What teacher training options are available?

There are a number of different initial teacher training (ITT) options: some are gained through on-the-job learning and others from combining university work with classroom experience.


The postgraduate (or professional) certificate of education (PGCE) is the most popular postgraduate route for secondary education teachers, and for many primary school teachers.

The traditional PGCE course format is split between university and school with 18 weeks’ teaching practice for primary specialists, 24 weeks for secondary specialists. The course leads to a university qualification, the PGCE, as well as qualified teacher status (QTS).

Full-time PGCEs usually take one year but, in special cases where extra subject knowledge is built into the programme, they can last up to two years. Courses usually begin in September and end in the summer. Part-time PGCE courses run for two years. Some distance-learning PGCEs are also available.

Undergraduate ITT courses

It is also possible to take an undergraduate degree that leads to QTS. A BA/BSc with QTS or BEd course combines study with ITT. Courses are available from institutions throughout the UK and take three or four years’ full time (longer part time). Tuition fees are payable, but home/EU students can apply for undergraduate grants and loans.


School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) is teacher training provided by a consortium of schools and partner education providers.

The full-time training takes one year and leads to qualified teacher status. Some providers also offer a PGCE. If you undertake a PGCE with SCITT, you're likely to be based in school most of the time but you'll have a good balance of training sessions outside the classroom.

School Direct

Member schools choose an accredited teacher training partner and tailor the course to the subjects and phases they need. Once qualified, teachers go on to work in the same school or one in the school’s partnership. All School Direct places lead to QTS. Schools decide whether they would like their partner provider to award a PGCE.

There are two School Direct programmes; one paid and one unpaid.

School Direct training programme

The School Direct training programme generally lasts a year (although part-time opportunities may be available) and is offered at primary and secondary schools in England. Training focuses on developing teaching skills so candidates are expected to have a strong knowledge of their teaching subject or top-up. Trainees could be eligible for a training bursary of up to £20,000.

School Direct training programme (salaried) – employment based route

School Direct (salaried) is for would-be teachers with at least three years’ experience they can bring to the classroom (not necessarily teaching experience).

Applicants are paid an unqualified teachers’ salary (subsidised by the National College for Teaching and Leadership formerly the Teaching Agency) while they train. Salaries range from £15,817 to £29,088 depending on experience, location and position. Trainees on the salaried programme are not eligible for a training bursary.

Teach First – employment based route

Teach First is an education charity that offers an alternative salaried pathway into teaching. The charity looks for trainees committed to giving children, regardless of socio-economic circumstances, the best possible education.

The Teach First Leadership Development Programme operates at primary and secondary schools in ten regions across England and Wales.

The programme combines an intensive six-week training with teaching in a low-income community school. Trainees are employed and paid by their school for two years. There are no tuition fees and a PGCE is awarded as part of the scheme.

What happened to the GTP and RTP?

Both the graduate and registered teacher programmes (GTP and RTP) have been closed in England. The graduate teacher programme (GTP) has been replaced by the School Direct Training Programme (salaried).

GTP programmes still run in Wales, delivered by three regional centres of teacher training and education; University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Bangor University and Cardiff Metropolitan University.