PGDE Scotland, Teacher Training Postgraduate Qualification

Teaching in Scotland could provide you with a graduate respected occupation and well defined career progression. First you require qualifying through a postgraduate PGDE Scotland teacher training course or other teacher qualification such as a PGCE, BEd in Education, MEd Masters in England.

The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) qualification is a popular formal study & training course at postgraduate level to becoming a primary or secondary school teacher in Scotland schools.

The diploma in teaching is also becoming more popular in England, after completing an undergraduate degree.

All teaching courses Scotland are conducted in schools and in conjunction with universities in Scotland. In England universities and teacher training providers offer PGDE programs where they provide the formal theoretical training.

PGDE Scotland

What is a PGDE Scotland? A Professional Graduate Diploma in Education enabling you to teach in Scotland schools.

A post grad teacher training Scotland course that can be completed over one academic year full-time study at university and school placement from August to the following June.

Yes, a way for you to get into teaching Scotland on a graduate teacher course, similar to an English PGCE.

Is a PGDE a Masters degree? No, although in Scotland it is at level 11 qualification which forms the first part of a masters and you’ll receive transfer credit for prior learning.

PGDE Scotland

Student teachers can choose between PGDE secondary & PGDE primary route and complete training at a primary school or at 12-18 years secondary school.

After successfully completing the teaching qualification you go onto become a probationary teacher for one year, then become a fully qualified teacher.

See PGDE vs PGCE qualifications

PGDE England

Becoming more popular by school teacher training providers and universities in England PGDE courses are offered full or part time.  Each postgraduate PGDE awards 120 masters credits toward a master’s degree and confers Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England.

Initial teacher training education courses in England are not much different than Scotland, although you’ll find less subject areas are offered by education providers.

You can choose between a university led course or a school direct training provider whereby the school provides most of the training required and less input from formal university attendance.

Teacher trainees spend more time in school on teaching practice, typically 24 of the 36 weeks in 2 school placements.

English school PGDE age range targeted at compulsory education and sixth form at 11 to 19 years old, year 7 to 13 for PGDE Secondary.

Early years PGDE in England for 3 to 7 years old.

Primary PGDE England for teaching 5 to 11 year olds.

What differentiates a PGDE and PGCE

PGDE Scotland entry requirements

The difference mainly between as PGDE and a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) PGDE is a Diploma with 120 master level credits, PGCE is a certificate providing 60 masters credits.  

Is a PGDE better than a PGCE? Yes, as a PGDE is a higher award with more in-depth advanced educational learning compared to a PGCE.

Also, university PGDE in Scotland students are guaranteed a 12 month probationary teaching post following they’re course to become fully qualified as a school teacher.

PGCE and PGDE are both accepted in Wales, England (General Teaching Council England) GTC), Northern Ireland and teaching abroad as qualified school teachers. 

List of Scottish universities & England providing PGDE teacher training

11 universities in Scotland at present offer primary PGDE or secondary PGDE training and others in England:

See Here for the University of Aberdeen Profile 

See Here for the University of Aberdeen Profile

University of the Highlands and Islands

University of the West of Scotland

Liverpool John Moores University 

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 

Other PGDE courses offered in the UK by universities and training organisations.

Secondary school PGDE subject areas to choose from

Not all universities offer the same subject specialism to teach, although secondary and primary school teaching PGDE courses in Scotland can be in the following:

Religious Moral EducationHome economicsHistory
Technological EducationGaelic MediumMathematics
Modern foreign languagesBusinessMusic
Information technologyScienceChinese
Physical educationDramaPsychology
Design and technologyEnglishPhysics
Art and designGeographyComputing

Students choose one or two subject areas to qualify, although you can apply for dual status and become qualified to teach 2 subjects in Scotland, additional entry requirements apply.

Studying on one of the primary teaching courses means you’ll be teaching a number of subject areas to children in class.

Combined PGDE with integrated Masters Year for STEM subjects at secondary level is possible.

Qualified teacher status Scotland

Successfully completing a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) and one-year probationer teacher induction Scotland means you will become a qualified teacher in Scotland.

In England teachers that have successfully completed a PGDE are registered with the General Teaching Council England (GTC) and go on and complete an NQT year to become fully qualified.

Should you wish to teach overseas or in the UK holders of a PGDE are recognised internationally as qualified school teachers.

Scotland course entry requirements PGDE

Strict entry criteria for teaching in Scotland is mandated by the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS), the regulatory body for school teachers.

Can you do PGDE without degree? No, as you require an undergraduate degree.

In addition, universities set they’re own entry requirements to be accepted onto a teacher training course. Fitness to practice as a teacher in a Scottish school is what the university looks for in an applicant and the (GTCS), where they look at you as a prospective teacher.

