Teaching in schools

How to become a teacher in the UK. Information on the different entry routes for Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Getting experience before you apply, and writing your personal statement.


The information and advice here focuses on qualifying to teach in UK schools.  

Each of the four nations of the UK has a different education system and the routes to qualification are also different. This is a well-known career, with opportunities for graduates from a wide range of disciplines. There is always a need for teachers at all levels, but the education sector is very much affected by political and economic factors, so the availability of training and recruitment opportunities can change rapidly. All nations of the UK may experience teaching shortages in particular subject areas or geographic areas. 

These sites give overviews of the sector:

Targetjobs Teaching 

Prospects overview of teaching and education sector  

What it's like

Teaching is hugely rewarding but is also challenging and hard work, so it’s crucial that you are committed and that you understand the realities of the job.  

These profiles of different roles include up-to-date information about teacher training, entry requirements, how to get a job, who the main employers are, and salaries and conditions. 

Job profile: Early years teacher (Prospects)

Job profile: Primary school teacher (Prospects)

Job profile: Secondary school teacher (Prospects)

Job profile: Special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) (Prospects)

Job profile: Special education needs teacher (Prospects)

How to get in

A professional qualification, followed by accreditation by the relevant professional body, is essential for entry to the teaching profession. The qualification and the application method depend on the nation where you want to train and work. 

Scotland - the PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) is the main graduate route. The following link has a section on the qualifications you need to apply to a PGDE, and how to find out if your degree subject is acceptable. It lists the Scottish institutions offering the PGDE:

Training to teach in Scotland

England - the wider variety of routes available in England is outlined here:

How do you train to become a teacher

Wales and Northern Ireland

Training to teach in Wales

Training to teach in Northern Ireland

Work experience

Experience of working with young people is important for getting a place on a postgraduate teaching programme and to ensure that teaching is the right profession for you.  Many institutions will give you an idea of the sort of experience that they expect, in the information about the course.   

Classroom experience gives you an insight into the realities of teaching. There are two ways to do this: 

  • Classroom observation: you will need to be proactive and contact schools directly to ask if you can spend time observing in their classrooms. It’s normal to have to persevere to find a school which is able to have you. If you have the chance to do observation in more than one school, try to find ones which offer a contrast, for example a large and a small school. The websites of local authorities have lists of state schools. The Scottish Council for Independent Schools (SCIS) can give you an idea of schools within the independent sector. 

  • Employment: working as a classroom assistant will give you classroom experience. This is more likely to be an option for graduates than undergraduates. These roles are advertised through local authorities on the MyJobScotland site:


Whatever form your classroom experience takes, be sure to keep a record of your observations and your reflections as this will be important to include in your application. 

Talk to a teacher - prepare some questions in advance and make full use of this opportunity to understand as many aspects of the job as possible. 

Volunteering can provide really rich experiences that you can draw on both in your application and your future practice.  Search for relevant opportunities using:

EUSA’s volunteering hub 

Edinburgh Volunteer Centre 

Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS) offers volunteering opportunities for University of Edinburgh students to work with local school pupils to inspire and inform them about higher education.  

Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools

Societies, such as Children’s Holiday Venture, where there is a focus on engaging with young people, are great for developing your skills. 

Sports coaching, after school clubs - opportunities are advertised on MyCareerHub.

Summer camps in UK and US are also advertised through MyCareerHub:


Tutoring can offer a way to build experience through paid work.  Vacancies for tutors are regularly advertised on MyCareerHub.   

Internships are not something you are likely to find within this sector.  In England, there is a maths and physics internship scheme which takes place in the summer. Teach First offers two-day online taster events where you get to try out teaching and develop key skills for the profession. 

Maths and physics teaching internships in England (Department for Education)

Teach First student taster

Some degrees offer in-school tutoring opportunities, as part of their programme, such as History and Biology. Make sure that you take advantage of this if your degree gives you this opportunity, as it will help you develop your skills and build experience. 

If you're based in England, the Department of Education offers school experience through their 'Get school experience' programme.

Get school experience 

Applications and interviews

Your personal statement is an important part of your application for teaching programmes. The following links give guidance on writing it:

The next stage of the selection process varies between programmes and institutions but is likely to involve a day, or half day, of activities. Providers will let you know about what will be involved ahead of your selection day.  As part of that day you might take part in an interview.  

Practise a teaching interview on Interview360 (University of Edinburgh login required)

If you have a teaching qualification from outside the UK

Your teaching experience outside the UK does not automatically enable you to teach in the UK.  You must check the requirements for the nation you wish to teach in before applying for teaching jobs. 

Finding a job

Scotland - information about the the Teacher Induction Scheme and the flexible route:

How to get a teaching job in Scotland 


Teaching jobs - how to find them and when to apply

Times Educational Supplement - jobs