Teaching is a popular career choice for graduates and a wide range of training routes are available to gain qualified teacher status. You can choose a school or university led training course and your decision will depend on your subject, qualifications, experience and location.  There are also opportunities to gain experience to help you choose which area of the education sector you would like to work in.  You could also explore the range of alternative career opportunities in the education sector.  

Where Do I Start

Getting Experience

Applying for Teacher Training

Finding A Job

Need More Information


Where do I start?

Alongside teaching roles the education sector offers a wide range of occupations. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.

Jobs roles in this sector include:

The Department for Education website includes real life stories and videos providing an insight into teaching as a career. In the Explore My Options section you will find information on the teaching options available with details of the qualifications and experience you will need before you start to train, the range of training routes, the financial support available and information on the application process.  

TARGETpostgrad provide comprehensive information and advice on the routes to becoming a teacher, choosing a teacher training course and funding in their dedicated site for Teaching and Education.  You can also pick up the latest TARGETpostgrad Teaching guide in the Careers and Employability Centre.

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Getting experience

If you are interested in teaching as a career you will need to gain experience working with the right age group.  This will usually need to include at least 10 days of school-based experience.  For popular courses – including primary, more may be needed and you are likely to need to gain this experience before you apply for a PGCE. This experience needs to be within the state sector and ideally within a mainstream school.Other experience working with children and young people will also be viewed very positively, in addition to your school-based experience.  

Finding school-based experience

In England and Wales, the Department for Education manages The School Experience Programme.  This Programme will enable you to gain experience of one to ten days in a secondary school.  In 2015 the Programme is open to students applying to teach biology, chemistry, computing, design and technology, geography, maths, physics or languages at secondary level and who have (or are predicted) at least a 2.2.  Some help may be available for other subject areas. Register your details via the link above for more information about the support available for you. There is also guidance to help you get school based work experience if you want to teach at primary level.

If you are studying in the Faculty of Humanities you can apply for the Student Associate Scheme, which is 10 days unpaid work experience in local schools, nurseries and further education colleges across the region.  You can find out more details about the scheme and how to apply by visiting the Student Associate Scheme web page.on the Humanities and Social Sciences web pages.  

Students from other Faculties can also get support from the School of Education and Continuing Studies in arranging school-based work experience. Contact us at Purple Door to talk about your plans and the type of experience you are looking for. 

Should you wish to explore opportunities outside of the Portsmouth area, the EduBase portal has a list of all the educational establishments in England and Wales, and by using the advanced search facility you can filter your search by education phase (primary or secondary) and location to quickly find a suitable school to approach for experience.

Graduate Teaching Intern (GTI) Scheme

A new scheme for graduates potentially interested in a teaching career is being launched.  The GTI scheme will provide many graduates with a paid opportunity to 'TryTeaching' in a low risk and fully supported setting, allowing them to make an informed decision about a career in teaching, while also providing transferable employability skills valued by all professions. For more information visit the TryTeaching website.

Gaining other experience with Children and Young People

The more evidence you have demonstrating that you can work effectively with children and young people, the stronger your application for teaching will be. You should make sure the experience you get is with the right age group for your teaching goals.

Experience could include:

  • Sports coaching, drama clubs – whatever your interests are, you may find there are after-school clubs that you can become involved in.
  • After-school clubs/holiday clubs – it may be possible to gain voluntary or paid experience working in these clubs which take place across the country.  Most local authorities will have listings of these activities on their website.  
  • Cubs, brownies, scouts or guides – depending on the age you wish to teach.  Groups will often look for volunteers to assist.
  • Youth clubs – can provide great experience with secondary age children.  
  • Voluntary organisations:  a range of charities and organisations work with young people and children.  Look at opportunities in Purple Door‘s Volunteer Bank and on MyPurpleDoor as well as Do-it for other opportunities across the UK.
  • The University of Portsmouth also provides the following opportunities that recruit at the start of the academic year.
  • University Marketing Department opportunities:  roles for Student Ambassadors and Student Mentors are advertised on MyPurpleDoor at the start of each academic year.  These opportunities involve working with children in schools.
  • The Reading Project – a volunteering scheme in local primary schools where you can help school children to read.  Recruitment for this scheme takes place early in the autumn term; visit us at the Careers and Employability Centre to find out more or contact the Volunteering Team on email volunteering@port.ac.uk.

Making the Most of Your School Based Work Experience

Your time in a school will give you the opportunity to explore teaching in action.  This should help you to decide if teaching is the right career choice for you; and if it is the right choice, it should help you to determine which age range interests you most.

During your work experience you should be able to explore what makes a good teacher by observing teaching in action. However, merely observing is not sufficient. You should immerse yourself in the experience and examine its impact upon you – what are your thoughts, feelings, concerns? What are you learning from the process? Be reflective. We recommend that you keep a reflective diary: noting things of interest as you experience them and reflecting on them to identify further learning opportunities or actions. You will find this diary and your observations to be invaluable when you come to write your personal statement or when you prepare for your interview experience.

You may find the following suggestions useful to help you get the most from your school based work experience.

Use your 10 day school experience wisely

Before you start, identify what you hope to gain from the experience but be open to additional opportunities.
Be mindful that your priorities may different to the school’s – you will need to fit around what they are able to provide – and that will be determined by the needs of the pupils.
If possible, ask to be in school the same time as teacher/s - to get feel for what goes into the teaching day when children not there - at least for few of the days. 

