Routes into teaching
To teach in any Scottish state school, you must have a degree, and gain a Teaching Qualification (TQ) by following a programme of Initial Teacher Education (ITE). All teachers in Scotland are also required to register with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).
Unlike in England, all Scottish teacher training programmes are university-led. There are two routes available to prospective primary and secondary school teachers:
- A four year undergraduate programme.
- A one year Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).
Each programme combines theoretical understanding and practical school experience, and will lead to a Teaching Qualification (TQ) in primary or secondary education. Hear first-hand from Wendy, a science teacher in East Lothian, and Sandrine, an MFL teacher in Orkney, about their inspiration, experience, and advice for becoming a teacher in Scotland.
In Scotland, if you successfully complete a PGDE, you are guaranteed a teaching post with a Scottish local authority for your induction year."
Sandrine Tonini, Orkney
The teaching profession looks for the highest quality candidates, so you’ll need to meet the following requirements before you can be accepted for a training programme.
- For PGDE programmes, you’ll need to hold an undergraduate degree awarded by a UK higher education provider, or a recognised equivalent qualification.
- You’ll need to have achieved a standard equivalent to SCQF Level 6 or above in English (e.g. Higher Grade), and SCQF Level 5 in mathematics (e.g. National 5).
- If you intend to apply for undergraduate degree programmes, you must have achieved two other National Qualifications at SCQF Level 6, and one other subject at SCQF Level 5.
- If you have non-UK qualifications, you will need a Statement of Comparability from NARIC, the national agency for providing information and advice on worldwide qualifications. This can take some time, so we would advise you to start the process before you submit your application.
As teaching involves working with children on a daily basis, there are some non-academic requirements you may also need to meet.
- If you’re training to be a teacher in Scotland, you are required to be a member of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme. This helps training providers in Scotland to identify potential trainee teachers who are barred from working with children, young people, or vulnerable adults. For more information, go to the Scottish Government website and enter ‘PVG scheme’ in the search bar, or visit the GTCS In2Teaching website.
- Some ITE providers may ask for you to have classroom experience before you begin teacher training. You can arrange school experience independently – if you’re not sure where to begin, contact Teach in Scotland to help get you started. While it is not essential, if you can spend some time observing and helping out with lessons in a local school before you apply, it will help strengthen your application. You can use the experience in your personal statement, showing what you’ve gained from it and how it has increased your motivation to be a teacher.
How to apply
Whether you are looking for undergraduate or postgraduate teacher training programmes in Scotland, you must apply through the UCAS Undergraduate scheme.
Register with UCAS and search for ‘education’ under undergraduate options – Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) courses appear in undergraduate options.
The tuition fees providers in Scotland charge will vary depending on your nationality and the country where you normally live. Tuition fees for eligible students from Scotland are paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland. Funding for the PGDE is treated in the same way as full-time undergraduate programmes. Check what funding you might be eligible for by visiting Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
Register with Teach in Scotland or call 0845 345 4745 for information, support, and guidance to help you choose a career in teaching.