It is no secret that the United Kingdom is currently experiencing a teacher shortage nationally and those who have the courage and compassion to guide secondary-level students towards GCSE exams and beyond into their college years are certainly in high demand. Let's have a look at what does it take to become an English teacher.


All candidates who wish to get into teaching will need to hold a Bachelor's degree at minimum (2:2 level recommended) in the subject they wish to teach or something very closely related. Should candidates fall into the “closely related” realm; then they will usually be provided with a subject enhancement course in order to consolidate what they have academically missed and prepare them for their specific subject.

English teachers will need a degree in language or literature, but many humanities are currently accepted as close equivalents depending, on the teaching institution candidates wish to join.

GCSE or equivalent qualifications in English and Mathematics are also required for English teachers. When these are not present, candidates will be expected to take general literacy and numeracy tests to prove their competency and any enhancement modules should their scores fall below par.

entry routes.

The most common method of entry into English teaching is through a PGCE. These slightly competitive courses will take up to two years to complete and will provide candidates with the professional skills to handle a classroom and bring them up to speed with the current academic requirements for students. 

The PGCE course is conducted under the School Direct Training Programme framework where candidates can be hired for on the job training. Candidates will normally serve as classroom assistants while they make professional observations, then jump into teaching practices in front of a classroom. Candidates can often expect to be hired for teaching roles immediately following the course, but there is no guarantee of this happening and candidates may have to begin a job search after reaching Qualified Teacher Status in the UK (QTS).

School Direct is not the only method of teacher training. There may also be School-based teacher training known as SCITT. Candidates will learn the necessities of teaching through a simulated environment. However, it is important for candidates to ensure this method provides them with PGCE credits: sometimes, they are not necessarily equivalent and may not award candidates with the certificate at the end of the course, but will give them QTS.

other routes of entry.

Doing a PGCE is not the only method of getting into teaching and is not necessarily required for those who have otherwise proven teaching experience or hold qualifications from outside the United Kingdom. There is an assessment only option, where teachers provide a live class in front of an assessor in order to determine their suitability for teaching based on their current standards. If they satisfy the assessor, then they will be awarded QTS without any further obligation. However, candidates who fail to impress will be required to go through a more traditional route in order to bring their qualifications and experience up to speed, with the needs of British schoolchildren.

teach first.

An emerging option for people looking to land a job as an English teacher is to apply under the Teach First route, which provides immediate professional placements within the most challenging schools in the United Kingdom. Candidates will need to have done particularly well during their undergraduate students (often passing with credit or higher) and demonstrate the professional qualities necessary to deal with some of the UK's toughest schools. This route of entry will provide candidates with QTS in a relatively short period of time, but it will not be without exposure to some of most challenging of tasks for a teacher.

financial support.

This level of commitment at a later stage in a candidate's academic life will obviously require some funding in order to keep candidates afloat during the up to two year process. Bursaries are available for up to £25,000 per year in order to help keep candidates well maintained during their teacher training. Candidates may also be eligible for salaried training positions that provide a minimal stipend in order to supplement these funds from public sources.