Training and progression

Teaching in Scotland

20 Sept 2023, 14:33

Find out how to become a teacher in Scotland through the professional graduate diploma in education (PGDE), which is the main graduate entry route into teaching in Scotland. Check out the PGDE entry requirements and how to apply.

Teacher training in Scotland

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If you have a degree and want to become a teacher in Scotland, you’ll usually follow a university-led PGDE programme of initial teacher education (ITE). The minimum entry requirements for a PGDE course are set by The General Teaching Council for Scotland, known as GTC Scotland, (GTCS), but for some programmes universities may ask applicants to have more than the minimum requirements.

Universities will also be looking for commitment to the profession and the necessary skills and attributes to be a good teacher. Some paid or unpaid experience of working with or shadowing teachers in the classroom is required by most providers. Experience of working with children and young people in other settings such as sports clubs, scouts and youth clubs can also support your application. It’s important that you speak to training providers about what they expect in terms of classroom or other experience.

All students on ITE courses are required to undergo criminal and other checks through membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Teachers qualified in Scotland should be able to apply for registration as a teacher in other parts of the UK. Contact the Teaching Regulation Agency in England, the Education Workforce Council in Wales or the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) for more information.

Although new qualification initiatives have been introduced to increase diversity and flexibility in the profession in recent years, the PGDE currently remains the most common graduate route. Contact individual institutions directly about possible alternative routes to qualification, which often represent a particular need in a local area. Details of some alternative routes are available at Teach in Scotland .

The University of the Highlands and Islands offers a part time PGDE in primary and secondary teaching.

The University of Aberdeen Careers and Employability Service has put together a helpful mini career course on applying for PGDEs , covering all aspects of what to consider.

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

Primary teaching

The minimum entry requirements for a PGDE for primary education, covering ages 4 to 12, are:

  • an undergraduate degree validated by a UK higher education institution or an undergraduate degree of equivalent standard from an institution outside the UK
  • a national qualification in English at SCQF level 6 (eg higher grade) or an accepted equivalent
  • a national qualification in mathematics at SCQF level 5 (eg national 5) or an accepted equivalent.

Secondary teaching

The minimum entry requirements for a PGDE for secondary education, covering ages 11 to 18, are:

  • an undergraduate degree, validated by a UK university or an undergraduate degree of equivalent standard from an institution outside the UK. The degree should normally contain teaching subject qualifying credits (TSQCs) which relate to the subject you wish to teach and should be relevant to the teaching of this subject in Scottish secondary schools. To qualify to teach more than one subject (known as dual qualification status), appropriate credit points will be required for entry to both subjects
  • a national qualification in English at SCQF level 6 (eg higher grade) or an accepted equivalent
  • a national qualification in mathematics at SCQF level 5 (eg national 5) or an accepted equivalent.

The University of Aberdeen offers online short access courses in maths (SCQF level 5) and English (SCQF level 6); which individual ITE providers may accept as meeting their entry requirements.

Further information on the entry requirements to train to teach in Scotland are set out in the GTCS Memorandum of Entry Requirements. Evidence of competence in the use of digital technologies and interpersonal skills will also be required. Institutions may set additional entry requirements and you should check with them before making an application.

Gaelic Medium Education (Foghlam tro Mheadhan na Gàidhlig)

It is possible to teach in Gaelic at either primary or secondary level in Scotland. At primary level, you can teach all areas of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence through the medium of Scottish Gaelic. At secondary level, you could either teach your specialist subject through the medium of Gaelic or teach both Gaelic subjects and another specialist subject. For more information, including the entry requirements needed to get a place on an ITE programme, see So you want to teach in Gaelic? .

The Scottish universities that offer initial teacher education

While Scotland has many institutions that provide ITE, not all offer every possible PGDE course. Make sure you research education providers thoroughly before applying. You might take a look at:

How and when do you apply?

