What do I need to become a teacher?

If you wish to train to become a teacher in the UK, you will need certain qualifications before you start. You will need English and Maths GCSEs (or equivalent) at grade C or better. This is true whatever subject you plan to teach and whatever level you teach at.

You will also need a grade C in a Science GCSE subject – Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Combined Science – if you hope to teach at primary or early secondary level (Key Stages 2 or 3).

Other requirements are more well-known, for instance that you will need a UK first degree if you wish to embark on an PGCE qualification and you will also need specialised qualifications in subjects that you hope to teach.

But it is the basic GCSE qualifications which often prove a stumbling-block for adults who decide to make a career-switch and become teachers. They have studied Maths, Science and English at school, of course, but failed to obtain a GCSE grade C in one or more of these subjects, for whatever reason. If they are to fulfil their dream of becoming teachers, they must find a way to “catch up” and secure the grades that they missed out on at school.

How do I get the qualifications I need?

Fortunately, help is at hand. Oxford Open Learning is the perfect port of call for any adult who needs to gain the compulsory GCSEs required for teacher training. Even if you need to balance study with full-time employment or major family commitments, Oxford Open Learning can offer a course which is exactly tailored to your needs, offering individualised support at a very reasonable price.

You can study as quickly or as slowly as you wish, aiming for specific exams (normally taken in June) and take those exams at an exam centre which is both local and accessible.

Many students already have a grade E or a grade D in the subject(s) that they require for teacher training purposes and our tutors are trained to identify the topics which are most in need of improvement if the candidate is to move up to a grade C or better and also to fine-tune a refresher programme to cover topics that may have been studied some years ago and all but forgotten. The comprehensive course materials are designed to cover all the topics on the GCSE specifications in sufficient detail. There are plenty of tutor-marked assignments to ensure that you have reached the necessary standard to score a grade C (or any other agreed target) this time around.

GCSE or IGCSE?

Those who aspire to embark on teacher training require a grade C at GCSE or an equivalent qualification. The most obvious equivalent is the IGCSE (or International GCSE) which is very similar to the “regular” GCSE in most respects, but which differs in one key aspect. Whereas most GCSEs, including the GCSEs in English and all the science subjects, require coursework and controlled assessment, IGCSEs do not. IGCSEs are available which do not include coursework at all and assessment is solely by means of the final written examinations.

This is ideal for adults and distance learners who stand outside the “ordinary” UK school system. Once you have left school, it is very difficult to produce coursework which satisfies the rules for controlled assessments, e.g. in terms of the supervision of the research and drafting processes. It is much easier to prove that you possess the necessary skills by means of final, written examinations.

Thus in English and each of the science subjects, Oxford Open Learning courses are linked to the IGCSE specifications set by Edexcel, one of the UK’s main examining boards. Such IGCSEs are acceptable to all of the UK’s teacher training colleges and throughout the higher education system – indeed, they may be said to provide an even more thorough academic preparation for A-levels (and beyond) as well as various career channels.

It is possible to take a Maths GCSE without coursework or controlled assessment (through final exams only) so, in the case of Maths, Oxford Open learning offers a choice – GCSE or IGCSE. Please consult our Student Advisers if you are uncertain which one of these is best suited to your individual circumstances.

Oxford Open Learning is proud of its role in helping you achieve Qualified Teacher Status.

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