post-PhD routes into teaching in schools

Teaching is a popular career route for all graduates including those with a PhD and one where researchers often seek careers support in terms of how to make sense of the various routes to qualifying as a teacher. Early applications are advised so the timing of this blog is intended to get you going immediately – now is the time to take action. 

I confess that as a so-called ‘experienced’ careers adviser working with researchers, a request from one of our PhDs or research staff that asks me to outline how to get into the profession sends me running for cover!

Help is at hand and I do find the Target Postgrad pages on teaching an excellent starting point for commencing your research… and research is what you need to do! Now assuming you are able to meet the academic and professional standards required to teach in a state school, make sure you consider all the entry options that could be open to you:

Many of you will have heard of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or PGCE which is still the most popular route into the profession. PGCEs are normally a university course, enrolled on via UCAS Teacher training to the university of your choice, in but bear in mind that you can also do a PGCE via a school-based route.

The Schools centred initial teacher training or SCITT, is normally a one year full time programme in England delivered by a group of schools who work in partnership with a University and a local education authority. ‘SCITT’ is a type of school-led course that provides practical, hands-on, teacher training, delivered by experienced, practising teachers. Some SCITTS may lead to the PGCE qualification but not all. Applications to this scheme are also made via UCAS.

School Direct also provides school-led training with the potential to be offered a teaching contract on qualification. The difference here is that a school will have a say in selecting their trainees with an eventual fit to a job they need doing, and again this is hands-on, learn-on-the-job type training. This route could also lead to a PGCE. There are two routes for School Direct and one of these caters for more experienced graduates who take a salaried position whilst they train. Once again applications are via UCAS.

Teach First runs a leadership development programme delivered through an employment-based two year programme. Successful candidates will be placed in challenging schools working with pupils who may be experiencing high levels of social deprivation. A PGCE and the opportunity to work towards a masters qualification are part of the training package. Applications via the Teach First website.

Early year initial teachers training is aimed at those who wish to teach children before they reach compulsory education ( 0-5. Two 12 month programme types are available, involving a course plus school placement route, or an employment based route. Applications via the specific HE institutions running training courses.

I have simplified the key routes but avoided outlining how to decide on which route is right for you – this will be up to your own investigation on what will work for you.

There is also the matter of work experience and you will need to arrange to do some schools-based teaching work experience before you apply for teaching training, and make an effort to speak to individuals in the profession and think about what teaching really involves and why it’s for you. There are questions to consider around funding your training and what part of the UK you wish to teach in. Do make contact with course providers and try and get on any open days offered. The quality of your application and interview matter greatly in this competitive area, and getting insider tips is necessary, talk to everyone you can.

Finally, do try and see what activities are taking place on your university campus. Make contact with your careers service to find out who will be giving talks and attending events or fairs this term. These events are designed to help you take advantage of this wealth of advice and information. Teaching is a rewarding profession but not for all so go into it with your eyes open, and to quote the careers adviser jargon…make a well informed and realistic career decision, and perhaps you will find a job you love as much I love as my own!

To investigate more, please also see the Dept for Education ‘Get into Teaching’ page.

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