Applications for the PGCE through the Initial Teacher Training schemes are done through the UCAS Teacher Training Portal. Applications to become a teacher outnumber the number of training places available, and competition for some subjects is particularly high. The application process is challenging, designed to test the full range of skills needed as a teacher and all prospective trainee teachers need to pass the professional skills tests in order to take their place on a training scheme.

Teacher Training Options

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) - Apply for this scheme through UCAS Teacher Training. This is a one year course focussing on your teaching skills only, as you should have the subject knowledge from your degree.
  • School Direct Training Programme - Schools recruit trainee teachers with the expectation that you will work in that school once you have finished your training. This has replaced the GTP.
  • School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) - Delivered by groups of schools or training providers, you may have to attend a pre-training course if your degree is not relevant to what you want to teach, and you must have appropriate qualifications.

As an alternative, the Teach First programme is an intensive six week qualification for well-qualified graduates to teach in schools in a low income community for two years at the same time as obtaining a PGCE.

UCAS Teacher Training Application Form

The UCAS application form is your first opportunity to state your case for becoming a teacher. UCAS and course providers receive a lot of application forms, so you must make sure that your application form fulfills all the requirements.

As well as the usual information about yourself, you have to include two written statements.

  • Personal statement - You have 4,000 characters (letters, blank spaces and line breaks) to sell yourself as best you can. The personal statement has to include your perspective on four main points, listed below. Given the limited space you have available, plan out your response fully and edit it to ensure it covers everything you need it to cover and that you are happy with it.
    • What makes you want to get into teaching?
    • Why will you enjoy working with young people?
    • Why you will enjoy teaching your subject?
    • What do you have to offer to teaching, other than specialist subject knowledge?
  • School and work experience statement - 1,600 characters setting out how your education and work experience to date contributes to your future career. Make sure you include information about all your work experience, and account for any periods that do not fall into either category (travelling, gap year and so on). 

The personal statement and work experience statement are challenging as you have to balance the need to be concise whilst including as much information as possible. Take care to only include words that add value, and also check spelling and grammar thoroughly before submitting your application form.

Professional Skills Tests

All applicants to Initial Teacher Training must pass both the numeracy and literacy professional skills tests at some point in the recruitment process. The numeracy section reviews mental arithmetic and basic maths concepts while the literacy section focuses on grammar, spelling and comprehension. You cannot begin your training programme until you have passed this test so it is of the utmost importance that you arrive to sit the test fully prepare. Our numerical and verbal practice pack can help you get on track to pass.

Teacher Training Interview and Assessment Centre

If your application is accepted, the next stage of the process is an interview. Any of your chosen providers who are interested in your application will invite you to an interview day. The assessment centre is a whole day process, and can include a series of activities in addition to an interview. The exact activities you can expect will depend on the provider you are interviewing and can include:

  • An individual interview to help the assessor gain information about you and your motivations for becoming a teacher.
  • A group discussion in which you talk about a teaching-related topic in groups. Remember that you are being observed on your ability to listen to others and how you tailor your responses to what has been said before you; your effectiveness when engaging with others; and your ability to communicate clearly with others. For more tips on how to approach a group exercise, see JobTestPrep’s group exercise page.
  • A group task or exercise which involves your group having to achieve a task as a team. Your aim in this exercise is to ensure that the group reaches that goal, and to contribute to the team effort.
  • A presentation which examines your ability to create and follow a logical structure, target your presentation to the audience and how you engage the audience. The presentation is a test of your language skills. Get more information about delivering a presentation with the JobTestPrep blog.
  • As many providers are looking for classroom experience, teaching a mini lesson is a practical test of any experience you may have. You are advised to find a way to spend time in a classroom ahead of your assessment day.
  • A written task which can include writing a short essay on a topic such as the necessary qualities in a teacher, or answering questions on an article. The exercise may be handwritten, requiring you to ensure your presentation is neat and readable. Prepare for the written exercise with JobTestPrep’s written exercises page.

Teacher Training Interview

The exact interview you will experience depends on the course provider interviewing you. The purpose of the interview is for the provider to get a view of your experience of working with young people, your commitment to teaching, and your relevant knowledge and skills. There are four qualities they are looking for you to demonstrate:

  • Commitment to and understanding of the education system, and the role of a teacher.
  • Your personal, intellectual and communication skills.
  • A positive attitude towards children and working with children.
  • Enthusiasm and understanding of your chosen subject, teaching in general, and the ability to present your topic in clear and understandable English.

Prepare for the interview by reviewing your motivations for becoming a teacher. Prepare answers for questions on the topics above, complete with examples from your past experience which can demonstrate your skills. Prepare your answers using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action and Result) to ensure that you don’t leave anything important out. And think about having a mock interview to practice delivering your answers.

Possible interview questions include:

  • Why do you want to become a teacher?
  • What qualities make a successful teacher?
  • Why do you want to do your teacher training with us?
  • Tell us about your classroom experience.
  • Give an example of a good or bad lesson you have observed. Why was it good or bad?
  • How do you deal with pressure?
  • How would you help pupils reach their potential?

Prepare for Success

The UCAS Teacher Training application process is geared towards ensuring that the best applicants get places on initial teacher training programmes. The UCAS Teacher Training application process is the same for the school direct training programme and the school centred initial teacher training programmes. Competition for places is high, and you only have two opportunities to apply through UCAS for a place, so it is important to ensure that your application is the best it can be from the start of the process. Prepare for each stage with JobTestPrep.