Initial Teacher Training – the basics


Every year about around 60 people in England train to become classics teachers.

QTS is Qualified Teacher Status, without which you will be unable to be employed in a state school – except on an unqualified teacher’s salary. Most state schools (and independent schools) prefer a teacher to have QTS. Technically (in England only) academies and free schools do not have to employ qualified teachers, although in practice they most of them do.

A PGCE is an academic qualification, assessed by a written portfolio of evidence based around theories of education and practice. On a PGCE course, the university which offers the course offers the qualification. On a SCITT which offers the PGCE (not all of them do) an authorised university validates the PGCE on behalf of the training provider. if you wish to teach outside England, you will need a PGCE qualification. The PGCE qualification also allows you credit for a Masters in Education.

SCITTs are School-Centred Initial Teacher Training providers. People interested in gaining Qualified Teacher Status through routes other than the PGCE need to check availability of School Direct (SD) training routes, which are available for a very limited number of places, as advertised on the Department for Education (DfE) website. For more details of what SD and a SCITT is, please see the appropriate page here.

HMC training. For teachers employed in particular HMC independent (private) schools, training can also be arranged through Buckingham University. The Buckingham route very occasionally takes trainees from state schools.

All courses should integrate taught sessions and practical experience in schools. A trainee who completes the course gains Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) which only allows them to teach in Maintained Schools in England. A trainee who completes a PGCE course gains QTS and also a PGCE, which is recognized as a teaching qualification abroad and in Scotland. Some SD courses also offer the PGCE qualification, but you should check the particular course if that is what you want.

In the case of the Cambridge, Kings, Sussex, Liverpool Hope, Bishop Grossetste and Harris Academies ITT PGCE courses the providing organisations arrange Faculty lectures and subject specific seminars for trainees, assess written academic assignments, organize school placements, provide mentor training, and observe trainees during their placement. The traditional PGCE is a full time course lasting 9 months. Part of the course is based in a University Faculty of Education or central training venue, with the rest being based in two complementary school placements. Applicants for the Cambridge and KCL PGCE in Latin with Classics are expected to have recognized qualifications in Latin Language and Literature gained through A-Levels (or equivalent), and / or through units taken in their undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Qualifications in Ancient Greek or Classical Civilization are welcomed, but are not required. If you want to become a teacher of Classical Civilization or Ancient History, you should note that most positions advertised expect a “Classics” teacher to be first and foremost a “Latin” teacher. On the other hand, many teachers of Classical Civilization and Ancient History start out as Modern History teachers. Accordingly, you might like to consider taking a PGCE in Modern History, checking with the ITE provider that there is an element of Ancient History taught in the course and available at one of the school placements.

In the case of the SD and Buckingham PGCE routes the ITE providers arrange core lectures and meetings for trainees, assess written assignments, and observe trainees during their placement. Some SD routes are salaried / employment-based. There are strict qualifications for entry on this sort of course. SD also offers a non-salaried route.

Student loans and grants are available to pay the fees and living costs associated with training to be a teacher in the State sector. Please see the DfE website for further details.

Teachers and potential teachers might also sign up to the following groups, all of which advertise INSET and training events, as well as information which is useful to teachers.

The Journal of Classics Teaching (JCT) Facebook – for INSET and training alerts
The Classics Library -for almost daily news
Oxford Outreach – for events across the UK, promoted by the University of Oxford

The Greeks, Romans and Us, promoted y the University of Cambridge
The Classical Association – sign up for free alerts for INSET and access to the Journal of Classics Teaching online
Classics in Communities – for occasional workshops for primary schools