Try to get a range of experiences across different ages to help you identify your area of interest. Depending on which phase of education interests you:

  • Explore how your subject is approached with different year groups.
  • Explore how the curriculum is delivered across a range of year groups.
  • Be observant and interested - ask questions.
  • Engage with the pupils – talk to them about their work and what they are learning; ask what lessons they enjoy, which they find hard.
  • Talk to the school staff – teachers and support staff.
  • Find out about external agencies which support school activities (EWO, Ed Psych, Specialist Teachers etc).
  • What is the role of the SENCO / Gifted and Talented Co-ordinator?
  • Consider the scope of the curriculum and how it is organised.
  • Try to get an insight into the planning, monitoring, evaluating process.
  • What are the current issues affecting your subject / phase? Having identified areas of note, resolve to explore and research in more detail.
  • Reflect on your experience.

Keep a reflective diary

What did you observe?

  • How did the teacher engage the class?
  • What techniques did the teacher employ?
  • How did they manage the behaviour of the class? What techniques were used?
  • How did the teacher differentiate tasks to accommodate the learning needs (abilities, learning styles, level of engagement) of the pupils?

What did you find out?

  • If possible talk to teachers after lessons – why did they do things the way that they did?
  • How were lessons planned? What takes place outside of the classroom to secure successful teaching and learning?
  • How do teachers evaluate their teaching and pupils’ learning and how do they then use this information?
  • How was technology used?

What did you do?

  • What activities were you involved with?
  • If given the opportunity, how did you meet the challenge of leading a class or group? What went well? What would you do differently next time?

What did you learn?

  • What did you learn about yourself in the process?
  • Has the experience changed you? In what way?
  • Did you find any aspects of the work stressful? How did you overcome this?
  • Have you identified any skill or knowledge gaps that you would need to fill before embarking on teacher training?
  • Did you enjoy the school based experience? Why?
  • How have your experiences informed your choices regarding teacher training?

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Applying for teacher training

Applications for teacher training courses are made through UCAS including school, college and university led routes.  The UCAS website provide detailed information and advice to help you with each stage of the application process.  Below is further advice on writing your personal statement and preparing for the skills tests.

Planning and Writing your Personal Statement for Post Graduate Teacher Training

When submitting your application for teacher training you will 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. There is guidance on both the DfE Get Into Teaching and UCAS websites giving suggestions regarding appropriate content. We recommend that you check this content when drafting your personal statement in addition to using the information provided in this leaflet.  

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.

General Guidelines

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 and 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.

Length and format of your personal statement

Limited to 4,000 characters, split across a maximum of 47 lines, including spaces and line breaks. 

Write in English (or Welsh if you’re applying to Welsh providers) and avoid italics, bold or underlining

School and work experience statement

The school and work experience section of the UCAS Teacher Training form is separate to the personal statement. Here, you should talk about your previous employment and any school experience that you have, such as teaching assistant work or classroom observation.

The UCAS form allows you to add as many examples of school and work experience to as you like and for each example you are allowed up to 500 characters to describe what was involved. 

You need to have at least three years' work experience in any field to apply for the School Direct (salaried) training route, so make sure that this is clear on your application.

Skills Tests

You will have to pass skills tests in literacy and numeracy before you start your teacher training course. These can be booked in advance but you will have to have applied for teacher training before you take the tests.

Your first attempt at taking these tests is free. You can book up to two resits if required, but you will need to pay for these yourself. If you fail either of the tests three times, you will not be able to start your teacher training course (and you won’t be able to re-sit again for a further 24 months) so make sure you are as well prepared as possible There are practice tests online and practice books are available to buy if needed. The Get into Teaching website has more information about the skills tests and how to book them.

The School of Education and Childhood Studies have developed a resource providing support for the QTS Numeracy Skills test. Content includes some videos and links to external content. It is anticipated that additional material will be made available over time. 


Before you can apply for teacher training programmes in England and Wales, you need two references on your application. The UCAS website features a blog post with more advice.


Finding a job

The education sector offers a wide range of roles with a majority of opportunities in schools and colleges.  Teaching is a popular choice for graduates and you will need to undertake a teacher training course before you can apply for jobs requiring qualified teacher status. 

Your approach to searching for jobs will depend on the education career path that you are interested in, since for some roles there are clearly defined routes and stages for applications.

Getting a teaching job

TARGETjobs – Information and advice on finding your first teaching job.

Prospects – A guide to getting a teaching job, including searching for jobs and the application process.

Alternative careers in Education

Education alternatives – Information and advice from TARGETjobs and AGCAS on a wider range of roles in the education sector.  

Tips for finding a job

  • You can start searching for jobs whilst you complete your teacher training course, make use of the contacts you have made during your teaching practice and any voluntary work in schools.
  • Research the area you are interested in to find out where jobs are advertised, this may include local authorities, multi-academy trusts, independent schools and recruitment agencies
  • Attend teacher recruitment fairs and events at your University, Purple Door organises an annual teaching fair in January
  • Keep up to date with news and trends in the education sector by following specialist websites and social media including the Times Education Supplement 



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Need more help and information?

How can the Careers and Employability Service help you?

The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:

  • Career options
  • Further study
  • CV and Covering Letters
  • Application forms
  • Job search
  • Interviews
  • And more......

Please visit the services for you section for more details about our support and services.

The Careers and Employability Service has an online Jobsboard advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations.  

Remember if you are not on campus you can still access our services via telephone or Google Hangouts appointments, please contact us to discuss your needs. 

Further information:

If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.

  • Get into Teaching - Department for Education website with detailed information and advice on a career in teaching.
  • UCAS - Search and apply for teacher training courses.
  • Prospects - Guide to a career in the teaching and education sector.
  • TARGETpostgrad - Information and advice on getting into teaching.
  • FE Advice – Information about the FE and Skills sectorbecoming a Further Education Teacher.
  • Alternative careers in education - Career paths in education that provide an alternative route to classroom teaching.
  • UCAS Blog - Keep up to date with what’s happening in the world of Teacher Training Applications from the UCAS blogging team.

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