Teacher training is something you will need to go through if you have aspirations of becoming a teacher. One of the most widely recognised programmes is the PGCE, but there are also other training courses at various levels.

In this guide we’ll cover the different types of training and routes into teaching, as well as going over all the basics you need to know before you apply to a programme. If you successfully complete your teacher training, you will be able to interview for a teaching position and land the job of your dreams.

What You Need To Know

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Get up to scratch on everything you need to know about teacher training.

Before you think about applying for a teacher training programme and pursuing a job in education, it’s worth knowing what’s required of you and whether you’re eligible.


Teacher training programmes aren’t easy to get into, since you’ll usually be competing with a high volume of other applicants. As a result, some will have requirements and standards for you to meet to be considered. This way they can filter out only the best candidates to enrol in the training programme.


  •  Undergraduate Degree

If you are applying to a postgraduate programme, chances are you’ll be expected to have an undergraduate degree with a minimum overall grade of 2:2 or an equivalent qualification.

This includes the PGCE teacher training programme.

For other programmes a degree might not be necessary, but it’s always looked favourably upon.

  •  Grade 4 in Maths and English GCSEs

A requirement of many training programmes is a grade 4, or C, in both English and Mathematics at GCSE level.

This is fairly standard, but if you don’t meet this criteria there are ways to get around it and study for a GCSE equivalent qualification.

For aspiring early years and primary school teachers, it is also necessary to prove you have a grade 4 in GCSE science.

Subject Knowledge

If you’ve already completed your degree in an unrelated subject, but you still want to be a teacher, then there are subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses you can take to get up to speed.

A SKE course is designed to fill in any gaps in your subject knowledge, be it science, maths, geography, or languages. Whatever the subject, you can do this type of course full-time or part-time, and will usually have the option to complete them online if it’s more convenient for you.

These courses typically last anywhere between 8-28 weeks, and this will depend largely on what the subject is.

Fortunately, you won’t need to pay tuition fees for SKE courses as they are fully funded.

For more information on this type of course you’ll need to reach out to the organisers of the teaching programme you are interested in, and ask what they can offer you.


While having classroom experience isn’t a compulsory precondition for most teacher training programmes, it can boost your application and give you an edge over other applicants.

Experience can mean anything from volunteering at a school and observing the teachers to tutoring and having a go at managing a class if you’re given the opportunity.

There are several ways to reach out to and get involved with local schools, such as the government-run website Get Into Teaching. You can also try to contact schools near you to see if you could spend the day there to get some experience.


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Financing your teacher training doesn’t have to be complicated.

The next thing to consider before you apply to a teacher training programme is the fees charged and the funding available.

Training programmes for teachers aren’t cheap. A year enrolled in a full-time course can set you back as much as £9,250 a year, which puts it on par with a lot of undergraduate degree programmes.

Don’t worry though, there are a few different ways that you can secure funding so you don’t have to front all of the money yourself.

  •  Bursaries

Bursaries can be granted based on eligibility, and will vary based on the subject you elect to teach.

  •  Loans

Loans for tuition fees and maintenance work much the same way as with an undergraduate programme, and are managed by Student Finance England.

This is the most common form of funding, and is the most reliable way to get financial assistance. It’s the best option for anyone who isn’t eligible for scholarships and bursaries.

  •  Scholarships

A scholarship is hard to come by, since it is often only granted to those looking to teach certain subjects. If you are interested in teaching something that’s very in-demand at the time you apply, and you have a 2:1 degree in that subject, then you should look into available scholarships.

  • Salaried Training

The other main option for funding is paid employment while you train.

Some programmes, like School Direct, will pay you a salary as you train. This is a great option and can save you a lot of hassle with fees and other costs you’ll need to cover.


The other main consideration for teacher training programmes is what level you want to enter at.

While some programmes are postgraduate and exclusively for those who have undergraduate degrees, there are others which have slightly lower requirements.


If you have a degree at undergraduate level, then you’re in luck, you’ll have a choice of all of the teacher training programmes available.

Courses at postgraduate level will typically involve a combined number of 24 weeks’ hands-on experience in 2 schools or more. They will also give you a solid grounding in the theoretical underpinnings of teaching, and how to manage a classroom.

  • PGCE

The most widely recognised postgraduate qualification is the PGCE. To obtain it, it will take at least 24 weeks and involve multiple school placements. Upon successful completion you will earn Qualified Teacher Status, or QTS as it’s commonly referred to.

  •  School Direct

School Direct provides a way to make money as you train, and pays participants a salary.

Learning on the job is a great way to pick up the practical skills to help you succeed as a teacher, and can result in a PGCE qualification.

  • Assessment Only

Assessment only is a route into teaching available for those who have been working as teachers but don’t have QTS.

If you can prove you have the qualifications and plenty of past work experience in a school, then all you’ll have to do is pass an exam to bypass the teacher training programmes.

No Degree

Without a degree, there will be less training programmes, but there are still some great options.

  • QTS Degrees

If your plan is to become a teacher, and you also want to go to university to study, then it’s worth finding a QTS degree.

A QTS degree is one which will grant you QTS upon successful completion. This is a fairly straightforward way to get into teaching, and you can choose to study the subject of your choice to get there.

Alternatively, you can choose an undergraduate degree without QTS and then do your training as a postgraduate.

  • Future Teaching Scholars

The Future Teaching Scholars programme is a 6-year course which offers funding for undergraduate studies and lines you up for employment training once you finish.

If you are going to study Maths or Physics at university and you like the idea of transitioning straight into paid teacher training when you’re done, then this programme is perfect for you.

  • Diploma in Education and Training

A Diploma in Education and Training (DET) programme is a level 5 qualification that you can take as a non-graduate.

This course will only last a year, and can be completed either part time or full time.

Upon successful completion of this training programme you can apply for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QLTS) status, which is an equivalent to QTS.

Everything You Need To Know About PGCE

Graduate in ceremonial robe.
If you are looking for a postgraduate programme then the PGCE is best.

The PGCE is one of the most popular qualifications for teachers, but why?

Is it Necessary to Become a Teacher?

First, it’s worth mentioning that the PGCE can only be studied in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

As for whether you need one to become a teacher, the short answer is no.

The reality is, all you need to become a teacher is QTS. Once you have attained it through a teacher training programme, you’re good to go.

So why study for a PGCE in the first place?

Well, having a PGCE to your name will lend a lot of weight to your credibility as a teacher for a start.

It’s also internationally recognised so you can take your teaching career elsewhere if you ever wanted to, or have more credits to take a masters in the future.

Not to mention all of the skills and teaching theory you’ll learn along the way which should help you grow into the profession and become a well-rounded teacher.

How To Get It

In order to get the prestigious teaching qualification, you will need to find a PGCE course.

A lot of postgraduate teacher training course will include PGCE training, and you won’t be able to get it if you don’t already have an undergraduate degree.

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Sam is an English teaching assistant and freelance writer based in southern Spain. He enjoys exploring new places and cultures, and picking up languages along the way.