Music Teacher Training

Routes into teaching are significantly different in England from those that are established in the other nation states. However, the commonalties are that qualified teacher statues can either be gained through a three or four year degree which integrates the development of subject knowledge with pedagogy or a one year course which is taken after having obtained a degree.



There has been a fragmentation of teacher training in England over the last ten years as part of the government’s policy to reduce the influence of Higher Education institutions.  The requirement to have qualified teacher status no longer applies to schools that have academy status (most secondary schools and an increasing number of primary schools). Routes into teaching are through

  • Traditional HEI-School partnerships
  • School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), where training is provided by a network of schools. Many SCITTS have partnership with universities which allow students to gain both QTS and PGCE
  • School Direct: run by a partnership between a lead school, other schools and an accredited teacher training provider which might be an HEI. Schools select and recruit their own trainees with an expectation that trainees will be employed by the school or partnership of schools once they are qualified

The consequences of this fragmentation in teacher training in England has been consistent under-recruitment in many subjects. An emphasis on ‘core’ subjects (English, Maths and Science) has resulted in the numbers that providers are allowed to recruit to music courses being cut by almost 50% over the last seven years. Providers have been unable to recruit even against those lower targets. Many university music PGCE courses have closed in recent years resulting in a reduction in the number of proven high-quality routes into music teaching the closing down of many centres where music important music education research was taking place.  Also lost, have been courses for primary music teachers with a music specialism.



In Wales, most postgraduate training programmes are university-based, and learners  have a choice of programmes delivered in English or Welsh. QTS awarded by the Education Workforce Council in Wales is automatically recognised in England. IN addition there is a  Graduate Teacher Programme which is an employment based route into teaching in Wales which offers a way to qualify as a teacher whilst working. Students undertake an Individual programme designed to enable them to meet the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) Standards. (Adapted from



Teaching in Scotland is a graduate profession. Universities offer different undergraduate and / or postgraduate education courses which lead to students gaining QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) to work either in Primary schools (4-12) or Secondary Schools (12-18).

Courses leading to primary QTS are generalist courses covering all areas of Curriculum for Excellence (the Scottish National Curriculum), which includes music, with some opportunity to take additional music education options as a special interest in undergraduate courses.

Courses leading to secondary QTS are either BMusEd degrees (a 4-year undergraduate course combining study of music and music education) or a PGDE in Music (a one year postgraduate course). All music courses are designed to support student teachers to develop their musicianship skills, understanding of music pedagogies and the specific requirements of the Scottish music education qualifications.

All courses led by Universities are a partnership between the university, schools and local authorities, with at least 50% of a 36-week one year course being school-based placements. These placements build on, and develop student teacher’s skills and understandings of theory, policy and practice.


Northern Ireland

Four Higher Education Intuitions (HEIs) provide initial teacher education in NI. For secondary music teachers, the one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is based in Ulster University (UU). UU also offers a general primary PGCE course. Two university colleges in Belfast offer four-year Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees for primary teachers: one college recruits students with specific music qualifications for a ‘BEd in Music’; the other, offers a generic BEd, with the option for students to select specialist subject modules according to their interests.

The HEIs operate a partnership model with schools, whose role is to support and develop students’ competence while on placements. In all courses, students spend significant periods in schools on placement.

Teacher education courses of all types in NI are highly competitive and over-subscribed. All potential students are interviewed, and for the BEd courses, high grades at Advanced level are required