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Write a great application for teacher training

Write a great application for teacher training

Find out about the process for applying for teacher training across the UK. Our overview of the teacher training application process and timetable will help you understand what to do when.

Most postgraduate teacher training applications in England and Wales are currently made through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT). 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 FE/post-compulsory teacher training
  • Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship programmes.

UTT Apply 1 opened on 1 October 2019 for you to search for training courses that start the following autumn. You can begin making applications through Apply 1 from 8 October 2019. 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 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 application service for postgraduate teacher training, which will eventually replace UCAS Teacher Training. This new service, called Apply for teacher training, will be rolled out slowly, starting with just a few training providers. For 2020 entry, there will therefore be two postgraduate teacher training application services running side by side. 

The deadlines for Apply 1 and Apply 2, timeframes and how providers process your application are the same for both services.

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

Applicants for primary and secondary teacher training in Wales can also apply to the Welsh Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) through one of the Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers. 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.

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.

Professional skills tests

The professional skills tests that you currently need to pass in England before starting teacher training are being replaced with a new system of provider-led assurance. This means that for 2020 entry ITT providers will become responsible for ensuring that prospective teachers meet the required standards of literacy and numeracy. You will no longer be required to take the professional skills tests, but will instead be benchmarked against a defined set of literacy and numeracy skills you’ll be expected to have by the end of your training.


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

Give details of your school experience and 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 School Direct, 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.

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 your references' request, 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 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.

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 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 a variety of different names, including PGCE (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 early application 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 Level 2 or higher literacy and numeracy qualifications. 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 pass the professional skills tests as a part of the application process. 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. Applications vary but generally include a personal statement section where you must give details of your previous relevant experiences, explaining why you think you'd be suitable for the programme.

Teach First

Applications for the Teach First Leadership Development 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 academic information and responses to a series of competency-based questions.

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. The professional skills tests that you currently need to pass before you're accepted on to the AO route are being replaced with a new system of provider-led assurance. This means that for 2020 entry ITT providers will become responsible for ensuring that prospective teachers meet the required standards of literacy and numeracy.

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

Written by Gill Kilvington, University of Hull 

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