Teacher Training Routes: Get Into Teaching

Becoming a teacher is one of the most rewarding and difficult jobs. It takes a great deal of commitment, training, patience and skill to be the best possible teacher. However, many people who want to become a teacher have no idea how.

This blog will outline the different teacher training routes, and show you ways you can get into teaching.


There are numerous ways in which you can become a teacher and gain your Newly Qualified Status as a teacher.

Click on each of the links below to read more information about the different teacher training routes.


One of the most popular teaching training routes is the PGCE. PGCE stands for Post Graduate Certificate in Education. The PGCE is the best route available if you are someone who already has a degree in the subject that you want to teach. Possibly the strongest element of the PGCE is that it allows prospective teachers to conduct in-depth study of the theory behind learning and teaching. This will give a substantial amount of time actually teaching in schools, via placements. Once you’ve completed the PGCE, you will graduate with QTS, and will be qualified to teach in state schools within England and Wales.

The majority of PGCE courses start in early September, and take around 9 full-time months to complete. In most cases, you’ll be teaching a subject which links extremely closely with the subject that you did at degree level. However, it is possible to teach in a subject which doesn’t link closely with this. If this is the case, you might be asked to take part in a subject knowledge enhancement course. This will be done before the PGCE actually starts, and therefore the route will take longer to complete. The courses generally run for between 2-36 weeks.

You might also consider a subject knowledge enhancement course even if you don’t feel it would be absolutely necessary. These act as a refresher, and will ultimately make your application much stronger.

The relationship between your degree and the PGCE will depend upon the type of PGCE that you are taking. If you are training to be a secondary school teacher, you will need to demonstrate that at least 50% of your degree is relevant to the subject you want to teach. Primary school teachers will need to demonstrate a basic level/knowledge of all subjects. Your degree doesn’t have to be a National Curriculum subject.

The benefits of PGCE:

In order to apply for a place on a PGCE, you will generally have to use UCAS Teacher Training. However, there are rare exceptions to this rule, where the universities and course providers will allow you to apply to them directly. In most cases, the course providers use UCAS Teacher Training as a simple way of processing the sheer volume of applications.

Support Levels. The PGCE (full-time) only lasts for 1 year. One of the most popular elements of this programme is that it gives candidates a chance to prepare via classes and theory lessons. This prepares people before being thrown into the terrifying classroom environment. The PGCE takes a slower and more patient approach to developing good teachers. Furthermore, you will be in the same boat as many people from your course; meaning that you’ll have the opportunity to share ideas and support one another.

Freedom of choice. Another clear benefit to the PGCE compared to other options, is that you can (pretty much) choose the area/location in which you wish to teach. Although you might not necessarily gain a placement in the exact school that you want, you are extremely likely to gain a placement that is at the very least in your county. This in contrast to other programmes, where you can theoretically be sent to anywhere in the country.

Experience. The PGCE will provide you with plenty of experience in the classroom environment. As mentioned, you will take part in at least 24 weeks of placement in schools during the course. Combined with the theory side of the programme, this means that you are guaranteed time to get yourself familiar with the classroom environment.

Learning from experts. The theory-based element of the PGCE is one of the aspects that makes it so appealing to post-graduates. When learning on the PGCE, you’ll be taught by professionals in the field, who have vast experience of teaching. The wisdom that these lecturers can impart will be extremely valuable. As a newcomer to the teaching profession, you’ll learn to appreciate any tips or tricks that you can get your hands on.

When taking the PGCE full-time, each module will be worth a set number of credit points. Full-time trainees will complete 120 credits over the course of the year. In order to do this, your total hours of study will be longer than those of a standard university academic, taking a normal year of study.

The majority of the focus on the PGCE will be placement-based. This means that most of your learning will take place in the school environment. However, the course is organised in a manner which means that you’ll gain vital experience. This is known as professional study. You’ll gain a clear understanding of academic expectations before being thrown into the classroom. You can expect to take around half of the modules during the year, rather than before the placements start. This is ensure that you have a manageable workload, and to allow for a progressive approach. In particular, the Professional Practice and Independent Study modules will run right up until the end of the PGCE.

School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

School Centred Initial Teacher Training is a training programme that is, as you guessed it, mainly based in schools. This is in contrast to other programmes, where comparatively larger portions of time are spent taking theory lessons at a training institute. SCITT candidates work with pupils and experts in the field. This helps them increase their knowledge and become better teachers. The advantage of this is that you can generally select from schools which are nearby.

The entry requirements for SCITT, and funding opportunities, are the same as those for PGCE courses. Likewise, applications for SCITT are made directly through UCAS Teacher Training. You’ll be working in a range of different schools and will likely take a larger number of short placements than on other training routes.

