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Careers Centre


Sector Overview


Applying for teacher training 2019

England & Wales
For university/college-led PGCEs, SCITTs and School Direct programmes throughout England and Wales, you apply through UCAS Teacher Training. Application dates should be available on the UCAS website soon.

Applications for PGDEs in Scotland are made through the main UCAS undergraduate application system.


The primary and secondary education systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are similar in their administration. Scotland runs a separate system, with its own laws and practices. Over the last few years, competition for places on teacher training courses and for first jobs has become increasingly fierce.

The education sector is a rewarding and inspiring area in which to work. Many educators feel the reason they enjoy their work is the satisfaction of imparting knowledge, normally about a subject they are passionate about. Teaching can, however, be a challenging career – there will always be difficult pupils, and good classroom control is vital. Working hours are generally Monday to Friday and usually between 8.30am and 5pm, although not all of that time is spent in the classroom. Teachers get up to 13 weeks holiday a year.

Teaching salaries compare favourably with other graduate professions, but will differ according to which geographical location you wish to work. Further details on salaries can be found on the Get Into Teaching website.

Prospects: Teaching and Education

Teaching attributes/skills profile

Key attributes/skills needed for the roleWhere you could develop these skills or attributes while at university
Specialist subject knowledge

CAPOD offers courses on these kinds of skills regularly within its Professional Skills Curriculum.

Taking on positions of responsibility in student-run societies will give you the chance to put these into practice.

Choosing module ID4001 or ID4002 will provide you with the opportunity to gain real experience in the classroom.
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Persuasiveness and motivating  skills
Decision-making abilities and leadership potential
The ability to think strategically and to plan ahead
Flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances, while still meeting curriculum targets or exam deadlines
Above all, enjoy working with children and young adults Keep up-to-date with curriculum news, and develop this attribute through extra-curricular activity in student-run societies such as the Teach Society

Other key attributes/skills demanded for the role: do you possess them?

  • Resilience, an ability to handle criticism and make difficult decisions
  • Stamina, energy and empathy, the work will involve high energy levels
  • Negotiating skills, an ability to engage challenging students to remain on task

Range of jobs

There are a wide range of opportunities in teaching throughout the UK. Although training routes differ, most graduates who choose teaching go on to become either secondary or primary teachers in state schools. A small number move into the independent sector. There are opportunities to progress into positions of responsibility in schools which attract responsibility points and increased salary.

There are some roles beyond the classroom to progress towards: eg in teacher training, research, advisory and inspection roles and local or civil service administration.

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) website has good advice on initial teacher training explaining the various avenues into teaching and how to obtain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) and/or PGCE whilst working in a school. QTS is a statutory qualification that is equally valid across the independent and state school sectors.


Why are networks important?

Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your case for why they should employ you. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (many organisations have their own page) to connect with organisations.

Where alumni work now

Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work for In2 Education, Teach First and Chatteris Educational Foundation. Alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews.

Your networks

There are several ways to make contact with alumni.

All routes into teaching

Information about the different routes is available on the UCAS website.

Targetpostgrad has lots of good advice on teaching, including routes to becoming a teacher, choosing a teacher training course and funding.

There are a range of postgraduate options and routes into teaching, namely:

Training in universities and colleges

On these training programmes you will be based at a university or college, and you will get classroom placements, enabling you to teach and train in at least two schools.

Get into Teaching This link provides online Q&A sessions with professionals from policy, schools and university PGCE providers. Students can click through and book a session to virtually attend as well as review archived sessions.


Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship (new)

A new postgraduate teaching apprenticeship to offer talented graduates an alternative route into the profession was announed on 19 October. Developed in partnership with the sector, the new apprenticeship will provide hands-on experience for new recruits and a chance to learn from excellent, experienced teachers during training, as well as the incentive of potential employment as a qualified teacher at the end of the apprenticeship course. The apprenticeship, which launches in September 2018, will mirror the entry criteria and high-quality course content currently required of all other teacher trainees and will give schools across the country the opportunity to use the apprenticeship to recruit and train new teachers in-house. 

