So you’ve decided that you want to become a secondary school teacher? Now the next step is to work out how. There are a number of different routes into teaching, each with their own particular advantages so it’s important that you choose the one that best suits you.
The method you select could have a major impact on your first school placement and, therefore your enjoyment of the job.
If you’re not sure which form of secondary school teacher training is right for you, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each below.
Secondary school teacher training.
One of the most common routes into teaching is by studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This is a one-year university-led course, which provides students with a significant level of practical experience. A minimum of 24 weeks is spent in placement schools with students given the opportunity to work with industry leaders. The PGCE qualification is also recognized overseas, so it could open up the student to international work opportunities.
The main drawback of the PGCE is students are required to pay £9,000 in tuition fees, although loans, maintenance grants and even bursaries may be available depending on your personal circumstances and the subject you intend to teach. Individuals applying for a PGCE will first need to have an undergraduate degree as well GCSEs in English and Maths.
Another university-led route into teaching is studying for an undergraduate degree in education. Generally, there are two types of course, both of which focus on primary schools, but secondary options are available. Applicants should inspect the course details carefully to determine whether there will be any age-related restrictions on the types of schools they can teach in. Students usually study for a Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree or either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree with qualified teacher status (QTS).
Courses usually take three or four years to complete, depending on how much time is spent in your school placements. The BEd degree will usually focus more on teaching itself, while the BA or BSc route is more subject specific. Both courses have funding options available to them and you will be able to start your first teaching job as soon as you graduate. However, at three to four years of study, this is generally the longest route into teaching.
School-centred initial teacher training (SCITT).
School-centred initial teacher training or SCITT is a collaboration between a group of schools and a university and training generally takes a more practical focus. Applicants apply directly to a network of schools and must have an undergraduate degree as well as GCSEs in English and Maths. Courses last a year and many also grant teachers PGCE status. There will be plenty of hands-on teaching, but you’ll have access to mentoring and support from experienced teachers to help you from day one. Again, fees can be up to £9,000, but scholarships and bursaries of up to £20,000 are also available to top graduates.
Teach First is a two-year programme run by an education charity that aims to place high-achieving graduates in schools where more than 50 per cent of pupils are from low-income families. Trainees receive six weeks of intensive training before working in a school for two years, with their first year also spent working towards a PGCE qualification. One of the positives of the Teach First route is that applicants can begin earning straight away, as a non-qualified teacher in their first year before achieving QTS in year two. However, teachers may have less choice regarding which schools they work in and placements may be challenging.
A one-year course, School Direct sees prospective teachers work in a single school with training completed on the job. Gradually the amount of teaching responsibility will increase and many individuals will be offered a full-time job at the end of their training. There are both salaried and non-salaried routes available depending on your experience and some courses include a PGCE qualification. However, by working in just one school for the entirety of your training, School Direct does not offer the same level of variety as some of the other routes into teaching.