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Postgraduate teacher training in England

Find out more about university and school-led postgraduate initial teacher training programmes in England, such as PGCE, School Direct, and SCITT.
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Postgraduate routes into teaching

If you already have a degree, there are a number of training programmes available depending on your qualifications and experience. To train as a primary or secondary teacher in England, you can choose either a university-led or school-led route. Each involves:

  • a minimum of 24 weeks in at least two schools to give you practical classroom experience
  • academic study to give you the knowledge and understanding to teach successfully, tutoring in classroom management, and mentoring from experienced professionals
  • an assessment of your teaching skills (through being observed teaching classes)

UCAS Teacher Training is the scheme you need to use to apply for the main university and school-led postgraduate routes into teaching. Some more specialised teaching routes below are not managed by UCAS and have a different application process. We've created a video about the available training routes to help you think through the differences between the types of postgraduate training programmes, with insight from teachers.

Sign up to receive your free information pack – an online step-by-step guide to applying for postgraduate programmes through UCAS Teacher Training.


University-led route

Typically one year, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) training programmes are available for prospective primary and secondary school teachers. You'll get classroom experience by spending time teaching and being trained in at least two schools, as well as time at the university or college you've chosen, working with a group of other students, and being taught by university staff.

  • The Postgraduate Certificate in Education can contain up to 60 credits at master’s degree level. The Postgraduate Diploma in Education can contain up to 120 credits at master’s degree level. Some training programmes give you the chance to earn the credits required for a full master's degree once you've completed your training.
  • You don’t need a PGCE or PGDE to teach in England, although you may find it useful later on if, for example, you want to teach in another country, or go on to complete a master's degree.
  • Spaces on popular teacher training programmes fill up quickly. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so we would advise you to apply early.
The Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (ProfGCE) for the Post-Compulsory Education and Training (PCET) sector is similar to the PGCE but does not lead to QTS. After completing FE teacher training, you can apply for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status. This is equivalent to QTS, and would allow you to work as a qualified teacher in state schools in England.

School Direct (tuition fee)

As the name suggests, the School Direct (tuition fee) route of study is unpaid. A school-led teacher training programme, the School Direct (non-salaried) route is run by a school or group of schools that work closely with a university or school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) consortium that certifies successful trainees. It’s a very popular training programme for those students who are hoping to gain a position in their training school following their training.

  • Although your training is based in a school, they’re not your employers, and in many ways your training will be similar to training programmes in universities and colleges.
  • While the majority of School Direct training programmes lead to a PGCE qualification, not all do. If gaining a PGCE is important to you, check with your training provider before applying, to confirm exactly what is included on your chosen training programme.
  • You’ll pay fees but you might be eligible for funding through tuition fee loans, training bursaries, or scholarships.
  • Contact your chosen training provider before you apply to make sure they are actively recruiting to their training programmes.

School Direct (salaried)

Students who opt for a School Direct (salaried) training programme are employed by a school as an unqualified teacher while they learn on the job. In some cases, this may be a school the student is already working at, or has an existing relationship with. This route is available for both primary and secondary teaching, and is run by individual schools or a group of schools. These providers work closely with a university or school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) consortium, that is able to certify successful trainees.

  • This is an employment-based route for high quality graduates, typically with at least three years’ experience of transferable work history. You’ll earn a salary while you train towards your QTS recommendation, and won’t need to pay any tuition fees. While the majority of School Direct training programmes lead to a PGCE qualification, not all do. Where this is an option, there may be an additional cost required for completion of the PGCE – if gaining master’s credits is important to you, check with your training provider before applying, to confirm exactly what is included on your chosen training programme. 
  • If you decide to apply for a School Direct (salaried) training programme, one of your references must be from an employer. If you’re self-employed and unable to provide a reference from a former employer, your referee should be someone who knows you from work, who can comment on your work and suitability for teaching.
  • Some schools may consider part-time placements – you'll need to approach a school directly if you'd like to be considered for a part-time placement. This year on the School Direct (salaried) route, some schools are offering part-time or abridged programmes.
  • Contact your chosen training provider befoer you apply to make sure they are actively recruiting to their training programmes.

School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT)

Students spend a minimum of 120 days in a school as they work towards their Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Similar to a School Direct (non-salaried) programme, the programmes are run by schools or groups of schools. Many schools work in close partnerships with universities for SCITT programmes, enabling trainee teachers to gain a PGCE alongside working towards their QTS.

  • Often their training programmes are tailored towards teaching in the local area.
  • They provide practical, hands-on teacher training programmes, taught by experienced, practising teachers.
  • These routes still include lectures, tutorials, and seminars that cover the same material as university or college training programmes.
  • Training providers will make vacancies available at different points in the year, as this helps them manage the volume of applications they receive. If you have a preferred training provider in mind, but they do not currently have vacancies, we suggest contacting them to find out if they plan to make places available in the future.

Teach First: Leadership Development Programme

This option combines leadership development and teacher training, giving applicants the chance to become an inspirational leader in classrooms that need it the most. It is a two year salaried programme leading to a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) qualification. Following five weeks of intensive training, you’ll continue to learn on the job while you work towards QTS.

Apply via Teach First


Researchers in Schools: Maths and Physics Chairs Programme

This option is for candidates who have completed, or are finishing, their maths, physics, or engineering PhD. It is a three year salaried teacher training programme that offers a combination of classroom teaching and research opportunities, as you work towards gaining QTS.

Apply via Researchers in Schools


Early Years Initial Teacher Training

A number of postgraduate Early Years Initial Teacher Training (EYITT) programmes are available via university or school-led training routes – all lead to Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS) on successful completion. EYTS is different to QTS, allowing you to specialise in working with children up to five years old only.

Apply directly via accredited providers


Assessment Only route to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

A number of universities, colleges, SCITTs, and School Direct training providers in England offer Assessment Only (AO). If you are working as an unqualified teacher, you could achieve QTS via the Assessment Only route. If you have a degree and substantial experience of working in a school, early years, or further education setting, this option allows you to gain QTS without undergoing a teacher training programme.

Apply directly via accredited providers