Further details can be found on the press release. Brief information for candidates is available on the Get into Teaching website.


School-based teacher training

School Direct (England)

This is a new programme offering two routes (salaried and unsalaried) to qualifying as a teacher:

There are two School Direct training options you can apply for –one that's open to all high quality graduates, and a salaried option for high quality graduates with at least three years' work experience.

School Direct Training Programme (the most popular option)

School Direct Training Programme (salaried)

School Direct - the new way into teaching.

School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) (England)

Teach First

Teach First, a scheme for those interested in teaching for a period of two years before going on to another challenging career or staying in teaching was launched in 2003. The scheme involves teaching in challenging schools in England and Wales.

Teach First recruits graduates who do not possess Qualified to Teach Status or a PGCE. In the first year, participants undertake an 80% teaching commitment in school, during which they are supported by Teach First, our partner universities and school mentors in training to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) at the end of the year, as part of a postgraduate / professional graduate certificate in education (PGCE award).

Applications to the Teach First Leadership Development Programme are made online through the Teach First website. Applications generally open in June each year and close for each subject as places are filled. Early application is advisable.

Teach first video - Change their lives

Northern Ireland

It is compulsory to have a recognised teacher training qualification in order to gain a permanent teaching post in primary or secondary schools in Northern Ireland. Competition for teaching posts is extremely high and, as a result, many newly qualified teachers (NQTs) spend their first year in temporary teaching posts.

Choosing the right route for you

UCAS Teacher Training have developed a ‘quiz’ - which teacher training route is right for you?.

The Department for Education website has a quick and easy tool designed to help you find the most suitable training route for a career in teaching. Ways of getting into teaching.

Training to teach in further and higher education (England)

The further education and skills sector includes further education (FE) colleges, independent training providers, the third sector (charities and social enterprises), adult and community learning, offender learning and the armed and uniformed services. There are several teaching qualifications available if you wish to teach students beyond the age of compulsory education; your choice will depend on the type of teaching role you wish to pursue.

Further advice can be found on the following websites:


Academic entry requirements

England & Wales

Applicants will need to meet the following requirements in order to apply for teacher training in England & Wales:

1. You'll need a degree awarded by a UK university, or a recognised equivalent qualification.

2. GCSE English and Maths (or equivalent) at grade C or above (or grade B if you're applying in Wales).

3. For primary or middle school (key stages 2–3) you'll also need at least a C grade in GCSE science (or equivalent).


Requirements in Scotland are different – check the Teach in Scotland website for current details.

Online access courses in English and Maths, University of Aberdeen - further details.

Northern Ireland

The Department of Education Northern Ireland website has details of the minimum educational qualifications for admission to initial teacher education courses in Northern Ireland institutions.


The funding available for teacher training in the UK depends on certain eligibility criteria, including:


England & Wales

There are three main sources of funding available to teach in England & Wales:

1. Training bursaries/scholarships

2. Tuition fee loans

3. Maintenance and special support

See the Department for Education – Get into Teaching website for full details on fees and funding.


The Student Awards Agency for Scotland is responsible for providing fees, loans and bursaries for all Initial Teacher Education undergraduate and postgraduate (PGDE) programmes. Their website provides information on all types of student funding available and allows you to apply for financial support. The amount of support you can get depends on whether you study full time or part time and on your personal financial circumstances.

NB To be eligible for SAAS funding, you must be studying an eligible course and meet SAAS residence conditions, i.e. ordinarily resident in Scotland for 3 years on the first day of the first academic year of the course. Having studied full-time education in Scotland does not count as being ordinarily resident. Residence eligibility conditions can be complicated. If you are in any doubt about your residence status, you should contact SAAS for further advice.

Further details on financial help available can also be found on the Teach in Scotland website.

Northern Ireland

Financial help may be available if you're studying to become a teacher in Northern Ireland. The type of help you can get will depend on the teacher training route you choose and your own personal circumstances.

