Subject Knowledge Enhancement

Click each section to learn more about Subject Knowledge Enhancement




If you’re an applicant to an initial teacher training (ITT) course and need to improve your existing knowledge in biology, chemistry, computing, design and technology, geography, languages, maths and physics please visit our subject knowledge enhancement pages on the Get into Teaching website.

About subject knowledge enhancement (SKE)

While SKE programmes, and their content, are designed to reflect the individual needs of the applicant, they all serve the same purpose – to bring an applicant’s subject knowledge up to the appropriate level. Completing SKE should be made a condition of the offer of an ITT place. Applicants may not have enough specific subject knowledge to begin an ITT course for different reasons, including:

  • they have studied the subject to a highly advanced level, but over time have lost some of the ‘basics’ needed to teach at secondary level
  • they have studied a degree that is related to the subject, rather than an exact match for it
  • they have recently graduated and studied a degree not related to the subject but have a related A level
  • they have changed career and may have an unrelated degree with substantial related knowledge including an A level
  • they have a languages degree, but need a second language at an acceptable level for teaching in schools

If you are a School Direct lead school, you may want to discuss SKE with your partner ITT provider.

How to know if someone needs SKE

The need for SKE is usually identified by a school or provider during the recruitment and selection process. This could be at any of the following stages:

  • when the applicant is undertaking school experience
  • during discussions with an individual before they apply
  • from the application form
  • during the applicant’s interview

If you identify that your applicant will benefit from SKE you should make an agreed SKE programme a condition of the ITT offer. Once the conditional offer has been accepted, you can request funding and commission the SKE programme.

How the SKE programmes are structured

SKE can vary in terms of duration, from an 8 week refresher or booster programme through to a 36 week programme. SKE can be offered by a wide range of providers and you can consider different options depending on your needs. Providers may include:

  • a university education department
  • a university subject department
  • another school
  • another ITT provider
  • a third party supplier such as a Science Learning Centre

You can also arrange and run SKE in-house. It is easy to arrange and can be run in a variety of ways including:

  • full-time classroom-based study
  • part-time classroom and evening/weekend study
  • online learning
  • a blend of distance and face-to-face learning

For more information on delivering SKE please contact

Completing SKE at the same time as ITT

It might be the case that an SKE programme cannot be completed before an ITT course is due to start. Therefore the applicant can start their SKE programme and finish it alongside their ITT programme. Ofsted has amended its ITT inspection handbook to take account of the fact that an applicant might not have completed SKE before starting ITT. However, it is still the case that all training, including any SKE, must be completed to the requisite standard before qualified teacher status (QTS) can be recommended and awarded.

Long SKE

If it’s not possible to complete SKE at the same time as ITT, you shouldn’t be put off from considering people even if they can’t start their training in September. Funding for long SKE (programmes with duration of more than 24 weeks) is available.

SKE for languages

If an applicant is already adept in a language other than English, you can use our SKE funding to refresh their skills in any additional language as needed. This includes modern foreign languages, community languages or Latin and Ancient Greek. Through the selection process you should:

  • identify suitable languages applicants who will benefit from an SKE programme
  • focus on their level of existing and previous language knowledge
  • make their offer of teacher training conditional on undertaking a language SKE

SKE programmes listed on the directory are usually for French, German and Spanish. However, many schools see the benefit of recruiting trainee teachers who are also proficient in:

  • Italian
  • Russian
  • Mandarin
  • Japanese
  • or other local languages

You can develop and deliver tailored SKE programmes in languages to meet the needs of your applicant.

How SKE is funded

Any School Direct lead school, higher education institute (HEI) or school-centred ITT (SCITT) provider offering ITT courses in biology, chemistry, computing, design and technology, geography, languages, maths and physics can request SKE funding to support their ITT recruitment. A wide range of suppliers can offer SKE programmes, including ITT providers, schools or third parties. Funding can support all learning styles. As there is limited budget for SKE, the funding will operate on demand, subject to regular review by NCTL.

School Direct lead schools and ITT providers may request that funding is paid directly to the SKE provider if they are an existing ITT provider offering courses in these subjects.

Funding will operate on demand and can only be requested when an offer of an ITT place has been made to an applicant. We will carry out periodic checks to ensure that all funding is being used appropriately.

SKE funding is set out in the table below. The maximum amount that we will fund is based on the amount of full-time study that the programme equates to (where 25 hours is approximately equivalent to 1 week’s full-time study).

Each request for funding will need to set out the length of the SKE programme and its cost. We will fund the actual cost of the programme unless it exceeds the maximum programme rate, in which case the maximum funding rate will be paid. Eligible candidates will be able to claim a training bursary to support their SKE. Details are available in the SKE operations manual and the ITT training bursary manual.

For example:

A School Direct lead school identifies that an applicant needs to complete an 8 week SKE programme before they start their ITT course. The school can request a maximum of £1,910 to fund the programme.

The table below shows maximum SKE funding rates in maths, physics, chemistry, computing, languages, design and technology, biology and geography.

Programme duration Programme length in weeks Maximum programme funding Maximum training bursary
Short 8-11 £1,910 £1,600
Short 12-15 £2,810 £2,400
Medium 16-19 £3,705 £3,200
Medium 20-23 £4,605 £4,000
Long 24-27 £5,500 £4,800
Long 28-31 £6,115 £5,600
Long 32-35 £6,725 £6,400
Long 36 £7,340 £7,200

How to use SKE

It’s easy to find and arrange an SKE programme that will meet the needs of your candidate. This 3 step guide will help you to get started:

  1. Identify the need for SKE. Use subject leads at your school to help assess an applicant’s existing knowledge. If this is the first time you are using SKE, your partner ITT provider may also be able to help or advise you.
  2. Choose the right SKE programme. SKE can be offered flexibly to meet your needs and those of the candidate. You may want to consult your candidate about the approach that will suit you both, and inform them that they may also be eligible for a bursary during their SKE. Use the online directory to find existing SKE programmes, speak to your partner teacher training provider(s) to see if they offer SKE, or use the funding to release an experienced teacher to run the programme.
  3. Finalise SKE arrangements and claim funding. Once you have agreed on the most appropriate SKE programme, decide whether you or your SKE provider will submit the funding claim form. You should also agree how to keep in touch with your candidate throughout the programme and how progress will be reported back to you.

