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Training to teach in Wales

Training to teach in Wales

Cathy Taylor from the University of West London provides an insight into the university-based PGCE route and the new salaried PGCE route for teacher training in Wales, along with the qualifications you'll need and the Welsh learning you'll undertake.

In order to teach in Wales you will need to gain qualified teacher status (QTS) by completing a programme of initial teacher education (ITE). 

Training to teach in Wales is broadly similar to training to teach in other parts of the UK, but you should be aware of some key differences. The university-based Postgraduate or Professional Certificate in Education (PGCE) route is the same. 

There are, however, two new routes to qualifying as a teacher in Wales – the salaried PGCE and a part-time PGCE. Both these routes are available for primary and secondary teaching and are delivered by The Open University in Wales.

The salaried PGCE is a two-year, employment-based route that combines full-time work as a teaching assistant, or in another non-teaching role linked to learning, with part-time study for the PGCE qualification with qualified teacher status (QTS). The Open University can help you find a school that is willing to sponsor you if you’re not already working in a state school. The Welsh government covers the costs of your studies with a training grant.

The part-time PGCE, also lasting two years, is a self-funded route that allows flexibility around your current job or other commitments. It includes 120 days of school placements over the two years.

For more information on the new routes, see The Open University.

What qualifications do you need to train as a teacher in Wales?

You will need all the basic requirements, including GCSE maths and English and/or Welsh grade B or higher for all training routes and GCSE science grade C or higher for primary PGCE or physical education secondary PGCE. Applicants who don't have the required maths and English grades can sit equivalency tests. See individual course providers for further details.

Individual providers will have literacy and numeracy tests that you need to pass in order to be accepted on the course. These are usually administered during the interview process. You may also be asked to take a digital competency test by some providers. 

Each teacher training provider will have different requirements, so it's worth checking your educational background with them before applying. Normally, you will need a 2.2 or above, but a 2.1 is essential for some PGCE courses. It is expected that a significant proportion of your degree will be in the subject you wish to teach. However, there may be some flexibility for certain subjects. For primary teaching, you should have some education relevant to one of the national curriculum subjects, such as an A level or degree.

All students are required to undertake an enhanced disclosure check by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Do you need to speak Welsh?

No, you don't need to speak Welsh to apply to teach in Wales, unless you wish to teach Welsh as a second language at secondary level or teach in a Welsh-medium school.

However, all student teachers training in Wales will undertake some Welsh language learning as part of their course. As well as being a core curriculum subject, compulsory until the age of 16, incidental Welsh (such as greetings and commands) is used around the classroom in both primary and secondary schools across Wales.

The universities in Wales that offer teacher training courses

How and when do you apply for teacher training in Wales?

Applications usually open in October for entry in the following September and are made through the UCAS Teacher Training website. Early application is recommended for the most popular courses, such as PGCE primary and PGCE secondary PE.

In Apply 1 you can apply for up to three choices. If you have not received an offer during the first round of applications, or if you decide you don't want to accept an offer and apply elsewhere, you can proceed to Apply 2 and submit further applications to training providers one at a time. 

To apply for the salaried PGCE or the part-time PGCE you need to apply directly to The Open University in Wales. For further information, see Educators Wales.

Funding for teacher training in Wales

As a trainee teacher you may be able to access funding and support while you are training. This will vary depending on the subject you are training to teach, where and how you train, as well as where you normally live and your personal circumstances. To find out what you are eligible for, contact Student Finance Wales, or contact your home funding body if you reside elsewhere in the UK.

The Welsh government provides financial incentive grants for teacher training. Your eligibility for these will depend on a range of factors, including what subject you are training to teach, your degree classification, and whether you have a masters or PhD.

Those who are training to teach in Welsh-medium secondary schools or to teach Welsh as a second language at secondary level may also be eligible for the Welsh Government’s Iaith Athrawon Yfory incentive scheme. For full details of the financial incentives available, see Educators Wales.

Qualifying to teach in further education in Wales

To work as a further education (FE) lecturer you will usually need to hold at least a level 3 qualification in the subject you wish to teach, and most lecturers also hold an undergraduate degree or relevant professional qualification in their subject area. Though not a statutory requirement, completion of a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in post-compulsory education and training (PCET) qualifies you to teach in FE, adult, community or work-based learning environments. For further information, see Educators Wales

Qualifications to teach in the FE sector are offered by the following universities:

As an FE lecturer you are also required to register with the Education Workforce Council and are encouraged to follow the Professional Standards for further education teachers and work-based learning practitioners in Wales.

Digital awareness is an important skill for FE lecturers. For more information about the Welsh Government’s digital priorities for the post-16 sector, see Digital 2030.

You will also need to undergo an enhanced disclosure check by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

There are 13 FE colleges in Wales, and these are listed on the Educators Wales website.

If you are undertaking qualifications to teach in the FE sector you may be eligible for funding through the Welsh Government’s PGCE (FE) incentives scheme. Speak to the course provider for further information on what financial support you may be eligible for.

The Welsh curriculum

Schools in Wales broadly follow the same national curriculum, which can be delivered in English, Welsh, bilingually or in a faith setting.

All subjects are taught from a Welsh perspective and have a Welsh dimension. Pupils do not take key stage 2 standard attainment tests (SATs), as in England, but pupils from year 2 to year 9 undertake online personalised assessments in reading and numeracy as part of the national literacy and numeracy framework (LNF).

A new curriculum and assessment framework for pupils aged 3 to 16, Curriculum for Wales 2022, is being rolled out in schools across Wales. It is expected to be used throughout Wales by 2026. The key stages 2, 3 and 4 will disappear. The foundation phase (ages 3 to 7) will still remain in principle but it will become part of one seamless curriculum for pupils aged 3 to 16.

For the latest information on the rollout of the new curriculum see the Curriculum for Wales.

Written by Cathy Taylor, University of West London

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