The SCITT is school-based and you will need to learn on the job. It’s also hard to get places on the SCITT. Since the schools themselves will be delivering the training, there are limited places available. Despite the fact that the SCITT is quite ‘full on’, you won’t simply be thrown into the deep end and be expected to swim. You will be part of an established team, and you’ll receive extensive support from teachers and mentors. The school won’t allow you to teach classes unsupported until they know that you are ready. So don’t worry about jumping right in! You will have plenty of support and guidance along the way to ensure that you are more than capable of handling a class full of students.

In recent years, the above has all been included to incorporate School Direct, too. Many SCITTS offer School Direct courses. So, if you are an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher), then this could be perfect for you.

Now, let’s look at some reasons for why you should pick the SCITT over any other route:

Hands-on training. One of the most popular aspects of the SCITT is that it offers candidates a hands-on training experience. From day 1, you’ll be working with experienced teachers at the schools themselves, learning straight from those who have seen and done it all. This is extremely valuable and a big part of the reason that SCITT has such high success rates. The SCITT is run by a professional consortium, who will be responsible for managing classroom assessments, observations and support.

Immediacy. For some people, the thought of sitting round in a classroom discussing how to teach; instead of actually teaching, is rather off-putting. If you are someone who prefers to jump straight into the deep end, and start teaching straight away, the SCITT route is perfect for you.

Variety. Unlike other programmes, the SCITT will require you to work in a number of different locations. While some people might prefer stability, there is a definite advantage to be had in teaching in different locations, to a higher number of different students. This will give you more experience than if you took the standard 3 placements offered by other training providers, and you’ll be a stronger teacher for it.

Assessment Only Route

The Assessment Only route allows experienced teachers who don’t yet have QTS, to demonstrate that they meet the QTS standards, without them needing to take part in any further training. By the end of this route, you will have proved that you meet the Teachers’ Standards, laid out by the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

In order to pass, you will need to provide detailed evidence that confirms you meet these standards. In order to do this, you will be assessed by an AO provider in your current place of work, and you’ll also need to have passed the Professional Skills Test before being accepted. The assessors will judge you based on the lessons that they observe, and will measure your performance in these lessons against the teacher core competencies and expectations.

To qualify for the Assessment Only route, you must be an unqualified teacher, who has taught in at least 2 schools, either in an early years or further education setting. There are a wide number of universities, schools and colleges that offer the Assessment Only route. In order to undergo the assessment, it will cost a fee of £2,675 plus VAT, and a non-refundable deposit of £200.

Teach First

Teach First is a charity-based training route that has really picked up in popularity over the last few years. Teach First select top graduate candidates and then train them in conjunction with a group of different universities.

Candidates will then be placed in challenging schools around the UK, to work for a period of at least 2 years. To add to the challenge, you’ll only be teaching in schools where more than half of the pupils come from the poorest 30% of families in the country. The aim of Teach First is not just to train teachers to educate, but to train them to change lives. Since you will be working with low-income or struggling students, it will be your job to motivate them, help them believe in themselves and build a better future.

When working with Teach First, you will take 6 weeks of intensive training, before you begin teaching in one of the allocated partner schools. At the same time, you will be completing the Teach First Leadership Development Programme. Teach First has fantastic success results, with the large majority of candidates who complete the programme going on to teach. Teach First doesn’t just create teachers; it creates charity leaders, school governors and educational authorities. The aim of Teach First is to show candidates that education is a cause worth fighting for. It shows that your income should not prevent you from obtaining first rate teaching. It is this ethos which drives the course runners and applicants.

There are a huge range of benefits to Teach First. These include:

Unlimited options. As we’ve mentioned, Teach First doesn’t just teach you how to teach. It teaches you to become a leader, and this is something that can be applied to a whole range of fields in the educational sphere. Teach First candidates go on to perform great things, that aren’t just limited to the classroom. The values that Teach First instil on their candidates mean that the programme is creating a generation of teachers who want to go on and make an even bigger difference.

It’s a fantastic cause. When you enrol in Teach First, you’ll be working with students from some of the lowest income families in the country. This means that you’ll be faced with a wide variety of issues. Many of which are different to what you’ll encounter in schools in other areas. You’ll be a mentor to students who are in desperate need of it, and you’ll have the chance to help them turn their lives around. What could be more noble?

You’ll be salaried. Teach First candidates receive the basic salary for unqualified teachers in their first year. This rises in the second year to the level of an NQT. Your wages will depend on where you are teaching.

You’ll learn responsibility. Teach First is hard. You won’t just be thrown straight into the deep end! However, you will face challenges that exceed what would be expected from a normal trainee, on a different programme. The good news is that this prepares you for anything. You’ll develop compassion, understanding and a real sense of responsibility for your students. You’ll learn how important the role of a teacher truly is in improving the lives of young people.


Use our other resources to help you become a teacher.

We have some great resources including our How to become a teacher guide, QTS Literacy Tests, QTS Numeracy Tests, and our teacher interview training guide.