There are two routes into teaching. One is based at a university; the other is to train on the job. The first route means you get a qualification and then get a job. The second route means you get a job and then get a qualification. Independent schools are interested in academically strong undergraduates and graduates with a good degree relevant to the subject they will teach. If you want to work in the independent sector you can apply for a teaching job without teaching qualifications and, having got the job, then get trained in your school. Most graduate trainees want to gain a teaching qualification that has currency across sectors and countries. Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) gained while working in the independent or state maintained sector is transferable between sectors. This is a statutory qualification that is equally valid in which ever sector you have trained.
There are a number of recognised routes to gain Qualified Teacher Status, amongst them the most common are:
- School Direct training on the job
- higher education institution based or distance learning courses
- Most Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) will also give QTS but not all, so do check
- QTS allows you to teach in schools across the sectors. If you want to do this and take a PGCE course, the course must also give you QTS.
Although many starting a teaching career are new graduates, teaching is also an increasingly attractive choice for those wishing for a career change. Age is no barrier to training.
Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) Year
Once you have gained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), you become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT). You will continue your training as an NQT for a year. You will have a planned programme organised by your school and overseen by the NQT appropriate body (IStip for the vast majority of independent schools). Most schools in the independent sector and all schools in the state sector expect you to pass this NQT Induction year to be a fully qualified teacher.
School Direct Training
Prerequisites for application
- Undergraduate degree
- GCSEs grade C or above in English and Maths (Science is also required for Primary)
- Numeracy and literacy skill test
- Possibly other school-specific requirements.
School Direct allows you to do on the job training.
Independent schools are interested in graduates with a good degree relevant to the subject you will be teaching. You apply directly to a school for a teaching position as an unqualified teacher and undertake Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) training whilst working and gaining teaching experience. This can be done within an independent school, which may well pay your salary whilst you train. The school will work with an initial teacher training (ITT) provider to carry out the QTS training and assessment. Some providers will offer School Direct (QTS) with Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). These qualifications are transferable and allow you to work in the state maintained sector.
The advantages of on the job training include:
- Learning from high quality teachers
- Practical experience – you learn from doing, all the time
- Being a full member of the school community
- You are normally being paid a good salary
The Graduate Teaching Intern (GTI) scheme is an opportunity for graduates to try teaching as part of a paid internship programme in an English school. More information is available on the TryTeaching website.
HMC Teaching Careers
More details are available at hmcteachingcareers.org.uk
Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
PGCE is an internationally recognised qualification.
You can apply to a Higher Education Institution for a PGCE course or you can apply for a job in a school and get a PGCE while working on the job.
Here are some examples of different ways to take a PGCE course:
- Higher Education based PGCE
This will not be specific to the independent sector but a number of higher education institutions routinely place PGCE students in independent schools for part of their placement. For a list of all institutions offering PGCE see the UCAS website. You apply to the HEI, gain your teaching qualification and then apply for a job.
- Distance learning PGCE
Your training could be based primarily in an independent school. You apply to the school first and gain your PGCE while you work.
- University of Buckingham PGCE with QTS
University of Buckingham offer a PGCE with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You gain a job first and then are trained based at your school. The QTS allows you to work in the state maintained sector as well as the independent sector. See the University of Buckingham website for more information.
- University of Buckingham PGCE without QTS
University of Buckingham offer a PGCE specifically for those who want to work in the independent sector. This does not have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You gain a job first and then are trained based at your school. See the University of Buckingham website for more information.
- HMC Teacher Training
More details are available at www.hmcteachertraining.org.uk
In some cases a PGCE will give credit points towards a Masters’ degree.
In some cases some PGCEs do not lead to QTS.
The assessment only route is available for graduates who have taught unqualified for a number of years, in more than one school.
This experience can include teaching within independent schools and can be in the UK or overseas. Passing the assessment leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The school will work with an initial teacher training (ITT) provider to carry out the assessment.
Experienced unqualified teachers may have shorter training so that the Assessment only route can be completed in one or two terms. This will depend on the training provider with which your school works.
Experienced and qualified overseas teachers need to check the currency of their qualifications with the NARIC website. This website provides a statement of comparability that will be needed before you start training for a UK teaching qualification.
For more information about Assessment Only see the Department for Education Get into Teaching website.