Levelprimary and secondary
Our SKE courses will help you to master your subject knowledge and learn the fundamental building blocks of each topic in preparation for your initial teacher training (ITT) or apprenticeship. You'll develop knowledge around essential concepts and learn how to evaluate your own practice.
Our SKE courses will help you to:
Gain comprehensive knowledge and understanding of your chosen subject
Identify key concepts within your subject to develop your content and curriculum knowledge
Acquire the skills to design, present and evaluate tasks to support pupil-centred lessons
Improve your critical analysis, reflection and evaluation skills
Discover ideas and activities that you can use in the classroom in preparation for your ITT journey
DfE funded courses
Our SKE courses are designed for ITT trainees who need to gain the depth of knowledge needed to train to teach their chosen subject. Carrying out an SKE course must be set as a condition of your ITT offer. Your ITT provider must deem that without the course you would be highly unlikely to meet the subject knowledge requirements of the Teachers’ Standards by the time your ITT is completed and qualified teacher status (QTS) is awarded.
To be eligible for a DfE funded SKE you must meet the following criteria:
Have SKE set as a condition of your ITT offer
Have applied for the minimum SKE course length as guided by your ITT provider
Your ITT subject focus and SKE match
If your degree matches your ITT subject focus, it must not have been awarded in the last five years
Have a degree (2:2 grade or higher) to access course and bursary funding. If you have a Third-class honours, an Ordinary degree, or an equivalent degree from a non-UK university you can access course funding but not a bursary
If you have been awarded a joint degree in the past 5 years and there is a direct match between one of the degree subjects and the chosen ITT subject you will not be eligible for a SKE. Please check with your ITT provider regarding physics and MFL: exceptions may apply to non-UK applicants.
Self-funded SKE courses
If you would like to develop your subject knowledge and confidence but are not eligible for a DfE-funded SKE place, you can apply for one of our self-funded SKE courses. These are available in three different route options, depending on which subject you choose and whether you require tutor support. Find out more
Our SKE courses are delivered 100% online and on-demand via our interactive e-learning platform, Tes Learn. This allows you to learn in your spare time in the week and fit your course around your existing personal and professional commitments. You can access course materials, lessons and tutorials from any internet-enabled device, anywhere in the world, at any time, making learning extremely flexible.
The DfE recommend that you should study 25 hours per week on a full-time SKE course to develop appropriate subject knowledge in preparation for your ITT. We encourage you to submit weekly assignments to support this recommendation and to ensure you complete the course in the set number of weeks. This adheres to the DfE expectations for bursary payments, if you're eligible.
You'll be supported by a pathway tutor who will provide weekly feedback, monitor your learning and give updates on your progress to you and your ITT provider. Your subject knowledge will be assessed throughout your course and at compulsory SKE assessment points to ensure that you're engaging with the course and making good progress.
Course materials consist of a range of tasks, including:
Pre-recorded interactive lectures
Subject specific tasks to complete
Subject-focused activities for discussion on class forums
Learning diary reflections
You'll have access to all the topics and study sessions as part of your SKE so you can carry out further self-study and make links across the curriculum. If you're a single science applicant in biology, physics or chemistry, you'll have access to all the science topics as we understand that most teachers will teach all three.
Part-time SKE courses
Our part-time option allows you to spread the recommended 25 hours of weekly learning time over a fortnight, so an eight-week SKE course would take 16 weeks to complete, covering the same material.
Laura is passionate about teacher training and development. With a rich background, she has contributed to various levels of teaching training, from county programs for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) candidates to senior leadership roles in establishing an ITT provision for a consortium of schools. Currently overseeing the Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) programme and our Straight to Teaching QTS preparation programme, Laura is thrilled to play a pivotal role in supporting pre-ITT candidates, breaking barriers to entry by enhancing their subject knowledge.
Deputy course leader
Rizwana joined Tes in November 2022 bringing to the role two decades of experience of teaching secondary maths and significant experience of working in teacher training. Rizwana is passionate about the life chances of young people and strongly believes in the transformative power of a high-quality education. She is keen to support the development of entrants in to the profession to ensure they are confident in their subject knowledge as they embark on their career in education.
Course length and funding
DfE funded SKE course are available with us for:
|Subject||Course length available (weeks)|
The number of weeks you should study depends on the level of your existing subject knowledge, which your ITT provider will determine. As part of their validation of your SKE application your ITT provider will provide a rationale for the recommended SKE length and an overview of the subject knowledge you require.
If your SKE and ITT do not overlap your bursary amount will be £175* a week for full time study to reflect 25 hours study as set by the DfE. Please note all SKE funding and bursaries are subject to DfE approval before payments are made. A detailed overview of the SKE bursaries is provided as part of the onboarding process.
Course start dates
|Subject Knowledge Enhancement application deadline||Subject Knowledge Enhancement start date|
|Monday 11th December 2023||Monday 18th December 2023|
|Tuesday 2nd January 2024||Monday 8th January 2024|
|Monday 15th January 2024||Monday 22nd January 2024|
|Monday 29th January 2024||Monday 5th February 2024|
|Monday 12th February 2024||Monday 19th February 2024|
|Monday 26th February 2024||Monday 4th March 2024|
|Monday 11th March 2024||Monday 18th March 2024|
|Tuesday 26th March 2024||Tuesday 2nd April 2024|
|Monday 15th April 2024||Monday 22nd April 2024|
|Tuesday 30th April 2024||Tuesday 7th May 2024|
|Monday 13th May 2024||Monday 20th May 2024|
|Monday 27th May 2024||Monday 3rd June 2024|
|Monday 3rd June 2024||Monday 10th June 2024|
|Monday 10th June 2024||Monday 17th June 2024|
|Monday 17th June 2024||Monday 24th June 2024|
|Monday 1st July 2024||Monday 8th July 2024|
|Monday 15th July 2024||Monday 22nd July 2024|
|Monday 29th July 2024||Monday 5th August 2024|
|Monday 12th August 2024||Monday 19th August 2024|
|Monday 2nd September 2024||Monday 9th September 2024|
You can apply for one of our SKE courses online via the 'Apply' button. Once you've applied, your provider will be required to validate your application. On starting the course we will then apply for your bursary from the DfE if you meet the eligibility criteria.
Throughout the course, you'll complete learning diaries and weekly assessments. There will be a final assessment to complete during your last week on the course.
At regular intervals you'll receive checkpoint reports from your pathway tutor. Your ITT provider will also receive a copy if you've nominated them for this. The reports are graded green-amber-red. Your tutor will provide you with feedback and guidance if your report is amber or red.
SKE is a pass/fail course, and an overwhelming majority of learners pass without any issue. Once your tutor submits your final checkpoint report, you'll receive a digital certificate within five working days. As a CPD course, we don't issue physical certificates.
Read our bursary guidance for information on SKE bursary eligibility.
Our finance team will be in touch within two weeks of you starting your course to request your bank details for us to pay your bursary. Bursary payments are made a month in arrears.
If you're not eligible for bursary funding, you'll still be eligible for course funding as long as you meet the funding criteria (so you won’t have to pay anything for the course, but you won’t receive additional funding).
You can apply for an SKE course by clicking 'Apply' above. You'll need to meet the DfE eligibility criteria first in order to complete an application. You can call the Tes Institute enrolment team on 0203 194 3200 (option 1) or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any help.
What if I want to complete an SKE course but it's not a condition of my ITT place?
If your ITT provider has issued you with an ITT offer but it doesn't ask that you complete an SKE but you feel that you'll benefit from one, you can ask them to amend your offer. Please discuss any impact that this may have on your ITT placement with your provider. They should do this before you submit an application.
