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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.

There are two routes you can take:

1. Durham University hosted PGCE or

2. School Direct hosted PGCE in partnership with Durham University

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

XR11 Education (Primary) PGCE

Degree PGCE
Year of Entry 2015
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 1 year
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 8409


The PGCE Primary provides a course in Initial Teacher Training which is accredited by the Department for Education. It will equip you to become a primary school teacher (ages 5-11) and will provide training for Key Stages One and Two. Successful completion of the course will provide you with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), awarded by DfE and a PGCE (awarded by Durham University). Credits achieved during the PGCE year can also equate to the first year of Durham's MA in Education

In addressing the government's standards for QTS, the School of Education seeks to promote the notion of primary school teachers as reflective practitioners who are confident in their ability to teach all subjects in the primary curriculum, and able to articulate their beliefs about what constitutes effective pedagogy. PGCE should be viewed as the first phase of a career-long process of personal and professional development.

The course aims to provide you with professional and academic training in preparation of your role as a primary teacher. Underpinning the course is a belief that successful teachers need to understand how children learn and that this is best achieved through a combination of theory, practice and reflection.

The Durham PGCE Primary Course has been developed in partnership with schools, and offers a strong practical element, with student teachers spending a substantial part of the year (around 20 weeks) in school. Students on the course have opportunities to develop an understanding of the values and issues which underpin education and are encouraged to develop and articulate their own beliefs. The responsibility for training is shared between schools and the University, which together provide a supportive professional environment in which you can develop your knowledge, skills, understanding and expertise. 

The Primary PGCE is designed to take around 1500 hours of student work, comprising:

  • Readings and preparation for teaching in school
  • Teaching in schools
  • Teaching time in lectures and workshops
  • Professional studies days
  • Teaching and learning conference
  • Follow-up readings after the taught element
  • Independent study
  • Assignment work.

There are approximately 350 hours of university-based contact teaching time in all.

In addition the supervised Directed Study module offers group and one-to-one contact time - students are assigned individual supervisors from within the School of Education staff who assist with devising a suitable topic for study.

Academic support for the student is available via all of the following forms of contact:

  • Formal workshops as part of the taught element of the course
  • Additional, optional workshops to help students address aspects of subject knowledge such as English grammar and mathematics
  • Email and telephone: students are encouraged to contact tutors with specific queries
  • Group emails: these are sent via Duo (the virtual learning environment) to keep students informed of developments and to answer common queries
  • Personal contact: staff are available for individual consultation when not teaching or attending meetings.

In addition, all students will be assigned a School Training Centre Coordinator who will provide workshops, support with teaching and guidance on teaching practice. University partnership tutors will also provide support for students before, during and after school placements.

Subjects required, level and graded

Applicants must possess or expect to achieve a degree; please see department web pages for subject specific requirements. Applicants must also hold GCSE grade C or above in English and Mathematics; Primary applicants require a science subject at grade C or above as well. 

Applicants must also:

  • Pass professional QTS Skills Tests
  • Undertake at least ten days of work experience in a UK mainstream school environment within the past three years.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study

Requirements and Admissions

The University accepts the following alternative English language tests and scores.

Information relevant to your country

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

We'd love to hear from you and help you with any enquiries you may have.

For any questions regarding applications please contact the Initial Teacher Education team.


Telephone: 0191 334 8406

For any questions regarding School Placements please contact Mrs Jo O'Neill-Jones Partnership Coordinator


Telephone: 0191 3348335