Which qualifications do I need to become a teacher?

Tes Institute Team


Ask Tes Institute: which qualifications do I need to become a teacher?

Regardless of the route you take into teaching, there are some standard requirements you’ll have to meet in order to teach in a mainstream school in England. 

The following qualifications are generally needed before starting teacher training, although there may be certain exceptions depending on the route. Our Straight to Teaching programme, for example, does not necessarily require meeting all of the criteria before starting the programme, view the requirements here.

Which qualifications do I need to be teacher? An honours degree

You cannot become a teacher without a degree- it is the highest level of qualification you will need. It has to be an honours degree (in other words totalling 360 credits) and if it wasn’t studied in the UK it will need to be NARIC validated. Teacher training providers may have minimum degree classification requirements- and these are generally higher for the more popular courses like primary teaching.

Your degree subject does not need to match your chosen teaching subject however you must have sufficient subject knowledge by the end of your training. If you are not confident about your subject knowledge then you may wish to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course before your teacher training.

Find out how SKE can help you impress before starting your teacher training

Which qualifications do I need to be a teacher? GCSEs

GCSE requirements vary slightly between primary and secondary teaching and are as follows: 

  • To teach at secondary level a GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent in Maths and English is required.
  • To teach at primary level a GCSE grade C/4 or equivalent in Maths, English and Science is required.

If you achieved this level outside of the UK then you will need a statement of comparability from ‘NARIC’ to confirm your qualification meets the minimum requirements. This can take some time so it is worth applying well in advance.

If you do not meet the minimum GCSE requirements:

1. Check with your Initial Teacher Training (ITT) provider to see if you are eligible to sit an equivalency test. If you’re applying through Tes institute we recommend contacting us to ask about the test (priced at £65+VAT)

2. Ask your local school if you are able to re-sit the relevant GCSE during an exam period. 

3. It might also be worth considering a part-time GCSE or Open Access course.

Which qualifications do I need to be a teacher? Professional skills tests

Up until 1st April 2020 you will need to pass both the literacy and numeracy professional skills tests before you start teacher training and some teacher training provides require this before they can even offer you a place.  

The tests are pass or fail and can be booked once you have evidence showing that you’ve submitted your teacher training application. 

After 1st April 2020 the skills tests will no longer be required for trainee teachers. Instead it will be up to your teacher training provider to ensure you are competent in both maths and English. Here at Tes Institute, we will be introducing our own assessment steps for both maths and English, more on this can be found here.

Find out how to prepare for skills tests in this blog.

Which other skills are needed to be a teacher?

Of course, qualifications are just one part of what is needed to become a teacher. You’ll have to have the personality and motivation as well as a few non-academic requirements which include: ensuring you are suitable for teaching, being physically fit and meeting safeguarding criteria, including having a full DBS. Whilst it’s not compulsory, you may also find it helpful to get some school experience.

Having met the teacher training eligibility criteria, there is now just the matter of deciding how to become a teacher! Our selection of blogs below covers everything from personal statements, to Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) and the skills needed to be a good teacher: