Tips on applying for teacher training

Give yourself the best chance of getting on the course you want.

Discover tips on writing your application, finding referees and preparing for interviews. A teacher training adviser can help you with all of these.

Browse courses

You can search for most postgraduate teacher training courses on GOV.UK.

Where to apply

You can use Apply for teacher training to apply for postgraduate teacher training.

This service has replaced the UCAS postgraduate teacher training application.

When to apply

Courses usually open for applications in October for entry the following year (usually starting in September, but sometimes January).

Teacher training providers allocate places as people apply through the year, and courses stay open until they are full.

If you’re keen to join a popular course it’s wise to apply as soon as you’re ready rather than putting it off.

What to expect: the application form

When you apply you’ll need to give details about:

  • your qualifications, including your GCSEs and A levels (or equivalents) and degree
  • your work history or unpaid experience
  • why you want to teach
  • why you’re suited to teach a particular subject or age group

You can also share whether you need any adjustments during the application process or on the course - for example, if you’re disabled.

You’ll be encouraged to declare any potential safeguarding issues such as criminal convictions. Training providers can advise you whether it’ll affect your application.

Prepare your application

You can find and apply to most postgraduate teacher training courses on GOV.UK.

If you do not find what you were looking for, there are other ways to train.

Before you start, it’s particularly important to think about your referees and personal statement.

Some people do not get on the course they want because their application has not convinced the admissions team that they’re right for it.

Talk to an adviser for help preparing your application.

Choose your referees

You need 2 references to apply.

Unlike a standard work reference, your references for teacher training need to be named individuals rather than (for example) a human resources team or academic department.

Your referees will be asked to write up to 500 words about your character and potential to teach.

It’s worth contacting them before you apply so they understand why you’re applying and what they’ll be asked to do.

Choose referees who could comment on things like your:

  • communication skills
  • reliability and professionalism
  • ability to work with children
  • transferable skills
  • academic skills

Your referee will also be asked if they know of any reason why you should not work with children.

Ideal referees could include:

  • your university tutor or supervisor
  • your current line manager at work
  • your previous employer
  • a teacher at a school where you work or volunteer
  • a supplier or client you’ve worked with (if you’re self-employed)

Referees should not be family members, partners or friends.

It’s important to have at least one academic or professional reference.

Training providers will accept a character reference, such as a mentor or someone you know from volunteering, as a second reference.

If you’re applying for a salaried course, one of your references must be from an employer.

You can request as many references as you like to increase the chances of getting 2 quickly.

Once you’ve received 2 or more references, you can select the 2 you want to include in your application.

If you’re struggling to choose your referees, get free one-on-one support from a teacher training adviser.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement explains why you want to be a teacher. It’s your chance to show your motivation, commitment and teaching potential. It’s a crucial part of your application - so it’s worth taking your time on it.

Personal statements are split into 2 sections. In total they are usually around 1,000 words.

Section 1: Why do you want to teach?

Up to 600 words.

This is the place to talk about why you think you would make a great teacher. You can include:

  • what inspired you to choose teaching
  • your understanding of the demands and rewards of teaching
  • the personal qualities that will make you a good teacher
  • your contribution to the life of a school outside the classroom – for example, running extra-curricular activities and clubs
  • details of any experience you have working with children and what you learnt
  • your thoughts on children’s wellbeing and the education system

Section 2: Why are you suited to teach your subjects or age group?

Up to 400 words.

If you’re applying for secondary teacher training, use this section to describe your knowledge of the subjects you’ve chosen.

If you’re applying for primary teacher training, say why you’d like to teach this age group.

If you’re applying for a primary course with a subject specialism, or you’re particularly interested in certain primary subjects, you can talk about that here too.

You could talk about:

  • any relevant work or unpaid experience
  • your degree and degree modules
  • your other relevant qualifications, such as A levels
  • any relevant skills, interests or achievements
  • your understanding of the national curriculum

If you’re concerned about your subject knowledge, do not worry - you may be able to do a ‘subject knowledge enhancement’ course as part of your training.

You can get support preparing a personal statement from an adviser.

If you’re invited to interview

Interviews usually last a day and may include time spent teaching pupils.

You can get support preparing for an interview from an adviser.

Interviews vary from provider to provider – you’ll be given all the information you need when you’re invited to attend.

If you get an offer


Before you start your training the provider will check whether you’re safe to work with children through an enhanced DBS check.

They’ll also check whether you’re fit to train to teach through a health questionnaire.

If you’re missing certain qualifications they may also ask you to do an equivalence test or take a ‘subject knowledge enhancement’ course.

If you do not get a place

Your provider will give you feedback to help you address any issues with your application.

You may need to get an additional qualification, improve your interview technique or improve the quality of your application.

You can apply as many times as you want to get a place. Many people succeed second or third time round.

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