UCAS is the central online applications system for postgraduate education courses in Scotland. Applicants for Scottish PGDEs must use the main UCAS undergraduate system and can therefore apply to up to five options. You don’t need to rank your choices in order of preference on the application form or use all five options. You can apply to both PGDE primary and PGDE secondary programmes, but remember that you will only have one personal statement to explain your motivations for teaching and your choice of teaching programme. It may be more difficult to ensure a focused and meaningful explanation of your choices within your personal statement with a mix of programmes, so you need to think carefully about your reasons for choosing both. See UCAS for more information.

Applications to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for the PGDE Music should be made through UCAS Conservatoires .

Personal statement

A significant part of the application is the personal statement. This is your opportunity to provide evidence of why you want to teach, what school experience you have and why you are suitable for your chosen programme. Within the personal statement you should:

  • be clear about your motivations to teach
  • show your understanding of the role of a teacher
  • reflect on your classroom experience
  • provide evidence that you have the necessary skills to teach
  • describe the relevance of your degree
  • demonstrate your understanding of the Scottish education system and Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence , which applies to all 3-18 year olds in any educational setting.

For equal consideration, the deadline for applications is 31 January 2024. To ensure you are considered for your preferred programmes, submit your application before this deadline if you can. It is unusual for primary teaching and popular secondary subject places to be available after the January deadline. However, do check individual ITE provider websites for PGDE vacancies after this date and to find out if places are available through clearing.

Funding for teacher training in Scotland

For eligibility, information and advice on funding visit the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) website or contact your home funding body if you reside elsewhere in the UK. Information on funding and fees is also available from Teach in Scotland.

Scotland’s Teacher Induction Scheme

Teachers working in state and independent schools in Scotland must be registered by GTC Scotland. On successful completion of a PGDE, graduates attain the standard for provisional registration (SPR) with GTC Scotland. To meet the standard for full registration (SFR), graduates undertake a period of probationary teaching.

The Scottish government guarantees a one-year (190 teaching days) probationary placement in state schools for all eligible graduates through the teacher induction scheme (TIS). To be eligible for the TIS scheme, graduates need to have obtained a teaching qualification from a Scottish university and been eligible for public funding for their course (for example, be from a UK country or the Republic of Ireland or have settled or pre-settled status, if from the EU). Advice is available from GTC Scotland .

Probationers have up to three years to obtain the standard for full registration through the TIS, although the majority meet the standard within a year.

The flexible route

If you’re not eligible, do not wish to join the TIS, would prefer part-time work, are teaching in an independent school or want to achieve full registration in a second subject, the flexible route is another way to gain the SFR. From 1 August 2023 probation can take a minimum of 190 days (reduced from 270 days prior to this date) to complete through this route and probationers must find their own post.

Probation teachers on the flexible route have three years (up to five years for those registered on the flexible route prior to 1 August 2023) to achieve SFR. Contact individual local authorities to find out how they operate supply teaching if this interests you. Teaching service elsewhere in the UK may be acceptable towards reaching the SFR; as long as it is relevant to your teaching qualification and you submit the relevant paperwork to GTC Scotland . Make sure you check what’s required in advance.

Getting a job after your probation year

When searching for jobs after your probationary year, you might want to look at:

Qualifying to teach in further education in Scotland

It is possible to undertake a teaching qualification (further education), also known as a TQFE, in order to teach in Scottish further education (FE) institutions.

From September 2021, a registration process for all FE lecturers with recognised teaching or TQFE qualifications began. For further information on FE lecturer registration, see GTC Scotland .

Universities in Scotland currently offering the TQFE are:

Candidates apply directly to the institution and, depending on the provider, you may need to be employed in an FE college before applying. A list of FE colleges in Scotland can be found on the Colleges Scotland website. Vacancies can be found at myjobscotland and .

The TQFE does not qualify you to teach in a primary or secondary school.

Written by Cathy Taylor, University of West London, July 2023


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