If you've got a natural flair for teaching but not the academic knowledge to back it up, or just need a refresher in your chosen subject to bring what you know to life in a classroom, a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course could be for you

Many graduates are worried their knowledge won't be enough to become a teacher. If this sounds like you, don't be deterred by a lack of confidence: SKE courses offer a time-effective, financially supported route into the profession for candidates of all backgrounds.

What is a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course?

The aim of SKE courses is to make teaching an accessible and viable career path to a range of graduates. They are designed to bring a candidate's knowledge of a subject up to secondary teaching level.

You're eligible for an SKE course if:

  • your degree isn't in the subject you'd like to teach, or at least closely related
  • you studied your chosen subject at A-level, but not to degree level
  • you have relevant professional experience, i.e. you're an accountant looking to train as a maths teacher.

If you'd like to teach but are unsure of which subject to pursue, look at the modules you have undertaken during your degree or A-levels and the experience you have gained through your career or part-time work for inspiration. You will have more flexibility in choosing a subject than you might think.

Which subjects can I train in?

SKE courses are offered in:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • physics
  • computing
  • design and technology
  • geography
  • languages
  • mathematics
  • English.

The most widely run SKE courses are those in maths and the three sciences, notably physics, as these are the subjects suffering particular teacher shortages. To explore the range of courses on offer, search for an SKE course.

What do SKE courses involve?

SKE courses can be studied full or part time, in a classroom or online, and either before or alongside some or all of your core teacher training.

Courses also vary in length. There are 8-week short courses for candidates who want a refresher, while courses of up to 28 weeks are available if you’re planning to pursue a new subject altogether. For example, Edge Hill University hosts 8, 16 and 28 week courses catering to the varying capabilities of SKE candidates.

You'll be put through assessment tasks for each unit of the course. These tasks will be a mixture of written exams, essays and delivering lessons to small groups of pupils. Most courses will include homework and require independent research and study.

Is there funding available?

There is plenty of financial motivational to complete an SKE course - for starters, you're not required to pay any tuition fees. SKE courses are fully funded by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).

You may also be entitled to a bursary, in weekly payments anywhere from £100 and £200, for the duration of your course. For instance, Plymouth Marjon students can expect £150 per week, while UWE Bristol offers weekly payments of £115. Eligibility requirements differ across institutions and courses but will usually include at least a 2:2 degree of any discipline.

Get in touch with your chosen institution prior to applying to find out what's on offer.

Where does the training take place?

If you're enrolled on an online course through an organisation such as the TES institute, your learning will take place from home.

If your course isn't online, your training will be delivered through a combination of classroom hours, field trips and distance work with the support of a tutor.

How do I apply?

You can apply for a teacher training provider through UCAS Teacher Training. You may want to indicate on your application that you'd like to take an SKE course. Once you've been accepted by your chosen provider, you can apply for SKE courses through individual institution websites.

In order to be accepted onto a course, you might need to supply proof that completing an SKE course is part of a conditional offer for further teacher training. Even if your training provider doesn't ask for it, it's worth obtaining this proof for your personal records.

Browse GOV.UK's full list of SKE course providers to get started.

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