Teaching is a popular career choice for graduates and a wide range of training routes are available to get into different areas of education. Whether you want to work with children, young people, or adults, our guide provides an overview of getting into teaching at a variety of levels. 

First, it will be important to consider whether or not teaching as a vocation is the right path for you. Our guide will help you to identify the skills, qualities and qualifications needed to gain entry into teaching in Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Further or Higher Education. We also have a section on planning your personal statement for postgraduate teacher training and further information on alternative careers in educational environments.

**Please note that the content of this guide refers to teaching in England; requirements may vary if you wish to teach in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. Please refer to the resources below for further information.**

  • Teaching in Northern Ireland- TARGETjobs provides an overview of training to teach in Northern Ireland across the sector.
  • Teaching in Wales - TARGETjobs offers an overview of teacher training routes in Wales, including information on university courses and funding options.
  • Teaching in Scotland - TARGETjobs outlines teacher training routes in Scotland, including course information and funding options. 

Is teaching the right career for you?

Teaching, regardless of what age group you are working with, can be both a rewarding and fulfilling career.  If you are considering a career in teaching you will need to check if this is the right role for you. 

One of the first considerations may be what age group and level you are looking to teach. The table below provides an overview of the key stages and levels associated with the English education system.  For more information about education in other parts of the United Kingdom, please visit the Department of Education Northern IrelandGOV.Wales and Education Scotland.


3-5 years 5-7 years 7-11 years 11-14 years 14-16 years 16-19 years 19 years+


Early Years Foundation Stage Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2 Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4 Post- compulsory education and/or training Further Education and/or Higher Education


Reception Years 1 and 2 Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 Years 7, 8 and 9 Years 10 and 11 Years 12 and 13 (college years 1 and 2) Adult education


  Individual teacher assessment against national curriculum attainment targets National curriculum literacy, numeracy and science tests towards the end of KS2 Individual teacher assessment against national curriculum attainment targets Some children take GCSEs in year 10. Most children take GCSEs or other national qualifications at the end of year 11 Learning programmes leading to general, vocationally related and occupational qualifications: for example A level, Tech level, NVQ and modern apprenticeship Various, dependent on the nature of qualification being undertaken. May be academic or vocationally- oriented, ranging from courses for interest, entry level qualifications and levels 1-7, including degree level qualifications

Once you have an idea of which age group and/or level you may be interested in teaching, there will be other considerations for you. For this purpose, we have provided a checklist of some of the key strengths, qualities and credentials you will need to enjoy your teaching career and to make a success of it.


Do you have the right academic qualifications?

Working in most educational settings will require you to have a degree and/or a teaching qualification. Make sure you are clear about the requirements for the level of teaching you interested in..

If your teaching is subject-based you will need to demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for your subject area, in addition to a commitment to working with the specific age group.

There will also typically be assessment of your numeracy and literacy skills. A new approach to assess these skills will be delivered by training providers if you start teacher training from 2020. This will involve the provider assessing that you have the fundamental English and mathematics skills to become a teacher either at interview or during the training course. Check directly with your training provider to find out further details.

More information is also available on the Get Into Teaching website.

Do you have great interpersonal skills?

A range of interpersonal skills, including excellent communication and the ability to deliver content in a compelling way is essential. You will also need to build positive working relationships with parents, colleagues and other staff members involved with learners. Written communication skills are vital too, as you’ll be required to prepare reports and other documents relating to your pupils’ development and progression.

Do you have great organisational skills and the ability to motivate others?

You’ll need to have the ability to manage a demanding workload, alongside your time in the classroom your workload will include planning lessons, tracking pupils’ development and attending meetings.

A genuine commitment to bringing out the best in your learners will be vital; as will a desire to enable your learners to reach their full potential. 

Are you resilient and adaptable?

Resilience will be an essential quality to have, as will stamina and energy when managing an extensive workload. The teaching profession, whilst rewarding, can also be intellectually and emotionally demanding. Therefore, you will need to be competent in behaviour management in the classroom, keeping up to date with marking and paperwork, and showing empathy for any problems that your students may present with. Don’t forget you will be provided with lots of support and if you are driven to succeed teaching is a fulfilling and worthwhile profession.

There are regular developments within teaching which can include revisions to the national curriculum and changes in qualifications and funding; therefore you will need to be adaptable to change and willing to engage in ongoing professional development.

Key questions to ask yourself...

  • What subject do you want to teach? Your degree subject area or across disciplines?
  • What age group are you interested in working with?
  • Do you have any relevant experience working with this age group?
  • What’s your motivation behind applying to teach? You’ll need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to the profession and ongoing development opportunities.
  • Teaching will require you to work to a strict schedule - how do you feel about developing a working routine and do you have excellent organisational skills?

The content in this guide has been produced in line with the information provided through the following resources and all information was accurate at the time of writing in August 2019. However, we recommend accessing the resources to check for updates to information.

  • Get Into Teaching - Support and advice from the government’s Department for Education.
  • Prospects - A range of information and advice on different teacher training and routes into education.
  • TARGETjobs - A range of resources and articles to explore routes into teaching.
  • TARGETjobs Teaching Guide - A dedicated resource for 2019 with information about options, application processes and routes into different areas of teaching.
  • UCAS Teacher Training - Information outlining the routes, entry requirements and statutory teaching standards across the UK.
  • Teach First - Information and resources about opportunities through the charity, including the Leadership Development Programme.
  • FE Advice - Information about the FE and Skills sector in England, including information about becoming a teacher and information for training and qualifications.

