Teaching qualifications – School Direct

School Direct is a school-led teacher training programme in primary and secondary schools across England. The government aims to recruit up to half of all new teachers through School Direct by the end of its current term.

School Direct teacher training is delivered by groups of local schools working in partnership. The programme allows partnership schools to handpick their future teachers, by taking trainees who specialise in the age groups and subjects that the schools themselves will need. There’s an expectation that a job will be available at the school when training is complete. There are currently over 800 partnerships, and over 5,000 member schools.

Schools are also directly involved in the training schedule for their recruits. The partnership decides which higher education institution in the area to work with and the structure of the programme.

The scheme normally course runs for a year (although part time opportunities might be available). Successfully completing the scheme means qualified teacher status (QTS), and in some cases, a PGCE.

There are two different School Direct programmes: one paid and one unpaid.

Qualification requirements

  • A UK degree (or recognised equivalent)
  • GCSEs at grade C or above in English and maths
  • GCSE at grade C or above in science to teach 7 ̶ 14 year olds.

Professional skills tests

Applicants for initial teacher training courses will need to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy before beginning training. These are the tests introduced by the government to ensure a standard level of numeracy and literacy amongst teachers.

Fees and funding

School Direct (salaried)

The School Direct (salaried) route is for would-be teachers who have at least three years’ experience under their belts. This isn’t necessarily teaching experience – the scheme encourages career changers with experience and skills from industry and elsewhere into the classroom.

Trainees on the School Direct (salaried) programme are employed as unqualified teachers by the school they are training in and paid a salary. Salaries range from £16,626 to £30,573 depending on experience, location and position.

Trainees don’t pay fees for their QTS training, but they aren’t eligible for a training bursary, loans or grants.

School Direct training programme

The School Direct training programme is open to all graduates and unlike the salaried scheme, doesn’t specify that candidates must have three years' experience. Fees are payable, but trainees are eligible for teacher training bursaries.

The value of the bursary offered is dependent on the trainee’s subject specialism and degree classification.

Funding you have to pay back – non-salaried scheme only

  • Tuition fee loans Home and EU students may be eligible for a tuition fee loan to help cover the cost of the SCITT fees. The repayments on a tuition fee loan are linked to your monthly income.
  • Maintenance loan Some may also be eligible for a maintenance loan to cover living costs. How much you can borrow is measured against your household income. Visit www.gov.uk for more on maintenance loans.

Funding you don’t have to pay back – non-salaried scheme only

  • Department of Education training bursary In England, depending on the subject you’d like to teach, the age group, and your degree class, you could be eligible for a teaching bursary. Bursaries range from £3,000 – £30,000. Find out more about training bursaries.
  • Subject association group scholarships The Institute of Physics (IOP), the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) are three of the organisations offering a number of scholarships worth between £27,500-£30,000 each for trainee teachers specialising in those areas.

    These scholarships have other benefits attached and are offered instead of the Department of Education (DofE) training bursaries in England. Unsuccessful scholarship applicants are still eligible for the DofE bursary. School Direct (salaried) candidates are not eligible.

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be eligible for extra financial help in the form of income support, tax credits and other allowances. You might also be able to apply to the access to learning fund, or the national scholarship programme. Visit www.gov.uk to find out more.


The School Direct scheme is a school-based teacher training option, with training varying slightly from school to school.

The school takes the lead in tailoring the training programme with the higher education institution chosen by the partnership. As a result, it’s more balanced towards the individual school’s ethos with teachers and mentors at the partnership offering support during ITT.

Trainee teachers could have a classroom teaching programme from very early on in their training. Teaching union ATL has voiced concern over the potential lack of educational theory in the School Direct training when compared to the traditional university PGCE route.

As the school is training you with a view to offering you a job at the end of your training period, they recruit trainees for the subject specialisms that they’ll need in the future. So make sure you choose an area you'll be happy working in.

How to apply

Applications for both School Direct schemes are made through the UCAS Teacher Training application system.

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