Teacher Training UK, Primary & Secondary PGCE Courses

Training to be a teacher in the UK is not the same for all parts of the UK 4 nations. Teacher training UK is different in Scotland than England & Wales although similar.

Depending on the type of teaching course, such as school direct, BA, BEd or PGCE  primary or PGCE secondary you complete will provide you with the professional qualification. They are required for the nursery, primary, secondary or tertiary sector.

Teacher training UK courses

A teaching career can be fun and enjoyable, although not for everyone.  Prospective teachers here in the UK have certain barriers to restrict admission.

Good teachers and people willing to learn are always in demand.

 UK university can provide teacher training courses for all levels of teaching from early years to post-compulsory.

To teach in local authority schools in England & Wales, N Ireland and Scotland, you require to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) England, Scotland QT.

Post-compulsory learning teaching qualification in sixth form and colleges is also in connection with a PGCE for the further education (FE) colleges or sixth form colleges.

QTS award (England)

You do not get awarded QTS during your teacher training from the General Teaching Council for England (GTC) as you must:

  • Successfully complete a teacher training course, as a one year professional or postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) course, which recommends you for QTS also known as initial teacher training (ITT).
  • One year induction after teacher training, known as the newly qualified teacher (NQT) 1st year.
  • Pass QTS Skills Tests in literacy, numeracy and information and (ICT) communications technology before the end of your initial teacher training.

Other similar tests in literacy and numeracy are part of teacher training in Scotland and N Ireland.

Scotland’s teachers sign up as a professional teacher at GTCS.

Main age range teaching qualifications

Training for the UK is conducted at a specific age range:

Although training is for a specific age range you could teach in another age range when fully qualified if the head teacher is in agreement.

You’ll need to choose the right qualification for the age group you wish to teach.

Primary school 5-12 years or secondary school teaching qualification 11-18 years.

Train to become a teacher?

The training period for a teacher known as initial teacher training can be conducted through a number of teacher courses to suit most people from distance learning, part time and full time.

The main routes are (BEd), BA degree, or after your degree a PGDE in Scotland or PGCE in England & Wales.

Undergraduate training

  • Bachelor of education (BEd) degree
  • Bachelor of arts or science with QTS (BA or BSc)

Postgraduate training for teachers

3 main routes for PGDE & PGCE courses UK training for you to think about after completing an undergraduate degree to gain entry on a graduate teacher programme:

  • Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) Training in Scotland, (Get into teaching Scotland)
  • School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT)
  • Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)

School based initial teacher training

Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) apply to a school.

Teach First which is a non-profit organisation.

Registered Teacher Programme (RTP) also based at a primary or secondary school.

School direct training programme: Where you are employed and trained by a specific school.  No need to find a job after training.

Good number of schools in England now offer graduates the opportunity to train and qualify as a teacher.  See adverts for graduates required for academies and school trusts that run a larger group of schools,

Assessment based teacher is available to experienced teachers that do not hold QTS in the UK or similar.

Primary & secondary PGCE training courses England & Wales

The main postgraduate route qualification to teach in a primary or secondary school in England & Wales is through postgraduate primary & secondary PGCE training courses offered by training providers or a (Bed) studied through a university in England & Wales.

PGCE primary or secondary postgraduate teacher training courses are not so easy to get a place in recent years, and you’ll also require meeting a range of requirements during your training such as pass skills tests and become an efficient trainee teacher.

PGCE training courses programme for secondary & primary school

All school PGCE courses have academic and practical elements that are conducted on two school-based experience placements.

As part of the course, you are provided with a mentor, plan for teaching, and take part in observations watching experienced teachers.

Both school level PGCE courses start and continue with university studies including lectures, group work, attending tutorials and of course written assignments.

While training, you will concentrate on your chosen age range, successfully complete assessed work and official observations.

Secondary PGCE specialist subject areas

When studying for your secondary PGCE qualification you choose to teach a specific subject at the two school placements. 

You’re undergraduate study qualification should significantly have covered the subject area you wish to teach.

No point in applying to teach mathematics when you have a history degree, as your mathematics subject knowledge may not be sufficient for you to teach effectively.

