Popular with graduates, teacher training can be very competitive. Let Prospects guide you through the application process including how to write an outstanding personal statement...

Before completing your application form you need to:

  • choose your training route, age range and/or subject and provider. For help, see routes into teaching;
  • get as much work experience as you can in the classroom for the age range you are interested in teaching;
  • make sure you meet the minimum qualification requirements.

How to apply

Postgraduate teacher training applications in England and Wales are made through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT). Scotland PGDE applications are made through the main UCAS system. Applications through UCAS/UTT are for:

  • university-led, Postgraduate or Professional Certificates in Education (PGCE);
  • school-led, School Direct, salaried and unsalaried, and School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT);
  • early years initial teacher training;
  • further education (FE)/post compulsory teacher training with some further education colleges.

Applications for early years initial teacher training and post compulsory teacher training may be made directly with the employer, so check with them first.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) have announced a new approach to the allocation of Initial Teacher Training places for 2016-17. Rather than being allocated a set number of places, providers will tell NCTL how many trainees they plan to recruit. It is not known how this will affect recruitment although it is likely that providers will want to recruit early autumn, so potential applicants will need to think about apply as early as possible.

Application deadlines

The UTT/UCAS system opens in late October 2015 for training courses starting in 2016, and applications can be made right up to the beginning of the academic year.

Individual training providers must open their programme to applicants for a minimum of two weeks and can then decide when to close. Many providers will fill their places before Easter or even Christmas. Check the UTT website for guidance and aim to apply as early as possible.

Apply 1: Applicants make up to three choices, all submitted at the same time. This could be one or all three routes of PGCE, SCITT and School Direct. Your choices are simultaneously deliberated by your chosen training providers. You will then be invited to attend an interview or selection day and training providers must decide on your application within 40 working days. The professional skills tests must be passed as a part of the application process.

When you have all of your offers, you have ten working days to respond and accept one offer.

Apply 2: Begins early January. If you don't have any offers from Apply 1, you are able to make further applications. These are made one at a time, for any route. You can even keep applying until you are offered a place.

Applications made through UTT/UCAS will require you to submit:

  • a personal statement;
  • details of your work experience;
  • referee/s.

It is advisable to have all these in place before the application process opens. See UCAS - filling in your application.

Personal statements

This is where you explain why you want to become a teacher and demonstrate your strengths, skills and suitability for teaching. Training providers all want to know similar information from you so take your time, be prepared to get feedback before you send it off, and write a few drafts.

The UTT personal statement has up to 4,000 characters or 47 lines of text with an introduction, main body and conclusion.

It's important to:

  • use examples based on your recent teaching experience;
  • tailor your personal statement according to school/age group;
  • use good, clear, written English, using the first person, such as 'my' and 'I';
  • be original and honest;
  • avoid clichés and general statements such as 'I've always wanted to teach';
  • demonstrate a passion for teaching.

Before drafting your personal statement, think carefully about the things that teacher training providers will want to know, such as:

  • Why do I want to teach? - show that you know about the challenges and rewards of teaching. Maybe talk about any lessons you have observed/taught, what went well and how you would have improved on them. Discuss teaching styles used and the use of technology.
  • Why do I want to teach this age group/at this level? - what appeals to you, use examples of your experience with this group.
  • What are my strengths? - include the relevance of your degree and subject knowledge.
  • What experience do I have? - include any relevant work experience such as leadership, coaching a sports team, youth work or working at a summer camp. Give examples of how this developed your teaching skills.
  • What personal skills/abilities do I have? - initiative; resilience; creativity; time management; organisational skills; listening skills; leading or working in a team; versatility; and dependability.
  • Do I have any geographical restrictions? - if you don't currently live in the UK, why do you want to study here?
  • What extra do I bring?

All applications made through UTT are put through a Similarity Detection Service, so make sure you produce your own version. Selectors want to get an insight into who you are and why you are suited to teaching.

For more information, see our example of a personal statement for a PGCE secondary application.


As a part of the UTT application process, candidates submit the names and contact details of two referees. Typically these are your university tutor and someone who knows you from work, preferably in a school context. Applications can't be sent until you have attached two references so contacting your referees before you start can help to speed the process.

Examples of work experience

This is where you give details of your work history and school experience. Training providers will be interested in both school and paid work experience, include:

  • Your school experience, including details of the age groups and subjects you were involved with.
  • Your current job and work history.
  • Periods spent abroad, placements and summer jobs.
  • Information to demonstrate your transferable skills, particularly those that would be valuable in the classroom.
  • In the 'hours per week' section, give the average weekly time you spent in each school or role.
  • If you have additional details to add about your classroom or work experience, this can be included in your personal statement.

Applicants for the School Direct (salaried) route need to have three years' experience of work, so make sure this shows clearly in your application.

Professional skills test

During the application process for ITT (including early years initial teacher training) you are required to pass the professional numeracy and literacy skills tests. Once you have made an application, you are able to register and then you can book your test.

Your initial skills tests will be free, but you will be expected to pay £19.25 for resits. You should give yourself an advantage by practicing beforehand. Practice tests are available at Department for Education - Professional skills tests.

The tests are administered by learndirect and can be booked up to three months in advance. Slots are regularly added, so continue to check the website if you need a slot, or ring the learndirect helpline.