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Thinking About a Career in Teaching?

Published: Monday 16th September 2019

If you’re looking to get into teaching, then you’ll be pleased to know there are many ways to become a teacher, whatever stage you are in your career. In fact, teaching jobs are a common choice for those looking for a second career later in life. As a result, trainee teachers come in all age groups, from school leavers to back–to-work mums.

teacher in primary class

While there are five main routes into teaching, for most you will need a degree and to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) through a programme of Initial Teaching Training (ITT).

Before starting out, it’s a good idea to decide which age group you’d like to teach. Teaching personnel are segmented into Early Years (0 to 5 years old), Key Stage 1 (5 to 7 years old), Key Stage 2 (7 to 11 years old), Key Stage 3 (11 to 14 years old) and Key Stage 4 (14 to 16).

Five main routes into teaching

PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) – This is probably the most recognised route into teaching. While this is a postgraduate qualification, most of your time will be spent in a practical environment in a school. Typically, 24 weeks are spent on placement and another 12 weeks are spent at university.

Being a university course, trainees have access to a lot more support here compared to the School Direct or Teach First route, as there is access to student resources such as finance, counselling and technology.

professor teaching in class


Entry requirements are similar to School Direct, in that you’ll need an undergraduate degree, ideally in a school curriculum subject, but, unlike School Direct, you may have to pay up to £9000 in fees. Loans and grants are available to UK home students. Training bursaries and scholarships worth up to £20K are available to the best graduates.

Undergraduate Degree CoursesIf you don’t have a degree, you can apply to a teacher training programme to graduate with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Most undergraduate places are for primary school roles. These last three to four years with candidates spending increasingly more time in the classroom as their training progresses. Two A-levels are required with GCSE grade C or above in English and Maths.

SCITT (School Centred Initial Teaching Training)The SCITT scheme is run by schools in partnership with universities and consists of practical, hands-on training delivered by teachers at schools, so candidates apply directly to the school, rather than the university. These one-year training programmes have similar entry requirements to PGCEs.

teaching concept


Teach FirstTeach First is an education charity that recruits high achieving graduates to teach in schools where the majority of pupils come from low-income backgrounds. Trainees receive six weeks of intensive training followed by two years at a school. During the first year, they work towards a PGCE qualification. There are no fees for these schemes: trainees are paid as unqualified teachers in the first year and as qualified teachers in the second year. Pay varies according to region.

School Direct – This initiative was designed to give graduates the opportunity to train in subjects where there are staff shortages. Here, you apply directly to the school and get on-the-job training and mentoring from day one. Many are offered a full-time job at the school at the end of training. To go in through these routes, candidates need to be graduates, ideally with a degree related to their chosen teaching subject. However, sometimes a subject knowledge enhancement course will be offered to help fill this need. Importantly, unlike Teach First, these are salaried positions, meaning no tuition fees.

teaching quote

Being a teacher can be challenging, but there are many perks and benefits, such as excellent holidays when schools are closed. As well as using your skills to educate and inspire a new generation, there’s a lot of job satisfaction and you’ll gain transferable skills that could be useful if you choose to change career later on. If you’re considering a career change into teaching, start with a search on Zoek.

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