  • Good undergraduate degree  2.2 and above in general.
  • No criminal record.
  • Secondary teaching: Higher English SCQF level 6 and a credit SCQF level 5 Mathematics. Basically SQA higher grade pass grades A, B or C or equivalent qualifications. England & Wales it would be GCSE grade B for most universities or at least, a C Grade.
  • Secondary PGDE: Degree in the subject area you wish to teach, with at least 80 credits points from 2 graduating courses in that subject.
  • Primary school teacher qualifications Scotland:  English and English literature SQA Higher grade pass of A, B or a C.  Mathematics Credit Level of 1, 2 or GCSE grade B for England & Wales. Science qualification will also be requested as you will be teaching science topics as part of you’re teaching experience.

Entry requirements PGDE England and funding

  • At least a 2.2 honours degree in the subject or closely related.
  • GCSE in mathematics & English or similar for secondary school teaching.
  • A levels or similar at grade B and above, especially for maths, chemistry, physics and biology.
  • Primary PGDE course entry requirements in England are English, mathematics and computing at grade C or above at GCSE or similar qualification.

Funding in England for teacher training is well documented. You receive a bursary and fees paid to the university as well as able to apply for maintenance living costs for the duration of the course.  See  Get into teaching in England.

Is it hard to get onto a PGDE? Yes & No

People that find it relatively easy to be offered a place on a PGDE course have soft skills suitable as a teacher, life & job experience, adaptable and good personality.

Newly graduated students or people with no job or varied life experience have more of a challenge being offered a place on teacher training courses.

A prospective student applying for a postgraduate Scotland teacher’s course or in England at primary or secondary level must attend a face to face teacher training interview at the chosen university.

My own experience of a similar interview was that they were trying to find out what commitment I have for the profession and type of person I was.

Previous experience working with children is a must, basic understanding of the Scottish curriculum and schools in Scotland and the same for English schools.

pgde scotland funding

To gain some experience with children a job as a teacher assistant would be a great help and would give you an insight into the teaching profession. Also, ask schools in you’re area to help out or observe in the classroom.

Think about state and independent school sector jobs if you are looking for a short term role to gain experience.

When starting a teaching course you’ll require signing up and become a Member of PVG Scheme through Disclosure Scotland, a comprehensive criminal background check, and suitability register. In England you register with Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

PGDE teacher training course

Full academic year of 36 weeks full time intensive study and placement where you will undertake training in teaching & learning strategies, assessment, curriculum planning and other things related to the subject, age range of the course you choose.

Your chosen university or school provides a means to learn the basics of teaching & learning and the placement at a school provides the practical teaching experience to complete your training.

School placement, 4 days a week or 5 depending on the course provides the opportunity to work with teachers, practice and develop teaching skills that will allow you to deliver effective teaching & learning to students in you’re classes.

Time spent on school teaching placement is 18 weeks and university study is 18 weeks in Scotland.

A Scottish PGDE is delivered as a modular course where you complete set learning and moving onto the next learning stage.

As a student at the university you’ll complete written coursework, take part in group discussions, role play, give presentations, attend formal lectures and tutorials.

What you will learn about at university

  • Lesson planning.
  • How to use a smart board.
  • Write effectively on a whiteboard.
  • Design learning aids and teaching materials, including exercise sheets.
  • Instruction on how to teach, and you give mini lessons in tutorials (One or two is formally assessed before you go on your first school placement).
  • Dealing with inappropriate behaviour in lessons..
  • Instruction on motivating pupils and fully engaging them in lessons.
  • Required paperwork & record keeping for coursework toward your portfolio of evidence.

University class lessons form an important part of the theoretical learning and understanding that you require coupled with practical skills & knowledge to successfully complete the course.

Professional teaching skills: School curriculum & pedagogy and professional teaching practice.

Educational studies: Values expected as a teacher in class and at school.

Learn as a professional teacher: Through instruction and practice.

School teacher training placements

A teaching placement at school is where you bring your skills and passion for teaching and newly acquired university learning to teach in a primary or secondary school setting.

This is where you start to gain teaching experience by first observing other teachers, team teaching with a school mentor and teach classes on you’re own.

A class teacher is a challenging role, well for the first 3 to 4 years to master many tasks, skills and roles of an efficient teacher in UK schools.  

Lesson planning, schemes of work, assessment, marking, deliver lessons, record keeping, behaviour for learning, reflective learning and evaluating each lesson and teaching practice are everyday tasks.

Scotland teacher training course

PGDE primary course in Scotland

You are allotted 1 nursery and 2 primary school placements for teaching practice, split between the 18 weeks in schools.

PGDE Secondary courses in Scotland

Teacher training students on secondary courses are placed at 2 different schools.

School placement choice

In England the university or training provider decides which schools you are placed.

In Scotland you are matched to schools where you are allocated 2 schools through the Student Placement System (SPS) administered by the General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS).

Expect to travel up to 90 minutes each way for any school placement during teaching practice. A primary student teacher I know travelled from Perth to Comrie for one placement.


