[Skip to Content]

Trainee FAQs

Can I gain my teaching qualification in an independent school?

Yes. Have a look at the different routes into teaching available to you.

What is the difference between Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)?

You must have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to take up a teaching post in England in a state maintained school. A Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) is an academic qualification which, without QTS, restricts the state maintained schools in which you can teach.

How do I know if teacher training will be a good experience for me?

Read our trainee case studies to learn about individual experiences. The retention rate in the independent sector is very high. Some schools may offer you a year as a teaching assistant or unqualified teacher to assess whether to invest in your training the year after. This also gives you an opportunity to discover if teaching is for you.

Are all the children from very privileged families?

No. Children come from a wide range of family backgrounds and circumstances. About a third of children are on means tested bursaries. Schools have made great efforts to raise money to fund these places. Some families will make significant sacrifices to afford fees. Grandparents, aunts and uncles are often contributing to fees.

Will I be able to use some of my non-academic expertise?

Independent schools place much value on the extra-curricular life of the school and are very keen to draw on the particular interests of teachers, whether that is playing football, directing drama, singing in a choir, creative writing, playing chess, writing computer programmes, dress making or the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

I have taught abroad for a number of years. Will my experience allow me to go through the assessment only route?

Yes. Have a look at the assessment only route and how to apply for this.

Can I do my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year in an independent school?

Yes. Have a look at the IStip website. The Independent Schools Teacher Induction Panel manages the induction of NQTs in the independent sector.

Can I do my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year in an independent school regardless of where I have done my initial teacher training?

Yes. You can complete your NQT year in an independent school wherever you have done your initial teacher training year. The NQT accreditation is transferable. For more information on the NQT year please see the IStip website.

If I gain my Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or do my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year in an independent school, will the qualification allow me to teach in the state maintained sector at some stage?

Yes. The qualifications are national ones recognised by the Department for Education and are not sector specific. They are totally transferable between sectors.

Will head teachers in the state maintained sector be less inclined to consider me for a post if I have done my training in the independent sector?

Heads will be interested in how your initial teacher training experience has prepared you for working in their particular school.

Are there major differences between teaching in the independent and state maintained sector?

Schools vary a great deal within both sectors. One of the most obvious differences is likely to be that independent schools may have smaller class sizes. The school day may also be extended and there may be a broader range of rich extra-curricular activities.

Will any past experience outside the teaching profession be useful when I apply for initial teacher training and helpful when I start my training?

There are a lot of skills and experiences that are transferable. Make sure when you apply that you include what you think is relevant in applications and bring it to the attention of any future Head.

How do I know which independent schools take trainee teachers?

There is no list of such schools as independent schools will offer places only when they have a relevant vacancy. Posts are advertised normally in the TES and may indicate that a non-qualified teacher will be considered with a view to offering training for QTS. Even if the advertisement does not say this, it is worth enquiring of the school, if you think you would meet the requirements in other ways.

Why would an independent school employ me without Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)?

Because independent schools are keen to encourage good graduates into teaching and can offer high quality training with excellent practising teachers.

Is it better to train on the job or go to a university and get a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) before applying for a job?

There are strengths in both routes.

How do I know if the school I apply to work in offers training?

You need to ask them.

Will an independent school continue a commitment to my professional development after my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year?

Yes. The strength of continued professional development is an attractive feature of independent schools. See the Careers section.

Do I need to be trained to work in an independent school?

Many independent schools will happily appoint a teacher who is "untrained" as long as they have a good and relevant degree. But not all will and many will encourage you to train on the job.

When is the best time of year to apply for a job in an independent school?

You should start looking at adverts in the TES from October onwards for the following January, April or September. The peak of advertising is January to March but some vacancies arise in the summer for the following September.

Can I apply for a job if I am an undergraduate who graduates next summer?


What can I do to maximise my chances of getting a good job in an independent school?

Obtain a good degree from a good University. Do some work experience in a school. Show enthusiasm on your CV for some of the activities schools offer e.g. sport, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, drama and music.

Can I do my Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) year in an independent British school overseas?

Yes. You can do your NQT year in a British International School that has successfully completed a DfE-approved British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection. See the COBIS website for more information

My degree is from an overseas country. Can I gain a teaching qualification in the UK?

You need to check your qualifications for UK equivalency. You can do this by contacting UKNARIC. You also need to check with the provider of the teaching qualification.

I have been teaching overseas for a number of years and my teaching qualification and degree were gained overseas. Will I be able to get a teaching job in a British independent school?

You need to check current immigration and employment legislation. Then it will largely be a matter for each school to decide but you can check the equivalency of your qualifications by contacting UKNARIC.

I have a degree in Agriculture and would like to go into teaching to teach Science. Is this possible?

To some extent it will depend on the individual training provider and the school but they may recommend that you take a subject knowledge enhancement course (SKE) in the subject you want to teach. The universities that offer these can be found in the SKE Directory.