How to assess subject knowledge- does a candidate need SKE?

Tes Institute Team


As an ITT provider, it’s your responsibility to assess an applicant’s subject knowledge and if they are planning to teach a shortage subject, you have the option to include a condition in their ITT offer to undertake a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course.

SKE courses come in various lengths from 8-28 weeks to allow candidates of various knowledge needs to boost their subject confidence before or alongside their training.
Deciding on whether they would benefit from an SKE programme and how long it needs to be can sometimes be a tricky process as there are many factors to consider.
So to help you do this, we’ve compiled a checklist to consider before making your ITT offer. 

How long has it been since they graduated?

Although your applicant might have studied a relevant degree, the subject content and curriculum may have changed since studying. This is especially worth considering in areas of constant development, like sciences.  

What degree and modules did they study?

Consider how relevant their degree is to what they’ll be teaching and look into the specific modules studied and how they relate to the curriculum.
Most ITT providers will expect at least 50% of a candidate’s degree to match their teaching subject. For those who have an indirect match, such as an engineering graduate wanting to teach maths, an SKE course may be beneficial.

What was their degree score?

An obvious one but when considered alongside other factors, a degree score could help you decide the necessity for SKE. 

Is their current career related to their teaching subject?

If your candidate is a career changer looking for a new challenge, look at the industries that they’ve worked in- and experience gained as this could influence their knowledge and confidence in their subject.

Ask them to deliver a test lesson

Whilst you will get a good sense of a candidate’s subject knowledge through the conversations you have before and during their interview, asking them to perform a test lesson is a great way for them to showcase their knowledge and for you to see first-hand what they might be like in a classroom.

Practice GCSE tests

One of the best ways to directly assess a candidates subject knowledge is by asking them to take a practice GCSE test to identify any knowledge gaps and areas of weakness.
SKE courses are an excellent way for candidates to build a trainee's subject knowledge and start thinking like a teacher before they begin their training.
Many ITT providers find them invaluable for this reason and as a result have begun widening their recruitment pool to include candidates with weaker subject knowledge who may have been previously overlooked.

Tes Institute provide 100% online SKE programmes in Biology, Computing, Chemistry, English, French, Geography, German, Maths, Physics or Spanish.
Find out more about them here | Contact our team on 020 3194 3200 | Email