PGCE Funding Options
Funding is offered by the government to help prospective teachers complete their training and to encourage talented graduates into the teaching profession. Bursary amounts are revised every year, so this guide outlines what to expect for the 2020/21 academic year.
Funding is available to trainees on a fee-paying teacher training course in England that leads to the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). The availability and amount of funding are dependent upon the relevant academic qualifications you hold and the level and subject you are training to teach.
To receive funding, you must be eligible under Student Finance England criteria. If you are a resident of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you will need to be entitled to support from Student Finance Wales, Student Awards Agency Scotland or Student Finance NI respectively.
The cost of undertaking an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course varies according to the provider, but a full-time programme can cost up to £9,250 a year (for UK and EU students). The specific fees charged by your preferred or chosen training provider will be available on their website.
There are a variety of funding options available including bursaries, scholarships, grants and tuition loans, as well as the chance to gain entry onto a salaried training programme. This article will explore the pathways available.
Who Is Eligible for PGCE Funding?
You can apply for PGCE funding if:
- You are applying for a recognised fee-based teacher training course
- Your course will lead to qualified teacher status
- You qualify under Student Finance England criteria (or that of a respective devolved student finance provider)
What Types of Funding Are Available for a PGCE?
Tax-Free Training Bursary
A tax-free training bursary is available to eligible trainees who are enrolled on a non-salaried teacher training course. Training bursaries are financial incentives to encourage high-quality graduates into the teaching profession.
Training bursaries are awarded based on the subject the trainee wishes to teach and the grade of their highest academic qualification (not the subject).
They are usually awarded according to the classification of a trainee’s first degree, but are also available to those who hold other relevant qualifications such as master’s and doctoral degrees, medical degrees and degrees from overseas (the assessment process for overseas qualification eligibility differs from that of UK academic qualifications).
A range of subjects qualify for a training bursary. This is the current list at time of writing:
- Chemistry, maths, physics and computing (£24,000)
- Languages (£10,000)
- Biology (£7,000)
- Classics (£10,000)
Bursary subjects and amounts change frequently so make sure you check the government website for the most up-to-date information.
You do not need to apply for a bursary and will begin receiving payments from your teacher training provider when you begin your course. Although it is an automatic process, it is still worth clarifying the details of the bursary with your training provider early on to avoid any surprises or mistakes.
How you receive your bursary will depend on the amount you qualify to receive. Bursaries tend to be paid in ten equal monthly instalments. Your payment schedule should be clarified and confirmed with your training provider.
For example, if you receive a £26,000 bursary for training to become a biology teacher, you will receive £2,600 each month.
Whilst these payments are not taxable, if you receive state benefits, they may be included as part of your capital income.
Scholarships are available for those wishing to undergo training to teach certain subjects that are considered currently in demand.
Scholarships are awarded in partnership with professional subject associations and are in place of a bursary.
A minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree is required in most cases. Those with a 2:2 can still apply, assuming they have a relevant postgraduate degree or evidence of significant subject knowledge.
For the 2021/2022 period, scholarships are available for the following subjects (but please check the government website for the most up-to-date information):
Those wishing to pursue these subjects can get a £26,000 scholarship and may be eligible for additional early-career payments of £6,000 (resulting in a total of £34,000).
Early-career payments are received after qualification as three payments of £2,000 in your second, third and fourth year of teaching. If you teach in certain specified areas of England, enhancements to these payments are available. They are only available to those who have taught in a state-funded school in England since completing their teacher training course.
Click on each subject for further information about the professional association offering the scholarship, eligibility and how to apply.
Generally, scholarships are applied for via an online application through the website of the professional subject association.
The online application forms for scholarships vary but all will ask for your personal information, academic background and qualifications and work experience.
There may also be sections where you are required to outline why you want the scholarship and why you want to become a teacher, how you meet the programme criteria and why you wish to work with young people.
