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.

This guidance refers to teaching in England; requirements may vary if you wish to teach in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. 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.

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

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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 is also a requirement for primary and secondary teaching in England that you have passed the skills tests in numeracy and literacy before taking up a teacher training place.

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.

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 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 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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Contact us

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

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: careers@port.ac.uk

Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684

Office hours: Monday – Thursday, 8.30am – 5.00pm; Friday, 8.30am – 4.00pm

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