School placement attendance and expectations

Treat all school teaching placements as a full time job role. You will be expected to play a full part in school life, including attending meetings and school duties.

Expect to learn from your mistakes, develop as a person and as a trainee teacher.

Personal traits and soft skills that help on teaching training practice:

  • Self confidence.
  • Knowledgeable.
  • Good communicator at all levels, especially with children.
  • Team player.
  • Willing and can do attitude.
  • Empathy and understanding.
  • Patience and respectful.
  • Self control.
  • Listen to and follow instructions and able to take constructive criticism.

PGDE student assessment:  Teaching is assessed on continuous bases on school placements. At least 2 lessons are formally assessed by a school mentor and 1 or 2 from your university or training provider.  

A portfolio of evidence containing, lesson plans, exercise worksheets, teaching aids, lesson reflections, schemes of work, university written assignments is required to be gathered and is also assessed for completeness.

To successfully complete a PGDE, university assignments and teaching observations on school placement also form part of the course.

PGDE course duration

Full-time PGDE: One academic year.  9 months. 36 weeks split over 3 terms starting mid August each year.

Part time PGDE: 18 months duration.

Distance learning PGDE: 18 month initial teacher education course DLITE (PGDE) for both primary & secondary teaching.

PGDE funding Scotland

Postgraduate training to become a school teacher through a university PGDE in Scotland Funded course, Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) classes a PGDE as “undergraduate” and funding is measured in that way.

Students in Scotland and also resident citizens from European Union countries are eligible and apply for funding through SAAS. (For undergraduate).

As a PGDE student you receive funding (Full fees paid to the university) for a one year teacher training course at a Scottish university, regardless of previous undergraduate financial support. But and a big but:

Students only receive funding for one postgraduate course in Scotland through SAAS.

You require paying your own tuition fees if you received previous funding at postgraduate level of study.

Already received postgraduate funding?  As the University of Strathclyde also explains: Then you are eligible for SAAS funding only if you are training to teach a shortage subject in Scotland:

  • Technological Education.
  • Mathematics.
  • Physics.
  • English.
  • Technological Education.

Basically classed as teacher shortage or priority subjects by the Scottish Education Department.

The funding you apply for and receive is the same as undergraduate students, although it is a postgraduate course.  SAAS explain here who is eligible for funding and fees status.

Student loans for trainee teachers in Scotland

pgde england

Studying for a PGDE teacher training qualification you still qualify should you wish to take out a loan for living costs, although requires being paid back starting after you finish the course. 

See: Student loans SAAS here for funding information. 

See also SAAS Funding Guidance for Undergraduate Students (PDF)

Fee status for teacher training courses in Scotland

Applicable amount of fee payable depends if you are classified as overseas or home student, known as your tuition fee status.

 ‘Home-Scotland/EU’, ‘Home-Rest of UK’ or an overseas student.  

Tuition fee 2020/21 for PGDE course is £1,820 for Scottish student with Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) paying Scotland university course fee .

1st August of the course starting year is mainly the date used by universities to set your status as resident for fee calculation. 

Example: Jane lives in Scotland, John live Greece and are both accepted at a Scottish university for a postgraduate course for teaching PGDE. Jane & John would be assessed as Home-Scotland/EU students for fees status.

See the SAAS website and government website.

Rest of UK

  • Example: Janice lives in Bristol would be assessed for teacher training fee for the course as Home-RUK (Wales, Northern Ireland, and England). She should apply for tuition fee and living cost finance from Student Finance England

Loans and fees funding for Wales and Northern Ireland for teachers in training

Rest of the world students would require paying fees as an overseas student.

Bursary in Scotland for postgraduate teaching courses

You could be eligible for a bursary.

Scotland Stem Education Bursaries at present are available for student teachers who have been employed for at least 3 of the last 5 years and have a degree in stem subjects: Computing, physics, chemistry, technical education or mathematics for secondary and primary school teacher training. This funding availability is subject to change each year.

You would get £20,000 during training and fees paid if you qualify. You do not pay this money back.

Course start date for teacher training

You will find teacher’s training courses for primary and secondary levels start in August for full-time study. Part time and distance learning study mode possible in January each year.

Process for teacher training UCAS application in Scotland

Scottish, UK and European student’s applications

Applying and submitting an application is now through UCAS undergraduate or teacher training, where you can choose up to 5 options.  A small administration fee is payable for UCAS to administer the application.

Website address:

International students apply for PGDE

Overseas students require applying direct to the university of your Choice, such as the University of Strathclyde application.

PGDE graduates in Scotland are eligible to apply for provisional registration with the General Teaching Council Scotland, and go on to complete their induction year.

Once fully qualified with 2 plus years experience you become a valuable prospective teacher for a school in the UK or move overseas at an international school. Teachers find themselves as a classroom teacher or a head of department role.

Plenty jobs in the UK with promotion and career progression in the state sector or private independent school jobs in the UK.

Education Tay
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