usually made directly to higher education institutions that provide early years initial teacher training. Contact the institution for information on how to apply. The Department for Education has a list of accredited providers.

If you wish to follow the employment-based route, you'll need to speak to your employer in the early years setting and get their agreement.

If you are interested in the School Direct (early years) route you will need to contact one of the lead organisations that delivers the course. Details are available from the Department for Education.

How do you apply to Researchers in Schools?

You will need to complete the trainee teacher application form on the Researchers in Schools website, which includes a series of assessment questions. Those who are successful at the first application stage are then invited to an assessment centre which is held at one of the partner schools. You might have to deliver and evaluate a mini lesson, take part in a group exercise and have a one to one interview.

How do you apply for the Assessment Only (AO) route?

Initially, you should talk to your current employer about this option and establish their willingness to support your progress to qualified teacher status (QTS). They may have already taken staff through this route and will be able to advise you on the options. You will then need to apply directly to an approved provider and details of these are available from the Department for Education.

How do you choose a course?

Research your options thoroughly, including looking at the institutions' own websites and visiting if possible. Some providers might be offering virtual open days. You may want to discuss your ideas with a careers adviser, to help work out what best suits your own preferences and circumstances.

Things you might consider when deciding where to apply include:

  • Do you need to gain a PGCE? QTS alone qualifies you to teach in England but may not be sufficient elsewhere. Many PGCEs enable you to gain credits at masters degree level, which you may be able to use toward a full masters degree after you have completed your training.
  • Are you restricting your choice to a particular geographical area? If so, there may not be courses of all types available for your subject or age range.
  • Would you like to be fully immersed in the life of one school right from the start of your training or would you prefer more progressive placements in several schools?
  • If you're considering a school-based route, it's important to find out as much as you can about the school or group of schools, their partner training provider(s) and the nature of the programme they offer as they do differ.
  • Competition for places can be intense. Consider the balance of applicants to number of places available. Some school-based providers may only have one place available in the subject you wish to teach. Higher education institutions vary widely in the number of places they have to offer, and may have many applicants for some courses.

International students

Non-EU and EU students will generally apply for training opportunities in the same way as home students, and as described above. If you’re an applicant from overseas you will need to prove you have adequate language skills for teaching at the relevant standard in schools or colleges and ensure that you have the right to live and work in the UK. You will usually also have to be able to provide proof of qualifications, possibly with details of equivalence to UK qualifications.

Written by Paul Barnes, University of Portsmouth

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