It can be quite daunting trying to weigh up the different postgraduate routes into teaching. From college and university-led postgraduate routes to school-led programmes, there are many different options designed to suit people with different skill-sets and circumstances looking to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and become a teacher in the UK.
Here are just a few scenarios that may help you decide which route into a teaching career might be best for you:
The graduate scenario
You’ve graduated from university and decided that you’d like to become a teacher.
An initial teacher training (ITT) programme would be the best route for you, but there are different ways to do it.
One option is to join an ITT course organised by a university or college. You would do most of your studying through the college or university, but will still benefit from lots of in-school experience as part of the programme. As well as gaining QTS there will normally be an option to gain a post graduate certificate in education (PGCE) in most subjects. There are fees for this route but many candidates will be eligible for funding, loans and/or bursaries.
There are also school-led routes available called School Direct, such as TES Institute’s School Direct ITT programme, or School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT). These programmes are designed for high-quality candidates who are selected for training by a school rather than a university. You will be based in-school most of the time, and given day release for theoretical study. If you have at least three years’ experience in a school this option can be salaried, but if you don’t there are School Direct bursaries available for qualifying applicants. There is an option to achieve a PGCE as well as QTS on our TES Institute School Direct programme.
If your degree isn’t directly related to the subject area (e.g. you have an engineering degree but want to teach physics) you should consider undertaking a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) programmes to build your knowledge and confidence before beginning your ITT programme. These programmes can be fully funded by the Government if you meet the eligibility criteria. Generally speaking, we advise all ITT participants to undertake at least some SKE before beginning, regardless of their degree focus. This is because they are an ideal way to make sure your level of knowledge is at the optimum level when you begin your ITT.
The career-change scenario
You’re losing interest in your current role and are looking for a new challenge as a teacher.
You’re not alone; plenty of people change careers to become a teacher. It would be useful to undertake some voluntary teaching experience before making the career switch, and you should also consider how strong your subject knowledge is.
Getting some experience of teaching before you apply will not only give you a better understanding of life in the classroom, but it will also strengthen your application. Advice on how to arrange such experience can be found here.
As mentioned above, if your degree subject is not specifically related to your chosen subject, or there has been a large amount of time between studying and now, it would be advisable to complete a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course. You can find these in the NCTL SKE directory. If you are completing an SKE course whilst working in your current role you may wish to consider one that offers the most flexibility to fit around your commitments, such as TES Institute’s online SKE programme.
- The teaching assistant scenario
You enjoy the supporting role that you play in the classroom but would like to progress your teaching career and gain full qualified teacher status (QTS).
Even though you’re already working in a school, gaining QTS can be both personally and financially rewarding. Although there are QTS Assessment Only options available, depending on the amount of experience that you’ve had teaching to a full-sized classroom you are likely to need some added guidance before QTS assessment.
A programme like Straight to Teaching from the TES Institute can provide you with structured preparation that will prepare you to meet the Teachers’ Standards before you are assessed for and awarded QTS. Unlike other traditional teacher training routes that focus on encouraging graduates and new entrants into teaching, Straight to Teaching works with staff who are currently in a school role by helping them develop their existing skills and knowledge.
The length of the programme will depend on your existing experience and can range from one to five terms. In order to be eligible for the programme you must already be employed in a school that is willing to provide you their full support, including an in-school mentor. Further eligibility criteria can be found here.
There are many routes to becoming a teacher. Most people considering a teaching career will fall into one of the above categories; however UCAS also has a number of useful pages, as does the Department for Education, explaining different routes into teaching in more detail.