Write a great application for teacher training

Last updated: 20 Sept 2023, 15:31

Everything you need to know about submitting your application for teacher training.

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Applications for teacher training

Applying in England | Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland | The application form | Tips for applying | Applying for other teaching programmes |

Postgraduate teacher training applications in England are made through the DfE 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.

You can browse training courses commencing in autumn 2024 on Apply from 9.00am on 3 October. From 9.00am on 10 October, you will be able to submit an application for these courses. Candidates who are new to the Apply system can start building their application for this cycle from 5 September at 6pm. Candidates who have made an application this year, in the current cycle, will be able to copy over their application into a new cycle from 19 September at 6pm.

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 is open. You can apply to up to four different training programmes at the same time during Apply.

You can use Apply again as soon as you have all the decisions back from providers or you have made decisions on your choices (withdrawn/rejected).

Make sure you have two suitable referees ready as you’ll need to provide their details in your application.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Applications for most Scottish and Welsh courses are made through the UCAS undergraduate application system, and you can make up to five choices. Alternatively, if you want to take the salaried PGCE route available in Wales, you should apply directly to The Open University.

If you want to teach in Northern Ireland, contact PGCE providers directly for an application form.

For more information on teacher training in other areas of the UK, see training to teach in Wales , training to teach in Scotland and training to teach in Northern Ireland .

Apply application form

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

Personal details – includes sections for personal information (such as your date of birth and nationality) and contact information.

Courses – you can apply for up to four training programmes in Apply, from any route, age group or subject.

Qualifications – you need to include information on your degree, GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths (and science for primary courses), and A-levels or any other relevant qualifications.

Work experience – includes sections on your work history and unpaid experience.

Personal statement – in this section you should write between 500 and 1000 words explaining why you want to be a teacher and demonstrating your teaching potential.

Adjustments – you can ask for support if you’re disabled or state if you have any interview needs.

Safeguarding – you must provide the details of two people who can give you a reference if you accept an offer, in addition to declaring any safeguarding issues (such as a criminal record).

Equality and diversity – this section invites you to answer a series of questions to prevent discrimination in teacher recruitment. Training providers will only see your answers to these questions after you accept an offer from them.

Course choices

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

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

You should also use the Apply system to apply for postgraduate teaching apprenticeships and School Direct (salaried) programmes.

Early application is strongly advised for popular teacher training courses. Courses remain open for applications until they are full; there is no specific deadline to apply.

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

Work experience

You should provide details of any paid employment since school (if applicable), explaining any gaps in your work history. You can also include unpaid experience of working with children and other relevant volunteering.

Check with individual providers to see how much work experience they expect and make sure you consider this when completing your application. Give details of any school experience you have, and ideally demonstrate a breadth of experience across different schools and ages.

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. You should write between 500 and 1000 words in this section.

Providers will be interested in the range of transferable skills you would bring to teaching, such as leadership and communication skills. Remember you can only have one personal statement for all the course choices you make.

You can include:

  • your interest in the subject (if applying for secondary teacher training) or age group you want to teach
  • relevant details about your A-Level subjects, undergraduate degree and/or postgraduate degree(s)
  • the demands and rewards of teaching
  • personal qualities that would make you a good teacher
  • how you could contribute to a school outside of the classroom
  • any experience you have working with children or young people, and what you learnt
  • your thoughts on welfare and education.


This section is divided into two sections: ‘Interview availability’ and ‘Ask for support if you’re disabled’.

Interview availability

If you need flexibility for your interview, you can tell them about it here. For example, if you have commitments like caring responsibilities or employment. You have up to 200 words to give details of your interview availability.

Ask for support if you’re disabled

You might benefit from extra support if you are disabled, have a mental health condition or educational needs. If you choose to tell them you need support, they will let your training provider know. They can then make adjustments so you can attend an interview or do the training.

Examples of support could be:

  • organising equipment, such as a hearing loop or an adapted keyboard
  • putting you in touch with support staff if you have a mental health condition
  • making sure classrooms are wheelchair accessible.


You need to provide details of two people who can provide you with a suitable reference if you accept an offer. Ask your referees 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 have 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 are applying for the School Direct (salaried) programme, one of your referees must be your employer. Teacher training providers should only collect references once they make a conditional offer to the candidate. However, candidates must provide their referee details when they apply so that teacher training providers can check that the referees are suitable and meet their requirements.

