Routes into teaching

Teacher taster courses

Taster courses are short courses for people considering becoming a teacher which are designed to provide participants with some experience of what it means to be a teacher and an insight into what life in the classroom is all about.

There are courses for different subjects and phases with many aiming to attract participants from groups currently under represented in teaching.

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Undergraduate route

You do not need a degree to begin undergraduate teacher training such as a bachelor of education (BEd) or bachelor of arts (BA) with qualified teacher status (QTS), but to gain entry to a university based undergraduate course you will need to have a GCSE or standard equivalent in English and Mathematics and if you want to teach primary or key stages 2 / 3 a GCSE or standard equivalent in Science.

Most courses are for primary teaching but there are also some undergraduate secondary programmes.

Full-time courses last three or four years. If you have already completed one year of full-time higher education, you may be suited to a two year course in order to gain QTS.

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Postgraduate route

The PGCE (postgraduate Certificate in Education) offers graduates the opportunity to train to become a teacher.

It is normally a year long university based course involving placements in schools throughout the year.

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School Direct - into teaching

School Direct places are available in some of the best primary and secondary schools across England and programmes generally last for one year. Financial support is available throughout your training. Successful completion of the programme will lead to the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). School Direct programmes may also include a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE).

There are two separate School Direct training options:

  • School Direct Training Programme is for high-quality graduates who want to be part of a school team from day one. They may be eligible for a bursary of up to £20,000 to support them while training
  • School Direct Training Programme (salaried) is an employment-based route for high-quality experienced graduates with at least three years’ work experience. They will earn a salary while training

See School Direct information on the DfE website (external link).

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Assessment Only (AO)

This is a self funded option for experienced teachers, which enables successful candidates to be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status.

Overseas Trained Teachers, who do not qualify automatically under rules introduced in April 2012*, are advised to consider the OTTP** instead. Candidates with at least two years experience of whole class teaching are eligible for assessment for exemption from induction in addition to assessment for QTS. The AO is a route to QTS only.

However, Overseas Trained Teachers who have taught in this country for more than four years are eligible only for the AO route. Candidates who have withdrawn from, failed or been turned down for other QTS routes will not normally be considered for the AO route.

Once accepted candidates are expected to qualify in one term. They must pass the QTS Skills Tests in order to complete Stage 2 of the programme. This programme involves support and visits from a Tutor which aims to ensure that candidates are fully conversant with the teaching standards and requirements for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

* OTTs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA
Since 1 April 2012 qualified teachers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA can apply to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (previously the Teaching Agency) for qualified teacher status (QTS) without undertaking further training or assessment in England.

** The four year rule
The four year rule applies to teachers who qualified in countries outside of the EEA and Switzerland except for teachers who qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. OTTs are allowed to teach in state maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England as unqualified teachers for four calendar years. However, they are not permitted to teach in pupil referral units (PRUs) until they have been awarded qualified teacher status (QTS). An OTT is allowed to work as an unqualified teacher and the four year period begins on the first day the individual taught in a state maintained school or a non-maintained special school in England and expires exactly four years later regardless of whether the OTT has taught throughout the four year period.

Haringey is part of the north London consortium which represents north London training providers and LAs.

For further details contact:

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Fast track

The fast track programme (Future Leaders) is an accelerated development programme towards leadership positions in education in challenging secondary schools. For further details on this scheme see the Department for Education website (external link).

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Further information

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Page last updated:

February 20, 2023

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