I recently attended an AGCAS Teaching Update which highlighted the range of routes available for potential teacher trainees – PGCE, School Direct, Teach First, teaching abroad and in Further Education. A summary of the main points can be found below:


Paul Cronin – Headteacher, Redbridge High School (School Direct, Merseyside SEN Teaching School Alliance – MSTSA – www.mstsa.org.uk)

  • MSTSA comprises the following schools – Redbridge High School, Princes Primary School, Millstead Primary School and Rowan Park School
  • School Direct programme with placements in both SEN and main stream primary schools (Liverpool and Sefton) and a PGCE delivered by Liverpool Hope University
  • Problems attracting students who have sufficient experience with Special Education Needs
  • School Direct programme will start in 2016/17 with 8 trainees
  • Looking for emotionally robust students
  • A key issue is application and interview technique
  • After successfully completing application stage candidates are asked to spend a morning in a school, complete a reflective written piece on their experience and then attend an interview
  • Government see Teaching Schools as the driver for school improvement


Lisa Hobden – Deputy Head/Alliance Lead (Wigan Catholic Primary School Direct – http://wcpsd.org.uk)

  • WCPSD is a partnership of 25 RC primary schools in Wigan – 14 students in schools this year
  • Recommends that students undertake skills tests as early as possible in case students have to resit
  • Within the personal statement looking for information relating to school-based experience; reasons for joining the profession; interests and other skills; and, quality of statement (spelling and grammar)
  • At interview candidates will complete a table teach task with 6-8 children
  • If applicable, conditional offers may be given for candidates who are resitting GCSEs
  • It is preferable to have more than 10 days experience within a school. Advice is to try and vary the days you have a school to get access to different subjects, age groups and events in a school


Jane Maddox – FE Advisor, Education & Training Foundation (England only)

  • ETF established in 2013 with a remit for England only and works with teachers, trainers, leaders and employers
  • FE Advice website has been created – www.feadvice.org.uk which is staffed by experienced FE teacher trainers. Advice is also provided by phone – 0300 303 1877 – and by email – feadviceline@etfoundation.co.uk
  •  New qualifications, now employer led, were introduced in 2013:
    • Level 3 Award in Education and Training (12 credits – Introductory, no minimum teaching experience required)
    • Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training (36 credits – A minimum of 30 hours of teaching practice required)
    • Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (120 credits – University accredited, usually known as Certificate in Education (lvl 5), Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (lvl 6), and PGCE (lvl 7))
      • For those who aspire to, or hold, a teaching role with an extensive range of teaching or training responsibilities
      • Minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice is required
    • Level 5 Diploma in Education, and Training Specialist routes in ESOL, Literacy, Numeracy, SEN
      • Minimum of 100 hours of teaching practice required, 120 hours for literacy and ESOL combined specialism
    • On part-time courses it is ultimately the individual’s responsibility to secure a placement
  • Society for Education & Training (SET) is the new professional membership organisation of the ETF for practitioners working in the post-16 sector
  • Qualified Teacher Learning & Skills (QTLS) is only available through SET. Since 2012 QTLS has parity with QTS in England and QTLS holders are eligible to teach in the school sector on teachers pay scale
  • Advice is that someone who wants to specifically teach A Levels should explore the secondary school teacher training route i.e. PGCE or School Direct


Sakina Zafar – Academic Officer, Council of British International Schools – www.cobis.org.uk

  • COBIS is a membership association with 260 schools in 75 countries (increased by 50% in the last two years)
  • British education is now a huge export – teachers moving overseas, independent schools setting up campuses abroad, expat populations, increase in education provision in some countries
  • COBIS Schools are located in the following areas:

COBIS Schools

  • Number of English-medium international schools was approximately 8,000 in 2015 with a projected increase to around 15,000 by 2025
  • There is increasing prevalence of English as the language of business
  • COBIS advertises teaching posts in international schools and other useful sites are TES and The Guardian
  • In terms of gaining QTS status, international schools that have a BSO inspection can run an NQT induction year. BSO reports are accessible online and NQT year is the same regardless. If unsure, advice is to complete NQT year in the UK before travelling


Carina Thomas – Teach First – www.teachfirst.org.uk 

  • 21% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals go to university compared with 85% from independent schools
  • Teach First Leadership Development Programme comprises of:
    • Teacher training, including a fully-funded PGCE
    • Leadership skills development
    • One-to-one coaching
    • A full-time paid position in a school for a minimum two years
    • Opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree at a reduced cost
  •  Partner with Accenture, Aldi, Goldman Sachs, PWC and Royal Navy who may offer support, projects,  fast-track schemes and deferred entry onto graduate schemes
  • The scheme started in 2002 there are currently 17 headteachers who started on the scheme.
  • Approximately 60% of participants stay in teaching
  • No experience of teaching is required to apply and at the pre-application stage one-to-one advice is available from a member of Teach First
  • Entry criteria are a minimum 2:1 plus 300 UCAS points in addition to the standard teacher training entry criteria (subject, GCSEs etc)
  • During the first year of the programme can expect to teach 60-70% of the time


Ed Wright – PGCE programmes, Liverpool Hope University

  • Offer both Primary and Secondary PGCE programmes in both traditional and School Direct routes
  • Depending on route have a range of assessment methods – GCSE-style questions, writing a reflectice statement, presenting about a teaching artefact, subject-sepcific interview
  • Placements take place in contrasting schools with a mixture of time spent in school and at Hope. There is also a reflective period at Hope to review performance