I want to work in ..... teaching


It's not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five.
It's whether or not our work fulfills us. Being a teacher is meaningful.

Malcolm Gladwell

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For an overview of the teaching sector, including job roles, qualifications, entry and training and current trends, see:

Routes into Teaching

Anyone who wants to teach in a state-maintained school in England or Wales needs to gain qualified teacher status (QTS). To achieve this award, you need to complete a period of initial teacher training (ITT), which will enable you to meet the professional standards for QTS; a formal set of skills and qualities required to be an effective teacher.

QTS can be achieved through various routes.

Currently (2013) there are 37,000 places for primary and secondary trainees of which 9,500 are School Direct places. For 2014-2015 3,000 more primary places will be added to Schools Direct taking this is to 12,500 due to a ‘massive explosion in primary numbers’.

The “traditional” route – the PGCE

The PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is a one-year course which focuses on developing your teaching skills. It is available at universities throughout the UK on a full-time or part-time basis, and includes time spent in schools on teaching practice. Applications for PGCEs can be made from the 1st of November through UCAS which has replaced the GTTR for PGCE applications. See www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/teacher-training

Bursaries are available for PGCE courses depending on your subject of study and your class of degree – see www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/funding/training-in-england/postgraduate-funding for details.

Search and Apply dates for 2017 entry

UTT have a number of videos for applicants to teacher training www.ucas.com/connect/videos/ucas/teacher-training#js=on

Routes into teaching

Getting references for teacher training

Withdrawing an application www.ucas.com/ucas/teacher-training/apply-and-track/decisions-and-replies
How to withdraw a choice guide (PDF): https://www.ucas.com/sites/default/files/utt-withdrawing-choices.pdf

The UCAS application procedure


The National College for Teaching and Leadership have announced a new approach to the allocation of Initial Teacher Training places for 2016-17. Rather than each training provider being given a set number of places by NCTL, providers simply tell NCTL how many trainees they plan to recruit in each subject and age phase. It is then up to them to recruit that number. It therefore seems likely that providers will want to recruit early in autumn and make offers as quickly as possible in the most popular subject areas.

What is the difference between a PGCE and a PGDE?

The Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) is the main route for graduates to enter the teaching profession in Scotland and at some institutions in Wales and is the equivalent of the PGCE in England. It is open to any graduate with a degree from a UK university. The course typically lasts for one year.

Some universities in England (e.g. Durham and Sheffield) award PGDE on successful completion of 120 University Credit Units (UCU) of a Master of Arts Education course (i.e., completing two years). The PGCE is awarded after 60UCUs. In Ireland, the former Higher Diploma in Education (H.Dip.Ed.) was renamed as the PGDE in 2007.


Applicants are now required to provide two referees and UCAS are indicating who the applicant should have as their first and second referee. One should be academic and one should be from a school where you have done work experience. These must both be in place before you apply, so prime your referees to act quickly. The reference is a few paragraphs long. Referees have to add their reference onto UCAS Teacher Training before the form can be sent to providers – the earliest they can do this is November 1st.

Schools-based routes

“By 2015 well over half of all training places will be delivered in schools whether through direct provision, Teach First, School Direct or our new employment-based route” (Michael Gove, Education Secretary, June 2012) www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/speeches/a00210308/michael-gove-at-the-national-college-annual-conference

School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programmes

Graduate Teacher programmes

School Direct programme

Teach First


In 2014 Teach First are looking to recruit their largest ever cohort - 1550 individuals. Applications are now open for both primary and secondary places across the UK. STEM recruitment remains a key focus - 50% of the secondary places available are for teaching STEM subjects. In order to teach a STEM subject, a degree (2.1 or above) relating to a relevant national curriculum STEM subject and/or an A*, A or B A-Level (or equivalent) in Design Technology, Computer Science & ICT, Maths or Science is required. To be eligible to teach Science two relevant A-Levels are required.

Make-up of the cohort recruited for 2013:

Degree subjects studied were:


There are three main parts to the Teach First assessment centre – a sample teaching lesson, a group case study, and one-on-one interview. 

How to answer questions on the Teach First application form


For further information, see the booklet Teacher Trainingclick here to download a PDF copy.

Which is best for you – PGCE or Schools-based?

How happy are teachers?

