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.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has meant pupils, teachers and trainee teachers have had to frequently adapt to the changing circumstances to ensure public health is prioritised. As with most sectors, the impact to the working environment before March 2020 continues to be changed for teacher training although the intention is to keep this as close as possible to the original training model. For up-to-date information on how COVID-19 has impacted teacher training, please refer to the FAQ section on the Get into Teaching website.
- 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 Ireland, GOV.Wales and Education Scotland.
|3-5 years old||5-7||7-11||11-14||14-16||16-19||19+|
|Stage||Early Years Foundation||Key stage 1 (KS1)||Key stage 2 (KS2)||Key stage 3 (KS3)||Key stage 4 (KS4)||Post-compulsory education/ training||Further education/ Higher education|
||Reception||1-2||3, 4, 5, 6||7, 8, 9||10-11||Years 12-13 (college years 1-2)||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 take GCSEs or other national qualifications at the end of year 11||Learning programmes leading to general, vocational and occupational qualifications: including A level, Tech level, NVQ & modern apprenticeship||Various, depending on the qualification. May be academic or vocational. Includes courses for interest, entry level qualifications, levels 1-7 & degree level qualifications|
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 are 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. All training providers will ensure that you have the fundamental knowledge in numeracy and literacy required for primary and secondary education either during the recruitment process or during the training course. Each course provider will also have their own way of assessing these criteria. As of April 2020, the original standardised Professional Skills Tests across all teacher training courses were dropped and it is now up to individual course providers to use their own assessments instead.
Do you have great interpersonal skills?
A range of interpersonal skills, including excellent verbal 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 2020. However, we recommend accessing the below 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 2021 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? You can gain access to your own teacher training adviser through registering at GOV.UK. 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 arrange school experience.
Planning and writing your Personal Statement or Application for postgraduate Teacher Training
As part of your teacher training application you are likely to be asked to either complete a personal statement or answer questions to explain why you want to teach your chosen age group and subject. You will also be asked to 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 Prospects websites 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 Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers look for?
- 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 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.
Don’t make your statement too wordy. Put the relevant points across in a concise manner.
Moving forward, when you secure an interview for a teaching role/opportunity, we can also support you at this stage of the recruitment process. You can contact us on 02392 842684 or via firstname.lastname@example.org to get booked in for a mock interview appointment to discuss your interview preparation, skills and techniques with one of our Careers Advisers.
Finding teaching opportunities
Teach Portsmouth provides support on routes into teacher training as well as help in finding suitable positions once qualified. The programme is an important part of the Portsmouth Education Partnership, where education partners work together to provide the best possible education for all pupils across the city of Portsmouth.
The Graduate Teacher Programme is a two year salaried route into primary or secondary teaching that is offered by Premier Pathways. The programme is open to graduates looking to train in either the South East, London or East Midlands and offers a well-supported package to trainees that offers plenty of classroom based experience whilst receiving a salary and avoiding usual tuition fees. Upon completion of the programme you will obtain a PGCE and gain Qualified Teaching Status. Alternatively information about this programme can also be found on the National College of Education website.
Engage Education is a teaching agency that focuses on opportunities within the South of England. As well as supporting you in finding the right teaching role, the agency provides continuous personal and professional development (CPD) through one-to-one training and partnerships with various organisations. Engage Education has been one of the leaders of international education recruitment and has supported teachers globally to find work in the UK and in supporting British teachers in finding teaching work abroad.
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. The programme currently partners with secondary schools across London, Birmingham, East Anglia and Hastings. It offers specific support for individuals throughout the training process and within 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 that describe the experiences of current Now Teachers.
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.
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.
Engage Education is a teaching agency that focuses on opportunities within the South of England. As well as supporting you in finding the right teaching role, the agency provides continuous personal and professional development through CPD, one-to-one training and partnerships with various organisations. Engage Education has been one of the leaders of international education recruitment and has supported teachers globally to find work in the UK and in supporting British teachers in finding teaching work abroad.
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 teaching in alternative settings and roles within their Education Alternatives Guide.
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
We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.
You can also access our services by calling or emailing us:
Email us: email@example.com
Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684