What qualifications do you need to become a teacher?

10 Sept 2023, 08:40

Find out about the qualifications you need to apply for teacher training and become familiar with the requirements around GCSEs, numeracy and literacy tests and your degree.

Teaching qualifications required

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To teach in the 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 4 (C) or above in mathematics and English: for primary or early years teaching you also need GCSE science grade 4 (C) or above. Some teacher training providers may accept an equivalency test or other qualification.
  • A degree: for primary teaching, some initial teacher training (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; which 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 subject but feel you need to be more familiar with it, you could take a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course. They can be particularly helpful if your degree is in a different but related subject, you don’t have a degree in the subject but do have professional experience, you studied a language but need to develop a second language to an acceptable level for teaching in schools, or you have an A level in that subject but a degree in something different. The teacher training course provider can help you to decide if you need to complete an SKE - they’re typically offered for shortage subjects where there’s a demand for teachers. You can complete the course either before or alongside your initial teacher training course; they are often done online.
  • 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 through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) before starting school-based training.

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


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Occasionally targetjobs will work with another organisation to provide impartial careers content. This is to provide you with the most relevant information to make the best decisions about your future. As such, ‘in partnership’ content has been written or sourced by the partner organisation and edited by targetjobs as part of a content partnership.

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