Exploring Your Future: A Guide to Postgraduate Teacher Training in the UK

Learners attending a teaching course

If you’re looking to become a teacher, but unsure on your course options, you’re come to the right place!

Data shows, in the academic year 2023/24, postgraduate teacher recruitment fell short of the national target by 38%.

This means, there is currently a high demand for teachers!

If you’re wanting to apply for postgraduate teacher training, your options are:

  • PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education)
  • PGDE (Postgraduate Diploma in Education)
  • School Direct
  • Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship
  • Now Teach

Read on to find out more about each teacher training course, including the benefits of each course, entry requirements and which course is deemed the best.

PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education)

You might’ve heard about PGCE programmes before. They’re often the most popular teacher training course choice and are typically offered by universities and higher education institutions.

PGCE courses are designed to provide a balance of academic study and practical teaching experience, usually spanning one academic year. They’re also available in a wide range of subjects and age ranges, catering to the diverse needs of aspiring teachers.

Read our PGCE vs PGDE blog here.

Benefits of PGCE include:

  • Recognised qualification for gaining ‘Qualified Teacher Status’ (QTS)
  • Offers a blend of academic study and practical teaching experience
  • Specialisation in specific subjects or age ranges
  • Provides professional development and support from experienced educators
  • Networking opportunities within the education sector
  • Versatile skills applicable beyond teaching
  • Preparation for various career paths in education
  • Opportunity to make a positive impact on student’s lives

How to choose the right PGCE provider:

  • Research accreditation
  • Evaluate course structure - does the learning/placement balance work for you?
  • Consider teaching placements, including if the placement location suits you.
  • Assess support services - how much does your tutor support you?
  • Review feedback from past students
  • Look into costs and financial aid options

Entry requirements include:

  • Bachelor's degree or its equivalent
  • GCSE at grade C/4 or higher in English and mathematics (a B in Wales), as well as science if teaching primary pupils
  • Previous experience with children in a school setting, preferably within the desired age group
  • Completion of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

PGDE (Postgraduate Diploma in Education)

If you live in Scotland, you might’ve heard about PGDEs before. They’re similar to PGCEs as they offer both theoretical education and practical teaching components. They’re also available in various subjects and age ranges, tailored to meet the specific requirements of the Scottish education system.

Benefits of PGDE include:

  • It’s an accredited qualification 
  • You gain practical teaching experience for skill development
  • Career advancement opportunities for progression
  • Gain enhanced pedagogical skills for effective teaching
  • The opportunity to network with educators for collaboration
  • Increased job prospects for employment
  • Personal and professional growth for development

Requirements include:

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree with 80 SCQF credit points relevant to secondary teaching
  • Credentials in English (SCQF Level 6) and mathematics (Level 5)
  • Hands-on experience in a classroom setting
  • Enrolment in the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme.

School Direct 

A less common route that is gaining more popularity is the School Direct route to teaching. It offers hands-on training within schools and learning within a Uni environment, so you gain theoretical learning with practical experience.

School Direct also provides various training options, including salaried and unsalaried routes, preparing individuals for teaching careers with QTS.

Benefits of School Direct include:

  • Immersive training in school environments
  • Direct mentorship from experienced teachers
  • Blending of theoretical learning with practical experience
  • Various training options, including salaried routes
  • Preparation for teaching careers with qualified teacher status (QTS)
  • No tuition fees!

Requirements include:

  • UK undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in English and maths
  • Additional GCSE at grade C/4 or above in science for teaching ages 3-11

Postgraduate teaching apprenticeship

A postgraduate teaching apprenticeship offers a route to QTS for those who already have a degree. It combines on-the-job training in schools with academic study, providing hands-on experience and a salary. The best thing is, it’s free!

Although most teaching courses can be quite competitive, securing a graduate teaching apprenticeship can vary depending on factors such as demand for apprenticeships in your area, the competitiveness of the application process and your qualifications and experience.

Benefits of post-grad teach apprenticeship include:

  • Practical training in schools
  • Academic study for QTS
  • Hands-on experience with a salary
  • Teaching skills development
  • Opportunity for career advancement

Requirements include:

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree or its equivalent
  • GCSE grade C/4 or above in English and mathematics, with an additional C/4 in science for teaching primary pupils
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Now Teach

"Now Teach" provides a flexible pathway for career changers to transition into teaching. Those who take this path to teaching continue working while completing training, which combines classroom experience with structured sessions and mentor support. The programme addresses teacher shortages in key subjects and empowers individuals to pursue impactful careers in education.

Benefits of Now Teach include:

  • Flexible pathway for career changers
  • Utilises diverse professional backgrounds
  • Participants continue working while training
  • Combines classroom experience with structured sessions
  • Addresses teacher shortages in key subjects
  • Empowers individuals to pursue impactful careers in education

Requirements include:

  • Completion of an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification
  • GCSE grade C/4 or above in mathematics and English
  • A-Level qualification relevant to the subject intended for teaching
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Which teacher training postgraduate course is best?

If you want to find postgraduate teacher training, we recommend the PGCE as the best course, as it offers a blend of theoretical learning and practical teaching experience, leading to QTS. 

PGCE programmes are designed to equip aspiring educators with the necessary skills, knowledge, and qualifications to excel in the teaching profession. They are often the most desired qualification by employers.

UCEN Manchester stands out as a top choice for pursuing a PGCE due to its reputation for excellence in teacher training. 

UCEN Manchester offers a supportive learning environment, experienced faculty and strong links with local schools, providing students with valuable opportunities for hands-on teaching experience. 

Enrol on to our PGCE course today.