Applying for Teacher Training… when is the ‘right time’? Not when you think.

A recent graduate from Leicestershire Secondary SCITT teacher training working with her DT class

When do I need to apply for teacher training? PS. The answer is not what you think…

If you are ready to apply, here is the link you need to access the new government Teacher Training Search Engine, otherwise read on.

Each year I am asked the same question… “is it early enough, if I apply in the next 4 weeks for a teacher training course?” Bear in mind that this question pops up within the first week of UCAS opening. So, I thought it was time to address this issue and provide some clarity for anyone thinking of applying for teacher training.

First, it honestly depends on what subject you are applying for. If you are applying to teach PE, then there is no time to waste and you should apply ASAP. PE is the most competitive subject across the whole of teacher training and the spaces go very quickly. The best thing to do is speak to the providers that you are considering and find out when they are planning on interviewing and aim to get your application in. We are only 1 week in from the opening of UCAS and we have already interviewed 2 very credible candidates and I am sure offers will very quickly follow.

For any other subject, you have more time…

If you are applying for History, then you need to act fairly quickly. It is the second most competitive subject and people generally apply early. But, before panicking and rushing to submit your application, speak to providers and find out what is happening. Ask them a number of questions:

How many spaces are they recruiting for?

When do they think they will stop recruiting?

When would be a good time to apply and are there any gaps in your application form that you should address first?

Now on to the rest of the subjects…

The thing you need to understand is how the system allocates spaces for each subject and how the recent changes have affected this and how you need to act. In the past, training providers only had a set number of spaces that they could fill. Whilst we were always looking for the strongest candidates, we were also pragmatic and if we saw someone with potential, that we thought we could develop into a good teacher then an offer was made and places snapped up. THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE THEN… Due to the teacher shortage, training providers now have an uncapped recruitment on all subjects, except PE. What this means is each provider can recruit as many trainees as they wish.

Each training provider takes their own approach on this. At the Leicestershire Secondary SCITT, we find out how many placements our partner schools can offer and that is the number of trainees we recruit. We ensure that we have a placement agreed before we recruit and that way we know that we can deliver high-quality training that results in excellent teachers. Other training providers might recruit trainees and then worry about placements later. What this can mean is you starting a course without a placement, or even ending up having to double up in your placement. Despite these different approaches, one thing is clear. All training providers have an uncapped number of trainees that they can recruit for teacher training.

So, what does this all mean when you are considering when to apply. Ultimately, it means that there is no rush (with the except of PE and possibly History, as mentioned earlier). Let me say that 1 more time, THERE IS NO RUSH…

There are a number of things that you need to consider, that will help you decide when the right time is for you to apply.

1) Do you have experience in schools? You need to talk about this when you apply for teacher training.

Are you able to talk about this during an interview? The government has removed the regulation stating that you need experience, but we need to know that you are making an informed decision about teaching. This is a challenging career. It is hugely rewarding, but we need to know that you are ready to stand in front of 30 individuals and lead a lesson. We need to know that you are ready to plan and teach lessons and mark the work that they produce. If you don’t have school experience, then this is a good place to start. There are a number of ways of gaining school experience, here is one of the easiest.

Register on the Get Into Teaching website and they can help you find placements. Alternatively, speak to providers and they can help you find placements within their partnership. Our Lead School, Rushey Mead Academy, offers 4 week-long placements, where you work with a range of teachers to see the realities of teaching.

2) Do you have gaps in your subject knowledge that you address before you apply for teacher training?

The government has launched a really positive programme of Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses (SKEs). These are courses that are designed to build on your existing subject knowledge and address any gaps that might cause an issue when teaching. A perfect example is an Accounting and Finance graduate. You will have a very strong grasp of mathematics and will use it daily, but there may be some areas of the math curriculum that you do not use. An SKE can help you learn this missing knowledge. SKEs are paid for by the government and you GET PAID to complete it, £200 each week. They are only available in high priority subjects and you can only access them once you have secured a place on a course. Basically, it is all of the mainstream secondary subjects, excluding History, RE, Art and PE. They last from 8 weeks, right up to 28 weeks. So, you need to have that required length of time between you being offered a place and your course starting.

