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UCAS Teacher Training

UCAS Teacher Training's blog

Advice from current trainees, newly qualified and experienced teachers, teacher mentors, and tutors.

How I’m keeping on top of my teacher training workload

My journey applying for teacher training was a long and bumpy one. I had constant doubts in my confidence and the feeling that it was never the right time.  I have two young children and the prospect of balancing my priorities at home and my personal life, alongside the consuming desire to teach, filled me with both fear and excitement. I was daunted and questioned how I would be able to cope. 

I’m only three weeks in and I guess there are a lot of hurdles to come and the workload is going to increase, in addition with responsibility of starting to teach and be accountable for my lessons.

Working efficiently

Early on, I decided that if it was going to work, with my demanding family life, there would be no room for time wasting – I had to work efficiently. I have set up a framework which prioritises what needs doing immediately, what can wait till the weekend and the general workload that requires a long-term strategy. I set parameters so when I am in ‘mummy mode’ I try hard to not get distracted in something to do with teacher training. I am learning to structure my time and when I am not studying or preparing for school, to try and have a break and my break is being with my children. Having a bit of distance and perspective allows me to return to work more objectively. 

Staying in control

Rome wasn’t built in a day and my aim is to try and stay on top of things, so I don’t waste time feeling flustered and working out what I need to do. Post-it notes are my new best friend, but a clear list of priorities and keeping on top of things so far has kept the lid on feeling that everything is out of control and has allowed me to not feel guilty when I’m with my family.

If you are thinking of applying then go for it, there will probably never be a right time. However, if you don’t go for it, the regret could last a life time.

The spark that showed me I'd made a difference - Ryan Watson

Teaching is not something to go into light heartily, despite the fact I sort of fell into it. I found myself completely mesmerisedby the way primary education works today; being only 22 years old I assumed things wouldn't be that different from when I was at school.
However, the passion and excitement that is weaved into the curriculum is a wonderful thing to witness but also to be a part of. For me, each class I've worked with (for a considerable amount of time that is) I have loved each and every child because there has been a moment or a spark that has showed me how I've made a difference to that child's life.
It is those kinds of moments that make it all the worthwhile, and these moments are what will keep you going when it gets tough. Throughout the course there will be highs and lows and there have been many times where I've almost crumbled under the pressure. In spite of all of this, I have come so much further than I ever thought I could and have felt a huge sense of accomplishment when the hard work is recognised.
As long as you have passion and determination to reflect and to do better, you will get through teacher training and achieve everything you wanted and more. It is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I wouldn't change any of it for the world.


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Enjoy your teacher training placements - Emma Beckett

Are you a real teacher?
I suppose I could not really answer this question until the end of the course, but now I can confidently say, “Yes I am”.
Placement one was a whirlwind experience. You flit between university and school, week after week, however my key tip: remain organised, file everything, and take each day as it comes.
Observe, observe, observe!
During your induction period, make sure you observe the classes you will be teaching as much as possible. It is useful to observe them in other subjects to. How is that pupil with autism taught in other subjects? How do other members of staff challenge Ella who is a high potential student?
Use your PPAs, study periods and frees wisely
Make sure all your university activities are completed by the first two weeks of placement one, two and three. You do not want to be doing these while planning lessons and marking assessments. You should also have an allocated working space which you are entitled to whether it is a laptop or teacher training room.
Be confident and own your experience
It is common for you not to feel comfortable in the classroom until placement two. After Christmas, you will hear many teacher trainees say, “Everything has just fallen into place!” Even if you’re not confident, act confident. Students can smell weakness! You have conquered placement one and you deserve to be on this amazing journey. Remember why you got into teaching in the first place, for the enthusiasm of your subject which you love as well as seeing students progress through secondary school. 
Things to have handy at all times
§  School planner or your own diary (note everything! From planning Year 9 assessments in your PPA period 4, to having your hair done after school on 10 May. It all helps with your reflective journals).
§  Anti-bacterial hand gel (during placement three I discovered this beauty. I have not hand a cold since!).
§  Merits (students love merits. Make sure you are giving out at least three a lesson. Praise is a great classroom tool).
§  Stationery (you have five whiteboard markers? How sweet. Buy more! Post it notes, biros, rulers, staples…and count them in and out of the room).
Enjoy this time!

Feeling inspired?

Find out more about becoming a teacher.

