What qualifications are typically required?
School teachers are required to have an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE). A great deal of information about the PGCE can be found on the website of the Graduate Teacher Training Registry, which also deals with applications for PGCE courses.
The ideal, of course, is that the undergraduate degree is in the subject to be taught. However, in shortage areas it is not uncommon for teachers to have degrees in adjacent subjects. So for example in mathematics, which is certainly a shortage area, there are teachers with degrees in engineering or physics.
The information on the prospective undergraduates page on our website will be helpful if you are thinking about taking an undergraduate degree course in statistics, including courses where statistics is combined with other subjects (such as mathematics).
A PGCE requires an additional year of study after the undergraduate degree. Much of that year is spent in schools on teaching practice. A PGCE student works with the teachers in a school, initially observing their lessons. The roles are then reversed: the student teaches under the guidance of the regular teacher. Schools have mentors who are specifically trained to offer advice and counselling to PGCE students. The process of learning how to teach continues into the first appointment: newly qualified teachers (NQTs) are given a reduced teaching load and further mentoring during their first year.
Independent schools do not always insist on a PGCE, though they are likely to encourage those without a teaching qualification to gain one by part-time study over their first few years in post.
In making staff appointments, some schools are more highly selective than others. A highly academic school is likely to appoint only those with good degrees from good universities. A higher degree may be weighed in the balance when competition for a post is strong, but it is unlikely to be a determining factor in itself. In all cases, schools look for good teachers - people who are not merely relative experts in their subjects but also have the ability to impart their knowledge and enthusiasm to others.