Did you know that if you are looking to get into Early Years, Primary or Secondary teaching you can access support and advice from your own teacher training adviser? Get Into Teaching offer access to your own teacher training adviser. This is an opportunity to access free support from an experienced teacher who can offer handy hints and tips, one to one advice and even help arranging school experience. For more information and to register for this opportunity please visit the Get Into Teaching website here

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Getting into Early Years teaching

What is Early Years teaching?

Early Years teaching involves playing an essential role in children’s development between birth and the age of five - offering high-quality education through the delivery of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Teaching may take place across a variety of settings, including nurseries, preschools and reception classes.

As an Early Years teacher, the activities you plan should motivate children and creatively use resources to support learning and development of social and communication skills, whilst meeting the requirements of the EYFS. Overall, your work will support children in preparation for the successful transition into primary school.

To register your interest in becoming an Early Years teacher and to receive further details register through the GOV.UK website here and see the information included below.

What do you need to be an Early Years teacher?

Alongside relevant qualifications, outlined in the training routes section below, there are a range of skills and qualities you will need to develop and demonstrate in order to progress in this teaching role.

These include the ability to motivate and stimulate a child’s learning ability; offering pastoral care and support to children; assisting with the development of their overall development, including social, language and physical skills; and developing a range of learning resources to develop their curiosity and knowledge.

Additionally, you will need to feel confident in working with others - building and maintaining relationships with other practitioners and parents and in keeping on top of changes in the curriculum and developments in best practice. 

Getting experience

Before applying for training to become an Early Years Practitioner it will be essential to gain experience in an appropriate setting that enhances skills and knowledge around literacy, language, numeracy and planning educational activities.

This experience could be gained through a wide range of opportunities, including within a classroom environment, volunteering at a local playgroup or play scheme or within children’s centres.

Examples of early years-related roles that have been advertised via the Careers and Employability Service Volunteering Bank include:

  • Children’s Activity Support Volunteer with Gosport Discovery Centre - assisting in preparing materials for a range of engaging activities and in delivering the activity sessions with children and their families.
  • Nursery Volunteer with The Roberts Centre - engaging in stream training and interacting with children through a range of play activities.
  • Home Visiting Volunteer with Home-Start Portsmouth - visiting a family within their home to assist based on their needs; supporting with access to local services and/or connecting with their local community; and assisting with practical help such as playing or reading stories.

You can access further information about current volunteering opportunities in the Portsmouth area through your MyCareer account or email the Volunteering Team with any queries on volunteering@port.ac.uk.  

You are also able to source your own volunteering opportunities independently and/or when you head home during the summer. We recommend the following websites to assist you:

Do-it.org - The UK’s national volunteering database lists volunteer roles that are posted by volunteer centres, national and local charities and voluntary groups, making it easy for you to search for opportunities to volunteer in your community.

Career Volunteer - Delivers bespoke skilled volunteering projects aimed at professionals and professional development for individuals with a range of organisations.

Training routes and funding

The requirements for Early Years teaching are similar to primary level and are outlined below:

  • You will be required to have a degree and at least 4 GCSE C / 4 (or equivalent) in English, maths and science to train.
  • You will need a suitable level of fundamental skills in numeracy and literacy.
    A new approach for assessing these skills will be delivered by training providers if you start teacher training from 2020. This will involve the provider assuring that you have the fundamental English and mathematics skills to become a teacher either at interview or during the training course. Check directly with your training provider to find out more details.
    More information is available on the Get Into Teaching website.
  • You will be required to undertake your early years initial teacher training (ITT) and be able to demonstrate that you have met the Teachers’ Standards for Early Years.
  • These operate in parallel with the current Teachers’ Standards, and have been designed specifically for early years teachers to ensure that your training and assessment is appropriate for children from birth to age five. Please note that EYITT leads to the award of Early Years Teacher Status, not Qualified Teacher Status, which is required to lead teaching and learning in maintained schools.
    (This information has been sourced from the Department for Education website, 2019). 

The following information appears on the GOV.UK website and outlines the main training routes available. 

All options lead to early years teacher status (EYTS) upon completion:

  • Undergraduate – A full-time three- to four-year route leading to EYTS for those studying for a degree in an early childhood-related subject, with tuition fee loans available from Student Finance England (SFE).
  • Graduate entry – Typically a year of full-time study, with a £7,000 grant to cover course fees. There are also bursaries of up to £5,000 for graduates with a first class degree, £4,000 for graduates with a 2:1, and £2,000 for graduates with a 2:2.
  • Graduate employment-based – A one-year part-time route for graduates working in an early years setting who need further training to demonstrate the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years). Funding of £14,000 is available, this covers course fees of up to £7,000. The remaining £7,000 is a contribution to the costs incurred by your employer, for example supply cover or salary enhancement.
  • Assessment only – Taking place over three months, this self-funded route is ideal for graduates with experience of working with children from birth to age five, who meet the Teachers’ Standards (Early Years) with no need for further training, for example an early years teacher from overseas.

If you are looking to start or continue studying at the University of Portsmouth, the School of Education and Sociology offers a Grad Cert in Early Years Initial Training on a one year, part-time basis. This is specifically designed for those individuals already employed within an early years setting. More information can be found here.

Alternatively, the School also deliver a three year full-time undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Studies, which also incorporates the opportunity to gain Early Years Teacher Status. More information can be found here.

Application process

The Department for Education now offers a full overview of early years initial teacher training (ITT) accredited providers. Please see further information here

You can also explore relevant postgraduate courses in early years through the Prospects website

Depending on which study route you choose to take the application process is likely to vary.  However, most routes are likely to require a personal statement outlining your interest in and suitability for the course, whether you’re a recent graduate or a professional embarking on further professional training.

