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How To Get Into Teaching


If you think you’ve got what it takes to inspire young minds through teaching, read on.

How to get into teaching

To teach in maintained schools in England you need to achieve qualified teacher status (QTS) through an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) course. You can choose to study full time or part time, through a school-led or university-led route.

The university route means completing your Level 3 study at school or college and progressing to full time university study. Once you have completed your degree you then need to complete a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education).

There are different types of PGCE, including early years, primary without specialism, primary with specialism, secondary, adult education with QTLS and international.

The school-led route, involves training within a school or group of schools and being employed once you have qualified (have achieved QTS, qualified teacher status).

The university-led route and the school-led route both include doing 24 weeks in the classroom, gaining teaching experience in at least two schools. They both also include being taught how to manage a classroom and the academic aspects of teaching and learning.

At a glance – what you need to teach

  • A 2:2 degree (second class honours)
  • GCSE grade 4 (C) or above in English and maths
  • A pass mark for the professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy
  • An average IELTS score of 6.0 if English isn’t your first language and you don’t have a GCSE grade 4 (C) in English
  • To undergo the criminal records check through the Disclosure and Barring Service
  • For secondary teaching, a degree of which at least 50% is in the subject that you want to teach.
  • For teaching 3 – 11 year olds, GCSE grade 4 (C) or above in science.

Primary teaching as a career

Primary school teaching involves working with children aged between three and 11, teaching all subjects.

Primary school teachers play an important part in the early stages of a child’s life, using their skills to help develop and educate. Early years teachers also have to act as parental figures to their young pupils, so it is essential for them to understand how to work with children and to take care of them.

If you are interested in a primary school teaching career, it would help to volunteer or to try and get some work experience in your local primary school – observing and working alongside teachers could help you decide whether you’ve got what it takes to teach.

You need to gain specific qualifications to be a primary school teacher. First of all, you will need grade 4 (C) GCSE or above in English, maths and science because a primary school teacher has to teach the basics of these subjects.

If you plan to teach early years and primary school pupils you will need a degree from a UK university, such as a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) or if you study another subject at degree level you would need to take a postgraduate teaching course, known as a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education). This is a year-long teacher training course. To enrol onto one of these courses you will have to pass the professional skills tests (QTS skills tests) in literacy and numeracy.

After gaining these qualifications you will be eligible for qualified teacher status (QTS), which allows you to work as a teacher in English or Welsh primary state schools and special educational needs schools.

As part of the training for a QTS, trainees have to teach pupils in two different age ranges, as established by the Secretary of State’s requirements for Initial Teacher Training. Once achieved, a QTS certificate will be issued by the National College for Teaching and Leadership or the General Teaching Council for Wales depending on where you registered for your QTS. You can find out more about getting into primary school teaching by visiting the get into teaching website.

The final step is the induction period, which each QTS teacher has to pass. This is generally run during the first year of teaching in school and usually lasts for a year.

The UK needs more secondary school teachers in physics, maths, science, computer science and Mandarin and there are special bursaries that you can apply for to train to teach in one of these subjects.


About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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