Subject knowledge enhancement: an introduction

Information about subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) support for initial teacher training (ITT) recruitment.

This information is for initial teacher training (ITT) providers and School Direct lead schools.

If you’re an applicant to an ITT course please visit our subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) pages on the Get into Teaching website.


The Department for Education (DfE) funds SKE programmes in:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • computing
  • design and technology
  • English
  • geography
  • language
  • mathematics
  • physics
  • religious education

As a School Direct lead school, or an ITT provider, you may see applicants who have the potential to become outstanding teachers but who need to increase their subject knowledge before the Teachers Standards can be met. An SKE programme can help you to feel confident that they can be recruited.

Choosing your SKE provider should be part of your recruitment plans. Use the Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE): course providers directory to find a suitable provider. If you’re a School Direct lead school, you may want to discuss SKE with your partner ITT provider.

How to know if an applicant needs SKE

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

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

Applicants may need more specific subject knowledge to begin an ITT course if they have:

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

How SKE programmes are provided

SKE courses can vary in terms of duration, from an 8 week refresher or booster programme through to a 28 week programme, and can be undertaken by trainees on a full-time or part-time basis. All SKE programmes must be completed before qualified teacher status can be recommended and awarded.

SKE can be offered by a wide range of providers depending on your applicant’s needs. Providers may include:

  • a university education or subject department
  • another school
  • another ITT provider
  • a third party supplier

SKE courses can be:

  • completed before or alongside ITT courses
  • offered online, through distance learning, face-to-face or a mixture of these approaches

SKE for additional languages

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

  • identify suitable applicants who will benefit from an SKE programme
  • concentrate 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 Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE): course providers directory are usually for French, German and Spanish. However, you can develop and offer tailored SKE programmes in other languages to meet the needs of your applicants.

SKE funding

Funding is currently available for SKE programme costs and training bursaries.

For all SKE courses in the 2019 to 2020 academic year:

  • programme costs are funded at £200 per week per participant
  • the participant bursary funding is £200 per week per participant

You can request a copy of the funding manual for 2019 to 2020 by emailing

We are planning to replace grant funding for SKE with a multi-provider framework agreement, appointed by tender.

Due to the escalating implications of coronavirus (COVID-19), we are postponing the tender to appoint providers to deliver SKE from October 2020, and our contingency is to continue with the current grant arrangements for another year.

We plan to relaunch the tender in early 2021 to deliver SKE from October 2021. Further details will be provided in due course.

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Subject knowledge enhancement

Published 10 November 2014
Last updated 30 March 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added updated information about the the funding arrangements for SKE courses, in response to the implications of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  2. Added information about changes to the commercial model for the SKE programme, starting in the 2020 to 2021 academic year, including how to apply through the tender process to deliver DfE-funded SKE courses from October 2020 onwards.

  3. Added religious education to the list of covered programmes. Change to text relating to SKE funding. Removed link to the SKE operations manual and added details of how to request a copy.

  4. New funding rates for the academic year 2015 to 2016

  5. Read new information on SKE for the academic year 2015 to 2016.

  6. Added contact details

  7. First published.