To be eligible for one of our DfE-funded SKE courses, you need to have:
Accepted a conditional offer of a place on a postgraduate ITT programme that requires the completion of an SKE course in the relevant subject
Been awarded, or studying for, an undergraduate degree of 2:2 classification or above (or the equivalent) by the time you start the SKE course. If your degree classification is lower than a 2:2 (or equivalent), you can still apply for an SKE course and could potentially access funding with a conditional offer. If you have a third-class degree with a Master's or above, you should also be eligible to access funding
Agreement from your ITT provider to nominate Tes Institute to receive the SKE course funding from the Department for Education (DfE). We'll then administer the funding as advised by the DfE
Your ITT subject must match the SKE subject that you're applying for, with the exception of modern foreign languages (MFL) where you can choose another modern language if required. It's also possible to complete a double MFL SKE if your ITT provider has outlined this on your offer. Please only apply for the length required in your weakest language, as your second language will always only be eight weeks, and those weeks will be added on automatically. To apply for a primary maths SKE, your ITT needs to be focused on primary with a maths specialism.
Department for Education (DfE) funding is available to you if you meet the eligibility criteria and will cover the cost of an SKE course. The amount of course funding is based on your course length, and we'll request it directly from the DfE. In addition to funding for the course fees themselves, you could be eligible for a tax-free SKE bursary if your ITT provider confirms that you're eligible for this. We confirm this with your ITT provider as part of the application process.
Will I receive an SKE bursary if I've started my ITT training?
If you're eligible for an SKE bursary and an ITT bursary, you'll only be able to receive one during any overlap period (usually your ITT bursary).
How will my bursary be calculated if my SKE and ITT overlap?
If your ITT and SKE overlap your SKE bursary funding will be calculated by the DfE to the point of your ITT starting. The DfE will equally divide the bursary total amount over the duration of your SKE course.
When do I get paid my bursary?
The SKE bursary is paid a month in arrears, upon DfE approval. For full-time SKE courses that don't overlap with ITT, the bursary is the equivalent to £175 a week.
For part-time courses, since the programme length doubles, for example an eight-week part-time course is spread across 16 weeks, the bursary is £87.50 a week paid monthly.
Once you're enrolled, our finance team will contact you in the first two weeks of your course to obtain your details so your bursary can be paid directly to you. All funds are dependent on DfE approval. For further details please check our bursary manual.
Is an SKE course eligible for council tax exemption?
No, SKE courses aren't eligible to be used for council tax exemption so we're therefore unable to provide tax exemption certificates.
I'm in the process of completing my degree, am I still eligible for funding?
You can begin your SKE course if you're still completing your degree and any potential bursary owed to you because of your final degree score classification being a 2:2 or above will be paid, backdated, to you. Once you've received your degree classification, please send proof of this via email to email@example.com.
I'm an international applicant, am I still eligible for funding?
To be eligible for a DfE-funded SKE, you need to be a UK citizen who will be embarking on an ITT programme in England. Since the SKE is completed prior to starting an ITT programme, it is possible to embark on the SKE while abroad, if you'll be returning to England to embark on your ITT programme.
If you're not a UK citizen and/or will not be embarking on your ITT programme in the UK, you're classed as an international applicant and will not be eligible for funding, so would need to self-fund the SKE. There are exceptions if your ITT is in physics or MFL. Depending on your settled status and access to student loans you may still be able to access SKE funding. This doesn't apply if you're a salaried trainee.
The course is delivered 100% online and is based on reflective practice. You won't be required to attend any face to-face sessions at any time during the course. Content is available through a mix of live interactive sessions, audio recordings, video content, presentations and word documents. This course is designed to provide you with the confidence to deliver your specialist subject knowledge in a classroom environment to the relevant key stages.
How will I be assessed and supported?
You'll be supported throughout the course by a personal pathway tutor. You can always contact your pathway tutor if you have any queries about the course or content covered.
