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Becoming a Teacher - Teacher Training in England & Wales

Teaching is an important and increasingly popular choice of career for all kinds of people. Whatever your circumstances – if you're still at school, about to graduate, or looking for a change of direction – there are more ways to enter the profession and more support available to help you get there than ever before.

Ways into Teaching It doesn’t matter who you are, to become a fully qualified teacher in state-maintained schools in England and Wales, you’re going to have to gain Qualified Teacher Status (Q TS) first. Almost always, that means completing a programme of initial teacher training ( ITT).

Combining theoretical learning with at least 18 weeks spent practising teaching on placements in schools, ITT helps you to develop the skills you need to become an effective teacher and achieve qualified teacher status (QTS).

ITT comes in all shapes and sizes, providing options to suit everyone - no matter what your qualifications, experience, preferences or personal circumstances. Simply put, you can choose from the following different ways into teaching:

To teach in state-maintained schools in England and Wales, you must first complete a programme of initial teacher training ( ITT) and achieve qualified teacher status ( QTS). However, before starting this process, you need to be sure you meet a number of key requirements.

Academic qualifications To become a teacher, you will need a UK degree (or an equivalent qualification). You must get this first if you want to apply for a postgraduate course of ITT (ie a PGCE or SCITT) or the graduate teacher programme (GTP).

However, you can also complete a degree as part of your teacher training via an undergraduate ITT course (ie a BEd or a BA/BSc with QTS) or the registered teacher programme (RTP).

To be accepted on to any course of ITT, you will need GCSEs at grade C or above (or recognised equivalents) in English and mathematics. If you were born on or after 1 September 1979, and you want to teach primary or Key Stages 2/3 (ages 7-14), you will also need a GCSE at grade C or above (or an equivalent qualification) in a science subject.

Equivalent qualifications If you have qualifications from outside the European Economic Area(EEA), the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) will be able to advise you on whether your particular qualifications are equivalent to the minimum requirements set out above, and they may also provide certification where appropriate.

If you are an overseas trained teacher (OTT) you will still need to achieve QTS to teach in England and Wales. You may be able to do this through the OTT programme.

What if you don't have the required qualifications? If you don't have the necessary GCSEs in mathematics, English or science, you may be able to take a pre-entry test set by your ITT provider. Some providers may also accept skills developed through other, related work experience. If in doubt, you should contact your chosen ITT provider to find out what their requirements are.

Does the subject of your degree matter? Your degree will usually need to be in a discipline related to the subject(s) you wish to teach. For primary teaching, you should be able to demonstrate a good general knowledge across a range of subjects.

If you're unsure of the relevance of your degree, contact the Teaching Information Line (0845 6000 991 for England, 0845 6000 992 for Wales) for tailored advice.

If your degree is related to the subject you would like to teach, you may be able to complete a pre-training course, increasing your subject knowledge and understanding to the required level.

Personal qualities and experience Teaching is a unique profession, with unique challenges. Your ITT provider will want to see evidence that you will enjoy and thrive on these challenges, and that you are committed to a career working with children.

Indeed, some ITT providers require that all their trainees have some previous school-based experience. (You will need to check with individual institutions to find out what their admissions policy is.)

One way of demonstrating that you have the necessary commitment and personal fit with teaching - not to mention helping you decide whether teaching is the right career for you - is to get some experience of working with young people. We strongly advise that you do this before you apply for any ITT.

This website has details of opportunities for you to spend some time observing and working in classrooms, but you might also like to consider volunteering to run or help out in a youth club, or a group such as the Scouts or the Guides.

Background checks All prospective teachers are also subject to a number of checks, designed to prevent unsuitable people from gaining access to children and to maintain the integrity of the teaching profession. These checks will usually include:
  • identity confirmation;
  • professional and character references;
  • previous employment history;
  • criminal record check; and
  • health check.
For more information about becoming a teacher, call the Teaching Information Line:

Telephone: 0845 6000 991 (For English speakers) 0845 6000 992 (For Welsh speakers) Minicom:  01245 454 343

For general enquiries relating to the TDA (not about careers in teaching):

Postal address:

Training and Development Agency for Schools 151 Buckingham Palace Road London SW1W 9SZ

Telephone:  0207 023 8001  Website: www.tda.gov.uk

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