Becoming a qualified teacher – routes into teaching as a career.
In Wales, we want to encourage an enthusiastic, committed and dedicated teaching workforce representative of the communities which they serve.
To become a teacher and teach in a maintained school in Wales, you need to attain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
There are a number of routes into teaching including:
- studying at university at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and
- employment-based training in a school setting.
On the traditional University-based routes you can either study at undergraduate level where you achieve QTS at the same time as undertaking your degree. Or, if you already have a degree you can gain QTS via a postgraduate course of study - the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
The Employment-based route offers a way to qualify as a teacher while you work in a maintained school. You need to already hold a degree to participate.
All routes are focused towards meeting clearly defined standards. QTS Standards, an integral part of the professional standards for teaching and leadership – a set of descriptors that outline what ITE trainees must know, understand and be able to do at the end of an ITE course.
The QTS Standards have statutory force and are set out in legislation. Further information on the the forms of provision ITE Partnerships need to make available to student teachers if they are to demonstrate all the relevant descriptors under the professional standards for teaching and leadership can be found in appendix three of the initial teacher education programmes - accreditation criteria.
Minimum entry requirements for ITE
No matter which route you are thinking of taking into teaching, minimum entry requirements apply.
For all routes you will need a GCSE Grade B or above (or equivalent) in English and mathematics.
If you are interested in training to teach Primary, you will also need to have a GCSE Grade C or above (or equivalent) in science.
The ITE providers are best placed to offer advice on equivalent qualifications and some may offer you the opportunity of an equivalency test.
Unless you are doing an undergraduate route – where you study for your degree and achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) at the same time – you will need a degree. Teaching is a graduate profession.
If you are thinking of teaching in a secondary school, your degree should have at least 50% relevance to the subject you want to teach.
There may be flexibility in some subjects where other degrees may contain relevant subject knowledge such as engineering, economics or accounting.
The ITE providers are best placed to offer advice on the compatibility of your degree for the subject or phase you want to teach.
It is important to note that these are the minimum entry standards. ITE providers can stipulate their own additional entry requirements for entry to their courses.
Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
QTS is required in Wales to become, and continue being, a teacher of children in state schools that are under local authority control, and in special education schools.
What am I working towards?
All Initial Teacher Education (ITE) routes are focused towards the same goal - meeting clearly defined standards, which form an integral part of the professional standards for teaching and leadership. These are a set of descriptors that set out what ITE trainees must know, understand and be able to do at the end of an ITE course to gain QTS.
All student teachers starting an ITE programme from September 2019 will work to the new professional standards for teaching and leadership. Further information can be found professional standards.
Student teachers that started their ITE programmes prior to September 2019 will work to the old QTS standards. The full set of old QTS Standards are set out in the booklet “Circular 017/2009” – Becoming a Qualified Teacher: Handbook of Guidance.
The QTS Standards have statutory force and are set out in legislation.
What happens next?
Once you have gained QTS and are a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) you will move onto the next stage in your teaching career. You will need to undertake your Induction.
If you’ve gained QTS and are thinking about working in a maintained school in Wales, you will also need to register with the Education Workforce Council.
In Wales there are three Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITE) centres for teacher education.
By undertaking your ITE at university, you will be undertaking a combination of university based theoretical learning with periods of practical teaching experience. The structure, organisation and courses offered by each centre will vary. Each centre comprises of two ITE providers.
The centres are:
- North and Mid Wales Centre for Teacher Education and training (NMWCTET) (External link), provided by Bangor University and Aberystwyth University
- South West Wales Centre for Teacher Education (SWWCTE) provided by University of Wales, Trinity St David (External link) at Swansea and Carmarthen.
- South East Wales Centre for Teacher Education and Training (SEWCTET) (External link) provided by the University of South Wales and Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Further details on which courses you can study can be found on at each provider’s website.
If you are a Welsh speaker, you can consider taking your ITE course through the medium of Welsh and doing your practical teaching experience in a Welsh-medium School.
The university–based routes available are:
- Undergraduate – if you don’t have a degree, and
- Postgraduate – if you already have a degree.
