What qualifications do you need to become a teacher?

Jill Valentine from Sheffield Hallam University lets you know the qualifications you need to apply for teacher training and gets you up-to-date with the requirements around GCSEs, professional skills tests and your degree.


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This article has been written in partnership with AGCAS.

To teach in the state-maintained sector in England and Wales, you'll need to gain qualified teacher status (QTS) in addition to your first degree, unless you have completed a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a BSc/BA with QTS.

There are several different training routes available which provide QTS, with the opportunity to train in different settings. Many of them offer the chance to gain a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). To attain QTS you will also need to satisfy a range of criteria, outlined below.

What are the entry requirements for a career in teaching?

To qualify as a teacher in England you must meet the following requirements:

  • GCSE grade C (4) or above in mathematics and English: for primary teaching you also need GCSE science grade C (4) or above.
  • A degree: for primary teaching some ITT providers prefer you to have a degree in a national curriculum subject. If you don't, you should talk directly to the training provider to see if they will accept your degree. For secondary teaching you'll need a degree in, or closely related to, the subject you would like to teach.
  • Literacy and numeracy skills: ITT providers are responsible for ensuring that prospective teachers meet the required standards of literacy and numeracy in order to teach. Each provider will assess whether applicants have adequate skills either during the selection process or once they’re on the training programme. You will be benchmarked against a defined set of literacy and numeracy skills you’ll be expected to have by the end of your training and will receive help to develop your skills throughout the course, if needed. However, trainees who remain unable to meet the required level of literacy and numeracy skills will not reach QTS. For more details, contact the training provider directly.
  • Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses: if you want to teach a shortage subject and your degree is not closely linked to it, your training provider may decide that you need to take an SKE course to boost your subject knowledge. These courses vary in length according to your need and may be done full-time or through part-time study or distance learning, either before or alongside your initial teacher training course.
  • Declaration of health questionnaire: you may be asked to complete a declaration of health questionnaire before starting the ITT course. Any information you provide about disability is protected by the Equality Act 2010. If you have a disability it is advisable to make early contact with the training provider.
  • Declaration of criminal convictions: the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which allow convictions for criminal offences to be regarded as 'spent' after a period of time, don't apply to the teaching profession. You're required to declare any previous convictions. All trainee teachers undergo a criminal record check before starting school-based training.

This article was last updated August 2021.

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