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Postgraduate routes to becoming a teacher

Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through PGCE and Initial Teacher Training (ITT) routes as a postgraduate student.

Young science students listening to teacher


  1. University-led training: PGCE/PGDE qualifications

  2. School-led training: School Direct, SCITT and GTP

  3. Teach First graduate scheme

  4. Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses

  5. Entry requirements

  6. How to apply

  7. How to fund non-salaried teaching training

  8. PGCE/PGDE table

University-led training: PGCE/PGDE qualifications

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). 

School-led training: School Direct, SCITT and GTP

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.

Two teachers conversing in a hallway

Teach First graduate scheme

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 courses

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

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

How to apply

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.

How to fund non-salaried teaching training


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.

Northern Ireland

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).

University Number of full-
time students
% of students employed as a
teacher six months after graduating
Winchester 131 98%
Derby 178 98%
Dundee 170 98%
West of Scotland 168 98%
Aberdeen 272 98%
Aberystwyth 38 97%
Strathclyde 682 97%
Glasgow 322 97%
St Mary's 228 96%
Edinburgh 225 96%
Leeds Trinity University 204 96%
Hertfordshire 149 96%
Roehampton 223 96%
London South Bank 74 96%
Greenwich 179 96%
Hull 173 95%
Brunel 122 95%
York St John 142 95%
Wolverhampton 181 95%
Middlesex 97 95%
Reading 232 95%
Nottingham Trent 134 95%
Leicester 172 95%
Birmingham 305 95%
Goldsmiths 227 94%
Leeds 87 94%
Northampton 52 94%
Sussex 207 94%
Cambridge 220 94%
East London 218 94%
Highlands and Islands 50 94%
Southampton 199 94%
Kingston 115 94%
Bath Spa 273 94%
London Metropolitan University 159 94%
Newman 139 94%
Oxford Brookes 92 93%
Staffordshire 76 93%
Sheffield 90 93%
Liverpool Hope 332 93%
Worcester 257 93%
Oxford 113 93%
Liverpool John Moores 364 93%
Exeter 322 93%
Manchester 208 93%
University of Wales Trinity Saint David 305 93%
Sheffield Hallam 480 93%
Canterbury Christ Church 297 93%
Brighton 201 93%
East Anglia 159 92%
Nottingham 197 92%
York 97 92%
Bangor 119 92%
Huddersfield 95 92%
Buckingham 209 91%
Durham 130 91%
Bedfordshire 97 91%
Ulster 97 91%
Gloucestershire 116 91%
Edge Hill 452 90%
University College London 504 90%
Plymouth 82 90%
Warwick 225 90%
King's College London 153 90%
Manchester Metropolitan 543 90%
Chichester 180 90%
Chester 260 90%
Cardiff Metropolitan 221 90%
Loughborough 48 90%
Bristol 134 90%
Cumbria 475 89%
West of England, Bristol 122 89%
Plymouth Marjon 65 89%
Newcastle 74 89%
Portsmouth 73 89%
Bishop Grosseteste 200 89%
Birmingham City 270 89%
Queen's – Belfast 114 88%
Northumbria 159 87%
Sunderland 111 87%
Leeds Beckett 82 87%
South Wales 4 75%

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