Each university or training provider is likely to have their own guide on how to produce an effective personal statement, however see the guidance here to consider what should be included.

The Careers and Employability Service can support you in developing a strong personal statement for your application.  Once you have drafted your personal statement you can either call in to make an appointment to discuss your statement with an adviser, or use our MyCareer online booking system to book an appointment to suit you.

Getting a job once qualified

As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you to research the opportunities available.

Nursery World - Offers news and best practice in childcare, EYFS and early years education. The site also advertises job opportunities in the sector.

Children & Young People Now Jobs - Has a search tool for vacancies within early years settings/within childcare.

EduStaff - Outlines job vacancies across different levels of education, but has a specific search option for EYFS positions.

Department for Education- Provides helpful information about training routes to become an early years teacher. The site also outlines the different skills and standards required in the role, in addition to the latest news, publications and statistics.

Times Educational Supplement - Provides the latest news, teaching resources and discussion from the teaching world. The TES also advertises jobs in teaching and leadership opportunities.

Eteach - A leading specialist of education recruitment - utilised by schools and other education providers to promote vacancies.

Daynurseries.co.uk - Offers a jobs board to search for nursery-based vacancies and an opportunity to register for an online account to submit applications and save job searches.  

Protocol Education - A teacher recruitment agency featuring opportunities for early years teachers.

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Getting into Primary School teaching

What is Primary School teaching?

Primary school teaching provides initial compulsory education for children aged five to 11 (and, in addition, in many areas Reception Year for children aged four is offered prior to compulsory education).

Primary education is offered through infant schools (for children aged five to seven), junior schools (for children aged seven to eleven), and primary schools (combined infant and junior schools).  In some parts of England schools are arranged as first schools (for children aged five to eight) and middle schools (for children aged eight to 12).

Primary teaching stages are divided according to the national curriculum:

Key Stage I  (ages five to seven)

Key Stage II (ages seven to 11)

Reception Year is covered by the Early Years Foundation Stage of the national curriculum.

Primary school teachers usually take responsibility for teaching all areas of the national curriculum to the same class, for the period of a year.   However, it is possible to become a subject specialist within a primary school, perhaps co-ordinating the provision of a subject throughout the school or in some cases teaching a particular subject across all age groups, most commonly for music, drama and PE.

As a primary school teacher you are responsible for ensuring that children get the best start in life by teaching them the core academic and social skills they will need in the future.  Added to that, teachers at this level must ensure their pupils achieve certain basic standards.

Primary teachers plan, prepare and present lessons catering to the needs of the entire class.  Maintaining discipline is an important part of the role, as is discussing with parents how their child is progressing.  More details on the role and responsibilities of a primary school teacher can be found on the Prospects Primary School Teacher job profile .

What do you need to be a Primary School teacher?

In terms of qualifications to become a primary school teacher, your goal is to achieve the professional standard Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is required in order to teach in the state sector in England and Wales.  There are various training routes which lead to QTS. The Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) includes QTS. This period of training is referred to as Initial Teacher Training (ITT). Information on different training routes is available on the Government’s Department for Education support and advice website Get Into Teaching .

To train as a primary school teacher you must have the following qualifications:

  • A UK undergraduate degree, or a recognised equivalent
  • GCSEs English, Maths, and Science at grade C/4 or above
  • A suitable level of fundamental skills in numeracy and literacy.
    A new approach for assessing these skills will be delivered by training providers if you start teacher training in 2020. This will involve the provider assuring that you have the fundamental English and mathematics skills to become a teacher either at interview or during the training course. Check directly with your training provider to find out more details.
    More information is available on the Get Into Teaching website.
  • To have declared any previous convictions and undergone the criminal records check through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

It is important to note that these requirements apply to England and Wales, and requirements vary slightly if you are planning to teach in Northern Ireland or Scotland; the UCAS website provides a breakdown of eligibility requirements for primary school teacher training in all parts of the UK.

There are essentially two different types of training routes open to you: tuition fee courses and salaried courses.  Postgraduate teacher training courses are available across England, led by universities or schools. Detailed information and explanation for these can be found on the Get Into Teaching and Prospects websites.

In terms of personal qualities you will need to demonstrate to become a teacher, just like teachers at other levels, primary teachers must be able to work with others to plan and coordinate work, be prepared to work evenings and be flexible.

Inspiring young children is demanding and rewarding, you’ll need passion and commitment to help inspire pupils to learn important skills and increase their knowledge and understanding.  Good communication skills are a must, along with strong organisational skills, stamina, energy and empathy. And of course, you must enjoy working with children!

Getting experience

At this level and age group, gaining some experience of teaching children in a classroom setting will enable you to gain a realistic idea of what teaching is like, it’s important to be sure of what you are committing yourself to! Having school experience is no longer a mandatory requirement, but it will help you strengthen your application,  as you will be able to draw on the insight you have gained from being in school to explain why you want to teach.

Whilst experience in a state-maintained school will be really helpful in providing a realistic idea of what it’s like to teach, other experience working with children and young people may be equally beneficial in helping you to decide if teaching is the right career for you, and informing what you might include in your application form.

The Reading Scheme, organised by the Careers and Employability Service’s Volunteering Team, offers students the opportunity to gain school-based experience working with children in Portsmouth primary schools.  Students volunteer for an hour or more a week, helping children to read in Years 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The Scheme is currently run at 12 inner-City schools. Recruitment for the Reading Scheme takes place in August and September each year, however, you can register your interest on MyCareer’s Volunteering Project: Reading Scheme page.