During the course, you'll be continuously assessed by your pathway tutor with weekly assignments designed to check and track your understanding of the content covered each week. Each session will have an associated end-of-session task that you must complete. These assignments take the form of practical tasks such as the creation of mock lesson plans and reflective learning pieces. They're designed to help you think about how you will teach the knowledge that you're learning in a classroom environment.
For part-time courses, your assignments are due once every two weeks since the course is doubled in length. You'll be assessed with a final summative assessment based on a portfolio of tasks undertaken over the duration of the course.
Your pathway tutor will review your work online, provide regular formal written feedback and will answer subject knowledge queries, as well as monitor your Learning Diary entries and other contributions.
How is my progress measured during the course?
You'll complete a subject knowledge audit at the beginning of the course and your allocated personal pathway tutor will help to tailor the course to your individual needs based on this audit. The audit also enables your progress on the course to be tracked.
You'll be expected to pass the assignments issued during the course so you can progress. If you misunderstand an assignment, you're given the opportunity to redo the assignment after liaising with your pathway tutor to confirm what needs to be done.
During the course you'll have checkpoints that you work towards, with the support of your tutor, to track your progress and to ensure that you complete the course in the time stipulated.
What feedback will I receive and what will my ITT provider receive upon completion?
Upon completion of the SKE course, you and your ITT provider will receive a comprehensive feedback report compiled by your SKE pathway tutor. The report will highlight your strengths and areas for further development during your ITT programme. If your ITT provider requires feedback on your progress at any other time during the SKE course, they can request this by contacting us directly at SKE.Institute@tesglobal.com or this can be gained from the check point reports sent to them.
You and your provider will receive check point reports throughout your course to keep everyone aware of progress being made. You'll receive check point report 1 (CPR1) after you complete your induction tasks and initial audit. You'll receive your second report after you've completed session one (this will be after the first two weeks, if you're studying full time) and then further reports every four weeks for the duration of the course until the final report once you've completed all weeks and tasks.
You'll also receive a Tes Institute SKE course completion certificate once you have successfully completed the course. This will outline the modules covered which can help to enhance your employability.
Can I pause my course if I ever need or want to?
If you're due to take a short break and wish to pause your SKE, you have the option of covering that week’s content in advance so you don't fall behind. If you fall behind, this will have implications on your bursary (if eligible), as ITT providers tend to have a set date that they expect learners to complete their SKE(s) by, and we check this with them.
For short breaks, if you're unable to cover the content before the break, you'll need to inform your SKE pathway tutor so they don't expect work from you during that time, and so they can inform you of any implications this may have on your bursary (if eligible).
If you wish to pause the course for a longer break, for exmple, for Teach First’s Summer Institute, you'll need to inform us and get your ITT provider to confirm with us that they're happy for the SKE to be paused for that duration. In the latter instance, they could confirm details with us regarding this by emailing SKE.Institute@tesglobal.com.
Is it possible to fail the SKE course?
All sessions must be grade amber or green. You can't pass the course with red graded sessions. If you're not engaging with the course, your pathway tutor will intervene and try to work with you to ensure you can catch up. The programme officers will also try and assist you in any way they can. However, if you fail to engage with the course and you're at risk of failing, we'll contact your ITT provider to notify them of our concerns through our ‘cause for concern’ process. This will be in the hope that you then start to engage with the course to catch up and don't fail the course.
If you misunderstand an assignment or gain a red grading, you're given the opportunity to redo the assignment after liaising with your pathway tutor to confirm what needs to be done. You can always contact your pathway tutor if you have any queries about the course, content covered, or assignments set to the expected standard and grading. If you engage with the course and complete assignments set, you won't fail, as your pathway tutor will support you to ensure you're on track.
We believe that an SKE course acts as good preparation for ITT, but we cannot advise you on the length to take. Your ITT provider will make the length of your SKE a condition of your offer. This decision should consider your subject confidence and the time available to you.
