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UK teacher education system

School education

Further education

Higher education

Teacher education



  England and Wales
  • almost all teachers in England and Wales complete an approved course of initial teacher training leading to the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
  • initial teacher training (ITT) courses are provided by universities and other higher education institutions, of which the Open University is the largest provider
  • courses are also provided for graduates by consortia of schools
  • non-graduates usually qualify by taking a three or four-year degree course in which subject study and professional training are taken concurrently
  • graduates wishing to enter the profession normally undertake a one-year Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
  • it is also possible to become a qualified teacher through in-service training
  • initial teacher training in England is funded by the Teacher Training Agency. The agency is responsible for accrediting institutions offering initial teacher training - www.canteach.gov.uk/community/itt/
  • in Wales the funding of initial teacher training is undertaken by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales which is also responsible for the accreditation of institutions - www.wfc.ac.uk/hefcw/.
  • in Scotland, new primary teachers qualify either through a four-year Bachelor of Education degree course or a one-year postgraduate course
  • secondary teachers must be graduates who then complete a one-year PGCE course
  • the General Teaching Council (GTC) maintains a register of teachers in Scotland who are permitted to teach in state schools - www.gtcs.org.uk.
Northern Ireland
  • in Northern Ireland, the principal teacher training courses are the four-year Bachelor of Education (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (Education) for undergraduates and the one-year Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) course for graduates.

School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT)

SCITT offers a distinctive form of post-graduate initial teacher training, since it is based in schools and run by them -

Fast Track Teaching Programme

The Fast Track Teaching Programme is an accelerated development programme for teachers. Fast Track aims to attract more high calibre graduates into teaching -

In-Service Training (INSET)

Extensive support is provided for In-Service Training (INSET) for teachers from central government. In-service training needs are determined by schools which contract appropriate providers - local education authorities, higher education institutions and private consultants -

Quality assurance
  • in England, the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) inspects the provision of both Primary and Secondary Initial Teacher Training (ITT) courses. The assessment of quality and standards in initial teacher training takes place against a framework agreed between OFSTED and the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) - www.ofsted.gov.uk/inspect/itt.htm
  • in Scotland, a key responsibility of the General Teaching Council for Scotland is the scrutiny and accreditation of all programmes of initial teacher education - www.gtcs.org.uk/accred/accred.html.

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