Careers and Employability Service
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Teaching appeals to graduates for a number of reasons including:

  • the variety in the job role
  • the opportunity to inspire students to enjoy your subject
  • making a difference to students’ lives

Teaching can be challenging, both physically and emotionally so consider carefully your strengths and the demands of the role. 

Teaching is one of the largest professions, and so if you are flexible about where you work, there will usually be plenty of vacancies to apply for.

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You may also be interested in careers related to teaching and education

Primary or secondary school teaching 

Would you prefer to teach students of 11 years and upwards, concentrating on a subject or subjects at which you excel, or teaching younger children several different subjects, and where you will be their main classroom teacher?

Primary schools cover Key Stage 1 for children aged five to seven years and KS2 for children seven to 11 years. Explore the subjects you  would teach at KS1 and KS2

Secondary schools cover Key stage 3 (11-14 year olds) and KS4 (14 — 16 year olds). Check out the subjects taught at this age group and other compulsory subjects. Once you have qualified you are legally qualified to teach any subject, but headteachers will need relevant experience and knowledge.

Five routes into primary and secondary school teaching

Teacher training programmes leading to qualified teacher status (QTS) involve learning the principles of teaching and gaining practical experience in schools. However there are differences in the way in which they are delivered. Which route do you think would be best for you?

If you're not sure which route will be best for you, please book an appointment with a careers adviser.

1. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

PGCE programmes are run by higher education institutions (HEIs) throughout the UK. Full-time courses usually last one academic year and part-time courses are available. Lectures take place at the university and you will spend a minimum of 24 weeks on placement in schools. If you undertake your placement in two schools, this offers you a contrast of environments.

This route will suit aspiring teachers who value peer contact and support. Some institutions will offer credits towards a masters qualification.

2. School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)
SCITT is a school-led training programme run by a consortium of schools and colleges. Usually the majority of your training is within one school. Most, but not all SCITTs offer a PGCE validated by an HEI with training provided by university staff.
3. School Direct

School Direct is a school-led training programme lead by a school in partnership with a university or consortium. The schools select their trainees because there is an expectation that if all goes well, you will be employed within the consortium of schools.

Most lead to a PGCE as well as QTS, but always check. This can appeal to those who wish to be fully integrated into the school environment. They may be unpaid or paid:

  • Unpaid programmes are funded in the same way as a PGCE or SCITT. Trainees pay tuition fees and may be eligible for a bursary and or loan.
  • Paid programmes are salaried with applicants requiring at least three years' experience after graduation.
4. Teach First

The Teach First Leadership Programme is employment based. Teach First seek to make a difference in challenging primary or secondary schools. While working in a school, you would complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) that integrates teacher training with leadership and includes credits towards a masters qualification. During the summer you could complete a work placement in another sector outside of teaching.

Teach First require 300 UCAS points and a 2:1 degree. This route appeals to confident resilient applicants seeking early leadership. 

5. Researchers in Schools (RIS)

Researchers in Schools is targeted at PhD students who have completed or nearly completed their studies The aim is to increase subject expertise in schools. RIS offers a salaried two-year programme, but salary depends on which subject you can offer. You can attain QTS status in year one. 


Need more information - read this guide on the routes into teaching PDF file icon

Gaining work experience

Most training providers request evidence of your motivation to teach, and this is also important to confirm that teaching is a potentially worth considering. Training providers prefer  classroom-based work experience in a state school OR a deep understanding of teaching in the classroom, which maybe gained through other relevant experiences.

Exclusive to Nottingham students

At the University of Nottingham, we have a range of teaching related initiatives that you can get involved with as a volunteer or on a paid basis. 

  • IntoUniversity
  • Mature Students Mentoring
  • Learning Leaders
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Students in Classrooms
  • Mature Students Ambassadors
  • Summer Schools Ambassadors
  • Nottingham Advantage Award

Find out more about all these programmes

Working with young people


UK-wide opportunities

School Experience Programme (SEP)

This paid scheme is classroom based and is designed for those wanting to teach shortage subjects including maths, science, and modern languages at secondary level. 

Graduate Teaching Scheme (GTS)

GTS is another paid programme for graduates. It enables you to test out whether teaching is for you. Some schools only require you for one term, other for a bit longer.  



How do I apply?

Application timelines 

For PGCEs and most SCITTs and Schools Direct programmes, you will apply through UCAS Teacher Training.  However for Teach First and Researchers in School, you will apply direct.

For UCAS applications:

  • Apply 1 opens towards the end of September for courses commencing the following autumn. Start applying by mid-October. You can make up to three choices all at the same time and you will have to attend at least one interview.
  • Apply 2 opens in November, and is for those who have not received any offers from Apply 1. Thereafter, you can make one application at a time. For further details please see the UCAS Teach site.
  • If you decide to apply later in the spring term, you will still apply for Apply 1.
The personal statement and interview

Personal statement

Getting the personal statement right is critical, so we have produced a leaflet to cover the key elements:

  • Getting started - some top tips
  • What do the providers look for?
  • What should your statement include?
  • Dos and don'ts

We also offer Applying for Teaching workshops in the autumn and spring terms. 

Interviews and the professional skills test

You will have at least one interview and some assessment type tasks. Some providers expect you to undertake the professional skills test before the interview, but others will make you a conditional offer on passing these tests. 



What funding is available?

Tuition fee loans are available from Student Finance England (criteria permitting) for PGCE programmes accredited by a HEI.

Bursaries are available for shortage subjects, and these can be generous for those with a good class of degree.

Funding policy changes yearly, so you'll need to check what's on offer in mid- September



Teaching in other settings: early years, further education and higher education

Early year teaching

If you would like to teach children aged 0-5 years, you can pursue an Early Years Teaching Scheme (EYTS) course specialising in early childhood development. You may be employed in private nurseries, nursery schools (state and private) and academies. Only the state sector will guarantee the national teaching wage.

Early years programmes deemed equivalent to QTS may not be transferable if applying to primary school vacancies later on in your career. . EYTS programmes include:

  • Graduate entry is a 12-month academic course including placements.
  • Employment-based graduate entry programme for those employed in an early years setting.
  • Schools Direct with either a school or nursery.

Funding is currently available.

Further education (FE)

Within further education will be teaching teach students over the age of 16+. You may be involved in vocational training, academic training and basic skills training.

There are several teaching qualifications available. The Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training or the PGCE Post Compulsory Education courses  are offered by HEIs. You will need a degree in the subject you wish to teach for the PGCE route.

It is possible to teach in FE without a qualification, but your prospects will be enhanced with one. 

Pathways to FE teaching

Provides third-year students placements within local colleges or independent training providers. Placements available country-wide.

Higher education (HE)

To become a university lecturer, you will usually need to study for a masters and then a PhD qualification in the specialist subject area you want to teach.

We can offer specialist advice for students considering this option.



Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679