Routes into teaching

There are a number of recognised routes to gain Qualified Teacher Status including PGCE, Schools Direct, SCITTs, Teach First and Teacher Apprenticeship QTS.

Teacher training systems change all the time so you need to read the official GetIntoTeaching website.

There are two main qualifications:

  1. Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
    QTS is a one-year course which is needed to work in a state-maintained school. This qualification confirms that you have met the government’s Teaching Standards and is followed by two years of induction in a school. Remember that you will need to decide whether you are going to opt for Primary or Secondary training.

    • Primary will train you across the whole range of Primary School subjects.
    • Secondary will train you to teach one subject. If you wanted to just teach one subject in a prep school, opt for Secondary.
  2. Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
    A PGCE qualification can include or not include QTS. This includes academic study and essay writing.

There are a number of recognised routes to gain Qualified Teacher Status:

Routes into teaching

Barnaby Lenon, ISC Chairman.

Although many starting a teaching career are new graduates, teaching is also an increasingly attractive choice for those wishing for a career change. Age is no barrier to training.

Subject knowledge enhancement courses (SKE)

It may be possible to teach a main stream school curriculum area even if you don’t have a degree in that subject. The teacher training provider you apply to may ask you to take an SKE course if they feel you have the right qualities to become a teacher, but need to complete additional subject training first. This could be for several reasons, including:

  • Your degree wasn’t in your chosen subject, but is closely related.
  • You studied the subject at A level, but not at university.
  • You have relevant professional experience, and an SKE course would show you how to apply that to the curriculum and your teaching.

These courses are also sometimes recommended for someone wanting a career change as a refresher to their original degree subject. Universities running these courses are listed in SKE Directory and there is further information available at

It is worth being aware, though, that some independent senior schools are very academically selective and will expect teachers to be able to teach up to Oxbridge entrance level. They may only be looking at teachers who have very good degrees themselves in the subject they teach.

Applicants from overseas

If you have a degree from an overseas university, you can still gain a teaching qualification in the UK. To do so you will need to check your qualifications for UK equivalency by contacting UK ENIC. You will also need to check with the training provider of the teaching qualification. The University of Buckingham offers an online international PGCE.

If you have been teaching overseas for a number of years and your teaching qualification and degree were gained overseas, in order to get a teaching job in a British independent school, you will need to check current immigration and employment legislation. You can also read information on how schools can recruit teachers from overseas.