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How to Become a Teacher

4th June 22

Deciding to become a teacher is the first step on a path to a fulfilling career educating generations of children. By taking this step into teaching, you will have a hand in shaping lives and guiding children on their own journey towards academic and professional success.

Choosing to become a teacher also means you will have a moderate amount of job security with the opportunity to earn more as your experience grows.

Moreover, there is a significant shortage of secondary school teachers with the government missing its recruitment target for the seventh consecutive year. Subjects lacking teachers are physics, maths and foreign languages.

This means there are significant employment opportunities out there once you have completed your teacher training. However, becoming a teacher is no easy feat and it requires considerable commitment to study.

It can seem daunting, especially if you have been out of education for a while. But no matter your circumstances, becoming a teacher is an achievable ambition.

There are of course minimum requirements that all potential teachers must meet. This is non-negotiable, however arbitrary it may seem.

Minimum Requirements

As mentioned above, there are set requirements before you can study to be a teacher.

Regardless of the kind of teacher you want to be, you must have GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4 or above.

If you already have a degree you will need to study for a PGCE (post-graduate certificate in education). If you’re going into secondary education, then the degree you have will more or less dictate the subject you will teach.

Although there are instances when a teacher with a background in multiple subjects can be asked to teach an alternative. A biologist teaching chemistry, for example.

If you don’t have a degree at all you can study for a QTS (qualified teacher status) degree.

There are three types of QTS degrees:

  • Bachelor of Education degrees and most commonly associated with those wanting to become primary school teachers
  • Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor or Science degrees. These are taken up by students wanting to train to be secondary school teachers

Study focuses more intently on acquiring specialist knowledge in your chosen subject, underpinned by teaching skills.

To enrol on any kind of degree course you will need relevant qualifications such as A Levels or equivalent. Without these, there are few universities that would accept you.

The possible exception may be that you are already a qualified and practicing teaching assistant. However, always check with your chosen university before you apply.

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Returning to Study

If you don’t meet the minimum requirements to become a teacher, then you will have to return to study. This isn’t a bad thing as it gives you an opportunity to learn or relearn.

The extent to which you need to study will be based on your existing qualifications. Remember, you will need GCSE Maths and English at grade C/4 in addition to anything else you want to study.

If you don’t have those then you will need to take those GCSEs, or GCSE grade equivalents like Functional Skills before you can go any further.

The next thing you’ll need to decide is to either study A Levels or an Access to Higher Education Diploma.

Both will get you accepted into university, but they’ll get you there via a slightly different path.

A Levels

Depending on whether you study a standard degree or QTS degree, the requirements may differ. And you may also find there are some restrictions regarding the subjects you can study.

Regardless, in most instances, you will need 2 or 3 A Levels, one of which must be in your chosen subject for secondary teaching.

The big advantage for A Levels is the variety studying multiple subjects brings. It keeps the learning fresh. Moreover, if your subjects complement each other you can start to draw from all your subjects to enrich your overall level of work.

The only two things you need to consider before enrolling in an A Level course are:

  • You’re looking at – realistically – a minimum 2-year commitment to get your qualifications
  • A Levels, like GCSEs are graded so you may find that your chosen university has a minimum grade requirement

Access to HE Diploma

The alternative to A Levels is the Access to Higher Education Diploma. This qualification was created to prepare students for university.

The content of the diploma focuses specifically around the degree you want to study, in this case teaching. The teaching diploma provides you with the foundation you need to build your knowledge and skills.

The one thing to note is not all Access to HE Diplomas are the same. The emphasis in this Access course is on primary education. This is purely because secondary level teaching requires a foundation of knowledge in a specific subject.

Whereas primary teaching requires you to have a broader understanding as well as a strong grasp of developmental psychology etc.

If you want to be a secondary school teacher, A Levels undoubtedly provides you with a broader range of knowledge. You also have the luxury of taking subjects that will complement one another which will help you in the long term.

An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Education) will specifically cover a range of topics to prepare you for teaching.

This will cover the developing child, the psychology of learning, development of education, developmental psychology and language acquisition.

You will also learn how to manage behaviour in the classroom, the sociology of education and safeguarding.

By the time you have completed the Access to Teaching Course will be ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming a teacher.

It’s worth noting that while most universities accept Access to HE diplomas, a tiny minority don’t. If you choose to go down the Access to HE Diploma route, check with your preferred university before you enrol.

Learndirect | How to Become a Teacher | Distance Learning - Qualifications to be a primary school teacher in Scotland - Qualifications needed to be a teacher - step into teaching

Distance Learning

Assuming you meet all other requirements, all you need to do is choose which teacher training pathway is right for you.

The good news you can study both A Levels and Access to HE Diplomas through distance learning institutes. So, you can fit your studies around your work and personal life.

There are no evening classes or having to give up work in order to study.

With our pre-teacher training courses online, you just enrol and start your learning at a pace you’re comfortable with. With online distance learning, all the materials are ready and waiting. You get to dictate how and when you study.

You don’t need to worry about classrooms or timetables. You control your schedule and how long your study sessions will last.

You also get to decide how quickly you want to complete your course.

Some students can gain a diploma in 9-12 months. Considering you have two years to complete the course, you have a great deal of flexibility.

Factor in birthdays, holidays, date nights, lads’ nights or any other night that you would normally have. While study is important it shouldn’t be at the cost of your work-life balance.

You’ll be no good at university if you’re fighting burnout.

Remember, the objective is to learn, succeed and go into higher education prepared for your degree.

Distance learning gives you the flexibility and freedom to approach your teaching studies in just that manner. You can study the material at length. You won’t have a teacher rushing you through the material because you have an exam in X weeks.

You study the unit until you’re ready to move on to the next.

The investment will bear fruit. Research suggests that distance learners retain 5 times more information than those in a bricks and mortar institute. That’s got to be worth the investment.


Once you’ve decided on your pathway to higher education, all you need to do is enrol.

Get in touch with our sales team or sign up today online. There are flexible payment terms available to help you spread the cost.

You will also have access to a dedicated tutor who will help you through the process. Check out our blog for useful tips on how to get the most out of your study experience.

Click below to sign up to study your A Levels with learndirect today.

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