There are further benefits to scholarships beyond financial support. These include:
- Free professional subject association membership
- Access to exclusive resources and events to provide support and improve your subject knowledge and teacher practice
- Access to a wider network of scholars, providing networking opportunities and peer support
Student Loan (Tuition and Maintenance)
Once you have accepted your place on a non-salaried teacher training course, you can apply for a tuition fee and/or maintenance loan to support your teacher training – even if you already have a student loan.
If you are not eligible for a bursary or scholarship, a student loan is a good option to enable you to train without upfront costs. As with an undergraduate or postgraduate student loan, most trainees will only start to pay back the loan when earning above the threshold salary of £25,725.
A tuition fee loan is available for the full cost of course fees up to £9,250. As tuition fee loans are not means-tested, you are likely to be able to claim the full fee amount. If approved, Student Finance England (or the respective devolved institution) will pay your chosen training provider directly.
A maintenance loan is available for up to £11,672. The amount you can borrow is means-tested but all eligible trainees can apply for at least the minimum loan amount. This is £5,812 for training and living within London, and £4,168 outside of London. If you are living at home, the minimum amount is set at £3,314.
A student finance calculator is available to help you estimate the amount that may be available to you.
Further information on loan plans and repaying your student loans is available via gov.uk.
Salaried Training Routes
Training is available through certain salaried, employment-based training programmes.
If you wish to teach a subject that doesn’t closely relate to your degree, you may be required to take a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course before you begin your teacher training programme.
If you have a 2:1 degree or above and meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply to the Teach First training programme, which allows you to train whilst earning a salary and without paying fees.
You can train in early years, primary or secondary teaching, but it is worth noting that not all subjects are offered through the Teach First programme. The programme results in an internationally recognised teacher training qualification and provides the opportunity to be in the classroom from day one.
The Teach First programme lasts for two years, with an optional third year to complete a master’s. It begins in June with five weeks of introductory training, with trainees starting in the classroom in September.
The programme is challenging, as trainees will be teaching lessons in partnering state schools from the start, not just observing them.
Teach First provides support throughout your training and access to a network of fellow Teach First teacher trainees.
Like Teach First, the School Direct salaried training route offers the chance to train with a salary and without paying fees. It is a programme for high-quality graduates, commonly with at least three years’ transferable work experience and an undergraduate degree.
Trainees apply via a lead or partner school in the School Direct programme and are trained by the external training provider the school partners with. This may be a university, college or a school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) consortium. The course duration is one year.
The placement school covers the cost of training and salary for the trainee. School Direct lead schools receive grants from the government to enable them to cover their costs.
School Direct courses lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and most also include a PGCE qualification. As not all do, it is worth checking before applying if gaining a PGCE is part of your goal.
Note that if a PGCE is awarded, you may be charged for your PGCE fees, so check with your school and training provider.
For more salaried placements/courses, search via the Department of Education’s Find Postgraduate Teacher Training service, changing the salary option to ‘only courses that come with a salary’.
Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeships
The Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship programme is another work-based, salaried route into the teaching profession. It offers a QTS qualification with no tuition fees and hands-on classroom experience. The programme was designed specifically for apprentices by a group of experienced schools and teachers.
Apprenticeships are available for primary and secondary teaching. The course duration is one year. You are required to hold an undergraduate degree, with previous classroom experience preferable.
As with School Direct, trainees are employed directly by their school. Schools will release their apprenticeship positions at a set time every year; as they are limited, remember to keep an eye out for their posting.
Postgraduate teaching apprenticeships combine salaried work with both on- and off-the-job training, split between school and university study. At least 20% of training study time is dedicated to the pedagogy of teaching.
As with the School Direct courses, check that your apprenticeship includes a PGCE if this is important to you.
Apprentices will also be required to complete an End-Point Assessment (EPA) upon completion of the course, to consolidate their knowledge.
Postgraduate teaching apprenticeships are a popular pathway for current teaching assistants or unqualified teachers to gain their QTS at their school.
Additional Support Options
Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs)
If you have special circumstances, such as a learning difficulty, long-term illness, impairment or mental health concern, extra pastoral support will likely be available.
