Primary children in a classroom session

It might feel that as soon as you mention that you're thinking about teaching as a career everyone tries to put you off: social media, news reports, friends and families might paint a picture of long hours, never-ending paperwork, badly behaved pupils, and other unmentionable horrors (snot being just one of them, especially in the early years).

But if you ask any of our Teacher Education tutors here at Leeds Trinity University (nearly all experienced teachers) or any of our current undergraduate or postgraduate Teacher Education students (about to become teachers) they'll tell you something a bit different.

Yes, teaching is challenging.

Yes, there is a lot of paperwork.

Hours during term time are long.

There will be snot.

But, every day something will happen that rewards you in ways that you don't experience in any other job. The moment when you help a child achieve something they've found so difficult. The time you inspire a child to recognise their own potential. The days when children come in excited to learn. When you open up learning and children experience something they never thought possible.

These are some of the reasons there were 32,400 applications to UCAS for Teacher Education programmes in December 2017. If you're one of those potential future teachers, here's some of the routes to consider.

Undergraduate route: BA (Hons) Primary education (with QTS)

The Primary Education undergraduate route is a unique experience. You benefit from studying for a degree at the same time as gaining your professional qualification. There is the option to specialise in the Early Years (ages 3-7).

Future teachers are attracted to this route for these reasons:

  • The programme lasts for three years, with school placements all the way through. This gives you opportunity to gradually build up your knowledge and experience of teaching.
  • You gain your degree and professional teaching qualification at the same time. This means you don't have to complete a postgraduate course.
  • The university works with an extensive range of school partners. Over the three years you become part of a wide community of schools, teachers and other professionals who will support you through your early teaching career.

Postgraduate routes

You can follow a Primary or Secondary postgraduate route. At Primary, there is option to specialise in the Early Years (ages 3-7), and at Secondary you specialise in a subject area.

Postgraduate Teacher Education courses are either university-led or school-led, but either route will lead to a PGCE qualification with recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). These routes typically begin in September and complete the following June/July. Studying for a PGCE can be an intense but incredibly rewarding experience!

University-led PGCE

A university-led programme provides you with specialist training sessions led by university tutors, alongside school placements in a range of partnership schools.

Future teachers are attracted to this route for these reasons:

  • Taught sessions are led by specialist university tutors (especially important for secondary subject specialisms).
  • You will work at Masters level and be supported to complete the programme with 60 credits.
  • Being in the university environment gives you access to the most up-to-date educational research – often involving some of your own university tutors.
  • You have opportunity to build a professional network across a wide range of schools and school colleagues, with support from the university into your first year of teaching and beyond.

School-led PGCE

A School Direct or SCITT programme will be led by a school partnership, often supported by a university. Schools select their own trainees and in these programmes, you have the opportunity to be in the school environment right from the first week.

Future teachers are attracted to this route for these reasons:

  • You are in school from the first day, and much of your training is delivered by colleagues from within your school partnership.
  • You will work closely with other trainees to build a strong knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning within the context of your school partnership.
  • There is usually opportunity to study for 60 credits at Masters level.

Teacher Apprenticeships

The Teacher Apprenticeship route is new for September 2018. Future teachers who choose this route will be employed by a school but will be released for 20 percent "off-the-job" training.

It will take approximately 15 months to complete a Teacher Apprenticeship. If successful, you will be recommended for QTS and awarded a Professional Certificate in Education. This route is postgraduate, so you will need a first degree, and there may be the option to 'top-up' during the apprenticeship to gain some credits at Masters level.

More information

There are lots of routes to consider into teaching, and every future teacher has a different preference. You can find out more information about each route and entry requirements from the Department for Education's Get Into Teaching website​.​

Amanda Nuttall is a Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Leeds Trinity University. Based in the Institute of Childhood and Education, she leads on the Primary Education programmes, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students. She also works externally with schools to support practitioner enquiry projects. 

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