Routes into teaching

There are several pathways into early years, primary and secondary teaching in the UK.  If you are thinking of training to teach, start by examining the different routes into teaching and decide which is right for you. You should consider which age range and subject you would like to teach, and research which route is best suited to your skills, personal circumstances, and career ambition.

Although not a legal requirement in all types of schools (for example, academies, free schools, and private schools), you’ll find it easier to get a teaching job in England if you have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

To become a qualified teacher in state-maintained schools across the UK, you need to undertake Initial Teacher Training (ITT). Completion of an ITT course leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England and Wales.

All the following routes lead to QTS:

+Undergraduate degree which includes QTS (Fee-paying) – Click to find out more

A popular choice for primary teachers.  Applications are generally made through UCAS for this route, as you would for a normal university place.  Some degrees with opt-in QTS are available in certain subjects such as modern foreign languages, computing, and physics. Not all Undergraduate teaching degrees lead automatically, upon completion, to QTS. Research into this prior to application is advised.

+Postgraduate (Fee-paying) – Click to find out more

Usually, you will need a minimum of a 2:2 degree, and GCSE English and Maths. For Primary, you also need GCSE Science.

  • ITT courses vary slightly from provider to provider and not all ITT providers offer all routes so it is important to do your research, but most will include:
    • – 120 days of practical classroom experience in two schools supported by a mentor
    • – An element of academic study, ensuring you gain the underpinning knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning.
    • – Ongoing assessment of your teaching skills towards a final assessment against a set of teacher standards. Successful completion leads to the award of QTS.
    • – Some courses have an integrated PGCE element and / or Masters credits.

Different postgraduate routes:

  • Fee-paying university based: The most common route into teaching where you study at a university.  Courses start at a university setting with an academic focus and usually cover teaching and learning theory and managing classroom behaviour. After the first few weeks you start to spend time on placement in two different schools, teaching in two different key stages.
  • Fee-paying school based: school based, you are supernumerary to the timetable and gradually take on teaching experience over the year, under the direction and support of an experienced teacher (mentor). Typically, you will spend time in two different key stages and you will need to spend a short time at another school.
  • Part time & flexible routes: Some providers offer a part-time training route in some courses spreading the one-year training over multiple years, allowing you to spend less time in school per week.
+Apprenticeships (Employment Based) – this is for those colleagues who already have significant teaching experience and are currently working in a school / college – Click to find out more
  • Post-graduate Teaching Apprenticeship: A nationally recognised, work-based route into teaching. Apprentices work towards a postgraduate-level qualification without having to pay tuition fees, and the ability to earn while you learn.  On this route you spend most of your training at your employing school with a six-week placement in a contrasting school.

Coming soon…. September 2025 – Government announces Undergraduate teaching apprenticeships.

Apply for teacher training for using the DfE’s online service here.

Eligibility for each route depends on:

  • Current qualifications
  • Your subject specialism
  • Whether you already have teaching experience
  • Your personal circumstances (some routes are funded, some are not).