How do you apply for postgraduate initial teacher education and training?

Applying for postgraduate initial teacher training

Most initial teacher training programmes use the UCAS Teacher Training website for applications. For other programmes, you may need to apply directly to the provider. As part of the application process, you'll also need to arrange to sit the professional skills tests.

What is the application process?

For university/college-led PGCEs, SCITTs and School Direct throughout England and Wales, you apply through UCAS Teacher Training. The application process (Apply 1) usually opens towards the end of September for you to search for training courses that start the following autumn. You can start making applications from 18 October and you should apply as soon as possible to maximise your chance of getting the training place you want.

The system operates in two phases:

Apply 1: You can make up to three choices, which must all be submitted at the same time. They can include both primary and secondary choices and may be across the three routes of PGCE, SCITT and School Direct. The choices are considered by your chosen training providers simultaneously. Before you can be offered a place, you'll have to attend an interview or selection day. Some training providers require you to have passed the professional skills tests before interview, while others will make offers of places conditional on passing them. The training providers must make a decision on your application within 40 working days of receiving it. Once you've heard from all your choices, you've got ten working days to respond to any offers you've been given and can only accept one offer.

Apply 2: This phase opens on 9 November. If you don't hold any offers from the Apply 1 phase, you can then make further applications. They have to be made one at a time but can be for any route and you can keep applying until you're offered a place.

Applications for PGDE courses in Scotland are made through the undergraduate UCAS system which will open in the autumn. Applications for PGCE courses in Northern Ireland are made directly to the institution.

How do you apply to Teach First?

Applications are made online through the Teach First site. New places are released in June and then recruitment is carried out on a rolling basis with vacancies being filled as soon as suitable candidates are found. It's best to apply early as the participating schools' requirements in some subjects will be met quickly. If you're successful at the online application stage, you will then be asked to attend an assessment centre, where you deliver a short sample lesson, take part in a group case study exercise and have a competency-based interview.

How do you apply for early years initial teacher training?

Applications to the main graduate entry route are made either directly to higher education institutions that provide early years ITT or, in some cases, via UCAS Teacher Training. Contact the institution for information on how to apply. The Department for Education has a list of accredited providers.

If you wish to follow the employment-based route, you'll need to speak to your employer in the early years setting and get their agreement.

If you are interested in the School Direct (Early Years) route you will need to contact one of the lead organisations that delivers the course. Details are available from the Department for Education.

Applicants for all routes must meet the same eligibility criteria as for primary school teacher trainees, including passing the relevant skills tests.

How do you apply to Researchers in Schools?

Application forms are available on the Researchers in Schools website, and should be emailed along with a CV to the address indicated on the form. Those who are successful at the first application stage are then invited to an assessment centre which is held at one of the partner schools. You will have to deliver and evaluate a mini-lesson, take part in a group exercise and have a one to one interview.

How do you apply for HMC Teacher Training?

HMC (the Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference) is a professional association representing a group of heads of independent schools. HMC independent school vacancies are advertised on the HMC Teacher Training website and on relevant school websites. Applications can begin from January to start in the September of the same year. If you are interested in this route, register on the HMC website and you will be sent vacancy notifications. You must apply for specific teacher training posts directly with the schools.

How do you apply for the Assessment Only (AO) route?

Initially, you should talk to your current employer about this option and establish their willingness to support your progress to qualified teacher status (QTS). They may have already taken staff through this route and will be able to advise you on the options. You will then need to apply directly to an approved provider and details of these are available from the Department for Education.

How do you choose a course?

Research your options thoroughly, including looking at the institutions' own websites and visiting if possible. You may want to discuss your ideas with a careers adviser, to help work out what best suits your own preferences and circumstances.

Things you might consider when deciding where to apply include:

  • Do you need to gain a PGCE? QTS alone qualifies you to teach in England but may not be sufficient elsewhere. PGCEs enable you to gain credits at masters degree level, which you may be able to use toward a full masters degree after you have completed your training.
  • Are you restricting your choice to a particular geographical area? If so, there may not be courses of all types available for your subject or age range.
  • Would you like to be fully immersed in the life of one school right from the start of your training or would you prefer more progressive placements in several schools?
  • If you're considering a school-based route, it's important to find out as much as you can about the school or group of schools, their partner training provider(s) and the nature of the programme they offer as they do differ.
  • Competition for places can be intense. Consider the balance of applicants to number of places available. Some school-based providers may only have one place available in the subject you wish to teach. Higher education institutions vary widely in the number of places they have to offer, and may have many applicants for some courses.

Written by Pat Carmody, Canterbury Christ Church University