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School of Education

PGCE Primary Partnership (with QTS)

The aim of the PGCE Primary Partnership is to provide trainees with the professional and academic training required to become a primary school teacher. The responsibility for your training will be shared between schools and the University, in order to offer you a supportive, professional environment in which to hone your skills and gain valuable experience. The schools that we place our trainees in have all entered into a partnership with the University that defines the roles and responsibilities of each party.

In addition, the PGCE Primary Partnership is the first year of the School of Education's MA Education. Successful completion of the PGCE will enable you to progress on to the part-time second year of the higher degree, should you wish to do so.

It is expected that trainees on our programme will be capable of teaching across the National Curriculum. Therefore, all trainees are required to take courses in:

  • Art
  • Design and Technology
  • English
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information Technology
  • Modern Foreign Languages
  • Music
  • Physical Education
  • Religious Education
  • Science

You will also be expected to undertake a core issues and skills programme, which draws on all elements of the PGCE. You will be introduced to topics such as the aims and context of primary education, various approaches to the teaching and learning process and different patterns of school and classroom organisation.

The programme runs for three terms, from September to July, 21 weeks of which are allocated to school-based activities and experience. These weeks provide a focal point for the programme and drive the work undertaken in subject studies. The programme is built upon a strong partnership with a large number of schools in the region, meaning that we are able to provide a range of school experiences.

There are three elements to the school-based experience we can offer you as part of your PGCE:

  • The Home Area School Experience (HASE), which is based in a Key Stage 2 environment and takes place over two weeks.
  • Serial Visits and First (Preliminary) Placements, which is two days per week for five weeks and then a three week Preliminary placement. This is followed by serial visits to the same school then a three week First Block Placement.
  • Serial Visits and Final Teaching Practice, which is two days per week for four weeks, followed by a preparation week and then ten weeks of practice during Terms 2 and 3.

Home Area School Experience

You will be required to make arrangements to obtain two weeks' worth of experience in a UK mainstream primary school within your local area between the June and September of the year of entry. These two weeks are an integral element of the programme and will provide you with the opportunity to observe a variety of teaching styles and to engage in some initial group and class teaching.

The placement aims to equip you with an understanding of the concepts and skills taught at Key Stage 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum and the idea of progression and continuity as a child moves from primary to secondary education. It will also give you a comprehensive understanding of pupils during this early phase of their development, in terms of their needs, levels of motivation, attainment and behaviour. Above all, it provides an introduction to the world of education and teaching, and a background for the study of the curriculum and cross-curricular issues you will study during the PGCE.

Serial Visits and First (Preliminary) Teaching Practice

For four weeks during Term 1, you will spend two days a week (Thursday and Friday) in a partnership school department and Alternative Focus study. Through a programme of observation, research and teaching activities, you will become familiar with the organisation of the school and department (pupil groups, staffing, curriculum, resources, facilities, methods of teaching, lesson planning, timetabling, National Curriculum requirements, assessment, examinations and the pastoral system, etc.). You will be under the direction and supervision of your School Training Centre Coordinator (STCC) and Class Teacher.

These serial visits are undertaken in conjunction with University-based study to furnish you with an integrated start to the evolution of your subject expertise and your ability to share that expertise effectively with children. You will also develop an awareness of and the ability to respond professionally to the full range of cross-curricular demands made in schools today, particularly the ability to manage pupil behaviour and to secure effective learning.

The serial visits lead to the First (Preliminary) Teaching Practice. This practice gives you the opportunity to enhance your teaching expertise, build relationships with children in a familiar environment and to experience a range of work in both the partnership school and the School of Education.

Serial Visits and Final Teaching Practice

During Term 2 you will be allocated to a different partnership school. Once again, the block practice is preceded by two serial visits (Thursday and Friday), and is intended to serve as preparation for the Final Practice.

The weekly visits and Alternative Focus visits lead to the Final Teaching Practice, which is comprised of eleven weeks and straddles the Easter vacation. The two-part, eleven week practice is the longest and most important period of school experience on the PGCE programme. During this time you will be able to draw on the skills and experiences obtained in Term 1 and apply these in a new context.

To successfully complete the programme and be eligible for QTS you must be assessed against and achieve all of the standards for the award of Qualified Teacher Status, as listed in the DfE Circular 'Qualifying to Teach' 02/02. In summary, your classroom practice will be assessed under the following headings:

  • Professional values and practice
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Teaching

There are approximately 90 trainees on the PGCE Primary programme each year and these are recruited from a number of higher education institutions. The majority of trainees come to the School of Education straight from their undergraduate degree experience, but several enter as career changers.

By the 1st August of the year of entry, all trainees must have met the following entry requirements:

  • An undergraduate honours degree at 2:1 or above. We do not insist on a degree in a National Curriculum subject but we do expect you to demonstrate the relevance of your degree in terms of the primary curriculum. Therefore, please include information about your degree when completing your application form via UCAS Teacher Training to allow us to assess the subject content. If your degree is from an overseas institution, you must apply for a Certificate of Comparability from NARIC (not a Statement of Comparability).
  • Only candidates who already possess GCSE/O Level passes (Grades A*-C) in English Language, Mathematics and Science (or suitable equivalents) will be considered for this programme. Unfortunately, due to the highly competitive nature of the programme, we can no longer consider candidates who lack these qualifications but hope to obtain them before commencing the programme. If your equivalent qualifications were obtained overseas, you must apply for a Certificate of Comparability from NARIC (not a Statement of Comparability).
  • Passed the QTS Skills Tests.
  • Have undertaken at least ten days of work experience in a UK mainstream primary school within the past three years.
  • Have completed the Home Area School Experience (HASE) placement (see below).
  • Fulfilled all other conditions of entry.

Your professional and interpersonal qualities and your commitment to teaching will be taken into account when deciding whether to offer you a place or not. Candidates with strong written applications, the required qualifications and relevant backgrounds will be invited to a selection day. Selection days will involve individual interviews with a pre-prepared presentation element and tests to assess written English and other skills.

Successful candidates will receive an offer conditional on both a medical and a criminal record check. The latter is carried out by the Disclosure and Barring Service and full instructions on how to apply for a DBS Disclosure are issued with offer letters.

Please note, all DBS Enhanced Disclosures for our trainees must be processed by Durham University. It is Durham University's policy not to accept disclosures from other institutions. If you have a criminal record of any kind, you may contact the School of Education Admissions Manager, Steph Tunstall, for further advice and information. All enquiries will be treated in confidence.

Find out how to apply here.

Find out how you can continue your study by studying an MA Education.