How to become a teacher

Get the facts
There are different types of training programmes, as well as numerous subjects and age groups to choose from. Then there’s understanding funding options and entry requirements – but don’t be overwhelmed! Head to for easy-to-follow information about everything you need to know, broken down by each UK country where you can choose to train.
Decided teaching is the perfect career for you? Great! Start your application today. You’ll need to answer questions about yourself, give details of your qualifications, write a personal statement, and provide two references.
Get a place
After you’ve applied, your chosen training providers will consider your application. Before offering you a place, they will always interview you, and their offers can be conditional or unconditional. Once you accept an offer, that place is yours!
Start training!
Training programmes usually start in September or October, and full time programmes last for around a year. Find out more about life as a trainee teacher.
If you have any questions, drop us a message on Facebook or Twitter, and we’ll be happy to help. 

Surviving your NQT year - Harry Silo

Completing teacher training is the first step. Will you be ready for what comes next? Here are my top five tips for surviving your NQT year:

1. Behaviour
I believe behaviour is the foundation of education. Without it, nothing else matters, i.e. resources, subject knowledge etc. Most of the advice you will be hearing includes phrases like, “Be firm but fair”, and, “Don’t smile until after Christmas”. Whilst I don’t agree with the latter, being consistent in your approach at this time of year will pay dividends. I was very firm and strict (not unreasonably) within the first two terms and it was noted that I issued the most reward and consequence ‘points’ in the school. The amount I issue is now at 10% of what it was and I’m happy to report that my lessons are generally calm and pleasant. Be firm, remain objective and give plenty of praise for those mini ‘win’ situations.

2. ‘Get them in, get them started’
Stand at the classroom door, act as a greeter, have a bin ready to discard chewing gum, correct any uniform issues and enforce the silence you demand as they come in to your classroom. When I shut the door it signifies the start of the lesson. I always have a starter ready. Even if I’m teaching in another room, I can quickly pose three differentiated questions on the whiteboard and get them started. A bored student can easily become a disruptive student.

3. Your department should be your rock
The maths department at my school are nothing short of fantastic. Great subject knowledge, consistent behaviour protocols and a wealth of experience. Don’t let any unanswered question or ambiguity stop you from developing. If you need to know something, get it answered ASAP.

4. Self-evaluation
We ask this of the students during and after every lesson and it’s reasonable to expect teachers to as well. No teaching experience is perfect. You can therefore always make improvements, especially in your first year. Ask yourself:
  • How could that have gone better?
  • How would a more experienced colleague have completed task X? 
  • How could I make my and the students’ life less stressful?

5. Efficiency/Organisation
These seem fundamental to teaching but I was startled at how many teachers – new and experienced - were disorganised. It creates more work in the long run, unnecessary stress and leads to a negative feeling towards the profession. This is a tough profession, so get the basics right. As soon as you have your timetable, begin the following:
  • Homework schedule – when to set and mark homework
  • Inspect your scheme of work (SOW) and chunk into fortnightly objectives
  • Create seating plans, SEN, data spreadsheets for record keeping, etc.
  • IT account setup and familiarisation of.

I appreciate the above will not work in all schools but the framework can be adapted to suit bespoke situations. Good luck and enjoy the ride!


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I used to be in awe of the teachers at my school – Ben Caven

I had a crisis around my 25th birthday. I was working in sales and wasn’t getting any job satisfaction. I wanted to do something worthwhile and working with young people seemed like a natural choice.
I’ve been working at Ark Putney Academy as a Teaching Assistant for a year. When I decided I wanted to work with young people, I approached Putney because it was my old school! I still knew some of the teachers and it was a setting I could relate to, it helped that I could picture myself in that school environment.
Being a TA at Putney has been great. I’ve been offered so much support and was always made to feel part of the team. When I first started, I was in awe of the teachers, but then as the year progressed I started to see the value I could add and began to think “I could do this.”
As soon as I started thinking about training to teach, it seemed like the most obvious thing in the world. It was a natural progression from what I’d already been doing and everyone at my school was really encouraging.
I’ve felt a lot of support throughout the process. The training programme with Ark sounded great and it was very clear. I knew exactly what the route would be and what it would look like.
I’m looking forward to putting what I learnt at summer school into practice. Prior to starting my training, I would just imitate what other teachers did, now I already have a better understanding of the theory behind teaching. There’s no doubt it was incredibly helpful having been a TA for a year, but summer school has been a great crash course, I feel like I’ve learnt everything I need to know to get started!
This was originally posted by Ark Teacher Training and is published with kind permission.

