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How to train as a teacher

29th April 2015

Author: Christine Phillips

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Students in class

There are lots of different ways you can become a teacher. Discover training options and the qualifications and experience you’ll need to get started.

Choosing your path into teaching will depend on where you live, and what experience and qualifications you have. To train as a teacher you’ll need:

  • A degree
  • Maths GCSE/Higher grade C or equivalent
  • English GCSE/Higher grade C or equivalent


If you want to be a primary school teacher in England and Wales you will also need a GCSE in science and in Scotland you need a Higher in a language. You can study through local colleges or at home  if you need to boost your qualifications.

If you don’t have these qualifications, you might consider becoming a teaching assistant. You will need good reading, writing and numeracy skills and many teaching assistants go on to train as teachers having accrued lots of classroom experience.

If you have practical work-related skills, you might want to think about teaching in a College of Further Education , like Steve who says, I wasnt too sure whether I could make the vocational heights to go into teaching, but setting your sights high I believe in and, you know, you can achieve it.”  WATCH VIDEO.

Most teachers in the UK need a teaching qualification to work, however:

  • You can teach in independent schools, academies and free schools in England without qualified teacher status.
  • You will also need to show that you have some school experience and spent time in a classroom observing lessons.


Before you start teacher training you will must take the professional skills tests and ensure you have passed them before you start your course.

Routes into teaching

A popular route into teaching is to study for a postgraduate qualification at university or college. These vary depending on where you live:


Universities and colleges across the UK run year-long full-time courses (or up to two years part-time) that develop your understanding of education theory and teaching methods. The training includes teaching experience on placement in schools.

Some universities give students the chance to complete an online PGCE course through distance learning. Teaching practice must still be completed to achieve qualified teacher status.

If you don’t have a degree, universities also offer undergraduate Bachelor of Education degree courses which can lead to qualified teacher status. See how Narinder gave up studying Computer Science and switched to a teaching degree – WATCH VIDEO.

Going back to school

There are lots of options to train as a teacher in school. These courses are delivered by practising teachers and focus on hands-on teaching skills. Applicants need to have a strong understanding of their subject.

School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) is a year-long course delivered in schools and leads to a PGCE and qualified teacher status.

School Direct is a training course designed by a network of schools based on the skills they are looking for and trainees are recruited with a job in mind for them.

School Direct (salaried)  is exclusively available for graduates. You usually need to have been working for at least three years but schools can choose to accept high-quality candidates with less experience. Trainees earn a salary during their course and are recruited with a job in mind for them.

In Wales, the Graduate Teacher Programme gives you the chance to train while working in schools as an unqualified teacher.

Other options

TeachFirst runs a two-year course for graduates in England and Wales where you can earn while you train working in schools in low-income communities.

If you are ex-Service personnel you can train through the Troops to Teachers programme.

Academics with a doctorate can become qualified to teach through the Researchers in Schools course.

If you are a teacher from overseas like Kelly, you may be able to gain QTS in England without any further training – WATCH VIDEO.

Financial support

There are a number of funding options to help cover the cost of teacher training. It’s worth doing plenty of research to find the financial help you need.

Find out more

UCAS has more information about teacher training options, courses and the application process.

The Department for Education’s Get Into Teaching provides details on all options and a freephone Teaching Line where you can speak to an advisor.