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.

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 500 words about your character and suitability for teaching.

They’ll have 2 weeks to respond, so 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’ll endorse your:

  • teaching passion and potential
  • suitability for working with children
  • academic abilities
  • reliability and professionalism

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.

Training providers will only accept a character reference as a second reference.

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

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

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

Your personal statement

Explaining why you want to be a teacher is an essential part of your application - so it’s worth taking your time on it.

A personal statement is usually about 500 words. It’s your chance to show your motivation, commitment and teaching potential.

You may want to cover some of the following:

  • why you want to teach
  • what inspired you to choose teaching
  • your thoughts on children’s wellbeing and the education system
  • your understanding of the demands and rewards of the profession
  • personal qualities that will make you a good teacher
  • your contribution to the life of the 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 suitability to teach a subject or group

As part of your personal statement you’ll need to demonstrate your suitability to teach a subject or age group. You could talk about:

  • the subject of your undergraduate degree and the modules you studied
  • postgraduate degrees (for example, a Masters or PhD)
  • your A level subjects
  • expertise you’ve gained at work

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 real 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.

Some providers are doing interviews online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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.

icon-person icon
Get a teacher training adviser

Teacher training advisers can help you with everything related to applying for teacher training.