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My top five teacher training tips – Frankie Barrington


As an NQT, my first full year of teaching seems to have flown by. It's been a busy year, and I still find myself thinking “Wow, I'm actually a teacher now!” I trained through a School Direct route which put me right in the centre of school life from day one. I had training in Reception, Year 3 and Year 6, and I am now the very proud teacher of a Year 2 class. In light of my training period coming to a close, here are some tips that I have put together to inspire anyone who is about to take the leap into the best profession in the whole world.

1. Be prepared
In the world of teaching, organisation is key. I would recommend buying a USB with a large memory, and also splashing out on a portable hard drive. This allows you to back up everything. I keep every lesson that I ever teach, labelled so that I can find it easily if I ever need it again. Also, get a good, sturdy diary and use this to help you balance your time. My biggest help during the summer leading up to my training year, was Sue Cowley’s How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching. This book is fantastic in preparing you for the start of life as a teacher. She has also written a book called Getting the Buggers to Behave which brings me onto my second point…

2. Know your behaviour policy
As someone who has found behaviour management challenging, I know that the behaviour in your classroom can be a make or break factor in your lessons and observations. It is a good idea to read your school’s behaviour policy very carefully to make sure that you are able to apply rewards and sanctions consistently and as they are intended. If you do find yourself in a school where the behaviour management policy is minimal, don't be afraid to introduce rewards systems for individual pupils (after discussing with your mentor) or to try different approaches. Some approaches work well for one class but will have no effect on another. It's all about being flexible, and getting to know the children.

3. Try new things
Don't ever be afraid to try something new in the classroom. Just because you're a trainee teacher, it doesn't mean that your contributions and ideas are not valid. Are you experienced in using an iPad? Introduce it into your lessons. Have you thought of a school trip that would fit perfectly with a topic that you are teaching? Suggest it to your mentor. Some of my best observations have come from trying something new. Sometimes a trainee or someone who is new to a setting can provide a fresh perspective.

4. Share, share, share! 
In teaching, ideas get passed around and shared again and again. Sitting down to plan a lesson can sometimes end up in re-inventing the wheel. Be sure to check sites like Twinkl and TES for resources that could knock hours off of your planning time. If you do your training in a number of different settings then I would recommend asking in each setting if they would allow you to copy planning and resources from their school network onto a USB. You never know what year you might end up teaching so having a bank of plans and resources that you can tweak is really helpful. Similarly, if you make a resource or plan a lesson/scheme that has worked really well then share it on resource sites and with other teachers in your school.

5. Don't be too hard on yourself! 
As anyone in the education field will know, teaching is tough. There are days when you blame yourself for everything, and there are days when you feel on top of the world. There are days when everything bobs along nicely and there are days where you feel stretched so thin that you're sure you'll never ping back into shape. On all of those days, take one look at the children that you do all of this for. Remember the child that didn't speak a word of English on their first day and now won't stop talking. Take a moment to think about the children who say “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” You are doing all of this so that you can help and inspire young people, and you are doing it brilliantly. You are only human, and there is no such thing as a perfect teacher!


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Find out more about preparing for teacher training

How to prepare for your UCAS Teacher Training interview

So you’ve sent your teacher training application, but what happens next? You’ll hear back from the training providers within 40 working days of submitting your application.

Before you can be offered a place on a programme, you’ll need to attend an interview. Although interviews may appear daunting, a bit of preparation can go a long way.

Check out our top tips to help you prepare.

Show off your qualities.

Training providers will be looking for a number of qualities to see if you’d make a good teacher, such as:

passion – show you care about teaching
confidence – and being respectful towards children
professionalism – in both your mindset and the way you conduct yourself
personality – this can easily be reflected in how you present yourself, so dress smartly
energy – enthusiasm is infectious
resilience – being a teacher can be tough, so you'll need to show you're up to the task
understanding the commitments involved in  teaching – even the most prepared interviewees can be nervous about some things. It'll be fine as long as you demonstrate how you can overcome this in order to succeed

Prepare for the types of questions you’ll be asked.

