What is a PGCE course?

A postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) is an academic qualification. You can get this through teacher training.

You do not need one to be a qualified teacher in England, but it can help you develop your teaching skills and knowledge.

The qualifications you need to teach in England

You need qualified teacher status (QTS) to teach in most primary, secondary and special schools in England. You can get QTS through undergraduate or postgraduate teacher training.

Find out more about qualified teacher status (QTS).

Many teacher training courses also offer you a postgraduate qualification such as a PGCE, but you do not need one to teach.

Teacher training courses

You can do a teacher training course that leads to:

  • QTS only
  • PGCE only
  • QTS with PGCE

Getting QTS only means that you’re qualified to teach in most schools in England. It may also mean that your course fees are lower, you submit fewer assignments, and the course could be shorter.

Getting PGCE only means you will not be qualified to teach in most primary, secondary and special schools in England, although some schools will employ teachers without QTS.

A PGCE alone will also not entitle you to the same benefits during your training and career as QTS. For example, better pay and support when you start teaching.

Read about Nathan who chose to get QTS with PGCE.

Benefits of having a PGCE

A PGCE can give you a better understanding of teaching practices, educational research and theory.

It can also be beneficial if you want to teach in other countries because it’s an internationally recognised academic qualification. However, you should always check the local requirements of the country you’re looking to teach in.

It can also award up to 60 credits at master’s level which you could use towards a full master’s qualification. This is usually 180 credits.

You may want to do a master’s in education, for example, for your professional development and to gain additional expertise in your teaching career.

Types of PGCE courses

You can get a PGCE in primary education, secondary education, or further/adult education. Your course will involve both school placements and academic theory.

You can do this through a school-led, university-led, or an apprenticeship teacher training programme.

You can do a full or part-time PGCE course.

As part of selecting your course, you will need to decide if you want to train to teach at a primary or secondary level. Learn about deciding who to teach.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for a postgraduate teacher training course usually include an undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification.

You also need the following GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, or equivalent qualifications:

  • English
  • maths
  • science (if you want to teach primary)

What is a postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE)?

A PGDE in England is very similar to a PGCE, the difference being the number of academic credits you are awarded at the end of your course.

PGCE courses can contain up to 60 credits at master’s degree level, and PGDE courses can contain up to 120. This usually means that doing a PGDE will include more assignments.

More teacher training providers offer a PGCE than a PGDE.

Find your teacher training course

You can search for postgraduate teacher training courses to get a PGCE.

Search for a course

Find out more about teaching

Find out what being in a classroom is really like and get helpful guidance and support on getting into teaching.

Get tailored guidance in your inbox