To be employed as a teacher in state maintained schools (excluding academies) you will need to gain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) through a period of initial teacher training (ITT) and a period of induction as a newly qualified teacher (NQT).

Although QTS is not a requirement for teaching in academies or independent schools, it may be preferred. If you're interested in finding out about alternative careers in education, read this guide on Education Alternatives.

Entry routes into teaching

There are three main routes into teaching:

1. University-based

PGCE or PGDipEd (Postgraduate Certificate in Education or Postgraduate Diploma in Education).Typically university-based and one year full-time, including school placements. Apply via UCAS.

2. School-based

School-based and school-led programmes which are typically organised by partnerships of schools, last for one year and may include PGCE/PGDipEd in partnership with a university.

To find out more about university and school-led training visit the Get into Teaching website and/or watch this video on Routes into teaching.

3. Teach First

Teach First is a two-year employment-based programme available in various regions, in schools that are in challenging circumstances. The programme offers PGDE qualification and hands-on experience in the classroom from day one, combined with leadership development training.

All training routes:

  • Cover a specific age range and at secondary school level, a subject specialism. Primary training covers the whole range of subjects
  • Require a degree (minimum grade requirements can vary) and for secondary this should be closely related to the subject you wish to teach
  • Require GCSE Grade C or above in English and Maths or equivalent . For Primary, GCSE Science Grade C or above

Application process

There is a single application process for university and school-based training, with applications accepted from autumn via UCAS (click here to check when UCAS opens). Popular programmes will fill up very fast so get your application in as early as possible.

You can apply for up to three places. If you are interested in Teach First you need to apply directly through them (recruitment takes place throughout the year, but certain subject areas fill quickly).

The Get Into Teaching has advice on preparing your teacher training personal statement.

Tuition fees are payable for postgraduate ITT programmes. Loans may be available to cover the fees and other costs. Nonrepayable bursaries are available for certain ITT programmes depending on subject area (shortage/priority subjects) and degree class. For more information about funding visit the Get into Teaching bursaries and funding page

Getting teaching experience

Although it's not always essential to have classroom experience before submitting an application, it can increase your chances of getting a place on a course. Getting classroom observation experience in state schools for the subject and age range you wish to teach will support your application, in addition to other experience of working with children of the relevant age. Locate schools in your geographical area to find this experience. Most local authorities will have a list of schools on their website. You can also search a national register of educational establishments in England and Wales.

Premier Plus - a nationally funded service offering application support to those who intend to begin teacher training in certain shortage subjects in secondary schools.

To find out more about these schemes and how to get relevant work experience visit the Get into Teaching 'getting school experience' page. 

There are lots of workshops and events at Birmingham that are specifically for students interested in teaching. Visit Careers Connect events page to find out when they will be running.

The University Student Mentoring Programme trains and supports undergraduate students to work in local schools and colleges, providing one to one mentoring support for pupils in Years 9-13. Jobs, Skills & Volunteering in the Guild of Students often has vacancies for part time tutoring opportunities.

The University of Birmingham offers work experience bursaries for any student in their first, second or penultimate year of study. For more details visit the internship funding pages.

Finding a teaching job

There are five main ways of applying for a job:

  • Specific vacancies – schools recruit directly through their own advertisements and selection procedures. Advertisements for teaching posts start in January, and the peak time is between February and June. This is how most schools recruit for teaching posts
  • Teacher registration schemes and databases – you register an interest to work for a school within a particular area and complete a single application form. This will then be sent to schools who have opportunities that meet your criteria. Registrations may open in the autumn; check with your local authority (LA) for dates
  • Pool applications – these are similar to registration schemes, but in addition to the central application form, you may also complete the selection process centrally. Schools can then select applicants to interview from the available, approved list. Most pool applications are for primary opportunities. Dates for applications vary so check with the relevant LA for dates
  • Speculative applications – made directly to the school. You will probably be more successful if you already have contacts at the school
  • Agencies – increasing numbers of teaching applications are handled by agencies, including those for permanent NQT posts. Registration with an agency will usually involve submitting an application form or CV followed by a meeting with a recruitment agent

Find out more about teaching

Not found what you're looking for? Find out how to get in touch with Careers Network. 


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