Entry routes to teaching for graduates in the biological sciences and related biosciences

Entry routes

There are a number of initial teacher training (ITT) routes to qualified teacher status (QTS).

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

PGCE programmes generally last one year full time or up to two years part time. You may be eligible for funding. It is also possible to study for a PGCE through distance learning or a school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programme (see below). PGCEs focus on primary, middle, secondary or further/adult education. Further/adult education PGCEs do not lead to QTS. If you have one of these and want to teach in a secondary school you'll need a secondary PGCE or be paid on the unqualified teacher scale.

There are other routes that allow you to earn while you learn …

School Direct

School Direct programmes usually last one year in primary and secondary schools (with some part-time options). Successful completion leads to QTS, and some programmes include a PGCE. There are two options:

  • School Direct Training Programme. For high-quality graduates, and can include a bursary of up to £20,000.
  • School Direct Training Programme (salaried). As the name suggests, this is an employment-based route available to high-quality graduates with at least three years’ work experience who earn as they train.

School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

SCITT programmes are delivered by groups of schools and colleges. You’ll usually be based in a 'lead school' but do placements. Courses generally last for one year full time, are taught by practising teachers and are tailored to local needs. SCITT courses lead to QTS, and some involve the award of a PGCE.

Teach First

Teach First is a charity that provides a Leadership Development Programme designed to prepare participants to become potential leaders in challenging schools. The programme takes two years, and combines working, training and qualifying as a teacher with leadership development training, coaching and mentoring. Successful participants graduate to become Teach First Ambassadors. The Teach First Leadership Development Programme is currently available in seven regions: East Midlands, Kent and Medway, London, North East, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber.

Entry requirements

You need at least a grade C in English and Maths at GCSE or an equivalent. Candidates for primary or middle-school teaching also need a grade C or equivalent in Science. For PGCEs you’ll need a good undergraduate degree. For secondary PGCEs, the subjects you specialise in are based on the content of your first degree: a general rule is that at least 50% of your degree must focus on your chosen subject. The entry requirements for Teach First programmes are more complicated.

Application process

In England and Wales you need to apply for PGCEs online through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR).  (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems.) You can apply from mid-September for entry the following year. There’s no closing date for secondary, but popular courses can be full by December. All applications for primary between September and the start of December will be considered by your first-choice institution. After that, applications go to institutions with empty places. Applications consist of:

  • Application form.
  • Personal statement. This is the most important part: an opportunity to explain why you want to be a teacher, to reflect on the experience you already have (both in schools and through other sorts of contact with young people) and your commitment to your chosen age range. See this handout on personal statements and application form assistant.
  • References. You can’t submit the form until these are completed online by your referees, so make sure you leave plenty of time for this and give them some notice.
  • Application fee

From 30 June there is a clearing system for primary and secondary programmes. You can choose up to four institutions, of which up to two can be primary programmes. Applications are forwarded to the institutions in order of preference.

Undergraduate preparation

The most useful thing you can do in preparation is to get some experience in a school. Approach a local school by writing to the head teacher, explain that you are interested in a career in teaching, and ask to visit. This is a common occurrence for schools, so they will probably be able to arrange something.

Our support

One thing you might like to consider is an Undergraduate Ambassador Scheme (UAS) third-year project. There are details on Blackboard.

Useful links

The Teaching Agency

Graduate Teacher Training Registry

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Contact details:

School of Biological Sciences
University of Leicester
Maurice Shock Building
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH
T: +44 (0)116 252 2907
E: bsadmin@le.ac.uk

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Information about careers can be found in the Biological Sciences


The GENIE Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
The GENIE Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning