From classroom to staffroom - how to become a teacher!

5 min
September 27, 2021
Ever had a teacher whose classes you always looked forward to? Did you absorb knowledge without even realising you were learning? Did each class feel like a discussion rather than a lecture? Aren't they the best? 

Teaching is an enriching career; teachers spend a huge chunk of the day/week/year with their students, so even if you don't realise it, they have the power to significantly influence how their students view the world. Many people decide what they want to do in life by their favourite subject at school, and great teachers are often at the heart of that decision. 

In this article, we're going to show you some of the different routes into teaching so that you can get an access-all-areas pass to the staffroom. 

Teaching for different ages

Routes into teaching vary, and typically the older your students are – we’re talking university and up – the more qualified you need to be. Below we're going to break down the different age/education groups an aspiring teacher needs to decide on.

Primary School (age 4-11)

  • Reception (age 4)
  • Key stage 1: age 5-7
  • Key stage 2: age 7-11

Secondary School

  • Key stage 3: age 11-14
  • Key stage 4: age 14-16

Sixth Form (Further Education (FE))

  • Key stage 5: age 16-18


  • BA - Degree
  • MA - Masters Degree
  • PhD - Doctorate 

Private tuition

  • Any age

What qualifications are needed to become a teacher?

To become a qualified teacher in a state school in the UK, you'll need the following:

  • GCSE at grade C / 4 in Maths, English and Science if you want to teach in primary school.
  • A degree (2:2 or above) in education or for a non-relevant degree, you can complete one of the following postgraduate teacher training courses to achieve this:
  • PGCE - Postgraduate Certificate in Education, a one year university-led course that combines school placements university tuition. 
  • PGDE - Postgraduate diploma in Education, this is worth double the credits of a PGCE and helps you meet the criteria to teach in Scotland and reach more international opportunities. 
  • Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) - This is obtained following a period of practical teaching experience. This is the legal requirement needed to teach in state-maintained schools and involves practical teaching experience as well as a numeracy and literacy skills test, once obtained you’ll be a newly qualified teacher (NQT). 

Undergraduate routes

If you're 18 and know you want to become a teacher then you can go to university and study a Bachelors of Education. This is a three-year degree in education and at the end of it, you have a teaching qualification. This type of course is often referred to as the Undergraduate Initial Teacher Training course and is one of the most popular ways to get into primary teaching, in fact, this is the most popular route with primary school teachers. 

How to get into teaching

If you already have a degree, there are a couple of training programmes available, it all depends on your qualifications and experience. To train as a primary or secondary teacher in England, you can choose a university-led or a school-led route; it’s up to you which you think you'll enjoy the most! Each involves:

  • A minimum of 24 weeks in at least two schools - this will give you practical classroom experience.
  • Academic study - aims to give you the knowledge and understanding to teach successfully from classroom behaviours to learning theory and current educational issues. 
  • An assessment of your teaching skills (through being observed in teaching classes). 

What is the PGCE? 

The PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate of Education) is a one-year course that involves a mix of studying at university and teacher training practice in local schools. It is a university-led qualification and the idea is that you add it onto the end of an existing university qualification. Loans are available for the PGCE and bursaries are available for subjects that face a shortage of teachers. 

What is the SCITT?

Next, we have SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training). This is school-led, so most of your training will be in a school, providers work in close partnerships with universities, enabling trainee teachers to gain a degree alongside working towards QTS. The idea behind SCITT, rather than a university-led course, is to get more hands-on experience within a school. 

Is teaching a good career? 

Teaching suits people with a thirst for knowledge, who are constantly looking to improve how they communicate and inspire. A good teacher isn’t one that sticks rigidly to a lesson plan, instead, it’s about understanding that everyone has a different way of learning and finding ways to reach everyone, whatever their learning style. All in all, teaching is a really rewarding career:

You get to be a lifelong learner - no subject stands still and with inquisitive minds, a great teacher is constantly finding new ways/methods to present information. 

You could travel the world - teaching is great when it comes to international opportunities, with the ability to command a classroom and inspire others, your skillset is all you need to pack. 

You benefit from a clear career path - from heads of department to headteacher, it’s easy to see what the role ahead of you looks like and more importantly how to smash it!

How do you get teaching work experience?

If you've come this far, why don't you go one step further and take part in our teaching working experience programme - we cover topics from lesson planning to safeguarding and everything in between!

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