Is it too late to start an SKE course?

Ask Tes Institute: is it too late to start an SKE course?

It is not too late for your ITT candidate to enrol on an SKE course. Although September is looming, there is still time for teacher training candidates to improve their subject knowledge before and alongside their Initial Teacher Training (ITT). Programmes are available in Biology, Chemistry, Computing, English, French, Geography, German, Maths, Physics or Spanish and begin every month at Tes Institute. Trainees with a conditional ITT offer can apply here to start a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course in  August 2017.

Our enrolment team have put together some advice to help teacher training providers that are looking to recruit any last minute candidates for September 2017 ITT courses.

An SKE course can overlap with teacher training

Ideally, we would advise your candidates to complete their SKE course before they start their teacher training but as we get closer to September, it is likely that they will need to overlap part of their SKE course with their teacher training. Whilst it is perfectly fine for them to do this, they should bear in mind the additional workload involved. Typically, we recommend a trainee spends between 20-25 hours per week on an SKE course, but since our courses are 100% online and can be completed at any time, it is possible to fit this learning around teacher training.

It is important to be aware that during the overlap period a trainee will only receive one set of bursary funding if they are eligible for both an SKE and ITT bursary. In this time, they will receive the one with the higher amount, which is usually the ITT bursary. Their SKE course funding will not be affected during the overlap. If they meet eligibility criteria, the course is fully funded by the NCTL.

A part-time course makes things even more flexible

This new part-time option is worth considering for trainees who are starting an SKE course in July or August, particularly if you think they require an SKE course longer than eight weeks. Whilst overlapping SKE with ITT is doable, a longer full-time course may become harder once the demands of initial teacher training increases. Our part-time SKE courses are designed to reduce the amount of time a candidate spends learning each week by half. However, this means that the course doubles in length, for example an eight week course is delivered over 16 weeks. 

SKE is not just for candidates with non-subject specific degrees

Whilst SKE courses are ideal for candidates whose degree is related but not specific to their chosen subject, they may still be useful for someone who has a closely related degree or a subject specific degree. For example, a candidate with a closely related degree may start teacher teaching after spending time in industry and they may need to refresh their subject knowledge and build subject confidence. Our SKE courses also include subject pedagogy within sessions, so they will pick up extra skills beyond improving their subject knowledge.

There is no cost to you or the candidate

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) will provide funding of up to £5,600 for an SKE course, so long as you provide a conditional Initial Teacher Training (ITT) offer that states they must complete an SKE. In addition to this funding the candidate will also be eligible for tax-free bursary of up to £5,600 if their degree score is above or equal to a 2:2 classification.

There’s always next year

If you have turned down candidates this year because their subject knowledge is too weak, you might consider offering them a deferred place for 2018-19 on the basis that they complete a longer SKE course this year. Depending on the subject that they want to teach, they could undertake a course of up to 28 weeks so that they are better prepared for ITT training starting next year.

How do I enrol my ITT candidates before September?

If you have trainees that you feel would benefit from a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course and they meet the eligibility criteria, they can apply here.

Our application deadlines and start dates are below. If you want to minimise overlap with the start of initial teacher training we recommend candidates to apply for a full-time eight week course starting on 31st July start date.

Length of SKE SKE application deadline SKE Start date
8, 12, 16, 20, 24 or 28 weeks 7th August 21st August

Refer to our SKE guide for ITT providers or get in touch

We have put together a toolkit that covers everything that you need to know about SKE courses, which you can download here. Our enrolment team is always on hand to answer any questions that you might have, either by phone on 0203 194 3200 or email