Why Choose A PGCE For Your Teacher Training Year?

Currently, there are many government incentives to take up teacher training in the UK. However, you should be choosing the career path for the love of working with children for their benefit not just the money! It’s a tough job, the teacher training process can be challenging and let’s face it, as a teacher you are nearly always tired. But, it is a worthwhile job. Children are remarkable and every day is rewarding in its own right.

The question is what teacher training route should you take to get into teaching: a PGCE, SCITT or School’s Direct (salaried or unsalaried)? If you’ve stopped by here, it’s because you are interested in studying for a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education); this route is predominantly University-led but not always. Although, if you are interested in reading about the other options available then I’ve discussed those here.

A PGCE or Postgraduate Certificate in Education involves a University-led and based course where you spend time on campus and 24-weeks on placement. You train towards achieving QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). This qualification will leave you able to teach throughout the country.

Primary or Secondary School PGCE?

The Primary PGCE currently only offers a government bursary if you choose to specialise in Mathematics; although, many university courses do not offer this as an option but it is worth keeping in mind. However, many of the Secondary routes have grants of up to £26,000 and scholarships of £28,000.

Secondary school subjects demand that you have a degree in your selected subject area. Primary, on the other hand, does not specify but you must have an interest in teaching the entire curriculum throughout the school week.

Do you want to earn Masters level qualification credits?

If you are interested in studying for a masters level programme at a later date, then a PGCE might be for you. Many universities offer Masters level courses as a part of the PGCE and therefore, allow you to earn credits towards a Masters. Upon completing your PGCE year, you can then work towards obtaining a Masters certificate at some point in the future.

The support network of a PGCE course…

As Target Postgrad states, on a PGCE course, you are never on your own. You’ll spend the first few weeks of the course studying within the university before setting off on a placement whereby the teaching element is introduced slowly. This allows you time to adjust and feel comfortable within the classroom environment. But before you know it, you will go from observing to teaching so always have that in mind. Likewise, throughout the year the university organises placements, supports you with any difficulties and helps with all the unanswered questions. They are a wealth of support and resources for you to use at your own pace. It’s nice knowing that you have a place (as well as tutors, academic advisors, lecturers, etc) for guidance when you need it!

What experience do you need for a PGCE?

You’ll find it virtually impossible to be offered a place with anything less than 2 weeks or 10 days work experience in a school. This is a minimum requirement. However, the more experience, the better; as this will show your commitment to the profession and offer security to the universities offering you the place. Consider volunteering or taking up a TA role for the year. Through doing this you’ll gain invaluable experience that will help you throughout your teacher training.

You will also need to pass the Professional Skills Tests, more information can be found on that here. Likewise, at least a C in GCSE Maths and English with a 2:1 or 2:2 undergraduate degree minimum is required for teacher training programmes.

What happens after a PGCE?

Following your PGCE year which lasts 10-months approximately, you shall work as an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) for a year before becoming a full-time, fully qualified teacher.

PROs and CONs of studying for a PGCE:


  • Postgraduate certificate qualification.
  • Often includes Masters level credits.
  • Involves a huge support network from the university.
  • University-led and based.
  • School placements are made for you by the university.
  • QTS.
  • 1-Year long course.
  • University and placement based.


  • Lots of paperwork (but this is part of being a teacher).
  • Unsalaried.
  • Involves a general interview process.
  • Requires payment of a tuition fee (but student finance is available).
  • Only 24-weeks on placement.
  • Can work out expensive!

It is worth remembering that all the teacher training routes have their pros and cons; therefore, it’s important that you find one that suits and works well for you.

How to apply for a PGCE?

The UCAS Teacher Training website opens its applications in the October in preparation for the following September. To apply for a PGCE course, it needs to be done through UCAS as soon as possible. You can apply for 3 university choices and I would recommend that you do use all 3 slots. It’s likely that you’ll be invited to interview and this can be at a short notice.

What are you waiting for? Teaching is the best job in the entire world, trust me! 

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