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Write a great application for teacher training

Write a great application for teacher training

Gill Kilvington from the University of Hull explains the process for applying for teacher training across the UK, including a timetable to fill you in on what to do when.

This article has been written in partnership with AGCAS.

Postgraduate teacher training applications in England and Wales are made through either UCAS Teacher Training (UTT) or the new Apply for teacher training service. The application form is the same for:

  • the university or college-led Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE)
  • school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT)
  • School Direct, salaried and unsalaried
  • some programmes for further education or post-compulsory teacher training
  • Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship programmes.

UTT and the Apply 1 phase of Apply for teacher training 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. Places are allocated on a first come, first served basis so make sure you have everything ready to apply as soon as possible. This is particularly important for popular courses to maximise your chance of getting the training place you want. You can only apply to a training programme when it's open. You can apply to up to three different training programmes at the same time during Apply 1.

The Apply 2 phase (known as ‘Apply Again’ in the new Apply for teacher training service) usually opens the following month. 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.

Make sure you have two suitable referees ready.

Apply for teacher training

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 which service your chosen provider is using when you search for courses. It’s recommended that if all of your chosen courses are available through the new application service, you should use that. If, however, not all are available and you’d rather not use two different services at the same time, you should stick to using UCAS Teacher Training.

For Apply 1 and Apply 2, the deadlines, timeframes and how providers process your application are the same.

For more information on which service to use for your application, and for support, information and advice on applying for a teacher training programme, see the Get into Teaching website.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Applications to Scottish institutions are made through the UCAS undergraduate application system. If you want to teach in Northern Ireland, contact PGCE providers directly for an application form. 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.

See our information on training to teach in Wales, training to teach in Scotland and training to teach in Northern Ireland for information on teacher training in other areas of the UK.

UTT application form

The UTT application form is split up into the following main sections:

  • personal details
  • choices
  • education (including your highest expected qualification)
  • school and work experience
  • personal statement.


During Apply 1, you can apply to up to three training programmes, choosing from any route, age group or subject. Select the combination that suits you best. For example, you could choose three different PGCE courses or a variety of routes, such as two PGCE courses and one SCITT. Alternatively, you can make just one choice if you prefer.

You can amend and add to these choices at any time until you submit and pay for your application.

Your highest expected qualification

Give full details of your highest expected qualification. If you're applying for a secondary course, this section helps admissions tutors assess whether your degree course covers enough of the subject you'll be training to teach, typically at least 50%.

For primary courses, this section helps tutors identify any specialist knowledge you have relevant to teaching the range of subjects in the national curriculum. Also include skills courses, such as IT, and modules that illustrate your knowledge of current educational issues.

If your qualifications are from outside the UK, you'll need to get a statement of comparability from UK NARIC. Make sure you do this early on as it can take some time.

School and work experience

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, training providers may have changed their requirements in relation to the amount of work experience you must have. Check with individual providers to see what they expect and make sure you address this in the application form. Give details of any school experience you’ve been able to get along with any other work experience, including the average hours per week you've spent in each school or job. Where possible, demonstrate a breadth of experience across different schools and ages. For some programmes, such as School Direct (salaried), you'll need to provide a full work history.

Use the personal statement to expand on how your work experience is relevant to teaching.

Personal statement

The personal statement is your chance to provide evidence of why you want to teach, what school experience you have and why you are suitable for the programme you have chosen. Providers will be interested in the range of skills you would bring to teaching, for example, practical experience, managing people, working with or leading a team, and communication skills. Remember you can only have one personal statement for all the choices you make.


You need to provide two referees, so ask them well in advance for their permission and make sure they understand your choices, motivations and the application process. Your choice of referees will depend on which training route you follow. For example, if you’ve graduated in the last five years, one of your referees must be someone from your university who can comment on your academic ability. If you’re applying for the School Direct (salaried) programme, one of your referees must be your employer. References should be sent from a professional email address, which will help to verify the referee as a relevant professional.

Your application can't be processed until both references have been received, so you may need to follow up on progress. Remember that your referees can view all the information on your application online when providing your reference.

Tips for completing the application form

Competition for places on popular training programmes is fierce, so take time over your application, particularly the personal statement. Evidence your commitment to teaching by linking to your school experience as much as possible. Present the information in a clear and easy-to-read style, and check for spelling and grammatical errors.

Apply for teacher training application form

Although the general process for both applications services is the same, the application forms differ slightly. There is no fee to pay if you apply from this portal. The structure of the Apply for teacher training form is as follows:

  • Choices – this is the same as in the UTT application form. You can apply for up to three training programmes in Apply 1, from any route, age group or subject.
  • About you – includes sections for personal details, contact details, work history, unpaid work and volunteering, asking for support if you have a disability and declaring safeguarding issues.
  • Qualifications – you need to include information on your degree, your GCSEs in English and maths (and science if primary), and other relevant qualifications. It does not ask you to break down your degree into modules like UCAS does.
  • Personal statement – this is now broken down into three sections with a word limit for each part. The sections are: 'Why do you want to be a teacher', 'What do you know about the subject/age range you wish to teach', and 'Interview needs'.
  • References – there is no requirement for an academic referee as there is with UCAS. You can choose from academic, professional, schools-based or character referees.

