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Training options

To qualify as a geography teacher in England, you need to have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). You gain this through either undergraduate or postgraduate study.

Topics on this page:

  • Undergraduate training
  • What are the different postgraduate routes into teaching?
  • University-led training
  • School-led training
  • Teach First
  • Other routes
  • Further information and bursaries 

Undergraduate training

If you want to become a primary teacher you can complete a university degree and teacher training at the same time. You apply through UCAS, as for other degree courses. Three or four-year courses lead to a BEd or BA with QTS and the course prepares you to teach all subjects to primary pupils.

A few universities offer modules in Specialist Subject Studies that allow study of geography teaching in greater depth and help to prepare you to become a geography leader within an early years setting or primary school. Find details of geography specialism studies on university websites.

What are the different postgraduate routes into teaching?

If you’re a graduate and want to teach either primary or secondary pupils, you can complete a course of postgraduate teacher training to gain QTS. To teach secondary geography you should have a degree related to geography – ideally it should have the word ‘geography’ in the title.

There are several training routes available but all give you a minimum of 24 weeks in school to develop your teaching skills and build your confidence. Trainees can access a tax-free bursary (dependant on degree classification) or earn a salary while they train.

University-led training

Universities offer teacher training with at least two school experience placements in partner schools. A university geography tutor will lead your training and you will probably be part of a group of 10-15 geography trainees. This lets you share experiences with other geographers and find out about how geography is taught in different schools.

All university-led training offers an additional qualification alongside QTS. Commonly this is a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) with credits towards a master’s degree. You can find more information and apply for geography courses on the DfE Get Into Teaching website.

School-led training

All school-led courses lead to QTS and many also offer a PGCE validated by a university. This route is sometimes described as ‘on the job’ training because you will spend most of your time in one school and your training will be led by teachers. Some school-based schemes train only a small number of geographers, where you will probably be in a small group or may be the only geographer amongst others training in different subjects.

There are several forms of school-led training:

  • School led programmes (fee-paying) are designed and run by a school or a group of schools. Some schemes have many years’ experience of organising teacher training, but some are new because there has been a rapid expansion in recent years. Usually you’ll do the majority of your training within one school with further placements in other schools in the group. In addition to QTS, most school-led schemes will also offer a PGCE validated by an HEI. To find out more about what a PGCE involves see Working towards PGCE and Masters qualifications.
  • School-led programmes (salaried) is an employment-based route for graduates with at least three years’ work experience in any career. You will be employed as an unqualified teacher by the school and spend most of your time there. Teachers do most of the training. As you are paid a salary you are not eligible for a bursary.
  • Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeships are a new, nationally-recognised, work-based route into teaching which is an alternative to a traditional course. You do not pay any tuition fees. You’ll be employed by a school, and salaries will differ between employers. You’ll receive practical, school-led training alongside experienced staff, and spend at least 20% of your time off-timetable to learn the pedagogy of teaching. As this route into teaching is new, there are currently only a limited number of vacancies and training providers may choose to change their school-led (salaried) programmes to Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship programmes. Check with your chosen training provider before you apply.

You can find more information and apply for school-led geography training on the DfE Get Into Teaching website.

Teach First

  • Teach First is a charity that runs a salaried, two year Leadership Development Programme, placing graduates to work in schools in areas of educational disadvantage. There is an optional third year to complete a Masters degree. You normally must have a 2.1 degree or above to apply, although 2.2 degrees will also be considered.
  • In your first year you will be supported by teachers in your school and by a Teach First tutor, and successful teachers gain QTS and a PGCE. In your second year you work as an ECT (Early Career Teacher) in the same school. Details of the scheme and how to apply can be found on the Teach First website.

You can find more information and apply for school-led geography training on the DfE Get Into Teaching website.

Other routes

There are also special routes available, e.g. for former armed services personnel and researchers who have completed a doctorate. There is also an ‘assessment only’ route to QTS designed for experienced teachers with a degree but without QTS.

Further information and bursaries

To find out more about all routes, where to train, applying for courses, bursaries and funding go to the DfE website Get Into Teaching. Geography is often a shortage subject, so if you’re a postgraduate and looking to teach secondary geography in England you can usually access school experience and obtain personalised support when you register.

For those wishing to become a teacher in Further Education (not schools) there are a range of qualifications available with Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS). Visit www.feadvice.org.uk for details.

There are specialist Early Years Initial Teacher Training courses for those seeking to work with children up to five years old.