There are a number of avenues that can lead to a role in teaching in England...

To become a qualified teacher in state maintained schools across England and Wales you need to have qualified teacher status (QTS). This is gained through training known as Initial Teacher Training (ITT). Entry onto ITT is generally competitive but less so for shortage subjects.

Types of teacher training

ITT programmes in England and Wales are either school or university led, there may be differences in the way the training is delivered and led but they will all include classroom experience in schools and underpinning knowledge of teaching. Search teacher training courses.

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

Offered at a range of institutions, a PGCE focuses on developing your teaching skills, so you are expected to have a good understanding of your chosen subject and age range before you start training. You will attend lectures and spend a minimum of 24 weeks on placement in two schools or key stages.

If your degree subject does not link closely to the subject you intend to teach you may be offered a subject knowledge enhancement course as a part of your application, for some secondary level subject areas.

School Direct

Schools recruit and train teachers on the job, in partnership with other schools or a university. School Direct courses lead to QTS, possibly a PGCE and/or Masters-level credits. There is an expectation, but not a guarantee, of employment within the training school at the end.

The programme takes one year if studied full time and has two routes:

  • Unsalaried - available for all graduates, you may be eligible for a scholarship/bursary of up to £25,000 to support you during your training;
  • Salaried - employment based, for graduates with at least three years' work experience. However, some schools may accept applications with less work experience, especially in maths, physics, chemistry, languages and computing. You will receive an unqualified teacher's salary from your school, and the cost of your training will be covered but there may be charges for a qualification such as a PGCE if awarded. Always check with the school you are applying to for more details. Trainees in maths and physics could earn between £21,000 and £25,000 depending on their location.

School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT)

SCITT courses are delivered across England by groups of schools and training providers, leading to QTS. Most of the training is delivered in the classroom by experienced teachers, it may include attending a partner university if the training includes a PGCE, check individual providers for more information. Trainees will have one 'base' school and go on to further placements in at least one other school.

Usually, courses last from September to June, and particularly suit applicants who already have a lot of school experience as you will be based in schools from the beginning. This practical teacher training will often be written and taught by current, experienced teachers in local groups of schools and colleges.

Many SCITT courses also include a PGCE/Masters credits, check individual providers for more information.

Find out more about school-led teacher training.

Early years initial teacher training (EYITT)

Early years trainee teachers teach the early years foundation stage (from birth to five years old) and go on to gain early years teacher status. Graduates can apply for university-led early years programmes on either a 12-month full-time course with school placements or a part-time 12-month programme while working in the sector.

Some early years school direct places may also be offered. There is an assessment only route for experienced graduates who can already demonstrate all of the teaching standards.

Applications are made directly to the training provider.

Teacher training in the post-compulsory sector

You can apply for a PGCE for the further education (FE) sector. Some FE institutions will appoint teachers with no teaching qualification provided you are prepared to begin one once employed. Applications are usually made directly to the institution that you wish to study at. It is also possible to do a postgraduate diploma in learning and teaching in higher education, which is suitable for academic staff and is usually studied part time or via distance learning.

Qualified teachers in the FE sector can achieve qualified teacher learning and skills (QTLS) status. This is separate from the qualification and is attained via professional formation through the Society for Education and Training. QTLS is equivalent to QTS so it can be possible in some circumstances to go on to teach in maintained schools and you would not be required to undertake an NQT year.

To find out more about teaching in the FE sector, see FE advice.

Teach First

The Teach First charity (England and Wales) aims to address educational disadvantages by training exceptional teachers to teach in challenging schools. In 2015 they have 2,000 places nationally across primary, secondary and early years.

Applicants need to have 300 UCAS points and a 2:1 of above, but there is some flexibility with this. The two-year scheme offers a Leadership Development Programme and management skills training for well-qualified graduates. You will gain a PGCE and QTS during this two-year period while working in the classroom and earning a salary.

Applications open in June of the year before you want to start, and early application is recommended especially for popular subjects such as history.

For more information, see TeachFirst - Graduates.

Researchers in Schools

A school-centred, salaried teacher training programme, Researchers in Schools, is available in non-selective state schools. This programme is for researchers who are nearing completion, or who have completed a Doctorate. Trainees gain QTS and NQT status by the end of two years and can then return to work in an HEI or continue to teach in schools.

Most national curriculum subjects are available on the programme, with the possibility of enhanced salaries of up to £40,000 a year for shortage subjects such as Maths and physics.

You can apply throughout the year, but the first deadline for autumn assessment centres is in September.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL/TESOL)

Although not an official route into becoming a teacher, the TEFL qualification is an increasingly popular choice for graduates to gain teaching experience while travelling the world.

TEFL courses train you to teach English to students - either in the UK or abroad - whose native language isn't English. Teaching is carried out in the student's own country, in primary and secondary schools, commercial language schools, further education institutions and private companies.

Find out more about teaching English as a foreign language.

Premier Pathways

A paid two year teacher training programme, Premier Pathways is for high-calibre graduates. The unique programme offers a graded approach to teaching around the core concepts of support, flexibility, and professional growth. Participants will complete the course at a school of their own choosing with full Qualified Teacher Status.

Choosing a teacher training route

Get as much work experience in schools as you can to help you decide and support your application. If you're not sure which age or subject would suit you best, contact schools in your area and ask to observe in a classroom. You should also speak to the teaching staff about the challenges and rewards of teaching.

When you have decided, look for a route which gives you experience with the age range and/or subject you want to teach. Then check which regions offer that route. Alternatively, you may want to look at what training's available in the area you want to live. Either way, think about what would work best for you, and fits best with your experience. Search for teacher training courses.

It is sometimes possible to teach in academies, free schools, independent schools and further education colleges without QTS, however it is preferable to have QTS and your career prospects will be greatly improved.

If you haven't already, access the careers and employability service where you are studying or have graduated from. Visit open days/evenings for university and training providers and visit the school before applying to a school led teacher training route.