A short eight-week SKE course is aimed at ITT trainees who are proficient in their subject area but need to boost or refresh their subject knowledge and skills. A longer course such as 24 weeks or 28 weeks is designed for ITT trainees who need to improve and develop their existing subject knowledge.
How long is one unit/session?
One SKE unit/session takes one week of a minimum of 25 hours of study to complete, as guided by the DfE. If part-time, one SKE session would take two weeks of a minimum of 12.5 hours of study to complete, as guided by the DfE.
Are there part-time and full-time options available?
There are full-time options available for each SKE length. The part-time option is only available for eight-week and 12-week SKEs. The part-time option doubles the length of the course, e.g., eight weeks part-time is spread across 16 weeks. We recommend that you dedicate on average 25 hours of study per week to your learning if you're on a full-time SKE. With the part-time option, we recommend on average 12.5 hours of study per week. This amount may differ from trainee to trainee, depending on your own learning speed and the topic or assignment that you're completing.
Since our SKEs are delivered completely online, they're designed to fit around your existing personal and professional commitments and can be accessed at times that suit you, for example, during evenings and weekends. It's possible to cover more work when you have more time available and manage the workload in that way, as long as you meet deadlines for the assignments (whether part-time or full-time).
It's possible to finish one to two weeks early depending on how you manage your workload. If you complete the SKE ahead of time, e.g., in six weeks instead of eight, you'll only get the bursary (if eligible) for the six weeks that you were on the course. This is classed as compressed learning by the DfE.
If you wish to work to compressed hours, please contact the pathway tutor you'll be working with when you are enrolled so they can provide the correct support where required.
Can I do a SKE course in two languages?
It is possible to complete a double MFL SKE. To do so, your ITT provider will need to mention completing an SKE in both languages on your offer. For double MFL SKEs, you always complete the SKE in the weaker language first, followed by the SKE in the stronger language. The second SKE in the stronger language is always eight weeks long, and so if your ITT provider wishes to recommend a SKE length, they only need to do so for the weaker language SKE which is completed first.
If you're applying for a joint MFL French and Spanish SKE for example, with French being the weaker language, you would select ‘French/Spanish’ in your application form and would select the length needed for the French SKE, e.g., 16 weeks. This will then be followed by eight weeks Spanish SKE.
My main ITT subject is not listed as an available SKE subject, but my second ITT subject is, can I still apply for a SKE?
If your main ITT subject doesn't match the subject you wish to do a SKE in, you would unfortunately not be eligible for a funded SKE but could opt to self-fund a SKE course.
If you can however prove that you're on a 50/50 split between the two subjects on your ITT route and will be teaching the subject you wish to complete an SKE in during your ITT year, then it may be possible for us to explore options with the DfE. In that instance, you'd need confirmation from the DfE before we can enrol you on a SKE course. Your ITT provider should be able to confirm if your ITT route entails a 50/50 split.
My ITT is in PE, can I apply for a SKE course?
PE ITT trainees can undertake an SKE course provided the SKE subject matches their ITT subject. For example, if your ITT is in PE with maths, you could apply for a maths SKE. To be eligible for an SKE as a PE ITT trainee you should have an A-Level in an Ebacc subject (English, maths, history, the sciences, computing or a language), which your provider should check with you. You'll also need to meet the usual SKE eligibility criteria.
What does my ITT provider need to include in my ITT offer?
If you wish to enrol onto a DfE-funded SKE course with us, you'll need to have a conditional offer letter for a place on a postgraduate ITT programme (whether HEI, SCITT or School Direct). As part of this conditional offer letter, your ITT provider must include a condition that states you need to undertake a SKE course in the relevant subject (we don't need to see the conditional offer, but your provider will confirm it to us). Ideally, you will have discussed this condition with your ITT provider, and they will have suggested a SKE course length based on your existing level of knowledge. If they haven't specified a length, you can opt for a length preferable to you, or you can ask for their length recommendation.
