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Primary & Secondary PGCE Training Courses England & Wales

Primary & Secondary PGCE Training Courses England & WalesQualifications to teach in a primary or secondary school in England & Wales is through postgraduate primary & secondary PGCE training courses offered by training providers or a (Bed) studied through a university in England & Wales.

PGCE primary or secondary postgraduate teacher training courses are not so easy to get a place in recent years, and you will also require meeting a range of requirements during your training such as pass skills tests and become an efficient trainee teacher.


Primary & Secondary PGCE Training Courses Programme

All school PGCE courses have academic and practical elements that are conducted on two school-based experience placements.

As part of the course, you are provided with a mentor, plan for teaching, and take part in observations watching experienced teachers.

Both school level PGCE courses start and continue with university studies including lectures, group work, attending tutorials and of course written assignments.

While training, you will concentrate on your chosen age range, successfully complete assessed work and official observations.


Secondary PGCE Specialist Subject Areas

When studying for your secondary PGCE qualification you choose to teach a specific subject at the two school placements. 

Your undergraduate study qualification should significantly have covered the subject area you wish to teach.

No point in applying to teach mathematics when you have a history degree, as your mathematics subject knowledge may not be sufficient for you to teach effectively.

Most universities offer a good range of subject areas to choose from including:


PGCE Art and Design Education

PGCE Biology

PGCE Business Education

PGCE Chemistry

PGCE Citizenship

PGCE Computer Science

PGCE Economics

PGCE English

PGCE English with Drama

PGCE Geography

PGCE History

PGCE Languages

PGCE Mathematics

PGCE Music

PGCE Physics

PGCE Physics with Mathematics

PGCE Psychology

PGCE Religious Education

PGCE Social Science


Initial Teaching Observation

Before you are allowed to take up your first placement as part of your secondary or primary school training you will require preparing and passing an initial observation of a mini-teaching at the university.

Lessons and guidance as part of your course should prepare you for your observation.

There is plenty of time to prepare and practice timings, content and prepare worksheets for the university initial observation.


Practical School Experience

Both courses offered by universities in England & Wales require you to complete two teacher training placements that the university chooses for you.

These two placements require significant effort, motivation, and for you to keep all required paperwork evidenced in folders. Be prepared to travel outside of the area you live.

You are shown how to teach on a school placement and team teach with your mentor. You are then left on your own with classes to teach a schedule of lessons in your chosen subject area.

The mentor comes and observes you at times and may provide guidance on your placement.


Primary PGCE Teaching Placements

Teaching at primary school level you will be expected to teach a full range of subjects including history, science, English, although not physical education as a specialist teacher normally takes these classes.


Learning to Teach

At school full time, you require to plan your own lessons and draw up schemes of work for each year group if teaching more than one age level.

You also start to learn how to manage and control a class of children with behaviour management learning strategies.

Attendance is 4 days a week for full-time study at school during placements and one day a week on your course at university with formal lessons.. Yes, to swap stories and goings on.


University Studies

PGCE training courses cover cognitive and pedagogy theory which is studied during the initial lessons before school placement and on the one day at university.

University study and two school placements are assessed as pass or not. PGCE primary studies involve teaching a range of subjects as a primary teacher from literacy, numeracy, sciences and others.

You will require to build up a portfolio of evidence as part of your PGCE university studies and keep the evidence in folders to be handed over to the course assessors at the completion stage of your course.


All PGCE students that are on a teaching courses learn about the national curriculum, teaching and learning strategies, and a lot of other useful teaching ideas to become an effective school teacher.

Part of your time on the two placements you will observe and plan lessons, teach classes in your chosen age range and even across a number of age groups.

In general four official observations of your teaching standards as part of your course require to be passed.

Teaching placement evidence includes schemes of work, lessons taught with evidence, plan, & review of each lesson. This is one of the fun parts of studying on a PGCE.

When I was on my PGCE course I sat for many hours typing up lesson plans, notes, and worksheet, believe me with the travelling and paperwork required it is a full on intensive experience on placement.

To be awarded a primary teaching PGCE or a secondary teaching PGCE you require to have completed a portfolio of evidence and successfully passing all observations and assignments. During your training, you sit and must pass Professional Skills Tests in literacy and numeracy.

These skills tests must be passed to successfully qualify for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).


Entry Requirements

  • Standard grade or equal C in the GCSE examination in qualification for a C Grade in English, Mathematics and Science (Science for primary PGCE only)
  • A good undergraduate degree that is appropriate for the course. Secondary PGCE students require a specialist degree in the subject or close
  • Fluent command of English, spoken and written
  • Successful interview to demonstrate the possession of the appropriate qualities, attitudes and values expected as a prospective school teacher
  • Medically fit for the post of a teacher
  • Be able to pass a DBA Check with no criminal record
  • Supply at least two good teaching references, one being from your degree course

Course Providers Start Date

Courses are studied full time between August one year until June the following year available around England & Wales. Part time courses are studied over two years, although not all university PGCE courses are offered as a part-time study option.

One year full-time study is for 11 months with school and university holidays in between.

The Open University part-time teacher training course is also an option other than traditional universities, although the university may be discontinuing teacher training course in the near future.


Look for a course on through University Central Admission Service (UCAS). Undergraduate courses are provided by many UK universities each year in England & Wales.


How to Apply

Mainly all applications for postgraduate teacher training courses are being processed through UCAS as “Undergraduate Application” from 2016 for example, the University of Roehampton primary PGCE course.  This is in line with Scottish applications for PGDE courses.

Check with the application process on the university website you intend to apply.



When is it a good time to apply and start a primary and secondary PGCE training courses? Now is the time as the government is providing good bursaries for students taking up teacher training in England & Wales.

The Department for Education website has a comprehensive guide to funding that eligible students can apply for and fees payable for the course. You can be paid up to £30,000 tax-free while training, although the bursary amount depends on your classification of degree, subject you will teach, where you study and other factors.

Bursaries for teacher training are available for eligible students taking a maths route are awarded a larger bursary than other students while the age of the children you will teach plays a factor in the financial calculation.

Student loans are available again for eligible students if you wish to take a loan out.  See here for what level of funding you can get and the requirements for receiving a loan.


After Your PGCE Course

As a holder of a PGCE and having passed the national skills tests you can provisionally register with the General Teaching Council (GTC) for England & Wales.

After completing one of the primary and secondary PGCE training courses, you must complete your induction year at a primary or secondary school successfully before being awarded qualified teacher status (QTS). Secondary and primary school teacher jobs are then open to you from rural areas, towns and cities in England & Wales.

Itching to move, travel abroad and complete your induction year overseas?  Not a great idea, as you may no receive the level of support required to become a fully qualified teacher.

Yes, it is possible to teach in Dubai, or apply for an NQT teacher job in Qatar that you see advertised, most experienced teachers will tell you get qualified with UK support and gain 2 years experience first.


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