See our information on
Happiness in different careers

Entry requirements

Funding for a PGCE

Better financial incentives will offered for the higher degree classifications. These range from a £25,000 bursary for a Maths graduate with a  first class degree, to £4,000 for a primary PGCE candidate with a 2:1. Fee changes mean that PGCE courses will charge between £6,000 and £9,000 – trainees will still have access to students loans for fees and maintenance and some will be able to access means tested maintenance grants, and higher or re-instatement of training bursaries.


Teacher training bursaries available to trainees beginning training in autumn 2016.







English, history, music, RE




Primary maths












1st or PhD











2:1 or Masters

































 *Trainees in maths,  physics, chemistry and computing with a 1st or 2:1 can apply for a scholarship as an alternative to the bursary
**Trainees in maths, physics and on primary maths courses, with a relevant degree and at least a B in A level maths or physics are eligible
The bursary level awarded is dependent on the subject in which a trainee wishes to teach and the grade of their highest academic qualification, not the subject of their academic qualification. Further detailed information is available at www.gov.uk/government/news/top-graduates-to-get-up-to-30k-to-train-to-teach-core-subjects

Getting Teaching Experience

‘It’s only by gaining experience of teaching and the world of education that you can rationally decide whether teaching gives you the ‘buzz’ that will make all the hard work worth it. I would strongly advise any prospective applicant to build up a meaningful and broad portfolio of experience of school life before applying. This ideally should involve: inner city teaching v rural, secondary v primary, special needs, extra-curricular activities, pastoral (e.g. counselling) and the administrative and management side of teaching.’’ 

(PGCE tutor)

All PGCE applicants are expected to undertake a recommended period of at least ten days, preferably in a UK state school, observing the age group and curriculum relevant to the PGCE programme for which an application is being made.www.canterbury.ac.uk/courses/prospectus/pgce/entry-requirements.asp

How long do teachers work?

The Department for Education holds an annual survey in which a sample of teachers keep a diary of their working lives. In 2013 primary classroom teachers on average worked about 59 hours per week whereas secondary school teachers worked about 55 hours per week. Secondary head teachers worked 63 hours per week on average.

Both primary and secondary teachers spend about 19 hours a week on timetabled teaching but time is also spent in school on lesson preparation, marking, supervising children away from the class and other administration.

Teachers also work outside the school day in evenings and weekends. Primary teachers work out of school for 24 hours a week and secondary teachers 21 hours. Primary teachers spend about 4 hours each week on general admin. 45% of teachers think the amount of time spent on "unnecessary or bureaucratic" tasks has increased, the biggest cause of unnecessary paperwork being preparing for an Ofsted inspection. Head teachers also identified changing government policies and guidelines as generating "unnecessary" bureaucracy.

It's very important to get experience in a school before you apply for PGCE courses or

training programmes – selectors will expect to see some relevant experience. Without this experience (seeing teaching from the teacher’s point of view!) and involvement with children and/or young people in the relevant age range, your application is unlikely to be able to demonstrate the required motivation and knowledge of teaching. This will also help you to make sure that teaching is right for you and to prepare for interview questions about your experience of teaching.

Don’t leave it until your final year but start in your second year at the latest. Canterbury has a huge student population, so there's a lot of competition for teaching experience here (there are 1,800 trainee teachers at Christ Church). Consider schools near where you live (your old school is often easiest) or slightly outside Canterbury: Herne Bay, Whitstable, Faversham, Ashford.

Ring or visit schools rather than emailing them as they don't always reply to emails and make a case for yourself - what would be the benefit to the school to give you experience.

There are various schemes to help you get an insight into teaching – see www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/school-experience.aspx for details


This not only builds up a higher level of experience than you can gain through short-term experience programmes but may help you to gain a trainee post in that school in the longer term. These posts are usually advertised on local websites or via recruitment agencies (see below)

Applying for Teacher Training

Competition is strong for places on all primary-level courses and for secondary-level courses in Humanities and Social Science subjects. You should ideally apply in September or early October of your final year, even though there is no official closing date for most secondary PGCE courses (the closing date for primary courses is 1st December).

The booklet “Applying for a PGCE” is a mine of information about the different routes into teaching, funding and entry requirements, tips on choosing a course, completing the GTTR application and going for interview. Click here to download a PDF copy.


QTS Skills Tests

Anyone applying for an initial teacher training course starting after 1st  July 2013 will be required to have passed numeracy and literacy skills tests before starting the course www.education.gov.uk/schools/careers/traininganddevelopment/qts/b00204001/qts-tests

We now have books on passing the numeracy and literacy skills tests with advice and example questions books and a general guide to both tests: ask at Careers reception to use this. See our Shelfari page for details of the books.