Teach Portsmouth is a new pilot programme for suitably qualified applicants who are considering training to teach, or returning to teaching, in September 2020. The programme is free of charge to graduates - or those who are due to graduate in summer 2020 - who live, work or study in Portsmouth. 

It may also be possible to arrange your own in-school experience, by taking a ‘speculative’ approach, asking schools directly about opportunities to shadow primary school teachers or observe classes or help out in school as a volunteer.  You will need to research schools local to you, and contact them directly. If you don’t have local knowledge about schools, the Register of Schools and Colleges in England  is a comprehensive register where you can begin your search, to identify locations and types of school.  The Register provides basic contact information, from which you can check out the school’s website to find out more about the school.

Once you are sure that the school you wish to apply to is the right school for you, you can focus on making sure your CV reflects your relevant skills and abilities, and on preparing a convincing cover letter to apply for school-based experience.  

It is a good idea to address your letter and CV to the headteacher.  Resources to help you develop your CV and cover letter are available on the Careers and Employability Service website: CVs and Cover Letters .  Advisers in the Careers Centre on Guildhall Walk will be happy to review your CV and cover letter with you.  A drop-in service is available every day or you can book a 20-minute appointment online through MyCareer.  More advice on securing school experience independently can be found on the Get into Teaching webpage Arranging school experience.

In England and Wales, the Department for Education manages The School Experience Programme (SEP).  The SEP offers the opportunity to book a day’s worth of experience in a participating school which is convenient for you (further days should be negotiated directly with the school once you are on your placement).  Registering with the DfE’s Get Into Teaching website will allow you to access the online booking portal.  

Training routes

Whether you choose a university-led or school-led training course, all teacher training courses will offer:

  • Qualified teacher status (QTS), which is needed to teach as a qualified teacher in England.
  • Plenty of classroom experience.
  • Training to meet the Teachers’ Standards.
  • Academic and practical guidance from mentors and tutors who are there to help candidates succeed.

 School led or based routes include School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) or School Direct (non-salaried),  School Direct (salaried), and Teach First.  The local Portsmouth SCITT is a long-established and highly-rated scheme.

Another school-based initial teacher training route for graduates was announced late in 2017:  the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship programme. This still-new programme will enable graduates to be employed as unqualified teachers whilst training, successfully completing the 12-month course will result in the award of QTS, but there will be further assessment within the first three months as a newly qualified teacher to achieve the Apprenticeship Certificate.  The details of this route may vary depending upon the provider and currently the UCAS website offers the most up-to-date information.  Currently there is a limited number of vacancies offered by 119 accredited providers; if you are interested in this route keep track of when providers are opening applications on UCAS. 

Every teacher training course includes training on how to ensure pupils with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) can progress within the curriculum.  If this is an area that you want to specialise in, there are courses that focus on providing opportunities to develop further skills for this. The Get into Teaching website explains how to search for courses with a SEND specialism here.

An overview of initial teacher training routes is available on Target Jobs How do you train to become a teacher?.

You can search for training providers through the DfE teacher training course finder which will help you to identify a course and location that is right for you.  


The most up to date information about funding to train at primary level is available on the Department for Education’s Get into Teaching website, on their funding for training to teach at primary webpage.  Additional bursaries may be available if you plan to teach maths at primary level.

The School Direct (salaried) route offers the opportunity to earn a salary whilst you train.  You will be paid and taxed as an unqualified teacher. Salaries may vary depending on the school you choose to train at, so check the salary with the school before applying.

If you are training to teach through the Teach First Leadership Development Programme, initially you will be paid the salary for an unqualified teacher, further information about this is available here: Teach First - Salary and Benefits.

There is a small number of ‘flexible’ (e.g. part-time, including distance learning, perhaps with start dates other than September) providers; more information is available on the Get into Teaching website with suggestions of how to search for these opportunities.

Application process

Applications for PGCEs, PGDEs, SCITTS and School Direct are made through UCAS.  The user-friendly information on the UCAS website will guide you step-by-step through the application process.

Applications for Teach First Primary should be made online direct to Teach First, more information about the application process is available here:Teach First - How to Apply .

The Personal Statement section of the application is your chance to explain why you want to teach primary age children, and to convey your enthusiasm for teaching.  Please see the Planning and writing your personal statement section of this guide for information on how to approach this.    

The Department for Education offer workshops in key national cities, as well as webinars and telephone appointments,  to support students in preparing applications for teacher training in 2020, details of upcoming workshops are listed here: Get into Teaching Events .

As part of the selection process, you will have an interview before being offered a place on a teacher training programme.  As with any interview, preparation is key and the information offered on UCAS, Get into Teaching, Targetjobs, and Prospects websites around typical interview questions, and the skills and qualities providers might be looking to test at interview, may be helpful.  A mock interview with a Careers Adviser can be arranged through the Careers and Employability Service to build your confidence and strengthen your interview skills.

The Department for Education offers tailored support for students applying for ITT through its Teacher Training Adviser service.  Once you have registered for this service you will be paired with an experienced adviser who can offer informed support through every stage of your application, from helping you to arrange school experience and detailing funding  you may be entitled to, to helping you to prepare for skills tests and interviews. To find out more about this service, and to register, visit the DfE’s Get into Teaching website here.

Getting a job once qualified

Once you've passed ITT you will be awarded QTS. You will then be required to complete an induction year to become a fully qualified teacher.

This year as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) includes professional development and support to help you become a successful teacher.  You will also be assessed against the Teachers’ Standards. Targetjobs provides an overview of the induction year.

General information on how NQT posts are advertised and when to apply for them is also available on Prospects and Targetjobs.

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Getting into Secondary School teaching

What is Secondary School teaching?

