How to Become a Teacher from Teaching Assistant


As a Teaching Assistant (TA) in the UK, you’re already a vital part of the educational ecosystem. But have you ever considered leading your own classroom and shaping young lives in a more profound way?

With the right path, unwavering dedication, and your existing experience, your passion for education can blossom into a fulfilling career as a Qualified Teacher (QT). This comprehensive guide, specifically tailored for TAs like you, gives you all the information needed to navigate the exciting journey from classroom support to leading your own crew of eager learners.

Why Become a Teacher from a Teaching Assistant?

Being a TA offers a unique and valuable advantage. You understand student dynamics, have honed essential classroom management skills, and likely collaborated with teachers, providing you with a unique perspective on the teaching profession. This existing foundation positions you perfectly to build upon your knowledge and become a successful and impactful teacher.

The Essential Qualification: Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

To become a Qualified Teacher in the UK, you’ll need to obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This demonstrates your subject expertise and equips you with the necessary pedagogical skills to effectively lead a classroom. 

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular routes for TAs to achieve QTS, each with its advantages and considerations:

  • Degree with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS): Ideal for those without a degree yet or who aspire to teach younger students (under 16). Programs like Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a subject-specific Bachelor of Arts/Science with QTS seamlessly integrate subject knowledge with practical teaching experience.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE): Designed for graduates with a relevant degree who lack QTS, this intensive one-year course focuses on honing practical teaching skills and pedagogy.


  • Schools Direct: A government-funded program allowing you to earn a salary while gaining practical teaching experience in a real school setting. It combines school placements with university-based training modules.


  • Teacher Apprenticeship: A newer option, Teacher Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with academic study, leading to QTS.


Diploma in Education and Training (DET): This advanced teaching qualification allows experienced TAs or those already working in the education or training sector to gain QTS. The DET offers a more flexible route compared to traditional programs, often with part-time options available.

Choosing Your Path to QTS: A Breakdown for TAs

  • Now that you understand the importance of QTS and the qualities of a great teacher, let’s explore the different routes to becoming a Qualified Teacher in the UK, keeping in mind your existing qualifications, preferred learning style, and career goals:

    • For Recent Graduates with a Relevant Degree: If you’ve recently graduated with a degree in a subject you want to teach, consider the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). This one-year intensive course is a faster route to QTS, focusing on developing practical teaching skills and classroom management techniques. It’s ideal for those who are eager to get into the classroom quickly and already have a strong academic foundation in their chosen subject.

    • For Those with No Degree or Wanting to Teach Younger Students: If you don’t currently have a degree or aspire to teach younger students (under 16), the Bachelor of Education (BEd) with QTS program might be a great fit. This comprehensive program combines earning a degree in your chosen subject area with gaining valuable hands-on teaching experience through placements in real schools. It offers a well-rounded education, equipping you with both subject knowledge and practical teaching skills.

    • For Those Who Prioritise Practical Experience: Are you someone who learns best by doing? Then explore options like Schools Direct or Teacher Apprenticeships. Schools Direct allows you to earn a salary while gaining real-world classroom experience in a partnered school. You’ll work alongside experienced teachers who will provide guidance and mentorship. Teacher Apprenticeships offer a similar blend of on-the-job training and academic study, leading to QTS. This is a fantastic option for those who want to earn while they learn and prioritise gaining practical experience in a school setting.

    • For Experienced TAs or Those Already in Education/Training: If you’re a seasoned TA with significant classroom experience or already working in the education or training sector, the Diploma in Education and Training (DET) could be the perfect route for you. This advanced qualification offers a more flexible pathway to QTS, often with part-time options available. It allows you to leverage your existing knowledge and experience while acquiring the necessary skills to lead your own classroom.

    Remember, some programs, like PGCEs, might be more intensive and require a full-time commitment. On the other hand, options like DET and Schools Direct might offer greater flexibility to accommodate your current work schedule.

    The best route ultimately depends on your unique circumstances and goals. Don’t hesitate to research further and reach out to program providers for more information to find the path that aligns perfectly with your aspirations!

Becoming a Great Teacher: It's Beyond Qualifications

  • While QTS is essential, success as a teacher thrives on strong soft skills. Here are some areas to focus on to become a well-rounded teacher:

    • Communication: Develop clear, engaging communication skills to connect with students of varying learning styles. Embrace different teaching methods to cater to diverse learners and ensure everyone feels understood and valued.
    • Patience and Empathy: Foster a positive learning environment by fostering trust and celebrating student successes, big and small. Be a patient listener, understanding that students learn at different paces and have unique needs. Create a classroom culture where students feel comfortable taking risks, asking questions, and learning from mistakes.
    • Classroom Management: Establish clear expectations and routines to maintain order and a productive learning environment. Utilise effective classroom management strategies to minimise disruptions and maximise learning time. Develop a positive and respectful classroom atmosphere where students feel safe and supported.
    • Organisation and Time Management: Juggle multiple tasks effectively with good planning and prioritisation. Develop strong organisational skills to plan lessons, grade assignments, manage student data, meet deadlines efficiently, and stay on top of administrative tasks.
    • Lifelong Learning: Embrace a commitment to continuous learning to stay updated on current teaching methods and educational practices. Actively seek professional development opportunities, stay abreast of educational research and trends, and be open to new ways of teaching. Explore innovative teaching resources and technologies to enhance your lessons.

Take the Next Step!

Network with other teachers! Join professional associations or online forums to connect with experienced educators who can offer valuable advice and support throughout your teaching journey. Building a network of colleagues allows you to learn from each other, share best practices, find encouragement and mentorship, and collaborate on teaching resources.


Empowered with this roadmap, it’s time to take action! Research the different QTS programs in detail, shortlist the ones that align with your goals and qualifications, and reach out to program providers for further information. Remember, your experience as a TA is valuable – highlight it in your applications and interviews. Focus on the unique skills and insights you’ve gained from working directly with students and collaborating with teachers.

With dedication, the right preparation, and the knowledge from this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful and inspiring teacher, making a lasting impact on the lives of your students!

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