What I normally recommend is talking to a provider and finding out if you might need an SKE and how long they would recommend. Then work back from the start of the course that many weeks. Add a few more for the application process and that is your deadline.

Our course begins on 28th August. If you needed to complete a 12 week SKE, count back 12 weeks, then add a further 4 weeks for the application and you get to May 8th. You may need to complete a longer SKE and so might leave even more time.

What this hopefully shows is that THERE IS NO RUSH… This date may or may not be early enough. The only way to be certain is to speak to your chosen providers and that brings me on to the best way to approach deciding when to apply:

Consider which route might be right for you – do you want school-led or university-led? Both routes will give you QTS and PGCE. Did you want to consider a salaried route? Or will the bursary and Student Finance funding be sufficient for you? If you want to find out more about how a teacher training course can run, click here.

Speak to a range of providers – this should be done early as then it can help provide your next steps. Most providers have information events that you can attend. We offer events during the days, evening and weekends so that there should always be an event that you could access. For more details check here

Check that your qualifications allow you to access the course that you want to. You might need to complete a GCSE (OR EQUIVALENCY TEST) in English, Maths or Science if your grade is not a C or above. If you completed your qualifications overseas, then you will likely need to complete a NARIC comparability of your qualifications. This can slow the process and so doing this early can help.

Identify any gaps that you might have in your application form and work out how you could address them. People often avoid talking about the gaps, but we always notice them. The most effective application forms address the gaps and explain what you have done or are planning to do to address them. This shows that you are reflective, utilise your initiative and have probably had a conversation with a provider to be informed about your steps. This will increase the quality of your application form, greatly. If you need school experience, book a Teacher Taster week and mention it in your personal statement. If you have gaps in subject knowledge, state that you are excited to complete an SKE. Whatever the gaps, it is better to discuss what you are doing than ignore them and hope that we don’t notice them.

Become a known quantity with the providers that you want to apply to. We get a few pieces of paper to try to assess your suitability to teach. But, if you have been to see us and we know your background, then we have extra information to take into account when you apply. You can do this simply by attending an open event and meeting the training provider. this link takes you through to these events.

Don’t assume that you cannot teach. You may not have the obvious qualifications but may still be suitable. Some people teach from an A Level, some from extensive life experience. 2 surprising examples are accountants and engineers. Because their qualifications do not state Maths or Physics, they often assume that they cannot teach, when the opposite is true. Engineers can potentially teach Maths, Physics or Design and Technology. Accountants are able to teach Maths. In some cases, accountants don’t apply as they did not complete a degree, rather they completed accounting qualifications. These are often equivalent to a Masters Degree or in some cases a PhD, but this is not known and so people assume they cannot teach. DON’T ASSUME, ASK THE QUESTION.

Don’t assume that everything needs to be done before you apply. You can complete your school experience after you apply, skills test after you apply, additional qualifications after you apply, finish your degree after you apply. If we need you to have met a specific outcome, then we can make that a condition of your offer. Again, don’t assume but rather talk to us and we can tell you exactly what you need to do.

if you want to know when the best time is to apply for teacher training, ultimately, the best piece of advice is to speak to your chosen provider. They should put your mind at ease, tell you there is no rush and help you step by step so that you know exactly what to do. If you want to know the general time to begin the process, then try to start by January. this gives you plenty of time to complete all of the processes that you need to and the time to gather the knowledge needed to submit a powerful application that results in an interview. If you need any more help or guidance, we have regular events so come and chat to us as we are always willing to help.

When you are ready to apply, here is the link you need to access the new government Teacher Training Search Engine

If you would like more information about how you could complete your teacher training, then BOOK HERE to come and chat and we will help you figure out exactly what is right for you.

Click here to read about the things you should know if you are thinking of applying for teacher training.

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