Postgraduate routes to becoming a teacher
Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through PGCE and Initial Teacher Training (ITT) routes as a postgraduate student.
The PGCE – Postgraduate Certificate in Education (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) – and the PGDE – Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Scotland) – are qualifications offered for graduates who want to become teachers. Courses are led by UK universities and colleges that are Initial Teacher Training (ITT) centres.
For primary teaching you take a general PGCE/PGDE, and for secondary you take one in your specialist subject. Courses last a year, or two years if studying part-time. This includes university study time and school placements. You’ll complete written assignments and action-based research.
Successfully complete your programme and you’ll be awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England and Wales or provisionally registered with either the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) or the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).
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- How to become a teacher after qualifying
Graduates from England can follow School Direct or SCITT to become a teacher. Graduates from Wales can follow GTP.
What's School Direct?
School Direct works with schools in England to offer graduate pathways into teaching. You’ll learn how to be a teacher on the job and be recommended for QTS. Schools work closely with a university or SCITT consortium. You’ll receive support from experienced professionals and teach unsupported once ready.
There are salaried and non-salaried options. If non-salaried, you’ll train while working at a school but won’t be paid. Salaried programmes are for high-achieving graduates with around three years’ related work experience. You’re employed as an unqualified teacher while you learn on the job, so you’ll earn a salary.
If you successfully complete the programme, you’ll be awarded QTS. Schools that work closely with universities may also offer the opportunity to gain a PGCE while you train.
What’s School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)?
School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) courses are run in England by networks of schools that offer teacher training for graduates. Courses lead to recommendation for QTS. They’re often delivered in partnership with universities so you can also work towards a PGCE.
Courses last a year and you’ll have plenty of experience working in schools. You won’t be paid, but you’ll be eligible for the same funding as university trainees.
What’s the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP)?
The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) is a Welsh employment-based route where graduates learn while working in the classroom. Programmes last a year and result in QTS. Programmes are administered by Initial Teacher Training (ITT) centres in Wales.
You’re legally employed by the school you’re training in, so you’ll get a salary. If you’re specialising in designated priority subjects or training for primary education, you’ll also get a training grant.
Teach First operates a leadership development programme that trains graduates to become teachers and leaders. It’s a social enterprise and registered charity in England and Wales that aims to end educational inequality.
The graduate scheme combines teacher training and a fully-funded PGDE course. Trainees develop the skills needed to be a leader in the classroom as well as in wider society. You’re put in schools that need the most help and will support students and staff so they can thrive.
The graduate scheme lasts two years and includes a six-week Summer Institute course, and then learning on the job in a school. You’ll also have opportunities to do internships, take on additional responsibilities and work towards a master’s qualification. You’re employed, which means you’ll earn a salary.
Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses address teacher shortages in key subjects. This tends to include subjects like Biology, Maths, Computing and modern foreign languages. If you’re interested in teaching a similar subject at secondary school but lack specialist knowledge, you can apply to study an SKE course.
Courses are available all over England and last 8–36 weeks. They may be taken before or as part of a teacher training course. They’re usually fully funded, and you may be eligible for a bursary to contribute towards living costs.
As an SKE candidate, you’ll already have been accepted into an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) course. This could be a university-led PGCE/PGDE course, a School Direct programme or otherwise, with the condition that you attend and pass an SKE course. Entry requirements vary between SKE providers.
Entry requirements vary for each programme, but most usually ask for an honours degree, relevant GCSEs and a DBS check.
- PGCE/PGDE, SCITT and salaried School Direct programmes usually need a Professional Skills Test
- For Teach First, you’ll be invited to an Assessment Centre where you take literacy, numeracy and curriculum knowledge tests
- If you’re applying for an unfunded secondary GTP trainee place, you must have been employed at a maintained school for at least a year
For PGCE/PGDE, SCITT and School Direct programmes, you can apply through UCAS. You may be invited to an interview that could include knowledge audits.
For GTP programmes, you apply to the relevant ITT centre with a letter from a school that has secured support from the centre.
For Teach First programmes, you can apply directly on the Teach First website.
PGCE, School Direct and SCITT trainees are usually eligible for a bursary from the government. The amount you get depends on where you’re from, your subject (high-priority subjects such as Biology have more funding) and your undergraduate degree classification. There are also some scholarships available, as well as tuition fee and maintenance loans.
PGCE courses are treated the same as undergraduate courses, i.e. you can apply for loans, grants and bursaries on the same terms as undergraduate students.
The PGDE is treated the same as undergraduate degrees. The Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) pay fees for eligible Scottish and other non-UK EU residents. A small number of PGDE subjects qualify students for training bursaries.
If you’re a PGCE student, you’re eligible for government funding. You may also be eligible for a training grant. The amount you get depends on your subject (high-priority subjects such as Maths have more funding) and undergraduate degree classification. Tuition fee and maintenance loans are also available.
The table below shows university performance when it comes to postgraduate teacher trainee students finding employment as a teacher after graduating. It shows the number of full-time PGCE/PGDE students together with the percentage of those students who found employment as a teacher six months after leaving (data from HESA 2016–17 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey).