« Resources Home
teaching hub

How to Become a Teacher in the UK: The Ultimate Guide

Deborah A., Teacher
20 Aug 2023
5 min read
How to Become a Teacher in the UK: The Ultimate Guide

Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey, where your passion for education meets the opportunity to shape young minds and inspire future generations? Becoming a teacher opens the door to a profession that allows you to make a profound positive impact on the lives of others.

So, whether you're a recent graduate, a career changer, or someone driven by a lifelong passion for teaching, this guide will be your trusted companion as you navigate the rewarding and often challenging path toward becoming a teacher in the UK.

How To Become A Teacher

Here are the steps to become a teacher in the United Kingdom:

Step 1: Develop a Passion for Education

Becoming a teacher is not merely a job; it's a vocation. Take some time to reflect on your passion for education and your desire to make a positive impact on the lives of students. Teaching requires patience, empathy, and a genuine love for learning.

Step 2: Gain Teaching Assistant Experience

Before embarking on your teaching journey, it's crucial to gain experience working with young people. Consider volunteering at local schools, participating in mentoring programs, or working as a Teaching Assistant. This hands-on experience will give you valuable insights into classroom dynamics and help you develop essential skills.

Step 3: Choose Your Teaching Pathway

In the UK, there are several pathways to becoming a qualified teacher. The most common routes include:

  • Earn a Bachelor's of Education Degree

If you want to become a primary school teacher, apply for a Bachelor's of Education (BEd) degree. A BEd is a three-year degree that primarily applies to aspiring primary school teachers. And if you want to work as a nursery teacher, you can get a job without earning a bachelor's degree. However, you need to be certified to work with young children.

On the other hand, if you want to become a secondary school teacher, you need to complete a bachelor's degree in your preferred subject field. For instance, if you want to teach science in a secondary school, majoring in biology would be a wise choice.

A BEd alone won't enable you to be a teacher – you'll also need QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) as explained below. There are, however, some BEd courses that award QTS in addition to a degree.

  • Earn a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

If you've completed a Bachelor's degree in a specific subject and want to teach at various levels, you can pursue a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This certification typically takes around one year to obtain and allows you to teach in the subject you specialised in during your undergraduate studies. In Scotland, the equivalent qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).

In Northern Ireland, the requirements for teaching positions differ slightly. To work as a teacher there, you'll need to earn either a Bachelor's of Education (BEd) degree or complete a one-year PGCE program. If you've received your training outside of Northern Ireland, you'll also need to have your qualifications approved by the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) in order to be eligible to teach in the region.

  • Undergo the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

SCITT is a comprehensive training program designed to prepare aspiring teachers for their careers in education. It typically consists of three separate placements, each lasting approximately six to eight weeks, at different schools.

During these placements, participants are required to undertake the same responsibilities and duties as regular teachers, gaining hands-on experience in classroom management, lesson planning, and student assessment. And if you happen to be in Scotland, they've got a similar program called Initial Teacher Education (ITE). It's basically their version of SCITT.

Step 4: Obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

To teach in Wales and England, you need to obtain a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) credential. You can earn this credential on an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programme, which could be through either a university or school, and takes about one year to complete. The program will include teaching placements, assessments, and examinations to ensure you meet the required standards.

Once you have completed the programme, assuming that you meet the standards, you can earn QTS and become an Early Career Teacher (ECT) – formerly called Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT). As an ECT, you will undergo a 2-year induction period that involves strict monitoring with regular progress reviews and classroom observations.

Step 5: Job Search and Application

Once you've obtained QTS, it's time to find your dream teaching position. Start by researching local schools and checking job boards dedicated to education vacancies. Tailor your application to highlight your relevant experience, skills, and passion for teaching. More importantly, don't forget to craft a compelling cover letter that reflects your personality and dedication.

Step 6: Interview and Nailing the Job

Preparation is key to a successful teaching interview. Research the school, familiarise yourself with current educational policies, and anticipate common interview questions. Showcase your teaching philosophy, highlight your experience working with students, and demonstrate your ability to adapt to diverse learning needs. Remember, your enthusiasm and genuine passion for teaching will shine through!

Is It Too Late To Train As A Teacher?

It's absolutely never too late to train as a teacher. In the UK, people of all ages take up teaching and bring their own unique experiences to the classroom. And the good news is that there are different ways to become a teacher, even at a later age. Usually, folks start by getting an undergraduate degree in education or a related field, and then they go on to a postgraduate teacher training program. But hey, there are other options too!

For example, there's School Direct, where you can train on the job while working in a school. It's perfect for those looking to switch careers or folks with relevant work experience. And then there's Teach First, which places graduates in challenging schools and supports them with teacher training.

Concerns about age should never hinder your decision to pursue teacher training. In fact, your accumulated life experience can be a tremendous asset, as it brings a wealth of invaluable real-world knowledge that cannot be replicated in a classroom setting. The maturity, perspective, and patience cultivated over years of professional experience will undoubtedly serve you well in the classroom.

Zen Educate is transforming how schools find great teachers.

Sign up as a school
Sign up as a teacher

Share post