United Teaching Blog

Do you have the right qualifications for teacher training?


The requirements for teacher training in England often vary between providers, which can be confusing if you’re trying to work out if you’re eligible or not. The first thing to clarify is the difference between the government requirements and the requirements of individual teacher training providers.

  • Government requirements are the requirements set out by the Department for Education. You can’t undertake teacher training if you don’t meet them.
  • Requirements set out by individual training providers differ depending on the provider. If you don’t quite meet these requirements, you could still get in touch with them – if you’ve got relevant work experience, or you’re applying for a high-priority subject, they may make an exception.

Below, we’ve listed the government requirements for teacher training. If you want to take a look at United Teaching’s requirements specifically, click here.



The Department for Education requires candidates for teacher training to have:

  • GCSE English – grade C/4 or above (or equivalent)
  • GCSE Maths - grade C/4 or above (or equivalent)

Additionally, if you’re planning to teach primary, you will need:

  • A GCSE science subject – grade C/4 or above (or equivalent)

What about O-levels?

The same applies for O-levels – you’ll need a C or above.

I have GCSEs in English Literature and English Language, but only one of them is above a C – am I still eligible?

You’ll need a C or above in English Language to be eligible.

What if I don’t meet these requirements?

You can start working towards retaking the GCSE or equivalency test, and let your chosen training provider know. They may make you a conditional offer, meaning that they’ll give you a place if you get the required grades – but they may also reserve the right to reject you if you don’t achieve a C or above.

What if I have overseas qualifications?

If your qualifications are from a country outside the UK, you will need a Statement of Comparability from the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) to prove that you meet the academic requirements for teacher training. Read more advice for overseas candidates



If you’re looking into postgraduate teacher training courses, such as a PGCE course, you will need to have an undergraduate (or bachelors) degree.

I’m in my final year of university – can I still apply?

Yes, absolutely – your training provider may ask for your predicted grade. It might be helpful to obtain an academic reference at this point to support your grade prediction.

I read that you need a 2:2 or above to become a teacher – is this true?

No, you can still apply for teacher training – just be aware that if you’re taking a non-salaried route, you won’t receive a bursary, and you can’t apply for a scholarship unless you have a higher relevant qualification, like a masters or PhD. Many training providers will not take on anyone with a third-class degree or below unless they can demonstrate that they have enough knowledge and experience to complete the course.

I don’t have an undergraduate degree – what should I do?

You could apply for an undergraduate degree with QTS, which means you’ll graduate with Qualified Teacher Status at the end. On the other hand, you could choose an undergraduate degree relevant to the subject you’d like to teach, and then go on to apply for postgraduate teacher training.

What if my degree isn’t in the subject that I want to teach?

If you want to teach primary, don’t worry – unless you want to specialise in primary maths (in which case, you will need to have studied a degree with a strong mathematical element).  If you want to teach secondary, your degree should be relevant to the subject you want to teach. However, you can take a fully funded subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course if:

  • Your degree subject is related to the subject you want to teach, but isn’t the same (e.g. you want to teach geography, but your degree is in environmental science)
  • You studied the subject you want to teach at A-level, but not at degree-level
  • You have some professional experience in the subject you want to teach, but don’t have a related degree
  • You studied a relevant degree, but it was a long time ago and you’ve forgotten a lot of it!

In the above circumstances, completing an SKE course may form part of a conditional offer, and recommendations as to the length/type of course you should undertake will be made by the provider. Read more about SKE courses


Literacy and numeracy tests

Teacher training candidates used to have to pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy before starting their course. Since April 2020, however, you don't have to take these tests, but your training provider will still need to be assured that you have the right level of English and maths skills. This might mean that you have to take a test or answer some questions when you have your interview, but you will need to ask your provider for specific details.

We hope that helps to clear things up – if you’ve still got questions, just get in touch.



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