Secondary school teachers educate pupils aged 11 to 18. They teach national curriculum subjects at key stages 3 and 4 .  Teachers at this level plan and deliver lessons in line with national objectives, and support, observe and record the progress of their pupils.  At secondary level teachers normally specialise in teaching a subject or perhaps a couple of subjects. The Get into Teaching website explains more about the subjects you might want to teach at secondary level. For an overview of what to expect and the responsibilities as a Secondary Teacher, take a look at Prospects’ Secondary Teacher profile .

What do you need to be a Secondary School teacher?

The requirements for becoming a Secondary School Teacher align with those outlined earlier in this guide for becoming a Primary School Teacher.  In addition you will need a degree in the subject you have chosen to teach (or a closely related one), however, there are options if training providers recognise your potential as a teacher, but your degree is not in the subject you wish to teach, but is closely related, or if you have only studied the subject you wish to teach at A Level.  A Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course may be available, there is more information about this option on the Get Into Teaching website.

The requirements for Teach First are available on their What you need to join our programme web page.  

Getting experience

The information in the Primary Teaching section of this guide around getting experience is equally applicable if you are wanting to teach at secondary level.

Teach First offers a useful guide to the sort of relevant organisations who offer volunteering opportunities which may help you to develop skills that might increase your chances of being accepted on to the programme.  MyCareer’s Volunteering listings may include opportunities to work with young people in various settings.

A programme of paid work experience is accessible to highly valuable STEM undergraduates through teaching internships.  Normally these take place between June and July and last four weeks, and are aimed primarily at undergraduates interested in teaching secondary maths or physics and in their penultimate year of a STEM-related degree.  Applications should be made directly to participating schools, further details and information is available through the Get into Teaching website.  

Training routes

Again, training routes to become a Secondary School Teacher are similar to those suggested for Primary School teachers in this guide.  The information on TargetJobs’ How do you train to become a teacher is an informative overview of the different routes.  You may also find the links in the Primary Teaching Training routes section of this guide helpful.

The Teach First How our programme is structured web page provides information on the content of their secondary teaching training programme.

The University of Portsmouth’s School of Education and Sociology currently offers PGCE courses in Computer Science, English, Geography, Mathematics,  Modern Foreign Languages, and Science.

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) is the professional association of Headteachers of leading independent schools.  Information on how you can begin a teaching career in the independent sector and training and support offered can be found on their website:  HMC Teacher Careers website.


Get Into Teaching’s Bursaries and Funding web page provides detail on the various bursaries available depending on the subject you wish to teach at secondary school level.

Details of salary and benefits on the Teach First programme are available on their Salary and Benefits webpage.

Application process

Please see the Primary Teaching section of this guide for guidance and links to information about applying for secondary teacher training.

Once again, the DfE’s Teaching Adviser and Early Engagement Adviser programmes offer tailored support whilst you consider and apply for teacher training at secondary level.

Applications for Teach First Secondary should be made online direct to Teach First, more information about the selection and application process is available here: Teach First - How to Apply .

Getting a job once qualified

You can return to the Primary Teaching section of this guide for guidance and links to useful information about how to approach finding your first post as a secondary school teacher.  General information on how NQT posts are advertised and when to apply for them is available on Prospects and Targetjobs.

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Getting into Further Education teaching

What is Further Education teaching?

 Someone working within further education will typically teach a range of subjects in one of three main areas, including vocational training, academic teaching or basic skills.

  • Vocational training includes apprenticeships and courses/qualifications involving preparing students for work and ensuring they have up-to-date skills for the work area they are looking to get into.
  • Academic teaching includes a range of academic qualifications, mainly at GCSE and A Level.
  • Basic skills may include areas such as numeracy, literacy and ESOL - English for speakers of other languages. Qualifications associated with these areas may include Functional Skills.

There may also be the opportunity to teach on recreational courses that support personal interest areas, such as languages, creative activities or local history.

Whilst within further education teaching you will mainly work with post-16 and/or adult learners, you may also be expected to work with students aged 14 to 19 who are studying vocational subjects.

Work in this area can take place in a variety of settings and may include a general or specialist FE college; a sixth form college; an adult and community education centre; a university; a prison or youth offender organisation; voluntary and charity organisations; and/or work-based learning.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.

The video below from The Education and Training Foundation provides more information about the benefits of becoming a teacher in the sector.

The Education and Training Foundation website also offers extensive information about professional development and support for those considering a career in Further Education. 

What do you need to be a Further Education teacher?

You are able to get into further education teaching without a formal teaching qualification, however, you will probably be expected to work towards one as part of your job role. Having a relevant qualification will stand you in better stead to secure a role, but individual institutions/organisations will have their own requirements. Please see the training routes section below. 

Many vocational and skills areas within further education will benefit from the candidate having relevant work experience in their chosen subject area; however essential to all teaching candidates will be a key skills set that includes:

  • The ability to work well with a range of people;
  • Excellent organisation skills;
  • Team work;
  • Expertise in a particular area or areas;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills;
  • Excellent presentation skills.

This information has been sourced from TARGETjobs.  

Getting experience

Across all levels and areas of teaching, we would advise aiming to gain some experience within an educational environment before embarking on a specific teacher training route.

This may be more about establishing what age group you are interested in working with, but further education also presents different challenges to other levels of teaching.

Any experience you gain should enable you to demonstrate excellent written and verbal communication skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to students of all ages and abilities, organisation and planning skills and enthusiasm, motivation and commitment to teach in your chosen subject or professional area.

