How to become a Teacher in the UK - CCCG
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How to become a Teacher in the UK

Discover how to become a teacher, find out what it takes to shape young minds and unlock your potential with a career in teaching.

We always remember our teachers – the good, the bad and the downright terrifying! It’s undeniable that teachers have a lasting impact on young people. Teaching is a challenging and rewarding profession that requires you to ignite curiosity and foster a love of learning in the next generation.

If you’re excited by the idea of making a real difference in the lives of young people, then why not consider becoming a teacher? We’ve put together a guide to the essential steps, qualifications, and training options to help you land your first teaching role. What’s more, Capital City College Group (CCCG) offer a range of teaching courses to help you on your way.

How to become a Teacher in the UK

Teaching at a glance

The UK education system offers a range of teaching opportunities across various sectors:

  • State-funded Schools: Government-funded schools for ages 4-18 (some schools also have nurseries attached to them for younger children.
  • Further Education Colleges: these are state-funded and teach students from the age of 16 onwards. Many colleges have courses for 16-18-year-olds and for adults, and some colleges also have Sixth Forms.
  • Independent Schools: Privately funded schools which are often selective
  • Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools: Specialist schools catering to students with specific learning needs, requiring teachers with specialised training, skills and qualifications

Teaching small children is a world away from working with young people, so you should also consider which age group you’re interested in teaching. The best way to do this is by gaining experience working with young people of all ages:

  • Early Years (EYFS): Covers ages 0-5 in nurseries, preschools, and reception classes, with a focus on facilitating holistic development through play and exploration
  • Primary: Teaching Key Stages 1 and 2 covering various subjects in a classroom setting
  • Key Stage 1: Children aged 5-7 years (School years 1 and 2)
  • Key Stage 2: Children aged 7-11 years (School years 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  • Secondary: Teaching specific subjects in-depth for students aged 11-16 (or 18 if the school includes a sixth form) and preparing young people for further education or the workforce
  • Key Stage 3: Students aged 11-14 years (School years 7, 8 and 9)
  • Key Stage 4: Students aged 14-16 years (School years 10 and 11)

When you receive your Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), you’re technically qualified to teach any age group within a maintained school in England and Wales. That said, if you wish to change from one age group to another, you’ll have to provide evidence to show that you have the skills and experience to make the switch.

Teaching roles and responsibilities

Teachers are instrumental in engaging and supporting students. They have to juggle a wide range of responsibilities to fulfil the needs of their role.

  • Planning engaging lessons – including researching, developing and implementing a variety of teaching approaches to meet student needs
  • Encouraging students to participate
  • Marking student’s work
  • Creating relevant tests and supporting students as they work towards exams
  • Understanding the requirements of specific exams
  • Providing support for students with both academic and personal matters
  • Managing student behaviour
  • Following safeguarding policies and reporting any concerns
  • Completing administrative tasks such as maintaining accurate records and writing reports
  • Participating in extracurricular activities and external trips/visits
  • Communicating effectively with colleagues and managers and attending staff meetings
  • Conducting regular parent-teacher meetings
  • Completing mandatory training as well as continuing professional development

There’s far more to teaching than planning lessons and marking, making it a career that can stretch your capacity for multitasking and provide you with a unique skill set.

How to become a Teacher in the UK

What skills do Teachers need?

While qualifications are crucial, teachers also need an important combination of skills and personal qualities.

  • Subject Knowledge: You’ll need a strong foundation in the subject you wish to teach and a desire to keep learning. This will help you to effectively explain complex concepts and spark curiosity in students
  • Passion and Enthusiasm: It’s important that you have a genuine passion for the subject matter and a love for learning. Your enthusiasm is key to motivating students to engage and excel
  • Communication Skills: It’s vital to have clear, concise, and engaging communication skills to connect with students, parents and colleagues
  • Classroom Management: To maintain a positive and productive classroom environment, you’ll require exceptional management skills. You’ll also need to be able to deal with conflict and remain calm in difficult situations
  • Organisation: While managing a full timetable and dealing with multiple students, you’ll need to be an effective planner and have excellent record-keeping skills
  • Empathy and Patience: To foster a safe and supportive learning environment, you’ll need the patience to guide students through challenges and empathy towards individual needs

What qualifications do you need to become a Teacher?

The first step to becoming a teacher in the UK involves meeting specific academic and training requirements. These vary slightly depending on where in the UK you are.

UK CountriesDegreeGCSE/SCQFAdditional Requirements
EnglandTo be accepted onto a BEd course, you’ll need two passes at GCSE Advanced level, with a grade C or above in three other subjects at GCSE level.Minimum GCSE grade C/4 in English and Maths.

To teach primary or EYFS, you’ll also need a GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent in a science subject.

Some training providers accept equivalency tests.
You must declare any previous convictions and complete a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
WalesAn undergraduate degree from a higher education institution or within the UK (or equivalent).

To teach at secondary level, you’ll need a degree with at least 50% relevance to your chosen subject.
Minimum GCSE grade B/5 (or equivalent) in English and maths.

To teach primary or EYFS, you’ll also need a GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent in a science subject.

