As demand for primary school places is set to rise in 2013 by 250,000 in 2014 alone, more teachers are also going to be needed and interest in teaching as a career is likely to surge. So, should you go back to school to get a teaching degree? Here are a few pointers as to what might be involved.

Improving qualifications

Most teachers in the UK need a Teaching Qualification (TQ) or Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). It is not mandatory to have QTS if teaching in free schools, independent schools or academies, however, it’s a significant advantage to have obtained it and there are a variety of ways to achieve this.

Those who already have a degree do not necessarily need to embark on a new degree course of study – they have the opportunity to gain a certificate such as the PGCE – the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education or the Postgraduate Certificate in Education for teachers in England. If you have a degree you can also train as a teacher on the job, through the school's direct programme. If you qualify for schools direct you can also get paid while training to become a teacher.

From September 2013, headteachers in maintained primary and secondary schools will be allowed to recruit teachers who do not hold QTS, just like in academies and free schools and they will also have more flexibility to pay what they think is necessary to recruit and retain the best teachers.

Those who don’t have a degree can opt to study at university, college or online. Higher education courses offer the chance to learn to do something new, acquiring vocational skills and widening career opportunities. A teaching degree also offers work placements to gain classroom experience, so it is not all theory and studying, and undergraduates acquire key life skills while earning their professional degree.

Teacher training courses filling quickly

The Department for Education reports on its website that teacher training places are filling up more quickly this year than in 2012 and also that there is increased emphasis on the degree classification required for postgraduate teacher training. Analysing the Department’s data from the academic year 1998/99 to 2009/10 it’s clear that 89% of those with a first-class degree or a 2:1 were awarded QTS, compared to 85 per cent of those with a 2:2 and 77 per cent of those with a third-class degree.

The average starting salary in teaching is approximately £22,900 per annum. This is high compared to the average graduate starting salary. With sufficient experience, teachers can earn up to £64,000 in  London and £56,000 outside London per annum. In the more senior role of headteacher, salaries vary between £42,379 and £112,000 per annum.

Does the training work well?

In 2006 a research report from the University of Nottingham canvassed opinion on how successful a broad cross-section of teachers considered their initial teacher training (ITT) had been. It revealed that 84 per cent would pursue the same ITT route again, with three-quarters saying they would train again with the same provider. The aspect of ITT that student teachers valued most in preparing them to become teachers were their school-based experience – selected by more than 60%. 

In November 2010, the Institute for Learning conducted a survey of 5,300 teachers about their experience of ITT and found that the proportion of teachers and trainers who thought ITT worked fairly to very well was 83 per cent. This approximate proportion remained remarkably consistent across all respondents whether they were teaching in sixth-form or specialist colleges, in adult and community learning settings or work-based learning.