In 2018 there was a new government programme - Talent to Teach in FE - introduced to offer undergraduates a holistic experience of Further Education; providing the opportunity to get a feel for the environment, attend meetings and observe the collaborative approaches taken in FE colleges, in addition to shadowing lessons. Further information is available through the Education and Training Foundation here.

Training routes

The FE Advice website is a key resource for anyone looking to work within the the further education sector in England. The information provided covers details about becoming a teacher, incentives for training, qualifications, the Society for Education and Training (SET), the variety of the sector and most of what you need to know as a new entrant or an existing worker. FE Advice also have a dedicated advice line to offer further support - you can call 0300 303 1877 or email on feadviceline@etfoundation.co.uk if you have any specific questions.

Within the education sector, FE is the most deregulated area with the largest variety of ages of learners served and a wide range of qualifications available. All regulation has been removed and it is up to individual college heads and/or organisations as to which qualifications they require. It will be important to clarify directly with individual employers whether or not you are a suitable candidate based on your qualification level.

Qualifications are available at different levels. These include:

  • The Level 3 Award in Education and Training which provides an introduction to the area, without the requirement for a placement - 12 credits.
  • This course can be completed before working in a teaching role.
  • The Level 4  Certificate in Education and Training - 36 credits -  requires you to have at least 30 hours of teaching practice and enables learners to develop practical teaching skills.
  • The Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training - 120 credits - is the recognised, full teaching qualification for the sector and requires learners to have a minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice. This course also allows the opportunity to take a specialist pathway in literacy, ESOL, mathematics or working with students with special educational needs (SEN). There is the opportunity to go straight onto this level of qualification without completing the Level 3 or 4.
  • There are also Level 5 specialist qualifications available for teachers of English, Maths, English for Speakers of other Languages (ESOL) and for teachers working in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) - 120 credits. 

These qualifications are offered by FE colleges and other training providers on a full or part-time basis. In order to secure a place on a course, it will be a requirement that you have a qualification or experience in the subject you want to teach. If you wish to teach an academic course, for instance, you will typically need a degree. Whereas, for vocational subject areas you will need an appropropriate level of vocational qualification (a minimum of Level 3) alongside professional experience.

The PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) in post-compulsory education is a common route into this professional area for recent graduates. Courses will be offered on a full time or part-time basis. This will include the requirements of the Level 5 course outlined above, in addition to units at a higher level, potentially up to Level 7. You will need a degree in the subject area you are looking to teach.

The School of Education and Sociology at the University of Portsmouth specifically offers a Further Education and Training PGCE. Further information can be found here.

You also have the option of taking a Cert Ed (Certificate in Education) - this also meets the Level 5 requirements, but does not require a degree. With this route you will need a Level 3 qualification in the area you wish to teach and/or extensive experience.

Unfortunately, there is not a central site in this area that lists all courses, however, a number of courses do use the UCAS Teacher Training application system and the FE Advice website also offers further information about qualifications available.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.


Funding for the different qualifications outlined above will vary depending on the nature of the route and training undertaken. It is advisable to check all funding requirements directly with the course provider.

However, bursaries are likely to be available if you are looking to teach in mathematics or English. The amount you will receive will be dependent on the subject and your degree classification. Find out more information from the FE Advice website.

Additional funding 

Means-tested, non-repayable maintenance or special support grants may be available depending on individual circumstances. 

Repayable maintenance loans may be available for one year courses. For more information, please visit the Education and Training Foundation website

Application process

Applications for the teacher training routes into Further Education are likely to vary, depending on the route you are looking to take.

Some courses will be listed through the UCAS Teacher Training application system, however, other opportunities, including specific positions and training opportunities may involve a direct application to an institution or organisation. These will be posted on institution’s websites and/or advertised through recruitment sites - please see the information below.

You may be required to produce a personal statement as part of your application for teacher training - more information can be found in the ‘Planning and writing your Personal Statement for postgraduate Teacher Training’ section below.

As part of the selection process, you are likely to have an interview before being offered a place on a teacher training programme.  As with any interview, preparation is key and the information offered on UCAS, Get into Teaching, Targetjobs, and Prospects websites around typical interview questions, and the skills and qualities providers might be looking to test at interview, may be helpful.  A mock interview with a Careers Adviser can be arranged through the Careers and Employability Service to build your confidence and strengthen your interview skills.

Getting a job once qualified

Depending on the area of work you are looking to get into and the subject you are looking to specialise in, this will impact on the type of organisation you are looking for and the resources you utilise to support you with your job search.

Across the UK there are Further Education colleges - many of whom will run learning centres out in the community, including from public buildings such as community centres, libraries, schools and commercial premises. Some local authorities may also oversee adult education services - this will typically be in collaboration with colleges.

Sixth form colleges also exist in some areas of the UK, excluding Scotland. Some will be privately run and will often specialise in a particular vocational area.

Adult, community and vocational education may also take place across different sectors, including within the prison service, the armed forces or in private company’s training departments. Examples of work in this area may include government work-based training schemes.

Another area to consider will be within voluntary and charitable institutions, including the potential to work abroad as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) teacher.

Websites to support you with your job search in this area include:

Searching directly on individual college’s websites and using specialist recruitment agencies, such as Protocol, may also support your job search strategy.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.

It may also be of interest to note that if you are a school teacher looking to move into Further Education, QTS holders are regarded as fully qualified, so they can move straight across. You will need to be able to demonstrate familiarity with the curriculum and that they can deliver to the relevant age group.

However, as an FE teacher moving into schools to be paid as a qualified teacher you will typically need QTLS. This type of move may be common with vocational areas, mainly found in Further Education, including psychology and business studies.