You may also qualify for a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). This funding will cover the cost of any extra support you need to stand the best chance of succeeding in your training. This may be specialist equipment, a communication support worker, signer or note-taker.
The allowances are available for students who have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, physical or mental impairments, as well as long-term or mental health conditions.
You can apply for a Disabled Student Allowance through Student Finance England or your respective student finance body. The allowances can take up to three months to arrange, so it's important to apply early.
To support your application, you will need a letter from your doctor or a diagnostic assessment.
The money from a DSA will either be paid directly to your training provider or your bank account. Delivery will differ depending upon the type of support needed, so clarify this with Student Finance if it is not clearly indicated.
Parents’ Learning Allowance
If you are a full-time student with children, you may qualify for funding through a Parents’ Learning Allowance via Student Finance England. The amount of funding available is household income-dependent (this includes your income, the income of your partner and any dependents).
The allowance is available for full-time undergraduate students and those taking an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course.
The allowance is not required to be paid back and is in addition to all other student finance. It will not impact tax credits or benefits.
For the 2020/21 academic year, the maximum you could get is £1,766.
The allowance is paid into your bank account in three instalments, one at the beginning of each term. You do not have to be paying for childcare to qualify.
Childcare Grants are available to full-time postgraduate ITT students who, at the beginning of the academic year, have at least one dependent child under 15 who is in registered or approved childcare.
You may also qualify if you have at least one dependent child under 17 who has special educational needs (and is in registered or approved childcare).
Depending on your household income, you may be eligible to have up to 85% of your childcare costs covered, both during term time and holidays. The maximum grant for the 2020/20 academic year is £174.22 a week for one child or £298.69 a week for two or more children.
Application is online via your student finance body. You will need to provide evidence of the child’s identity and dependency.
You cannot receive a Childcare Grant if you or your partner are also in receipt of NHS-funded childcare grants, the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit or Tax-Free Childcare from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
A Childcare Grant must be applied for within nine months of the start of the academic year.
Adult Dependants’ Grant
If you have a partner or another adult who depends upon you financially, you may qualify for an Adult Dependants’ Grant. This grant is household-income dependent.
The maximum amount you could receive is £3,094 for the 2020/21 academic year. If approved, an Adult Dependants’ Grant will be paid directly into your account in three instalments, one per term.
Adult Dependants’ Grants are not available for those who are students receiving student finance or for relatives with an income of more than £3,796 a year. If under 25, you can only apply for an Adult Dependants’ Grant for your partner if you are married to them. Adult Dependants’ Grants are not available for any grown-up children.
The Adult Dependants’ Grant must be applied for within nine months of the start of the academic year.
Funding from Charitable Trusts
Many charities and educational organisations are willing to provide students with additional financial support to complete their studies. Various awards are available, often based upon academic achievement, personal circumstances or subject area.
These channels tend to be under-utilised because students are not aware of them or assume they won’t be eligible.
For more information, take a look at our article on charity funding options.
University and College Hardship Funds
If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to get extra money from your university or college.
To qualify, you might be a mature student with existing financial commitments,
a student with children (especially single parents), from a low-income family, have a disability or have previously been in care.
To apply for such funding, contact your university’s student services department directly. The university will decide the amount you are eligible to receive and whether it is a grant or a loan. Most universities do not require hardship funds to be paid back.
To support your application, you’ll need a letter showing the student finance you are due to receive and documents displaying your financial need (i.e. bank statements and expenditure details).
There are many options available to ease the financial burden of your PGCE.
If you have secured a place on a training course to teach a scholarship-eligible subject, then apply. If not, significant amounts are available via a bursary.
Taking on a further student loan is also a viable option, as it will not see your monthly loan repayments increase – meaning that you can train and qualify without the extra financial strain.
Many additional funding options are available, depending on your circumstances. It is worth comprehensively researching whether one of the grant options mentioned above would work for you.
Don’t forget that charitable trust awards – some selected based on achievement and industry – are an option if you do not qualify under other criteria.