In England and Australia higher education institutions (HEIs) are required to widen participation in higher education by students from under-represented and non-traditional groups. Widening participation is most effective when it starts early - during compulsory education and other forms of pre-tertiary education. HEIs are providers of pre-service and in-service teacher education, and therefore have the potential to ‘join the dots’ between teacher education and widening participation. Two approaches are identified: recruiting more diverse cohorts of students to teacher education through targeted, relevant and engaging pre-entry experiences in schools and communities with low rates of progression to HE; and preparing all teachers to better support the tenets of widening participation through their professional roles in schools, colleges and communities. This paper focuses on the former, using a structural theoretical lens to understand low participation by particular groups of students. This framework is used to analyse two empirical examples, one from Australia and one from England. The paper concludes by recommending a more systemic approach to widening participation through teacher education, and makes practical suggestions informed by theory, practice and research. Key words Teacher taster programmes, pre-service teacher education / initial teacher training; newly qualified teachers; widening participation; access to higher education; literacy; students as advocates/champions/ambassadors.