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Getting in to Higher Education teaching

What is Higher Education teaching?

As a Higher Education (HE) lecturer you will teach academic or vocational subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students aged 18 and over. You will need to have a high level of expertise in your subject area, in addition to teaching, research and administration experience.

Your responsibilities will include delivering lectures, seminars, tutorials and, depending on your discipline, practical demonstrations and field work. Within your role you will also be expected to pursue your own research to contribute to the wider research activities of your institution in line with the Research Excellence Framework - please find more information here. Overall, the aim will be to have your work published, which will contribute to the profile of your institution.

Alongside your teaching and research workloads, administrative tasks will take up a significant amount of your time, in addition to taking on a pastoral role with your students.

Lecturing as an academic can take place within universities and in some further education colleges.

Other responsibilities are likely to include:

  • The design and preparation of course and teaching materials
  • The development and implementation of new teaching methods, reflecting changes within your research and discipline area
  • Assessment of work, including coursework and examinations
  • Supervision of students’ research activities, including dissertation projects
  • Offering pastoral support and liaising with central university/college support services
  • Contributing to research funding bids and professional conferences and seminars in your area of expertise
  • Engagement in a range of ongoing professional development opportunities

What do you need to be a Lecturer?

A first or a 2:1 degree in a relevant subject will be essential, and for most disciplines you will also need a doctoral level qualification - a PhD, EngD, DPhil, DBA etc. This demonstrates that you can both carry out research professionally and communicate your findings in an academic setting.

Whilst you will not need an additional teaching qualification, during the completion of your PhD you may be encouraged to take on teaching duties which will offer excellent experience for future applications.

It is important to note, that whilst a PhD is required for many academic roles within universities, there are some areas, for example architecture, law and education where fewer staff are expected to have a PhD due to the nature of the school or faculty they are working within. Vocational courses typically require several years’ of industry experience, in addition to a degree and/or professional qualification. For some discipline areas, professional expertise may be just as sort after as a PhD. However, even in these professional areas, gaining a doctoral level qualification and research experience is likely to enhance your career prospects.

Routes into academia and lecturing

There are multiple things to consider in order to enhance your chances of developing your career as an academic.

  • Choosing the right university - look for those institutions which have a substantial portfolio of courses related to your discipline or if you are looking to teach in a vocational area search for those which have close links with the profession or industry in which you have experience. For disciplines where both research and teaching are linked to the non-academic workplace - including architecture, manufacturing and law - some universities may be interested in you for research roles, but you are likely to be asked to pursue a doctoral qualification.
  • Getting teaching experience - aiming to build your teaching experience prior to applying for academic posts may be helpful. For instance, you may wish to consider teaching on part-time or evening classes; contributing to guest lectures; or, if you are out in industry, engaging in professional development programmes for a professional body. Whilst studying for a PhD try to secure teaching experience through taking seminars or tutorials or supporting the assessment of coursework and exams. There may also be opportunities to help within labs or lectures and/or become involved in curriculum design. This combined experience will help you to build on your skills portfolio and strengthen future applications.
  • Getting research experience - your main research experience is likely to be your Master’s and/or PhD thesis. Striving for published work as a result of your research will help to build up your profile and reputation. Embrace any opportunity to present papers to peers at conferences, within workshops and lectures to demonstrate the reach of your research.
  • Use your academic contacts - think about any academic contacts you have established - either throughout your academic career to date or through professional work experience. If you don’t have a conventional academic background then this can be particularly important. Your academic contacts may also be able to signpost you to other academic job opportunities or groups with an interest in your area.
  • Use your professional contacts - within higher education, professional experience and industry contacts have become increasingly useful, especially when applying to an institution which is committed to expanding on its teaching excellence, student employability and graduate prospects.

Training and development

Having secured a post you may then go on to complete a formal postgraduate teaching and learning qualification. Many institutions will deliver their own postgraduate certificate courses, which are often compulsory if you secure a permanent work contract. 

The content of these qualifications is likely to cover theories of learning, practical skills and principles of learning within a higher education context. The programme offered at the University of Portsmouth is called the APEX Foundation Pathway, delivered by the Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement. Please see further information here.

The Higher Education Academy (HEA )may accredit these courses, in addition to offering continuing professional development programmes. Upon completion of an accredited course you can apply for professional recognition with the HEA at the appropriate fellowship level.

It is also possible to work towards a Masters in Higher Education, with some institutions running enhanced teaching and academic leadership programmes for more experienced staff.

Moving forward when developing your career as an academic, you will need to focus on building both your teaching skills and research profile. To support this you will need to attend and participate in conferences, workshops and seminars; present research and papers at national and/or international conferences; contribute to the research profile or your department or institution through published work in high quality journals; undertake work exchanges abroad; and apply for research grants and funding.

Moving forward and developing your career in academia and research may lead to further positions of responsibility, such as senior lecturer or principal lecturer. Beyond this you may also progress to the roles of reader, chair, professor or dean, once you have builty up further expertise.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.

Application process

The application process for academic roles may vary across organisations/institutions, but typically may involve producing an academic CV, a cover letter and/or a personal statement as part of an application form.

More information about how to produce an academic CV is available through the Prospects guide here and on our website.

The  Careers and Employability Service can support you in developing a strong personal statement for your application.  Once you have drafted your personal statement you can either call in to make an appointment to discuss your statement with an adviser, or use our MyCareer online booking system to book an appointment to suit you.

Getting a job once qualified

Typical employers within this area will include universities and further education colleges. However, depending on your discipline, you may also have the opportunity to apply to specialist postgraduate institutions, for example law or business schools.

