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Applying for PGCE Teacher Training

female tutor talks to female student
Get into Teaching PGCE Careers event

Join us for this online event to hear about how you can study a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PCGE) to become a qualified teacher, here in Northern Ireland or further afield.

Regardless of your degree discipline attend this event online to explore your options in Primary, Post-Primary or Irish Medium teaching. 

Representatives from Queens University, Ulster University, St.Mary's University College and ERM (covering opportunities in England, Scotland & Wales) will be in attendance. 

You will learn about the application process and important deadlines.

Date: Thursday 04 October 2-3pm Online Event Via Microsoft Teams

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.  

Please see our Teaching & TEFL Sector Guide for more information or click on the links below for specific information about these topics:

Tips for your application

  • Gain experience of working with young people of the age group you hope to teach – this can be gained through voluntary work
  • Get an insight into what work as a teacher is like by trying to arrange to speak to a teacher to ask them about their job and try to get some classroom observation experience. You may also be able to arrange visits through personal contacts or with schools where you were taught. It may be possible to arrange with a local school via a speculative application
  • Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Education via the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian’s Education section
  • Apply early!
  • These interview tips are useful when preparing for the course interview


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). The different institutions in NI provide different routes to the ITT, you can find an overview of which options are provided by each institution on the website and there is more information about teaching in NI on 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
For information on fees for Initial Teacher Training at Queen's look at the Fees and Funding section of the courses on the School of Education Social Science and Social Work webpages.

For further funding information and support see the NI Direct Initial Teacher Training information or contact Student Finance NI 

Since competition for teacher training places in Northern Ireland is tough, you could 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).

For Primary teaching, it's important to submit your application before 1st December. For secondary teaching there isn't a deadline but it's best to submit your application early in the autumn as universities start sifting applications as they get them. There is a Clearing system. See the UCAS Teacher Training website for more details.

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 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. 

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 Teaching Council and Postgraduate Applications Centre websites.

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

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.

Please see our Teaching & TEFL Sector Guide for further information.

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).


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.