If you don’t already have a degree you can embark on an Undergraduate teacher training course leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
Such courses include a Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc).
When you begin an undergraduate route, you are studying for your degree and working towards the QTS standards at the same time.
Further details on where you can study in Wales can be found in the University based routes section above.
You need to be aware that there are minimum entry requirements for all routes into teaching.
For undergraduate routes you will need to apply through UCAS (External link) - the organisation responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK. You may be eligible for general student support whilst you are studying. Contact Student Finance Wales (External link) for further information on what is available.
This is the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), a year long programme of training.
As you already have a degree, the focus of the PGCE course is to develop your skills as a teacher whilst working towards the QTS Standards.
For all routes into teaching as a career, there are minimum entry requirements that you have to meet.
PGCE courses are run at a number of different universities across Wales with a variety of subjects offered at different ITE Centres (External link). Applications are made through the UCAS website (External link).
ITE is one of the few subjects where eligible postgraduate students can access student support in the same way as undergraduate students. Contact Student Finance Wales (External link) for more information.
If you are thinking about doing a PGCE, there may also be additional financial support available including teacher training incentives.
If you are a Welsh speaker, you can opt to do your training through the medium of Welsh and do your practical teaching experience in a Welsh-medium school. Trainee teachers enrolled on qualifying secondary postgraduate courses through the medium of Welsh may also be eligible for the Welsh-medium Improvement Scheme (WMIS).
The WMIS grant is designed to encourage more students to undertake the additional work required to gain the confidence and competence to be able to go on to teach secondary subjects through the medium of Welsh. Decisions on eligibility for the supplement are made by individual ITT providers involved in the scheme. You can get more information on which courses qualify for this supplement from the ITT providers.
You should note that some PGCEs are designed to enable you to teach in the Further Education sector and do not lead to qualified teacher status. QTS is required in Wales to become, and continue being, a teacher of children in state schools that are under local authority control, and in special education schools.
Employment based routes
There are routes available in Wales designed for graduates who may want to continue working while they are training to teach.
Under the Employment-based Scheme you can be employed to teach in a school as an unqualified teacher while following a programme working towards meeting the QTS standards.
There are two different employment-based routes in Wales
- The Graduate Teacher Programme
- Teach First Cymru
Employment-based teacher training scheme can be found on the Welsh Government website.
The Graduate Teacher Programme
The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) is an employment-based route to qualifying as a teacher and gaining QTS while you work as an unqualified teacher in a school.
Under the GTP you undertake an individual training programme designed to enable you to meet the QTS Standards.
As it is a graduate programme you have to have completed your degree before you start. Programmes normally last a year (full time) but if you have suitable previous experience and qualifications you could complete it in a shorter time (the minimum period is 3 months full time / one school term)
The Graduate Teacher Programme is also open to you if you’ve trained to teach overseas or if you’ve got a Further Education teaching qualification and want to get QTS in Wales.
ITE centres deliver the GTP on our behalf. They are responsible for setting the application deadlines and allocating training places to successful applicants based on the policies and priorities announced by the Welsh Government.
The GTP normally operates on an annual cycle with notification of the places available and the procedures for applying announced in January to start in the following September.
If you have any queries regarding making an application for a place on the GTP, please contact your regional ITE Centre. All enquires should be directed to the contacts in the ITE centres listed here:
North and Mid Wales Centre for Teacher Education and Training: firstname.lastname@example.org
South West Wales Centre of Teacher Education: email@example.com
South East Wales Centre for Teacher Education: firstname.lastname@example.org
Teach First Cymru
Teach First Cymru offers a two-year programme where high calibre trainees are placed in some of Wales’s challenging secondary schools.
These schools are in most need of improvement and in some of our communities where there is a significant level of deprivation.
If you are a secondary school wishing to participate, or a prospective candidate, further information on Teach First Cymru can be found by visiting the Teach First website (External link).
If you require any further information or have queries about the policy behind initial teacher education in Wales, you can contact us by e-mailing the Teaching Enquiries mailbox at email@example.com.