How to Train to Become a Primary School Teacher UK, England & Wales

How to Train to Become a Primary School Teacher England & WalesTrain to become a primary school teacher in England & Wales or Scotland will take around 3-4 years depending on the choice of undergraduate or postgraduate teacher training route.

England & Wales have a separate, different education systems and initial teacher training in Scotland options. You have much more choice of training routes and flexibility to training as a primary teacher UK and become fully qualified in England & Wales.


What do you require to become a primary school teacher?

Summary of steps to train as a teacher at primary school age UK:

Good grade undergraduate degree (2.2 or 2.1) then a PGDE/PGCE fast track to teaching (and QTS or similar) common route to become a fully qualified teacher

 or 4 year BEd degree, BA Hons and QTS or similar

English, mathematics and science grade C and above

Other options are available to qualify as a teacher.


School primary training routes for teachers

England & Wales trainee teachers have a number of choices to qualify as a primary teacher from part or full time, university led or with a training provider. 

University course training for teachers

By far most trainee student teachers choose to study on a primary teacher course such as Scotland PGDE Primary, bachelor of education, BA Hons or postgraduate PGCE primary course at a university in England or Wales.

Teacher trainee courses at universities are a mix of classroom theories and at least 2 teaching placements at different primary schools on a part time or full time basis.


School direct teacher training England schools

(School Direct) has become more popular and is open to degree holders to train at a school for one year gaining a recognised qualification also QTS.

School centred initial teacher training (SCITT) in England & Wales schools) leads to QTS.


Assessment only QTS qualified teacher for England

Assessment only QTS for degree holders that have years of experience can submit a portfolio of evidence and pass school teaching observations. This option is open to confident and experienced teachers in free schools or independent sector, unqualified teachers and teaching assistants.


Apprenticeship teacher training

One year school based apprenticeship teacher training programme for graduates where they are employed by a school and receive a salary, training by a school.

Students do not pay training fees for the apprenticeship course or qualification.

When you successfully complete the apprentice training course for teaching you get QTS and a level 6 qualification.


Teaching assistant route to qualified teacher

A teaching assistant that has a number of years of experience in taking booster classes or some classes on their own, such as a higher level teacher assistant can take the assessment only QTS option to become a qualified teacher in England.


Teachers at schools in Northern Ireland require to be registered with General Teaching Council Northern Ireland (GTCNI).

All training for school teachers in Scotland starts with a university course at a Scottish university and you are then assigned schools for teaching placements, with a postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) the main qualification studies.


Qualifications & training as primary teacher

One of bachelor of education BEd, BSc or BA with qualified teacher status (QTS). For Scotland qualified teacher PGDE or BEd with Standard of Provisional Registration with General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS).

Another university way is for degree holders to train towards a PGCE primary education for England & Wales.



Entry requirements primary teacher training UK

Good grades at GCSE for English, Mathematics & science at grade C and above for Northern Ireland, Wales & England. 

Qualifications for Scotland’s teacher training look at this comprehensive guide.  Basically, SCQF Level 6 or above in English (Higher) and Level 5 in Mathematics.

More eligibility questions answered for England and Wales visit this page.

You also need a relevant good degree 2.2 or 2.1 and are subject to a full criminal background record check for all countries you have visited in the past 10 years for stays 6 months or more.


How to become a primary teacher without a degree

No degree? You can teach at private independent schools in England & Wales, free schools or academies in England, although you should a relevant qualification at certain education level.

Other option: Becoming fully qualified as a teacher work at other council run schools in England & Wales as an unqualified teacher and complete the assessment only QTS option for qualified teacher status.


Do you require a degree to become a teacher?  Essentially yes, although there are limited options without a degree. Some schools will employ a person with a degree level alternative qualification to fill a teaching position that is hard to get a qualified teacher.

Very few schools will appoint a person as a class teacher without QTS and formal teacher training. Unqualified teacher yes, although will be on a temporary basis until they appoint a qualified teacher, then you are out the door.

Free schools recruit the best teachers they can and seldom employ unqualified teachers and rare occasions academies do for a short time.

Boarding & independent school:  Not required to hold QTS in England & Wales, Scotland is not an option as you must be fully qualified to teach in any school.

Selection of academies: You would be lucky, certainly you would have substantial experience and some sort of level 5 qualification in the subject area.

Train as a teacher option see Scotland       for    England Wales and NI grades, subjects required and other information also detailed.


Funding for primary teacher training UK

Fees funding and training bursary available for primary job training. You are given a non returnable bursary and university fees are also paid.

England & Wales: See Department of Education for routes including general teacher, specialists in mathematics, physical education or English.

Scotland, visit the official government teacher website.  Bursaries are available although more restrictive in Scotland.

You are also eligible for a student loan for the duration of your initial teacher training course.  See this page for all 4 home nations application.


Teacher training providers and applications

Teacher training applications are through University Central Admissions Service (UCAS)  or options online for England, Scotland and Wales.  Northern Ireland you apply directly to the university or training provider.

Large number of universities provides training courses for teachers; BA, BSc, BEd, PGCE qualifications. Look on UCAS website for the course of your choice:

University of Derby

University of Northumbria

Middlesex University

University of Glasgow

Edge Hill University

University of Cambridge

Leeds Trinity University

University of Salford

University of Manchester


Teacher training in Scotland is essentially provided by 11 universities for undergraduate & postgraduate primary training.

Check out the following to get into teaching and information: Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI)     Teach in Scotland    Learning Wales .


Work experience with children for teacher training course application

All teacher training providers require to see evidence you have previous experience working or been around children. 

Best experience is through volunteering your time at a local primary school. 

You could also sit in classes observing teachers, although get ready to participate with questions and possible group work.

Another way to get the required experience is by taking a temporary part time job as a teaching assistant. You get paid and does not require to be a permanent post.

School teacher taster days are regularly organised by local authorities and school training organisations.

Play schemes, Sunday schools and clubs could be alternatives, although they are second best.

You also need to start reading about the role of a teacher, national curriculum, and issues in teaching at a primary school today.

All this is planned months before a teacher training interview.  See here for ideas on school experience.


Trainee teacher at primary school soft skills & qualities

  • Abundance of patience
  • Excellent organisation skills and time keeping
  • Very clear speech and pronunciation of fluent English
  • Adaptable & flexible to changing situations
  • Imaginative to come up with varied lessons and other teaching & learning strategies
  • Empathy and understanding for young school students
  • Positive approachable presence
  • Able to control and solve challenging situations such as behaviour control
  • Self control and can follow rules & regulation while keep privacy information confidential
  • Able to teamwork in the classroom and school
  • Organised and well prepared for lesson or other school duties, administration
  • Keep up with current teaching & learning strategies and primary curriculum


University & school based teacher training Interview

All prospective trainee teachers must attend an interview to gain access to a school, university or other training provider course programme.

The interview for teachers looking to train can last up to half a day where you will be assessed & a face to face interview given to see if you are a suitable person for the course and teaching profession.


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