Interviewers will ask you a range of questions, such as:

asking you to demonstrate an understanding of what helps children to learn
why you’ve picked a school-based/university-based route
what you’ve learnt from your experience in schools
your understanding of the subject you’ll be teaching – take a look at the national curriculum before your interview

It’s a good idea to start thinking of answers to the above questions, and examples that demonstrate what would make you a great teacher.

Need some more inspiration? Check out this video on how to prepare for your teacher training interviews.

Good luck at your interview!
Please let the training providers know if you’re unable to attend an interview. They may be able to reschedule this to a more convenient time.

If you have any questions about your UCAS Teacher Training application, check out all the advice on You can also get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter who’ll be more than happy to help.

I always wanted to teach, but life happened – Tracey Brown

I had always known I wanted to teach, and it had always been in my mind to find a way to get into the classroom. But life happened and I found myself working in a bank for 18 years, dreading going into work. One day I decided to do something about it. At that stage I didn’t have a degree, so I started by going to evening classes to try and find a subject I was interested in. It wasn’t until I took an evening class in Biology that I even considered science. I took my HNC and then secured a place at university studying Biomedical Science. Having completed that, I was offered a funded Masters and eventually I did a PhD. 
All the while I was learning, I was still aware that the ultimate goal was to teach and during my PhD I secured a place on SCITT programme. Unfortunately my situation changed, and I realised that paying to train wasn’t an option. I came across Teach First and went along to the Milkround Presentation at the Newcastle University campus – and immediately decided to apply. Having my training funded and going into a school where I would really be needed definitely appealed to me. 
I had lots of support throughout my application process, right through until I finished my training. I remember having a particularly difficult period during the Summer Institute, whilst training in my local area. I had a complete panic, I had kids at home and I was away from them – I thought ‘I can’t do this!’ But there were lots of people to speak to, giving me gentle encouragement and advice and I just kept going. Taking it day by day, using the support systems in place and even just knowing that there were people who were there to help me through it was reassuring.
I’m now in my third year, I stayed on in the school I was placed in through Teach First and my job couldn’t be more different from working in that bank. I can say that 90% of the time I love my job, and in comparison I remember quite literally hating the idea of going in to my old job. I used to dread it. I love my job now, and yes I have a huge work load, but it’s so rewarding.
My highlight from the last three years was in my second year. I had a really low ability year 11 Additional Science class who were really struggling.  We were set to do a lesson on the heart, and instead of working through diagrams on a Power Point – I contacted a local butcher and organised for him to save me a batch of pigs’ hearts.  We dissected the hearts in class and every single person got involved somehow.  They were all engaged with the subject, and energised by it for the first time. They were the only class to experience working on a real heart – it was the talk of corridors. Another teacher even asked to use the spare hearts I had left over, his pupils were envious. 
I think that’s when I first learned a really valuable teaching lesson – not to rely on Power Points too much. It’s easy to go into minute details and over-plan. Good lessons need to be flexible, which is really hard to do when you first start teaching, but you need to be able to work with your pupils and accept you might need to adjust your plans to keep them engaged.

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Shane and Janie share their stories about why they chose a career in teaching:

I can think of no career more rewarding – Rachel Mowbray

Prior to starting my training with Ark, I was a Captain in the British Army Intelligence Corps. During my service, I worked with vulnerable people from across the world. What I witnessed during my time in Helmand, Afghanistan, was a society where children were born into mostly hopeless futures. Futures where basic security was absent, hospital care limited and education non-existent for most. At home in Britain, I can think of no career more rewarding than one that is dedicated towards offering a fair chance and future for our next generation.

While there are many other teacher training providers, for me, Ark’s mission of giving every young person, regardless of background, a great education meant that I could take forward the sense of purpose I had serving in the Army into my next career.

Having just finished summer school, what really stood out the most were my fellow trainees and the sense of camaraderie that quickly developed; being with a like-minded group of people, with an assortment of fantastic achievements already behind them, was very inspiring. As a complete teaching novice, I found the training that we received was easily digestible and hugely supportive.

I am looking forward to taking the techniques and lessons from summer school forward into the classroom and really getting to know my year ones.


This was originally posted by Ark Teacher Training and is published with kind permission.

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Gabrielle and Tom share their stories about why they chose a career in teaching:

What I know now: A message from the other side of teacher training – Gabrielle James

From teaching assistant to qualified teacher – Tom Savagar