How SKE programmes can be used to recruit to ITT

Note that there is complete flexibility with SKE and this list is illustrative not exhaustive. Any number of combinations and programmes is possible.

Read about schools’ experiences of using SKE to recruit to ITT.

Short SKE

Candidate A recently graduated with a 2:1 in theoretical physics and applied to a physics ITT course with an HEI provider. They completed an 8 week SKE programme to refresh the basics that would be required to teach physics at GCSE level, as this had not been covered since she was at school herself. The SKE was commissioned from another HEI provider.

Candidate B recently graduated with a First in physics and applied to a physics ITT course through School Direct.They completed an SKE programme equivalent to 8 weeks to refresh the basics of physics that he had not used since his own GCSE. The School Direct lead school decided to break up the SKE programme to run alongside the ITT course. It commissioned its own head of physics to build training sessions outside the timetable, spread over the first term between September and Christmas. The SKE funding was used to bring in supply cover for the head of physics.

Medium SKE

Candidate C held an environmental science degree and applied to a chemistry ITT course through School Direct. They completed a 16 week chemistry SKE programme that was completed online, commissioned from a training provider and which ran from March to June. She began her ITT course in September.

Candidate D held a Spanish degree and applied to a languages ITT course through School Direct. The School Direct lead school used its SKE funding to commission the equivalent of a 16 week SKE programme from its own languages department. This would be timetabled to run flexibly between Easter and September, paying overtime and supply cover where appropriate with the SKE funding. The programme would work towards developing the candidate’s French language skills, prior to her starting her ITT course in September.

Medium-long SKE

Candidate E applied in November. She held a degree in medical genetics and applied to a physics ITT course through School Direct. Her degree included modules that covered chemistry and biology, but not physics or mathematics. They began a 24 week physics SKE in the following January, which was commissioned from the School Direct partner HEI provider. The programme was completed in the summer, prior to her starting her physics ITT course.

Long SKE

Candidate F held an engineering degree but had spent a number of years in related work experience, including as a part-time instructor in a school. She had applied to a maths ITT course through School Direct. They agreed to take a 36 week maths SKE programme which the school commissioned from its partner ITT provider and which would start in January. She began the SKE programme and the final 8 weeks were completed at the same time as the first term of her ITT course.

Related documents

Information about subject knowledge enhancement support for initial teacher training recruitment from the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

TES Institute runs an online SKE course for trainees applying for teacher training maths, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, computing, or a language (French, German or Spanish), and either your degree is not subject-specific or you lack confidence in your subject. For more information please visit their website

Leeds Beckett University will be running Subject Knowledge Enrichment (SKE) courses in Maths and Computing . Each 12 week course will start in April 2017.

You can find a list of SKE providers here:


Detailed information about SKE for 2017-18 has still to be released from the DoE.

Updates from TES Institute

Limited places due to allocation system

At the beginning of this academic year the NCTL announced that funded SKE places would be subject to a two phase allocations system. Allocations for funded places until March 2017 have now been released.

  • There are a limited number of funded SKE places available
  • We recommend that you start an SKE course as soon as possible to avoid disappointment
  • By starting SKE before March 2017 you can benefit from a longer SKE course

Next available SKE courses

Whilst we have programmes starting every month, we would encourage you to secure a place on an SKE course as soon as possible due to the new allocation system. Our next courses are:

Start date: 27th February – apply by 13th February
Start date: 27th March – apply by 20th March
Course lengths:

Maths, Physics and Chemistry courses up to 28 weeks
Modern Languages, Computing and Biology up to 24 weeks
Geography courses are now available for up to 16 weeks

Funded SKE Course in English available from April 2017

TES Institute is pleased to offer trainees a fully funded, 100% online English SKE course following last week’s announcement by the National College for Teaching & Leadership (NCTL).

Prospective English trainee teachers can access full course funding as long as you have a conditional offer of entry, and can receive up to £3,200 additional bursary* if you hold or are in the process of studying for an undergraduate degree of a 2:2 or above.

From April 2017 we will be able to offer:
– An English SKE that covers both language and literature
– A choice of 8, 12 or 16 week course lengths
– Full support from an English specialist Pathway Tutor
– A dynamic course hosted on our brand new learning platform

SKE Online Application Form:

SKE Application Deadline SKE Start Date
10th April 26th April
1st May 15th May
5th June 19th June
17th July 31st July
14th August 28th August

Coming Soon

Primary with Maths SKE

The NCTL will now fund SKE courses for Maths specialist primary trainees who need to improve their subject knowledge.

To be eligible for funding you must have an A Level grade B or above in Mathematics, be studying for or hold an undergraduate degree of a 2.2 or above plus a conditional offer of entry that requires you to complete an SKE course.

TES Institute will be launching a Primary Maths SKE in the near future.

Part time SKE Study

In order to make our SKE courses even more flexible TES Institute will soon be offering part time SKE courses, allowing you to double the period of study and reduce the amount of time learning each week.

Part time courses will be available in the coming weeks and we will notify you when they become available.


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*Bradford College:

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