Teaching is a highly an enjoyable and thoroughly rewarding career for those who are motivated by helping others to learn and develop in an educational environment. The teaching profession offers a competitive starting salary for newly qualified teachers, opportunities for career progression into more senior teaching or management roles and the chance to make a real difference to the lives of those whom they teach.
There are specific routes to qualifying as a teacher depending on the sector individuals wish to teach in. The information detailed below is intended as a general guide to teacher training courses so it’s important that, whichever course you choose to apply for, you carefully research individual course providers’ requirements to ensure that you have a good understanding of their individual entry criteria.
Early Years and Primary Education
Early Years and Primary teaching can be studied for through an initial teacher training qualification as a BA or BEd degree which leads to Qualified Teacher Status. This route may appeal to those who’ve completed A-levels or appropriate equivalent qualifications, and who have a clear goal to train to become a primary teacher. Alternatively, initial teacher training for these sectors can be undertaken as a postgraduate qualification (a PGCE) after completion of an honours degree in another subject area, allowing those who wish to continue to specialise in an area of interest to them to do so before studying for their teaching qualification.
For Early Years and Primary Education courses, all applicants for initial teacher training courses must have GCSEs in Maths, English and Science at grade C or above, as this is a government requirement for teaching these age ranges.
Secondary and Post-16 Education
If you’re thinking about training to become a Secondary teacher, or want to train to teach post-16 students, suitably qualified graduates can undertake a PGCE course. You’ll need to complete a degree in a subject relating to the subject area you wish to teach in before studying for a PGCE qualification. At least 50% of the degree programme must be in the specialist subject area in order for the degree to be considered for the specific Secondary Education or Post-Compulsory Education teacher training course. All applicants must offer GCSEs at grade C or above in English and Maths to teach in these sectors.
Post-Compulsory Education and Training: Alternative Courses to the PGCE:
For aspiring further education or work-based training staff, there are alternatives to the PGCE qualification. Courses offered at universities may vary, so it’s important to check with individual course providers at to the availability and specific entry requirements. Here at Birmingham City University, we offer a Diploma in Professional Studies in Post-Compulsory Education and Training. Prospective students for our course may be employed within a further education college or work-based training role, but those not currently employed in the area may be able to access the course if they offer suitable qualifications. Students would need to be able to undertake a minimum of 60 hours of teaching or training in the first year of the course and 120 hours in year two. You need not have a degree to study for this qualification, but you do need to have a suitable qualification at level 3 in your specialist subject and also demonstrate good literacy and numeracy skills. More information about this course can be found here.
Key things to consider when applying for a teacher training course
- Do you meet the GCSE requirements for the sector you want to train to teach in? If not, you’ll need to gain an appropriate qualification in addition to other entry qualifications set out by universities as these are essential requirements for teacher training. You must check with the universities to whom you’re applying to find out what, if any, alternative qualifications they can consider to meet this requirement if you’re not intending to follow a suitable GCSE course.
- Do you have any experience of working with individuals in the age range you wish to teach in? This may not be an essential requirement, but could help to support your application. Teaching can be a highly competitive subject to gain entry to, so you need to be as strong a candidate as you possibly can be, and demonstrating an affinity for working with individuals in that age range can help to provide you with sound evidence of your suitability for working in the sector.
- Have you previously gained any teaching experience? Maybe this was teaching a different age range to that which you’re applying for or in another subject area. Any teaching experience you’ve had and can mention in your application will help to demonstrate to the admissions tutor your understanding of and commitment to the profession.
- Do the universities you’re thinking of applying to require applicants to have gained observational experience in a mainstream classroom in the sector you’re applying for? For example, for our Primary Education courses, we require applicants to have completed at least two weeks’ experience.
- Are you undecided as to which sector you want to train to teach in? Would gaining observational experience of teaching practice in more than one sector help you to make a decision about this? Admissions Tutors for popular courses, such as Primary Education and Early Years, may be less keen on applicants who have also applied for Secondary and Post-16 ITT programmes as they may perceive this to mean that the applicant has not undertaken sufficient background research into the different professional areas and, therefore, is not sufficiently focused on which sector they really wish to teach in.
- How are you going to sell yourself in your personal statement? You’ve got approximately one side of A4 to convince the admissions tutor that you’re a strong candidate and tell them why they should consider you for their course. Think about your experiences and consider key areas you can draw on which can help to emphasise your suitability for the course. Educational, work, voluntary and extra-curricular activities may help to support this.
Securing observational experience of teaching practice
Observational experience can help to confirm that teaching is the right choice of profession for you. It provides you with the opportunity to see the various elements of a teacher’s work, gain greater insight into the variety of teaching methods employed and watch classroom management techniques in action. Not only will this help you to decide whether teaching is for you, but it’ll help you to prepare for interviews for teacher training courses. Observational experience should be undertaken within a mainstream classroom environment.
Contact your local schools or colleges (depending on the sectors you’re considering) to talk to them about the possibility of arranging a period of observational experience to observe the age range you’re aiming to teach. If you’re considering secondary or post-compulsory education you’ll need to ensure that you’ll be observing the specialist subject area you’re planning to train in.
Wherever possible, try and arrange the experience prior to making your application. The experience should be within the past 12 months at the time of submitting an application to demonstrate that you’ve observed up-to-date teaching practice.
Teacher Training Courses at Birmingham City University
We offer the following initial teacher training courses here at Birmingham City University:
Early Years and Primary Education:
- BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS (3 years full time)
- PGCE Early Years (1 year full time)
- PGCE Primary Education (1 year full time and 2 years’ part time)
Other courses on offer that could help you to word towards gaining a degree before embarking on a teacher training PGCE qualification are:
- FdA Early Years
- BA (Hons) Early Childhood Education Studies (3 year full-time course and 1 year top-up route available)
- BA (Hons) Education Studies (1 year top-up route)
- PGCE Secondary (Music) (1 year full time and 2 years’ part time)
- PGCE Secondary (Maths)
- PGCE Secondary (Art and Design)
- PGCE Secondary (Design and Technology: Food and Textiles)
- PGCE Secondary (Drama)
Post-Compulsory Education and Training:
Who to apply to
For full-time undergraduate degree programmes, you’ll need to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). You can apply online at www.ucas.ac.uk
For PGCE courses, you should submit your application through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR). Applications are made via their website at www.gttr.ac.uk.
For part-time courses, applications are usually made directly to the course provider. Check with the individual institutions you’re applying to in order to confirm the appropriate application method for their part-time courses.
Further resources for prospective students:
- Get into Teaching – lots of useful information about careers in teaching and applying for teacher training. Features scheduled live chat sessions with advisers for those who are considering applying.
- Graduate Teacher Training Registry – organisation who handle applications for PGCE courses.
- Education Guardian – news and features on the different education sectors
- Government Office for Standards in Education – official website of OFSTED
- Lifelong Learning UK -information about lifelong learning.
- Prospects – a wide range of general information and careers information for teaching
- Times Educational Supplement – news and features across the education sector