Key sources of vacancies include:

If you are considering working for a university overseas, details of Higher Education institutions in the Commonwealth countries are available from the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). 

Also keep in mind that individual universities and colleges are likely to list vacancies on their webpages. Networking is also another way of finding out about opportunities that may become available - aim to engage in conferences, seminars and opportunities to work collaboratively with colleagues at your own and other institutions.

This information has been sourced from prospects.ac.uk.

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Planning and writing your Personal Statement for postgraduate Teacher Training

When completing your application for teacher training you are likely to be required to write a personal statement to explain why you want to teach your chosen age group and subject, and provide evidence that you have the necessary skills and qualities to make a good teacher. The  guidance provided on DfE’s Get Into Teaching, UCAS, and Prospectswebsites gives suggestions of how you might structure your statement, and what you might include. We recommend that you check this content when drafting your personal statement in addition to using the information provided in this guide.

What do ITT providers look for?

  • Enthusiasm
  • Clarity of thought
  • The ability to write clearly and persuasively
  • Awareness of the course/role
  • Evidence of skills, experience and knowledge relevant to the course/role

Planning your Personal Statement

  • Think about why you want to teach and why you want to do this course. Try to convey your enthusiasm for both your subject and your chosen age range in your writing.
  • Consider your strengths. You might find it useful to list your skills and experiences before you start writing. Make sure that you can provide examples and evidence to substantiate your claims. If you kept a reflective diary to record your work experience, use this to inform your writing.
  • Check the specific requirements of the programmes for which you are applying and use this to inform your content and ensure that you don’t miss anything out.

Dos and don’ts:

  • Do make sure that you answer the question asked in the statement, which is: 'Describe briefly your reasons for wanting to teach giving the relevance of your previous education, experience, including teaching, visits to schools and work with other young people.'
  • Do be positive and enthusiastic. Selectors will read many personal statements and you want yours to stand out.
  • Do ensure that your statement is structured with a beginning, middle and end, and that the grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct. Check the final version, and then check it again. Get someone you trust to proofread it for you and give you feedback.
  • Do write in a style which is true to yourself but which is fit for purpose. You are aiming to demonstrate your ability to write clearly and effectively.
  • Do draw attention to the relevance of your previous work and/or studies for the course(s) that you are applying for.
  • Do provide evidence of your skills and qualities which are relevant to a career in teaching, such as energy, enthusiasm, patience, resilience, tenacity, adaptability, versatility, a creative mind and a good imagination.
  • Don’t be tempted to get someone to write your personal statement for you.
  • Don’t copy someone else’s personal statement. Similarity detection software is used to detect plagiarism.
  • Don’t make your statement too wordy. Put the relevant points across in a concise manner.
  • Don’t exaggerate your abilities or experiences - your personal statement could be used as the basis for your interview so you may be asked questions on it.

The Careers and Employability Service can support you in developing a strong personal statement for your application.  Once you have drafted your personal statement you can either call in to make an appointment to discuss your statement with an adviser, or use our MyCareer online booking system to book an appointment to suit you.

Moving forward, when you secure an interview for a teaching role/opportunity, we can also support you in your preparation. You can get booked in for a mock interview with one of our Careers Advisers by calling us on 02392 842684 and/or you can access our drop-in service to have an initial discussion about your interview preparation, skills and techniques. 

For more information to get you started, please explore the links below: 

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Making a career change into teaching

If you are a mature student who has previous experience of working in a particular sector or industry, getting into teaching may be a new career path for you to consider.

The Department for Education has a dedicated programme - Now Teach - aimed at attracting experienced professionals into teaching in the South East, Norfolk and Birmingham.  It offers specific support for individuals throughout the training process and the early years of their teaching career.  The Now Teach website has a range of information about what it takes to complete the two year programme and you can complete an expression of interest form to indicate when, what and where you would like to teach. There are also a range of case studies available about the experiences of current Now Teachers here

Alongside, Now Teach, there has been the launch of Transition to Teach - offering bespoke teaching training programmes, which have been developed exclusively to support career changers. Transition to Teach is specifically designed to help graduates who have already had a successful career to become great teachers in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and the East Midlands. The programme offers tailored, wraparound support for career changers, enabling an effective transition, and the re-deployment of career and industry skills, into the classroom. The programme offers the flexibility for career changers to choose either to fund their training through student loans and bursaries or through salaried training; it is important that trainees consider the additional bursary funding available depending on their chosen subjects. For more detailed information, please visit the website

These two programmes are delivered in partnership with teacher training providers over two years, during which candidates will achieve Qualified Teacher Status and complete the Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) induction year. Both Now Teach and Transition to Teach operate in geographically distinct areas and offer the flexibility of receiving a bursary or a salary. Further information about both programmes can be found through the Get Into Teaching website

Troops to Teachers is a further niche route, offering an undergraduate initial teacher training bursary to support Armed Forces veterans into teaching as a career. The bursary is aimed at supporting veterans of the UK Armed Forces - Royal Navy, British Army,  and Royal Air Force - who have left a full-time role in the past five years and who do not already have a first degree. For more information please visit the Get Into Teaching website

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Not sure if teaching is for you?

Teaching is a rewarding and fulfilling career path, but it doesn’t mean that being in a structured classroom environment is for everyone. Don’t forget that learning takes place outside of the classroom too and there are multiple roles within educational environments that might not specifically be about teaching.

Take a look at the Prospects job profiles below for some further ideas:

TARGETjobs also offers a helpful overview of education alternatives here. This guide allows you to explore a range of information about teaching in alternative settings and alternative roles within education.

If you need any further information or guidance then please contact the Careers and Employability Service to access our support.

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