Teachers in training come from all different backgrounds and at various stages in their lives. Some individuals have always known they want to pursue a career in education, while others discover their passion for teaching while in college. In some cases, people will make the switch to teaching from other professions.
Fortunately, there are numerous avenues for people to take to enter the teaching profession. In recent years, significant reforms have taken place in the way teachers are trained, leading to a variety of choices that could potentially be confusing for aspiring educators. To help navigate these options, heres a guide to five choices.
1. School Direct
Introduced in 2012, School Direct is the newest teacher training program that provides schools with the opportunity to train graduates in subjects facing a shortage of teachers. Kal Hodgson, assistant headteacher at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, explains that the program aims to address local needs. To train graduates, schools must work with an accredited provider such as a university.
Students who opt for this route will directly apply to a school so that they can choose where to obtain their training. Trainees will learn on the job and be part of the teaching team from the very beginning of their tenure. From being mentored to observing teaching and gradually taking on responsibilities of their own, they will gain real experience that could even lead to a job at the school.
However, one downside is that this option doesnt offer students the chance to gain experience in various schools in the way that a PGCE university course does. Moreover, not all School Direct courses offer PGCE status, which is mandatory in some countries abroad.
Duration: one year
Course Requirements: A degree and a grade C or above in GCSE maths or English (Grade B if applying in Wales). Individuals who are planning to teach early childhood or primary school students will need a GCSE science grade C or above. If a students degree doesnt relate closely to their teaching subject of choice, they may need to take a subject knowledge enhancement course. Trainees must also pass a skills test in numeracy and literacy.
Funding: There are two School Direct options: salaried and non-salaried. Employers will pay at least £21,804 annually for the former option (or £27,270 if in inner London). Trainees will not have to pay tuition fees, though they may need to pay extra if they wish to obtain a PGCE and QTS. Those who choose the unpaid route will need to pay fees of up to £9,000. Home students, as well as EU students who are also eligible for student loans, can also apply for maintenance grants. Superior graduates could receive training bursaries and scholarships totaling up to £20k, with the amount varying depending on their subject area.
According to professor Andy Goodwyn, head of the University of Readings institute of education, the PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is the most recognizable option. Even with its university focus, students still spend an extensive amount of time training at schools. Typically, students will spend 24 weeks on placement in various schools and twelve weeks at university.
Another benefit to completing a university-centered training course, as mentioned by Edge Hill Universitys assistant head of secondary education Dawne Bell, is the myriad of support available to students. Aside from diverse placements at their many partner schools, students also have access to innovative resources, technology, and facilities, plus the opportunity to work and train alongside subject area experts.
Duration: one year
Course Requirements: the same as School Direct
Funding: PGCE students will need to pay fees up to £9,000, but maintenance grants and student loans are available to home students in England and EU students who are also eligible for student loans. The best graduates in each subject area may be eligible for training bursaries and scholarships worth as much as £20k.
3. Undergraduate Degree Courses
Most undergraduate programs in education concentrate on primary education. Students who pursue this option will spend just under 50% of their time on placements in schools, with the number of hours varying across the years. As Jim Clark, head of the Department for Education and Lifelong Learning at Northumbria University, highlights, students will spend less time in school during their freshmen year and more time as seniors.
Duration: three or four years.
In regards to funding for students, fees reaching up to £9,000 must be paid. However, students have the option to apply for student loans or maintenance grants if they are from the same country as the institution. European Union (EU) students may also apply for loans.
SCITT, also known as "school-centred initial teacher training", is a system of training that is conducted by an alliance of schools in collaboration with a university. This education scheme focuses on practical and hands-on training, led by current experienced teachers at the school or within the network of schools. In some cases, trainees who have participated in the program will receive a PGCE and gain qualified teacher status. Applications to participate should be directed towards the networks of schools, instead of the university. Requirements for this program include that it lasts for one year and follows the same entry requirements as School Direct. There is also the availability of scholarships and training bursaries worth up to £20k for top graduates, depending on the subject.
Teach First is an education charity that aims to recruit outstanding graduates who have the ability to teach in schools where at least 50% of the pupils are from low-income backgrounds. Trainees receive six weeks of intensive training before serving two years at a school. The initial ten months of the first year focuses on obtaining PGCE qualification, whilst the rest of the time is spent teaching. Necessary requirements for this program include a 2:1 degree (or higher) and above 300 UCAS (University and College Admission Service) points. They would also need relevant A-levels for specific subject areas as well as a grade C in GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) maths and English. Along with academic performance, emphasis is also placed on assessing non-academic competencies such as resilience and organizational skills. Trainees are paid as unqualified teachers during the first year, and as qualified teachers in the second year, but the rate varies depending on the region and school.