Getting Into Teaching in Britain

January 13, 2024
2 mins read


By Simon Nutt (The Training and Development Agency for Schools)

Thursday, 06 October 2011.

Around 35,000 people in England are recruited to train as teachers every year.  A large proportion of those entering teacher training are over 25 years old, which suggests that many decide to make the switch from other careers.  Teacher trainees who already possess management experience are well-placed for fast progression.

The available routes into teaching are as follows:

Applicants for initial teacher training must demonstrate a standard equivalent to a GCSE grade C or above in English and maths, and in a science subject for those wishing to teach in a primary school.  If you don’t reach this minimum academic standard there are access courses as an alternative option.

Those interested in teaching should think carefully whether they want to teach across a broad range of subjects in primary school or specialise in one or two subjects at secondary schools. A good way of finding out which suits you better is to contact local schools and ask to see if you can spend a day there observing classes.

Along with a degree, all teachers are required to have qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach in primary and secondary maintained schools and non-maintained special schools. This is attained via either undergraduate or postgraduate courses.

An undergraduate route into teaching will offer a BEd, BA, or BSc, combining degree studies with QTS. You are required to have a minimum of two A-levels or equivalent in order to enrol on an undergraduate course. Some ITT providers do offer part-time courses; these can be found on the Training and Development Agency for Schools’ (TDA) website (

The postgraduate course will award you with a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). A PGCE course mainly focuses on developing your teaching skills, and not on the subject you intend to teach. For this reason, you are expected to have a good understanding of your chosen subject – usually to degree level – before you start training. Entry to most postgraduate courses is through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (, although some training providers accept applications directly.

If you don’t want to go into full-time education, there are other options: the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) is an employment-based route within a school and allows you to earn whilst you learn.  During the GTP you will be employed by the school as an unqualified teacher and this can take up to a year to complete (full time) depending on your previous experience. To enter onto this programme you will need to have a degree. To find out more about the GTP visit

Further information on routes into teaching is available via the TDA website at

Alternatively, you can call the free Teaching Information Line on 0800 085 0984 to find out more information about a career in teaching.

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