Teaching in Wales: Getting Qualified

7 January 2016

Article by Joe Champion, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

This is a picture of some graduates.

Image from Flickr by Luftphilla. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

This is the first of two blogs on the teaching profession in Wales, which is currently undergoing a period of significant change. Today’s article focuses on the routes into teaching in Wales, with tomorrow’s article focusing on what support and training is available to qualified teachers.

There are currently 37,355 professional teachers (PDF 2.31MB) registered with the Education Workforce Council, the regulatory body for teachers in Wales. Teachers come from a range of educational and social backgrounds and as such there are several routes of entry into the teaching profession in Wales.

Teachers in maintained schools have to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and this can only be done through recognised qualifications (see below). Teachers are also expected to maintain and exhibit the professional standards for education practitioners for teachers that are set by the Welsh Government.

Entry Routes into the Profession

The Certificate of Higher Education Introduction to Secondary Teaching

Those with no or low level qualifications can still become secondary school teachers by undertaking the Certificate of Higher Education Introduction to Secondary Teaching, through the University of South Wales. This one (full time) or two (part-time) year course prepares students to go on to undertake one of the two year BSc (Hons) secondary degree programmes, available across Wales, that allow students to gain QTS. There are no formal academic entry requirements for this route, but suitable levels of literacy and numeracy skills need to be demonstrated during the application process.

University Based Initial Teacher Training

Universities across Wales provide undergraduate courses that can last either two or three years (full time) and result in students gaining QTS upon completion.

To get accepted on to a teaching degree, candidates usually need to have:

  • GCSE Grade B or above (or equivalent) in English and mathematics to teach at secondary school level. GCSE Grade C or above (or equivalent) in science is also required if you want to teach at primary school level and
  • Normally a minimum of 200 UCAS points earned through A-Levels or equivalent qualifications, including the Welsh Baccalaureate.
  • If seeking to complete a two year degree, candidates are required to complete 1 year in higher education in a related subject(s). For example, HND, Open University credits, vocational, professional qualifications or the above Certificate.

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

For those who have already completed a degree before they decide to become a teacher, the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) provides an additional year (full time) of study that allows the candidate to gain QTS. PGCEs can be gained through the three regional Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET) centres in Wales.

The entry requirements for PGCE courses are normally a minimum of:

  • GCSE Grade B or above (or equivalent) in English and mathematics to teach at secondary school level. A GCSE Grade C or above (or equivalent) in science is also required if you want to teach at Primary School level and
  • An undergraduate degree of a UK institution or equivalent, usually at 2 (ii) or above (higher degree classifications attract more funding for the candidate).
  • Secondary school teachers are expected to have at least 50% degree relevance to the specialist teaching subject being applied for, except for native speakers of Modern Foreign Languages and Welsh who are encouraged to apply, even if their degree isn’t related to their language.
  • Primary school teachers’ previous education (degree, A-level or equivalent qualifications) should match at least one of the National Curriculum subjects.

The Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP)

The Graduate Teacher Programme is delivered yearly through the three regional ITET centres, who all have a set number of participants they can accept through the GTP (a national total of 60 in 2015/16). In addition to fulfilling all the entry requirements for an initial teacher training programme (see above), candidates for the GTP must hold a degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject. The ITET Centres advise on the compatibility of degree subjects with making a GTP application and on the entry requirements for the programme.

The GTP offers a way to qualify as a teacher while the candidate remains in their employment in a maintained school in Wales. Trainees undertake an individual programme, tailored to their needs, which lasts between three to twelve months. Most GTP places are designed for those who have been employed in a maintained school for at least a year, but some places are available for those that are not in this position. The candidate will however be expected to find a school who will take them on, prior to joining the GTP.

The GTP has two streams, for primary schools and secondary schools, which are different in nature and emphasis.

Teachers who have Qualified Overseas

The Education Workforce Council provides information on the process through which teachers qualified in any of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries can apply for QTS status in Wales. In Wales, there is no direct route of recognition of QTS for teachers who are qualified outside of the EEA.

How many people are training to teach in Wales?

ITET leading to QTS is a quota subject, meaning the three regional centres are allocated targets for recruitment to ITET courses (known as ‘intake targets’). There are two stages to this process. Firstly, the Welsh Government informs the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) what the overall requirements for the next academic year are across Wales and secondly, HEFCW divides these allocations amongst the three centres (PDF 640KB).

The allocations for the academic years 2015/16 (PDF 640KB) were:

  • 750 places for primary school teachers (300 through the Undergraduate route, 450 for the PGCE route).
  • 880 places for secondary school places (95 places through the Undergraduate route, 785 for the PGCE route.

These are in addition to the 60 places available through the GTP (30 primary and 30 secondary places).

HEFCW is tasked to ensure that recruitment remains within the range of the intake targets, thereby avoiding significant under or over-recruitment. It does this by applying penalties to an ITET centre’s intake target for the following year, an approach which is outlined in its Circular, Initial Teacher Training: Controls on recruitment against intake targets, W15/08HE (PDF 65KB).

The future of teacher training in Wales…

The current ITET regime in Wales is currently being reviewed in light of the publication of Professor John Furlong’s report, ‘Teaching Tomorrows Teachers. We blogged about the proposed changes in June 2015. The Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis, has made two statements (23 June 2015 and 15 October 2015) on the Welsh Government’s response to the Furlong report. He has indicated that the current ITET system will be fundamentally changed by September 2018.

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