Referees should not be family members, partners or friends.

Tips for completing the application form

Competition for places on popular training programmes can be 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 do not have to fill in everything at once.
  • Follow the step-by-step instructions.
  • Once you have filled in your form, you can click on the check and submit your application button to check through everything you have written. Make sure you do this carefully as it is your last chance to correct any errors.
  • Once you are happy with your form, you can submit your application.

After your form has been submitted

If you want to make changes to your application after submitting it, you can email the Apply support team so long as your request is received within five working days of submitting the form. You can also add new referee details at the point of accepting an offer as well as any time after accepting an offer.

Many providers contact candidates by email; so use a professional email address and regularly check your email. Mark emails from 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 have submitted your application form, you can do this provided it is within five days of submission. However, you cannot at this point add in any other choices. For example, if you only applied for one training provider you cannot 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 will be expected to have acquired by the end of your training. It is 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 to work on attaining 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 several 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 DfE Apply teacher training system.

Entry requirements for post-compulsory teacher training courses vary depending on the course provider, subject and level you want to teach. For Level 5 training routes, you will usually need a minimum level 3 qualification in your specialist subject; and having industry experience is valued as a prerequisite for teaching vocational subjects. GCSE maths and/or English may also be required. For the Level 7 training route, you will need a degree (usually at class 2.2 or above in the subject you wish to teach). You can apply to some providers through the DfE Apply system, while for others you will need to apply directly – if the latter, ensure you tailor your application to meet their entry criteria. Popular post-compulsory teaching courses fill up quickly - so applying early is recommended.

You will not 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. Applying for QTLS costs £50 per year and the cost of undertaking professional formation is £475. FE teachers are not qualified to teach in state primary or secondary schools (including sixth form schools) unless they have achieved QTLS.

Early years initial teacher training

You can train to be an early years teacher either as a postgraduate if you already have a degree, or as part of an undergraduate degree. Applicants to early years initial teacher training (EYITT) programmes must have a minimum Grade 4(C) in GCSE maths, English and science (or equivalent). Applications are usually made directly to the provider. See Early years initial teacher training (ITT): accredited providers for a list of training providers. 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 would be suitable for the programme. Completing an EYITT programme awards ‘early years teacher status’ (EYTS) and not QTS; EYTS allows you to specialise in working with children up to five years old only. However, some providers may offer combined primary/early years ITT programmes with QTS, allowing you to teach at early years and primary level.

Teach First

Applications for the Teach First Training Programme are made online through their website. Recruitment is carried out on a rolling basis with vacancies being filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. The application form includes sections on academic qualifications (at pre-university and university level), competency questions, and a situational judgement test. As part of the programme, you will undertake a two-year PGDE, which gives double the number of credits of a PGCE.

The Brilliant Club

The Brilliant Club is a university access charity that recruits postgraduate researchers as paid tutors to help state school pupils develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to progress to the most competitive universities. The charity recruits, trains and places PhD students and graduates in partner schools across the UK, to deliver rigorous programmes linked to their own research with small groups of pupils aged 8-18. Unique course titles have included: ‘Combating climate change through renewable energy’ and ‘Going to school in Early Modern England, c.1500-c.1650’. Pupils also attend a trip to a partner university to learn more about higher education.

Assessment Only (AO)

Experienced but unqualified teachers who are already working in schools can complete the Assessment Only route to qualified teacher status (QTS) by applying 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. 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. Usually, they will also have teaching experience across two key stages in their chosen age range: either primary (age 3-11), middle (age 7-14) or secondary (age 11-19). Applicants must hold a degree (or equivalent qualification) and a minimum standard equivalent to a Grade 4/C in English and maths, plus a GCSE science subject if they intend to teach pupils aged 3-11.

Overseas trained teachers (OTTs) taking the AO route to QTS will need to attach copies of their teaching qualifications, UK ENIC confirmation of their qualifications, their passport and their work permit. The original versions of these documents will need to be seen at interview. In addition to the AO route, there are other routes for OTTs to gain QTS, with eligibility for each depending on where you qualified and your level of teaching experience. See the DfE guidance on: Routes to qualified teacher status (QTS) for teachers and those with teaching experience outside the UK .

Written by Gemma Fairclough, Manchester Metropolitan University, 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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