Students who are interested in pursuing a PGCE course should contact the Student Finance NI office in their Regional Education Authority (formerly known as Education and Library Boards) to find out if they are eligible to apply for this support. Visit Student Finance NI and enter your home postcode.

Application procedure

England, Wales and Scotland

For university/college-led PGCEs, SCITTs and School Direct programmes throughout England and Wales you apply through UCAS Teacher Training. Applications for PGDEs in Scotland are made through the main UCAS undergraduate application system.

If you need help choosing an initial teacher training (ITT) provider in England, visit the teacher training providers Performance Profiles website to search for and compare universities, colleges and schools. As well as the quality of the individual course, you may want to bear in mind the following criteria when choosing the courses you apply to: geographic proximity to where you would like to teach afterwards; nature of schools intake e.g. rural/urban in the light of future preferences; proximity of partner schools to the training provider and your likely accommodation.

Professional skills tests for applicants to PGCE courses in England & Wales

All trainee teachers in England & Wales are required to pass skills tests in numeracy and literacy before they can be recommended for the award of qualified teacher status (QTS).

The numeracy and literacy skills tests:

For information on the skills tests visit the Department for Education website.

The Careers Centre has two books on the Professional Skills Test:


Teach First

Applications to the Teach First Leadership Development Programme are made online through the Teach First website. Applications generally open in June each year and close for each subject as places are filled. Early application is advisable.

Northern Ireland

UCAS does not process any applications for Northern Ireland Providers - these are usually recruited for direct by the providers - contact your institution of choice for application forms and details of entry requirements.

TARGETjobs has good advice on Training to Teach in Northern Ireland.

Personal statements

Part of the UCAS application process includes the completion of a 'Personal Statement', which tells your chosen training providers why you want to become a teacher and why they should want you as a student. 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. Providers will be interested in the range of skills you would bring to teaching, for example, practical experience, managing people, working with or leading a team, and communication skills.

Click on the following links for further advice and examples of Personal Statements:


An interview is an essential part of the application process for all initial teacher training (ITT).

The format of the interview will vary, not only between institutions, but also subject area, but normally includes an individual interview and other selection activities, which may include written tests, presentations, and group discussions. The selection process should last at least half a day and will be intensive.

The following links contain useful information on interviews, including what to expect and how to prepare:

How to get experience

If you're thinking of a teaching career, it is essential to get work experience with the age of pupils you want to work with. This is also an opportunity to sample life as a teacher before committing yourself to a training course. Many PGCE/PGDE course tutors now insist that you have spent some time observing your prospective subject(s) being taught in a maintained school before they will interview you for a course place. As teaching becomes more popular, work experience is becoming crucial. Some examples include:

University of St Andrews - teaching experience

Other opportunities

How to find a teaching job

Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) or those nearing the end of their teacher training course will need to start applying for their first teaching job. To identify teaching jobs appropriate to you, consider your preferences, eg location, type and size of school, year group/key stage, teaching methods and the performance/reputation of the school.


International students

If you studied outside the UK, check the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) website to find out whether your qualifications are of an equivalent level to UK GCSEs, A levels and an undergraduate degree.

International students wishing to train to teach in the UK are able to do so but are unlikely to be eligible for financial support. EEA nationals who are fully qualified to teach in an EEA country have the right to work as a qualified teacher in any other member state. Before a teaching post can be taken up in the UK an overseas qualified teacher must apply to the relevant body (such as the Department for Education and General Teaching Councils for Scotland). A qualified teacher wishing to teach outside of the EEA should contact the educational authority of the country you wish to work in to see if your qualifications are satisfactory.

There are frequent changes to the rules affecting international students and recent graduates wishing to work in the UK. It is recommended that, for the most up-to-date information, you check the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website which offers independent information and advice about immigration, finance and working in the UK and also the UK Visas and Immigration website.

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources


Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:


The Careers Centre has two books on the Professional Skills Test:


Related Careers A-Z page


General teaching careers information

Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines


USA resources


The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.


Internships in the US - Education & Teaching

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply designed to serve as a starting point.