Teaching specific subjects:

The National Curriculum for England

Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses

If you are interested in teaching Chemistry, Physics, Maths or a modern foreign language, have reached A-level standard in the subject but do not have a relevant degree, there are various courses available that can help to bring you up to the required standard before starting a PGCE.

For further information, see :

Special Educational Needs Teaching

It is not possible to train and work as a special needs teacher from the outset (although Special Needs is offered as a subsidiary subject on some PGCE courses and there is a special educational needs element to all initial teacher training courses). The usual pattern is to gain a general teaching qualification and experience and then develop a career in SEN teaching through in-service training.

Early years teaching

Teaching outside England

For other countries, see our Teaching Abroad links www.kent.ac.uk/careers/tefl.htm#other

Playing calming music can help motivate students and improve concentration and study skills. Research at the London Institute of Education found that children doing memory tests whilst listening to classical music performed better than children performing the tests in silence or listening to jazz.

They also found that playing calming music such as Bach and Pachelbel's Cannon to disturbed children helped them achieve higher scores in maths tests


Independent Schools and education alternatives

Further and Higher Education

See our page on Further Education Teaching www.kent.ac.uk/careers/teach-FE.htm

For information on working as a lecturer in higher education, see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin/university.htm

Getting a teaching job

Vacancy sources

Recruitment agencies

Further Information



Jargon buster

Like every other profession, teaching and teacher training have their own vocabulary. Here are some of the most commonly-used acronyms you will come across:


A comprehensive jargon buster can be found on the TES (Times Educational Supplement!) website www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6000010

What makes a good teacher?

“No-one forgets a good teacher”, according to a past teacher recruitment campaign, but what is it that makes a good teacher? Here are two summaries of the essential skills and personal qualities for you to assess whether you have what it takes:

A good teacher is:

‘Teaching is a demanding career, physically, emotionally and intellectually. It calls for energy, dedication, patience and enthusiasm. You must have enthusiasm for your subject, and, far more important, you must be able to form a relationship with and control the class. Class management skills are essential. You also need to be able to think on your feet. This is not a nine-to-five job. There will be a lot of preparation and marking to do in the evenings and week-ends. There are also exams to prepare, invigilate and mark. All this calls for good time management, self-discipline, administration and organisational skills as well as good supervisory and leadership skills.’

And the final word on what makes a good teacher should come from the most important people: the children!

1. Know the subjects very wellteach
2. Be smiley
3. Be kind
4. Bond with the children
5. Not be boring, be a bit funny or tell some jokes sometimes
6. Be respectful
7. Have a good expressive reading voice
8. Know the children’s names


A teacher teaching Maths to Petra who was six years old asked her, “If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”

Within a few seconds Petra replied confidently, “Four!”

The dismayed teacher was expecting a correct answer (three).  She was disappointed.  “Maybe the child did not listen properly,” she thought.  She repeated, “Petra, listen carefully.  If I give you one apple and one apple and one apple, how many apples will you have?”

Petra saw the disappointment on her teacher’s face.  She calculated again on her fingers.  But within her she was also searching for the answer that would make the teacher happy.  Her search for the answer was not for the correct one, but the one that will make her teacher happy.  This time hesitatingly she replied, “Four…”

The disappointment stayed on the teacher’s face.  She remembered that Petra loved strawberries.  She thought maybe she doesn’t like apples and that is making her lose focus. This time with a twinkling in her eyes she asked, “If I give you one strawberry and one strawberry and one strawberry, then how many you will have?”

Seeing the teacher happy, young Petra calculated on her fingers again.  There was no pressure on her, but a little on the teacher.  She wanted her new approach to succeed.  With a hesitating smile Petra enquired, “Three?”

The teacher now had a victorious smile.  Her approach had succeeded.  She wanted to congratulate herself.  But one last thing remained.  Once again she asked her, “Now if I give you one apple and one apple and one more apple how many will you have?”

Promptly Petra answered, “Four!” The teacher was aghast.  “How Petra, how?” she demanded in a little stern and irritated voice.

In a voice that was low and hesitating Petra replied, “Because I already have one apple in my bag.”

“When someone gives you an answer that is different from what you expect don’t necessarily think they are wrong.  There maybe an angle that you have not understood at all. You will have to listen and understand, but never listen with a predetermined notion.”


Last fully updated 2014