If you have an offer of a place on an ITT course and it doesn't include the completion of a SKE course as part of the conditions, but you feel you will benefit from completing a SKE, you could talk to your provider about updating your offer letter to add the completion of an SKE as a condition.
If your ITT provider doesn't include the completion of an SKE course as a condition of your conditional offer letter, you will not be eligible to apply for a funded SKE course and we cannot access DfE course funding for you.
How does my ITT provider know if I need an SKE course?
An ITT provider will inform you if you need to complete an SKE course. They will normally do this by reviewing your application form and discussing your existing experience with you as part of the recruitment and selection process. If they're still unsure, they may ask you to complete a subject audit (or practice GCSE or A-level papers) to help identify areas that you may need to work on.
If you're unsure whether you need to complete a SKE course, we strongly suggest you discuss this with your ITT provider, as the course could help you with your preparations prior to commencing your teacher training.
I'm a fully qualified teacher, is this the right course for me?
Our SKE courses are for trainee teachers who are about to embark on an ITT programme to gain QTS (qualified teacher status). If you're already a qualified teacher, we can help with your subject knowledge with a similar course that is spread over a whole academic year to allow you time to complete it alongside a full teaching timetable. Please call us on 0203 194 3200 for more details or visit our SKE for Teachers course page.
I've been out of teaching for a while but want to return to the profession and am qualified, is this the right course for me?
We do not currently offer courses specifically for returning teachers but can help with your subject knowledge with a similar course that works best if you have secured a teaching role. Please call us on 0203 194 3200 for more details.
We advise that you avoid overlapping an SKE course with your teacher training because of the increased workload, however it is possible to do so due to the online and flexible nature of our SKE courses. If your SKE is expected to overlap with your ITT start date, your ITT provider will need to confirm with us in writing that they're happy for you to proceed.
Due to the online nature of our SKE courses, it's possible to undertake an SKE while abroad, but you will be expected to keep pace with your cohort. In order to be eligible for SKE funding, you'll need to be a UK citizen and undertaking an ITT programme in England. If you're not a UK citizen or will not be embarking on your ITT programme in England, you won't be eligible for funding and would need to self-fund the SKE.
Yes, you can start the SKE this year if you have a conditional offer asking you to complete an SKE and you meet our full entry criteria. Your ITT provider must confirm with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org that your offer has been deferred to next year though.
If you've already started your teacher training you can still do an SKE course and may be able to receive course funding for it depending on your circumstances, however you will not be able to get any SKE bursary. We advise you to avoid overlapping an SKE course and your teacher training, so we'd recommend speaking to us directly before applying.
No, this is not recommended. Our SKE courses aren't designed to teach the subject from scratch but to improve your existing subject knowledge, experience and skills. Our SKE courses are aimed at pre-ITT trainees who need to boost their subject knowledge within the context of teaching the relevant subject in a classroom environment.
It's advisable to have at least GCSE level knowledge of the subject you wish to complete an SKE in. If you have no subject relevant qualifications or experience, you'll struggle to keep up with the course, and this is particularly prevalent in modern foreign languages (MFL). Our MFL SKEs should be seen as language refreshers designed to help you think about how you'll teach the knowledge that you're learning in a classroom environment.
Your ITT provider will be the one to confirm with you if you have the relevant qualifications to be eligible for their ITT programme. If they confirm that you do and give you the relevant offer asking you to complete an SKE in your ITT subject, you'll then be eligible to apply for an SKE, as this will confirm that they feel an SKE is what is needed to update your level of subject knowledge to an appropriate level to start your ITT programme.
*If your SKE and ITT overlap your bursary will be calculated by the DfE to the point of your ITT starting. The DfE equally divides the bursary total amount over the duration of your SKE course, rather than a weekly payment of £175 paid in arrears if your SKE finishes before your ITT starts, all payments are paid in arrears.