Most universities offer a good range of subject areas to choose from including:

PGCE Art and Design Education

PGCE Biology

PGCE Business Education

PGCE Chemistry

PGCE Citizenship

PGCE Computer Science

PGCE Economics

PGCE English

PGCE English with Drama

PGCE Geography

PGCE History

PGCE Languages

PGCE Mathematics

PGCE Music

PGCE Physics

PGCE Physics with Mathematics

PGCE Psychology

PGCE Religious Education

PGCE Social Science

Initial teaching observation

Before you are allowed to take up your first placement as part of your secondary or primary school training you will require preparing and passing an initial observation of a mini-teaching at the university.

Lessons and guidance as part of your course should prepare you for your observation.

There is plenty of time to prepare and practice timings, content and prepare worksheets for the university initial observation.

Practical school teaching experience

Both courses offered by universities in England & Wales require you to complete two teacher training placements that the university chooses for you.

These two placements require significant effort, motivation, and for you to keep all required paperwork evidenced in folders. Be prepared to travel outside of the area you live.

You are shown how to teach on a school placement and team teach with your mentor.

You are then left on your own with classes to teach a schedule of lessons in your chosen subject area.

The mentor comes and observes you at times and may provide guidance on your placement.

Primary PGCE teaching placements

Teaching at primary school level you will be expected to teach a full range of subjects including history, science, English, although not physical education as a specialist teacher normally takes these classes.

Learning to teach

At school full time, you require to plan your own lessons and draw up schemes of work for each year group if teaching more than one age level.

You also start to learn how to manage and control a class of children with behaviour management learning strategies.

Attendance is 4 days a week for full-time study at school during placements and one day a week on your course at university with formal lessons.. Yes, to swap stories and goings on.

University teaching & learning course studies

PGCE training courses cover cognitive and pedagogy theory which is studied during the initial lessons before school placement and on the one day at university.

University study and two school placements are assessed as pass or not. PGCE primary studies involve teaching a range of subjects as a primary teacher from literacy, numeracy, sciences and others.

You will require to build up a portfolio of evidence as part of your PGCE university studies and keep the evidence in folders to be handed over to the course assessors at the completion stage of your course.

All PGCE students that are on a teaching courses learn about the national curriculum, teaching and learning strategies, and a lot of other useful teaching ideas to become an effective school teacher.

Part of your time on the two placements you will observe and plan lessons, teach classes in your chosen age range and even across a number of age groups.

In general four official observations of your teaching standards as part of your course require to be passed.

Teaching placement evidence includes schemes of work, lessons taught with evidence, plan, & review of each lesson.

This is one of the fun parts of studying on a PGCE.

When I was on my PGCE course I sat for many hours typing up lesson plans, notes, and worksheet, believe me with the travelling and paperwork required it is a full on intensive experience on placement.

To be awarded a primary teaching PGCE or a secondary teaching PGCE you require to have completed a portfolio of evidence and successfully passing all observations and assignments.

During your training, you sit and must pass Professional Skills Tests in literacy and numeracy.

These skills tests must be passed to successfully qualify for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Entry requirements for PGCE

  • Standard grade or equal C in the GCSE examination in qualification for a C Grade in English, Mathematics and Science (Science for primary PGCE only)
  • A good undergraduate degree that is appropriate for the course. Secondary PGCE students require a specialist degree in the subject or close
  • Fluent command of English, spoken and written
  • Successful interview to demonstrate the possession of the appropriate qualities, attitudes and values expected as a prospective school teacher
  • Medically fit for the post of a teacher
  • Be able to pass a DBA Check with no criminal record
  • Supply at least two good teaching references, one being from your degree course

Course providers start date

Courses are studied full time between August one year until June the following year available around England & Wales.

Part time courses are studied over two years, although not all university PGCE courses are offered as a part-time study option.

One year full-time study is for 11 months with school and university holidays in between.

The Open University part-time teacher training course is also an option other than traditional universities, although the university may be discontinuing teacher training course in the near future.

Look for a course on through University Central Admission Service (UCAS). Undergraduate courses are provided by many UK universities each year in England & Wales.

How to apply for a PGCE course

Mainly all applications for postgraduate teacher training courses are being processed through UCAS as “Undergraduate Application” for, the University of Roehampton primary PGCE course.  This is in line with Scottish applications for PGDE courses.

Check with the application process on the university website you intend to apply.

PGCE funding

When is it a good time to apply and start a primary and secondary PGCE training courses?

Now is the time as the government is providing good bursaries for students taking up teacher training in England & Wales.

