Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a degree to do the School Direct training to be a teacher?
Yes, to apply for our Neston primary and secondary initial teacher training PGCE course you must be a graduate with a 2:1 degree or better. 

What is a PGCE?
A PGCE is a postgraduate certificate in education, which you can take at any time after completing your first degree.

How long does a PGCE course take?
A full-time PGCE course usually takes one year. 

Do I need classroom experience before I apply?
Yes, you need classroom experience to support your application. This will also give you the opportunity to see inside a modern classroom and observe lessons. Classroom experience can help you find out how teaching has changed since you were at school and this may help you decide whether teaching is for you. 

How does training to be a teacher through School Direct work?
You'll be based in one of our schools in our Neston Partnership, and you'll also be taught by Chester University. Part way through your training year a placement will be organised for you to develop your learning further in an alternative key stage. This will be in a different school within our partnership for trainees in primary and secondary placements will be sought within the Chester area. Our training programme lasts for one year full-time.

What are the advantages of training to be a teacher through School Direct?
With our School Direct you are selected for training by our Neston Partnership of schools in conjunction with the University of Chester. If you are successful in your training you might get a job in one of the schools in our partnership. By taking the School Direct training route you will have the opportunity to train alongside experienced, excellent teachers who will support all your learning needs and enable you to be immersed in the daily routines of school life.  

How long do I need to spend in a school prior to applying for training?
It is difficult to quantify the amount of experience needed because success at interview depends on the insight you gain through the classroom experience rather than its duration. Consider spending a couple of weeks in a primary or a secondary school if you want to become a teacher. 

When do I need to take the professional skills tests for trainee teachers? 
If you’re applying for an ITT course which begins in 2014 or after, you need to have passed the skills tests before the start of the course. We will use your skills tests results to inform our decision, so we recommend that you sufficiently prepare and are ready to take the tests. You can register for the skills tests to book an appointment in advance, but you are expected to have submitted your application before the test date. 

If I have already passed the current skills tests, how long is the pass valid for?
If you have passed your skills tests they remain valid for three years, and you must start your ITT course within this time. You would only need to re-take the skills tests if you are applying for a course which starts after the three years. 

What will my interview be like?
Interviews usually take place over a full day and we will let you know the programme for the day. You will be asked about your experience of working with young people, your commitment to teaching and your relevant knowledge and skills. The content of the day will include a practical teaching situation with children, a presentation on a given subject to a group and an individual formal interview. We encourage you to bring a portfolio showing your achievements in your subject and most recent experiences. The aim of the day is for you and the interviewers to find out whether teaching is right for you.

Will I receive any financial support while I train?
Yes. If you are on a postgraduate route into initial teacher training (ITT), and are classed as home or European Union (EU), then you will be able to access the standard financial package of student support available to all students in England. This includes tuition fee and maintenance loans, and a means-tested maintenance grant. In addition to this, you may be eligible for a tax-free training bursary or a scholarship, of up to £25,000. For further details, please visit the postgraduate funding page on the Department for Education website

Will I receive a training bursary?
Substantial tax-free bursaries of up to £20,000 are available for people with top degrees in certain subjects. The amount of bursary you will be eligible for depends on the subject you want to teach and your degree class. Scholarships of £25,000 are also available in a number of subjects, although these will be awarded instead of a bursary. To see what funding you might be entitled to, please visit postgraduate funding page on the Department for Education website

What sort of starting salary can I expect as a teacher?
Starting salaries in teaching are high compared to other graduate professions, and can rise quickly after. Teachers begin on a minimum of £21,804 (or £27,270 in inner London) and the most successful teachers progress faster on the basis of annual teacher appraisals.

Does achieving qualified teacher status (QTS) guarantee that I will get a teaching job?
No, schools recruit their staff on an individual basis according to their specific recruitment needs, just like any other employer.

However, although there are no guarantees, as a trained teacher you currently enjoy good employment prospects. Latest data shows that 9 out of 10 new teachers who want to teach found teaching jobs in the first 12 months. 

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