Student Guidance Centre

Applying for PGCE Teacher Training

Teacher Training (PGCE)

Both teaching and teacher training are highly competitive to enter and it can be difficult to secure both training and employment in this profession, especially in Northern Ireland.

When considering teaching as a career, as with any postgraduate study, consider why you are choosing this vocation and whether you would be suited to the profession.  Click on the links below for more information:

You can find more help in the Job Sectors, Education section of the website



Student Profile  

Liam O’Neill, PGCE Science (Secondary), Queen’s University Belfast 2009-2010

The PGCE course is very full on - you need to be passionate about your subject and enjoy explaining it, although interacting with young people is very satisfying. At the Interview stage you are not expected to know everything, although being able to explain how you can relate to people is vital. Placements are tough and a big shock to the system! You can spend a whole evening preparing a lesson and the pupils don’t pay attention or listen, which can be disheartening. However, you also get lots of satisfaction when the opposite happens and you get good feedback from the students - it’s all about finding out what works and what doesn’t. If you keep in touch with your peers you can support each other and give each other ideas for lessons. To get the most out of the course embrace all activities on offer – the more you put in, the more you get out of it. In September 2010 I will be starting a job teaching Physics up to A Level and GCSE Astronomy.

Preparation for Applying

  • Find out information - talk to teachers, visit schools, use your networks
  • Research courses
  • Get work experience

Relevant work experience is vital in successfully applying for PGCE places, particularly in Northern Ireland. 


Applying for Teacher Training in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, postgraduate students can undertake a relevant Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at either Primary or Secondary level. This is known as initial teacher training (ITT). More information is available from the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (

Applications are made direct to the institution.  Interested applicants should contact institutions directly for application forms and course details. Application deadlines for NI institutions are generally in November and December.

Funding for Teacher Training in Northern Ireland

ITT students can apply to their local Education and Library Board (ELB) for a tuition fee loan and help towards living costs. A single application form (PN1) is used for applying for a fee loan, loans for living costs and Government maintenance grants.

For information on fees for Initial Teacher Training at Queen's look at the Further Information section on the School of Education website.

For further funding information and support contact Department of Employment and Learning or visit

Since competition for teacher training places in Northern Ireland is tough, consider applying to both GB and NI institutions in order to increase your chances of getting a place.



Applying for Teacher Training in Great Britain

There is a central application system for teacher training in Great Britain - UCAS Teacher Training - where recruitment is co-ordinated (similar to the system for undergraduate entry to university) although you may have to apply directly to some Scottish Colleges (see UCAS Teacher Training for details).

Check relevant websites for closing dates.

Priority subjects

There is currently a shortage of teachers in England, and Wales in the following subjects: mathematics; science; information and communications technology; design and technology; modern foreign languages; religious education; music.

Places for the most popular courses such as English and History can fill up quickly, so it is advisable to apply for these early in the application cycle

All places on all courses are filled on a first-come-first-served basis. GTTR requires you to enter your choices in your order of preference. Applications are then sent to one training provider at a time for consideration.

Teach First

Teach First is a powerful social change initiative aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in challenging schools around the UK by transforming exceptional graduates into effective, inspirational teachers and leaders in all fields

Teach First graduates work towards achieving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) as part of a PGCE start as an unqualified teacher, teaching a slightly reduced timetable. By teaching and recording your reflections on the experience and participating in ongoing leadership development training from Teach First, graduates will develop the skills and behaviours that will earn them their teaching qualification.


Teacher Training in Republic of Ireland

For primary level teaching in the Republic of Ireland, you will need a Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a postgraduate teaching qualification. You will need a Postgraduate Diploma in Education to qualify for second level teaching. Before applying, you need to ensure you have a suitable teaching subject as a major component of your undergraduate degree. These subjects are set by the Teaching Council: a list of ‘degrees for eligibility’ is available on the websites and

For more information on courses, qualifications and closing dates, go to



Teaching in Further or Higher Education                                                         

New teachers must have:

  • 3 years (full time or equivalent) relevant industrial, professional or business experience, unless they have a UK / RoI degree or qualification deemed by DE to be of an equivalent level.
  • A qualification in the specialist vocational area in which the applicant is to teach
  • New full time (FT) permanent teachers and associate lecturers in further and
  • adult education who do not already have a BEd or PGCE must complete post entry training.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Further and Higher Education is a teacher training course, recognised by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) for those teaching in the post compulsory sector of education and training.

 This qualification is compulsory for all full time lecturers and associate lecturers in FE colleges and Higher Education institutions, unless they already possess a PGCE or BEd.

Only the University of Ulster offers the Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma in Further and Higher Education in Northern Ireland.

Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching (PGCHET)

The Certificate is primarily aimed at new academic staff members in their probationary year, and provides a formal qualification in teaching and learning in higher education.

What does work in FE involve?

Some posts, whether full or part time, may involve the delivery of accredited training, for example vocational courses such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). Tutors could also be working with students who have essential skills needs.

The delivery of general interest or leisure related courses which will not necessarily lead to a recognised qualification. The range of these courses is very broad and tutors may not need specific qualifications. However occupational competence is essential and experience in delivering training would be an advantage.

Training for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Teaching English as a foreign language is a great way to incorporate working abroad and gaining work experience, especially if you wish to pursue a teaching career in Northern Ireland or the UK.  It can also help you develop valuable transferable skills for any future career. ELT, TEFL or TESOL qualifications will not qualify you to teach in a state school in the UK.

Introductory or Taster Courses

These courses are suitable for summer jobs abroad or for someone who would like to sample the training before making a more substantial commitment.  Job placements may be offered on completion of the course, which gives it added value.  

Courses are offered by Belfast Metropolitan College, Northern Regional College (Newtownabbey) and North West Regional College.   

Beyond Introductory Level

As a rough guide those planning to spend a year or more abroad would be wise to consider an accredited qualification.  Throughout the UK and abroad the most widely recognised qualifications are validated by:  

OCR / Cambridge University:

  • Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)
  • Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA) 

 Trinity College, London:

Qualifications are available at both Certificate and Diploma level (not available in NI)

The CELTA programme is available at Belfast Metropolitan College and International House, Belfast.  The DELTA programme is only available by distance learning in Northern Ireland (NI).

There are various organisations that arrange placements worldwide. For more information look at the Information Resources section of MyFuture