The Department for Education website has a comprehensive guide to funding that eligible students can apply for and fees payable for the course.

You can be paid up to £30,000 tax-free while training, although the bursary amount depends on your classification of degree, subject you will teach, where you study and other factors.

Bursaries for teacher training are available for eligible students taking a maths route are awarded a larger bursary than other students while the age of the children you will teach plays a factor in the financial calculation.

Student loans are available again for eligible students if you wish to take a loan out.  See here for what level of funding you can get and the requirements for receiving a loan.

After your PGCE course

As a holder of a PGCE and having passed the national skills tests you can provisionally register with the General Teaching Council (GTC) for England & Wales.

After completing one of the primary and secondary PGCE training courses, you must complete your induction year at a primary or secondary school successfully before being awarded qualified teacher status (QTS). Secondary and primary school teacher jobs are then open to you from rural areas, towns and cities in England & Wales.

Itching to move, travel abroad and complete your induction year overseas?  Not a great idea, as you may no receive the level of support required to become a fully qualified teacher.

Yes, it is possible to teach in Dubai, or apply for an NQT teacher job in Qatar that you see advertised, most experienced teachers will tell you get qualified with UK support and gain 2 years experience first.

Training providers

School-based training for teachers is based at a school.

Other forms of training are conducted in two training placements and attendance at university on a teacher training course.

Training as a teacher funding

Teacher funding bursaries are available for postgraduate study for one-year, also training fees are paid by the government.

See here for England and Wales funding for trainees teachers      Scotland PGDE above link has information for funding.

Looking to enter teaching? then you will require grade C or above in English, mathematics. At primary level you also require a C grade at least in Science.

Post-compulsory training does not have the specific same entry requirements as schools.

Interviews for a teacher place

University interview with a day’s possible assessments.  Interview for teacher training guidance see here. Assessments, groups debates, presentation and one to one interview is highly possible..

Masters in education

Useful. requested and required for some jobs is a postgraduate master’s degree in education that is studied over 1-2 years part or full time.

You’ll attend university class courses or complete the master’s degree by distance learning.

Maths courses and English A-C grade qualifications

Left school without at least a C grade in mathematics and English?

Many education employers request good mathematical skills for jobs. Maths courses and English A-C grade qualifications are becoming essential to gain a job.

English A-C grade

Further education, life skills and employers request English qualifications for reading and writing skills.

Maths courses and English A-C grade, in summary, are essential in today’s job market, also to gain access to further education at college level.

You can choose to study by full or part-time or by distance learning in some cases.

What qualifications are accepted?

O Level English and mathematics grade C and above


Standard grade at “Credit” or above

GCSE at C or above

Communications 4 and English literature together (Provides a C at Higher, Scotland)

Level 2 English (England-based adult education qualification)

Baccalaureate Certificate (A-C awarded)

GCE English C grade and above

Other possibilities are: Key skills level 3 and core skills examinations at certain levels. Check and ask!

Advanced Subsidiary (AS), Higher, Advanced Higher and A Level mathematics or English should also qualify you with a grade C or above in mathematics.

Left school and no C grade mathematics or English?

There are a number of options and second chances.

Attending college adult learning centre, work based with an employer or distance learning and attending a test centre for the examination.

How can I study and take the test?

Full time, part time, short course or going along to a test centre for a level 2 numeracy or literacy test.

Adult education centres

Colleges in the UK

Learning Direct (Skills for life qualifications, England)

Moving On (Skills for life in England only)



Skills for life?

This is a UK government initiative for people that or 16+ that left school without C grade and above in mathematics or English and have no attained that grade.

Adult education centres in England & Wales offer Level 2 English and Numeracy from test centres, with an option to either sit tests or combine learning and testing.

Level 2 qualifications in Skills for Life are multiple choice questions, 40 questions in 1.30 hours.

Grade is pass or fail.

Strictly, Skills for Life qualifications are not traditional qualifications and do not test all topics in relation to Standard Grade or GCSE for A-C paper and not all employers of education organisations accept Level 2 in Mathematics as a grade C or above.

More employers do accept Skills for Life English testing qualifications as they test for a good level of English at that level.

This list of teacher training UK courses is aimed at UK residents.

For you to secure teaching jobs at state, independent and international school you are required to have an appropriate school age qualification.

Education Tay
error: Content is protected.