Welsh teachers don’t have to pass professional skills tests – but some training providers ask you to complete numeracy and literacy tests.
You must declare any previous convictions and complete a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
ScotlandFor PGDE programmes, you’ll need an undergraduate degree awarded by a UK higher education provider.To be accepted onto a BEd course, you’ll need two passes at GCSE Advanced level, with a grade C or above in three other subjects at GCSE level.You should be a member of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme.

You’ll also need classroom experience.
Northern IrelandFor PGCE courses, you’ll need an approved undergraduate degree.To be accepted onto a BEd course, you’ll need two passes at GCSE Advanced level, with a grade C or above in three other subjects at GCSE level.English at SCQF Level 6 and Maths Level 5.

Two other National Qualifications at SCQF Level 6 and one other subject at SCQF Level 5 for an undergraduate degree.

The different routes into teaching

To teach in England and Wales, you’ll need to achieve QTS through an ITT (initial teacher training) programme. This one-year course can be based in a school or at a university. On completion, if you meet the required standards, you’ll be awarded QTS.

In Scotland, you’ll need a degree followed by an Initial Teacher Education (ITE) qualification. After your ITE you’ll have a probationary teaching year.

In Northern Ireland, you’ll complete an undergraduate Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). If you trained outside Northern Ireland, the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) will need to approve your qualifications.

Most prospective teachers apply for teacher training through the Department for Education (DfE). In Scotland and Wales, applications for teacher training go through UCAS. In Northern Ireland, you apply directly to specific institutions.

PGCE

The most popular way to become a teacher is to complete a PGCE. You can choose to focus on either primary, secondary or further education PGCE. It usually takes one year full-time or two years if studied part-time. You can study at a university or through a school-based training programme.

Most PGCEs begin with an academic focus on teaching, learning theory and managing classroom behaviour. Once you’ve covered these essentials, you’ll spend a large proportion of your time in schools, working with two different key stages.

Not all PGCE courses lead to QTS, so check with your course provider before you start.

In Scotland you can complete a PGDE and in Wales, you can complete a salaried PGCE.

Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship

Another option for those who don’t want to return to university is a postgraduate teaching apprenticeship. This involves spending around 80% of your time getting practical classroom experience via observations and teaching across two key stages. You’ll spend the rest of your time studying the theoretical side of things in training sessions and conferences.

During the apprenticeship, you’ll build a portfolio to show your progress and experience while also undergoing regular observations. The course culminates in an End-Point Assessment (EPA), an external assessment comprising an interview and a lesson observation.

School Direct

School Direct is a salaried route for graduates with a minimum of three years of relevant work experience. You won’t pay tuition fees and can work towards becoming a primary or secondary teacher. Training can be completed at a school (or sometimes across two schools), or you can divide your time between university and school.

There’s also an unsalaried route where you’re based within a school, and receive training through a university, college, or school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT).

You’ll have a mentor to support you and assessment comes in the form of lesson observations and providing evidence of your skills. Not all Schools Direct courses include a PGCE/PGDE element so it’s worth checking which qualifications you’ll receive.

Teach First

If you study with Teach First, you’ll work within schools in low-income communities and complete a two-year programme which will lead to a fully-funded Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership.

This route starts with an intensive full-time five-week summer course or a nine-week part-time course to get your classroom ready. Following this, your mentor will oversee your progress. In your first year, you’ll teach 80% of a full timetable and in your second year, you’ll be an NQT (newly qualified teacher) with a full timetable.

All trainees (primary and secondary) get a fully funded Postgraduate Diploma in Education and Leadership (PGDE). You’ll also achieve QTS over the two years, all while working and bringing home a salary.

How to become a Teacher in the UK

Can I become a Teacher without a degree?

If you don’t have a degree, you can complete an undergraduate teaching degree or a teacher degree apprenticeship.

Undergraduate Teaching Degree

You could study for a Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) with QTS over three years full-time (four years part-time). Courses generally cover the following: how to become an effective teacher, inclusive practices, marking, assessments, learning theories, projects, and school placements.

During the first year, there are teaching duties within small groups. In the second and third years, trainee teachers have more involvement in planning, teaching, and assessment.

Teacher Degree Apprenticeship

From autumn 2024, there is the option to do a Teacher Degree Apprenticeship. If you choose this route, you won’t need to pay any tuition fees and you’ll work in a school while taking home a salary. During your degree apprenticeship, you’ll receive a degree and QTS.

How to become a Teacher in the UK

Professional development and continuous learning

In England and Wales, once you receive QTS you must complete a two-year induction period before you become a fully qualified teacher. During the two years, you’ll receive support from a mentor or tutor as you follow a tailored induction programme and demonstrate that you meet certain standards.

Once you’re a fully qualified teacher, there are many options and pathways for career progression. Schools often offer continuous professional development (CPD) to help you stay at the forefront of educational practice where you can attend workshops on new teaching strategies or collaborate with colleagues on curriculum development.

National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) are funded courses that offer a structured pathway for career progression, offering teachers the opportunity to move into leadership and enhance their management skills.

Conclusion

Teaching offers one of the most rewarding careers out there. It will plunge you into a challenging and dynamic world, where no two days are the same. You’ll get to watch young people stretch themselves and grow and be a catalyst for learning, engagement, and development.

We offer a range of Teaching and Teacher Education courses for prospective teachers of all levels and backgrounds. The world needs more great teachers, so why not look and see if there’s an area of education that appeals to you?

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