The online application system

  • You can log in and out of your application, so you don't need to fill in everything at once.
  • Follow the step-by-step instructions carefully and refer to the help facility, videos and FAQs.
  • Once you've filled in your form, and before you can request your references, you must click on the 'view all' and 'check all' buttons to check through everything you've written. Make sure you do this carefully as it's your last chance to correct any errors.
  • Once you've done this and have sent requests to your references, you can't make any further changes (except to your choices and referees).
  • Once your references have been received and you're happy with your choices, you can pay for and submit your application.

After your form has been submitted

  • Many providers contact candidates by email so use a professional email address and regularly check your email.
  • Mark emails from UCAS and Apply for teacher training as 'safe' to ensure you receive all communication from them.
  • If you want to change any of your choices after you've submitted your application form, you can do this once – as long as it's within seven days of submission. However, you can't at this point add in any other choices. For example, if you only applied for one training provider you can't add an extra one.

Literacy and numeracy skills

Initial teacher training (ITT) providers are responsible for ensuring that prospective teachers meet the required standards of literacy and numeracy in order to teach. Each provider will offer their own tests to ensure applicants have adequate skills in these areas. You will be benchmarked against a defined set of literacy and numeracy skills that you’ll be expected to have by the end of your training. It’s unlikely that this will be covered in your initial application but you should be aware that it will be addressed further down the line.

Applications for other teaching programmes

Post-compulsory/FE teaching

There are several levels of qualification available if you wish to teach in post-compulsory education. New graduates often enter the profession via a full-time or part-time pre-service level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) or through gaining a teaching role first and then beginning on their FE teaching qualifications part time. If you choose to study at university or an FE college, the course will meet the requirements of the DET but may be called one of a number of different names, including PGCE (in post-compulsory education) and PCET (Post Compulsory Education and Training).

Applications are usually made directly to the FE training provider but some colleges use the central UCAS teacher training system.

Depending on the subject you’re teaching, you will need a wide range of experience or a 2.2 honours degree (or above), usually in the subject you wish to teach. Providers will have their own application form and your application needs to be tailored to meet their entry criteria. Popular post-compulsory teaching courses fill up quickly so applying early is recommended.

You won’t need to complete a professional skills test for this route. However, providers are likely to conduct their own tests as part of their recruitment process.

If you achieve a recognised teaching qualification at level 5 or above you can apply for qualified teacher learning and skills (QTLS) status with the Society for Education and Training (SET). You also need to have SET membership and literacy and numeracy qualifications at level 2 or higher. Professional formation leading to QTLS involves completing an online workbook providing evidence of your skills. The cost of undertaking professional formation is £485.

See FE Advice for more information.

Early years initial teacher training

Applicants to early years initial teacher training (EYITT) programmes are subject to the same entry requirements as primary initial teacher training and must satisfy providers that they have adequate numeracy and literacy skills. Applications are usually made directly to the provider. Contact providers for details on how to apply – see Become an early years teacher for a list. Application processes vary but generally include a personal statement section, where you must give details of your previous relevant experiences and explain why you think you'd be suitable for the programme.

Teach First

Applications for the Teach First Training Programme are made online through their website. New places are released in June of the year before you would start your training, and recruitment is carried out on a rolling basis with vacancies being filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. The application form focuses on your academic experience and responses to a series of competency-based questions. As part of the programme, you will undertake a two-year PGDE, which gives double the number of credits of a PGCE.

As part of the programme, you will undertake a two-year Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), with twice the credits of a Postgraduate Certificate of Education.

Researchers in Schools

Postdoctoral researchers applying for the Researchers in Schools (RIS) programme must complete the trainee teacher application form on the RIS website, which includes a series of assessment questions. These questions focus on why you want to join the RIS programme and examples from your professional life that show you understand what it takes to become an effective classroom teacher. Use the full word limit to support your application. You must also submit an up-to-date copy of your academic CV.

There is a rolling deadline, which operates on a first come, first served basis, so apply early and don’t wait for a particular deadline. You can’t apply to this programme if you already have QTS or QTLS. This is a paid training programme, which varies depending on the subject and location. 

Assessment Only (AO)

Experienced but unqualified teachers already working in schools who wish to complete the Assessment Only route to qualified teacher status (QTS) apply directly to an accredited and approved provider. You must have the support of your school before applying and complete an application form giving detailed evidence of your skills, as well as copies of all the required supporting documentation. ITT providers are responsible for ensuring that prospective teachers meet the required standards of literacy and numeracy. 

This way of achieving QTS is only available to unqualified teachers who have taught in at least two schools, early years and/or further education settings.

Overseas trained teachers (OTTs) will need to attach copies of their teaching qualifications, UK NARIC confirmation of their qualifications, passport and work permit. The original versions of these documents will need to be seen at interview.

Written by Gill Kilvington, University of Hull

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