Ask Tes Institute: what GCSE qualifications are needed to start teacher training?

Ask Tes Institute: what GCSE qualifications are needed to start teacher training?


You hold an undergraduate degree, you have some classroom experience, you have a strong understanding of your subject - but your GCSEs, or equivalent qualifications just fall short, preventing you from starting your teacher training - so what next?

Certain GCSEs are a basic requirement to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and become a teacher in the UK. Varying slightly for primary and secondary level, the requirements are as follows: 

  • To teach at secondary level a GCSE grade C in Maths and English is required
  • To teach at primary level a GCSE grade C in Maths, English and Science is required

If you haven’t achieved this required standard or you studied for your secondary school equivalent certificate abroad, you have a few different options to get accepted onto an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course.

If you got below a Grade C in the UK:

1. Your first option should be to contact the ITT provider that you are applying with to check if you need to sit an equivalency test- after all it isn’t the certificate that is important, rather your standard. If you are applying for a Tes Institute School Direct route or Straight to Teaching then please contact us to arrange an equivalency test.

2. If the first choice is not available, it is worth considering a part-time GCSE or Open Access course, the cost of which would you would have to front yourself.

If you studied the GCSE equivalent abroad:

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) does not provide a list of qualifications that can be considered equivalent to the GCSE examinations in English, Mathematics and Science. Instead, you can request a statement of comparability from the national body ‘NARIC’ to confirm your qualification. This can cost from £46.00 + VAT upwards and may be more if you require a Fast Track service or a Translation Waiver, so it is certainly worth applying well in advance.

Whatever your situation, do not let the lack of a GCSE qualification hold you back from your aspirations of becoming a teacher!