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Training to teach in Wales

Training to teach in Wales

Kirsty Osman from Cardiff University 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.

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 of 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 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.

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.

How do you qualify for teacher training in Wales?

You will need all the basic requirements, including:

  • GCSE maths and English 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.
  • An enhanced disclosure check by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

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.

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. Check the Discover Teaching website for further information..

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 your Student Finance Company.

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 Discover Teaching.

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 roll out of the new curriculum see Curriculum for Wales.

Written by Kirsty Osman, Cardiff University

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