Initial Teacher Training (ITT) 

Anyone wanting to teach in England must complete initial teacher training (ITT). There are many different types of ITT – the route you choose to take will be specific to the age group and/or subject you’d like to teach. If you’d like to teach a subject to an advanced level, for example, you could be more interested in secondary teaching, rather than primary. You can complete your ITT alongside a degree, straight after a degree, as a part-time course alongside work, or as a full-time course, including employment-based routes. The option that is right for you will depend on your circumstances. There are hundreds of different initial teacher training (ITT) courses available in the UK. Choosing between them is a challenge in itself, and you should be prepared to put in a lot of research. Your choice of ITT provides the foundation for your future as a teacher. As well as deciding which age group and/or subject you intend to teach, you should consider:

Routes into Teaching 

ITT courses are flexible and are designed to support a wide range of individual circumstances. You can choose from:

- School-based training schemes, such as school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT)

- Undergraduate and postgraduate courses, offered by universities and colleges, which include at least 18 weeks spent teaching in schools.

- Schools Direct Courses, which can be either salaried or un-salaried.

- Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeships.

Please click on the buttons below for more information about each of these items. 

  • University-led PGCE

    If you would prefer a more academic approach to your initial teacher training a university-led PGCE could be for you. This form of ITT combines the study of theory at a university campus with real-life practice of skills in a school setting. You would spend a minimum of 24 weeks in the classroom, and the remainder of your time at university. Like many ITT courses, this course lasts a full academic year and can be studied at either primary or secondary level. This type of ITT offers the opportunity to gain a PGCE (postgraduate certificate of education) and QTS (Qualified teacher status.) As well as this, many PGCE courses offer the student the opportunity to earn Masters credits. The course fees for a university-led PGCE are in line with all degrees in the UK, being capped at £9250, with universities setting their own prices.


    A SCITT or ‘School centred teaching training’ course is an alternative method to earn a PGCE which is very different from the university-led path. A SCITT takes place solely in schools under the tutelage of experienced teachers. It is a more hands-on approach where theory is taught alongside practice. A SCITT course takes place over the duration of an academic year, and students will be learning in a school setting from day one. A SCITT course comprises many styles of learning and integrates time spent in the classroom with seminars, lectures, and tutorials. Whilst all SCITT courses offer successful students QTS, not all offer PGCEs. If this is something that you are concerned about, you should do some research into the courses you are interested in to find out whether or not they offer the qualification. The fees for a SCITT course are capped in the same manner as the fees for a university-led PGCE. As such, they can be up to £9250.

  • Schools Direct

    Schools Direct is offered via two different routes. One which is salaried and the student is an employee of the school they work at, and one on which course fees are applied as on other courses. A Schools Direct Programme is similar to a SCITT in the sense that it is a form of ITT centred around a primary or secondary school rather than an institute of higher education (although it is possible to school will work with a university.) On a Schools Direct course, you will learn on the job, and will remain in the same school for the entire year. If you are on the salaried course, you will be employed as a worker at the school, whereas on the non-salaried route you will not. This route is popular with people who wish to teach at the school they study at upon completion of the course. A Schools Direct course will offer a successful student QTS. As with other courses, some schools will offer a PGCE in conjunction with this, but you should inquire with the institution you are considering before you apply if this is something which concerns you. As previously stated, the fees for a Schools Direct course are different depending on the type of course you take part in. The salaried route is fee free and pays a wage, whilst the non-salaried route charges fees of up to £9250, as with most higher education courses. Whilst this may be the case, students on the non-salaried path may be eligible for bursaries, and can apply for a student loan to help them through their time in study.

  • Post-Graduate Teaching Apprenticeship

    The Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship is a relatively new work based route into teaching, which is quite similar to a salaried Schools Direct course. As this is a new scheme, with the added bonus of being salaried, the likelihood is that it will be very popular. On this course, the student will spend much of their time working a school learning on the job. Additionally, they will spend up to 20% of their time at a university learning theory to go alongside their practical experience. Like all ITT courses, the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship offers successful students QTS. This type, of course, can also offer the opportunity to complete a PGCE as well as Masters credits. Not all schools offering an apprenticeship will be able to do this though, and those that are able to may charge a fee. As an apprenticeship, this course charges no fees. The student will be an employee of the school in which they are learning, and as such will be paid a salary. This salary will vary between institutions.

Entry Requirements

When considering an ITT course, you should always check your desired institution’s entry requirements before applying. This is because there can be some variation in the standards accepted by different educational bodies. While this is the case, there are some criteria which must be met by all or most training providers in the UK.

- In the Uk, all teachers in comprehensive schools are required to hold the minimum of an undergraduate degree. The classification of degree needed will vary from course to course and you should check on your desired institutions’ website before applying.

- To teach in a secondary environment, you much have achieved at least a C/4 in both English and Maths at GCSE level.

- To teach children at Early Years or Primary level, you will need a minimum grade of C/4 in English, Maths, and Science.

- For all forms of ITT, you will be required to undertake and successfully complete a professional skills test in both English and Maths prior to the start date of your course.

- You may also have to complete additional assessments as set by the institutions you are applying to if they so wish.

- Many courses will require you to have some recent prior experience of working in a school setting prior to applying (i.e as a teaching assistant.)

Finding a Provider

Finding a provider can seem like a daunting task. There are many different universities and schools offering ITT, and it may seem overwhelming. It is important to remember that there are many reasons to choose a specific institution to study with. Perhaps you feel they are particularly impressive academic history, or perhaps they are located in a city you feel a strong attraction to. It is important that before applying, you thoroughly research your options and make informed decisions which will serve you well in the future. Here is a list of a few of the many things you should consider when choosing a place of study:

- Location

- Cost of Living

- Entry Requirements

- Employment rates of previous students

To assist in the location of courses which may appeal to you, you can use the Department for Educations Postgraduate teacher training search engine which can be found here:

How to Apply

To apply for any form of ITT course, you must first register with UCAS. During the following process, you will have to submit a personal statement and references, so it is best that you have these prepared prior to starting. You can apply for up to three different courses, giving you the ability to choose a varied selection of providers to consider your application. This also means that you have back up options if your first choice does not choose to accept you. Your applications will be handled by UCAS, and you will be able to track the progress of your submissions throughout.

Fees and Funding

If you choose either the salaried Schools Direct route, or the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship there will be no course fees, and you will be paid a salary by your training provider. All other types of course are able to charge up to £9250 for the provision of training. Depending on the level at which you teach, and the subject you specialise in you may be able to apply for a bursary or grant to help towards your course fees and living expenses. More information about this can be found on the Get Into Teaching Website

If you are not eligible for a bursary or grant, you can apply for student finance to receive a loan for the same purposes. You will be able to receive two loans; one to cover the full cost of your course and another towards living expenses. Even if you have already received a postgraduate loan from student finance, you will still be eligible for another to study ITT.

School Experience

Gaining school experience prior to applying for ITT is often essential for your application. As well as this, it is a great way of making sure that teaching is the correct profession for you. There are many ways in which you can find experience of working in schools. You could contact schools directly and ask if they have any need for a voluntary assistant. You could also approach an organisation to assist you in finding willing schools.