Subject knowledge enhancement courses

National College for Teaching and Leadership
June, 2016

Part of being a good teacher is having an excellent understanding of your subject. Find out how you can improve your knowledge and teach a subject you may not have considered...

Many graduates considering a career in teaching are concerned about their subject knowledge, fearing that it may not be good enough to teach the subject that they really like.

But this shouldn't hold you back from applying for teacher training in a priority subject: maths; physics; chemistry; computing; design and technology; languages; biology or geography because of a lack of confidence. Training in a priority subject also means you may be eligible for the bursaries that they attract.

'I was aware that I had gaps in my physics knowledge and that my understanding may not have been strong enough to see me through the rigours of teacher training,' explains Darren Wilkinson, physics trainee.

'Not only did the SKE course help with my confidence by expanding my existing knowledge, but it also enabled me to take control over my development and further enhance my weaker areas,' he adds.

What is a Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course?

SKE courses are designed to bring your subject knowledge up to the appropriate standard needed to teach at secondary level.

The teacher training provider you apply to will identify if you need to complete an SKE course as part of the selection process. They may offer you a teacher training place on the condition that you undertake a course.

A training provider may offer an SKE course if:

  • your degree is not subject-specific, but closely related;
  • you have a good standard of knowledge from studying this at A-level;
  • you have gained plenty of experience in your career - for instance your career was as an accountant and you want to train as a maths teacher.

Remember to look at the modules that you have undertaken during your degree or A-levels, or the experience that you have gained in your career; this may give you more flexibility in choosing which priority subject to train in.

What do SKE courses involve?

They are aimed at increasing subject knowledge but they also build your classroom skills and pedagogy. As well as increasing your competence and confidence to teach the subject effectively at secondary level.

The delivery of SKE courses can differ with each training provider, they can be offered as full-time classroom-based study, part-time and evening/weekend study, or delivered online. It could also be a combination of these approaches.

If you think a course would benefit you, speak to the training providers that you're interested in before you submit your application, to see what support they can provide you and what bursaries are available.

'An SKE was offered to me as I needed to refresh and enhance my knowledge in chemistry - a subject I hadn't studied for a while. My knowledge has greatly improved and my confidence when I teach has also increased. The SKE has also provided me with valuable practical skills which I can use while teaching,' says chemistry trainee, Aneeka Ul-Haq.

Is there funding available?

SKE courses are fully funded and the amounts will vary depending on the length of the course. Courses can range from eight weeks to more than 20 weeks - you will be assessed by your training provider and the length of the coursewill be dependent on your needs.

How do I apply for an SKE course?

You should first apply to a teacher training provider through UCAS Teacher Training, and you may want to indicate on your application that you're interested in completing an SKE.

Before applying you should call your chosen teacher training provider, as not all of them support SKE courses, and may have an alternative approach to increasing trainee's subject knowledge.

Find out more

  • Discover more about teacher training.
  • Take a look at what life on an SKE course is like.
  • Speak to a Get Into Teaching Line agent on 0800 389 2500.