Primary PGCE School Direct

PGCE, 1 year, full-time

This is for you if... you have an undergraduate degree and you would like to train to teach 3-7 or 5-11 year-olds as part of the School Direct scheme.

Course Description

School Direct was introduced in 2012 and allows schools to directly recruit students onto teacher education courses run in collaboration with universities. To make sure you have a range of placement opportunities, schools work together in Teaching Alliances.

This course is made up of both campus-based sessions - which will give you a grounding in the principles of good teaching practice - and school-based placements giving you the chance to apply your knowledge and experience a wide range of classroom situations. These placements will be in contrasting schools to give you a broad range of experience - they could be in city, suburban or rural schools, in the independent or state sector.

The School Direct PGCE Primary course will prepare you to teach across the full range of the Primary Curriculum. We will introduce you to the wider context of teaching, including responding to diversity in school and the inclusion of Special Needs Education, as well as equipping you with classroom management and planning skills.

By the end of the course you will meet the required professional standards for Qualified Teachers Status (QTS), and will be awarded a University of Leicester PGCE. Our strong ethos of reflective practice will prepare you will for your future career in teaching.

The School Direct Primary PGCE is run in partnership with a range of School Direct partner schools. You can choose which school you would like to apply for and then submit your application through UCAS.

Each School Direct provider school will offer its own unique range of placement experiences and opportunities but will still share most, if not all, of the Primary PGCE taught strands with the University of Leicester Primary PGCE students, giving you a great opportunity to share experience and practice with other students.

The following schools are our School Direct Primary Providers:

If you have any queries regarding the School Direct courses, please contact your chosen school directly and they will be happy to help. Please use the contact details provided on each school's page.

Not sure which PGCE route is right for you? Have a look at our Routes into Teaching pages to find out more about PGCE, School Direct and SCITT routes, including the dates of regular events we hold.


Key Facts
Start date
September each year

Primary PGCE Office
Belinda D'Sa, +44 (0)116 252 3677
Hayley Chevell, +44 (0)116 252 3687

Education website

Why Leicester?

98% of our students achieved Good or Outstanding teaching grades at the end of the 2015-16 course. 95% of our 2015-16 students had secured a teaching post by the end of the course.

We work with over 200 primary and secondary schools in city, suburban and rural settings, in both the State and independent sectors.

You'll have access to the very best, and most inspiring, practising teachers – participating in their seminars, observing them in the classroom, or being guided by them during your placements.

Course Structure

Taught Strands

Taught Strands

The PGCE Primary covers the following three taught strands:

Professional Studies Strand

The Professional Strand of the PGCE course provides generic foundations for you as a future Primary teacher. It will support your development as a skilful practitioner by helping you to understand and engage with the complex act of teaching. You will cover a range of important elements including planning, teaching, learning, assessment and classroom management, according to the Teachers’ Standards. The sessions are designed to help you develop pedagogical understanding through critical discussion and reflection on classroom action. You will also develop an understanding of the role of teachers and their wider professional responsibilities.

Curriculum Strand

Whilst there is an emphasis on teaching Maths and English, PGCE Primary teaching sessions cover the full range of the Primary National Curriculum and the equivalent strands of the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum Guidance. Sessions may focus on a single subject area or involve cross-curricular or thematic approaches currently adopted in many schools. Some curriculum work will take place through Focus Days in schools and in other education-related settings with direct links back to specific coursework at Education at Leicester.

Specialist Studies Strand

An engagement with research is an important element of developing as a critically reflective classroom practitioner; the sessions in this strand will introduce you to a range of theoretical ideas about learning and teaching and their implications for practice. This strand is also designed to help you develop skills related to professional inquiry and will show you how to carry out small scale studies in your placement classrooms which can then be written up for your two assignments. A significant element of the strand is undertaking a specialist study which includes taught sessions at the University combined with a small project in the spring term school placement. During the autumn term you will select your area for specialist study from options which may include:

  • English
  • Languages
  • Inclusion
  • Mathematics
  • Science

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

School Placements

School Placements

During the PGCE, you will be placed in three contrasting Partnership schools. We are proud to work with over 200 primary schools in the state and independent sectors, and in city, suburban and rural settings, as well as special schools.

Primary students (specialising in the 5-11 age range) are placed in a range of KS1 and KS2 classes, and Lower Primary students (specialising in the 3-7 age range) work in Key Stage One and Foundation Stage settings. School Direct students agree with their School Direct Lead School which of these routes they wish to take. In addition to the three block teaching placements you will also visit different schools as part of a series of 'focus days', studying specific subject and professional topics in an intensive school-based context.

The school-based time is a vitally important element of the course. You will have the opportunity to observe skilled class teachers working and to discuss the things that underpin day-to-day classroom activities, as well as work alongside experienced teacher-mentors who will support your learning about classroom practice.

Teaching Experience 1

This is a six-week placement, either individual or sometimes with two students working together in one class. You will focus on developing observation skills to support your understanding of teaching and learning and to put your learning into practice. During this Autumn Term placement you will work towards taking an increased responsibility for teaching the class.

Teaching Experience 2

This takes place in the Spring Term and lasts for six weeks. The amount of time spent teaching the class increases over the placement until you have responsibility for up to 80% of the timetable.

Teaching Experience 3

This is an eight-week placement in the Summer Term with students working towards taking responsibility for 80% of the teaching timetable. You will normally return to the school where you were based in the autumn term, but with a different class.

Throughout each of these placements you will be encouraged to participate fully in the life of the school and to take full advantage of the tasks and activities designed by your tutors to support your development.

Your placement schools will be decided by your personal tutor following discussions about your professional development needs. It is expected that through your three placements you will gain experience across the age range that you are training to teach.

Modules shown represent choices available to current students. The range of modules available and the content of any individual module may change in future years.

Teaching and Assessment

The majority of your taught sessions will be with students from the other routes into teaching, allowing you to benefit from their variety of experiences and knowledge. Some of your sessions will also be taught in age-phase groups (e.g. Lower Primary and Primary). There are also specialist study groups for all students.

Our course has been praised by external examiners and Ofsted for its focus on reflection. You will be encouraged to evaluate your own teaching and share your learning with your peers.

Throughout your PGCE course we will work in partnership with your Lead School to ensure you have the support of a range of teachers and tutors as we are aware of the confidence this brings. We’ll make sure you have the right support at the right time – whether that’s at university or in school.

As well as gaining your Postgraduate Certificate of Education and QTS, you will also be able to take 60 credits which can be put towards a Masters qualification (you need 180 credits to complete a Masters).

You will complete two written assignments which make up the academic part of your assessment. The rest of your assessment will take place continuously throughout the course. There are no exams.

Research Stories

Entry Requirements

  • 2:1 degree (or above)
  • GCSE grade C or above in English Language, Maths and Science.
  • A pass in the Professional Skills Tests in Literacy and Numeracy.
  • You also need to have some recent experience in a mainstream school in an appropriate age group. Please consult our Education at Leicester website to find detailed explanations of our recruitment and selection processes and criteria.

Additional requirements

Admission to the course is subject to a satisfactory medical report. The University will provide more information about this should you be offered a place.

All offers are subject to a satisfactory enhanced DBS disclosure. Education at Leicester will provide instructions regarding the DBS application process once you have accepted an offer of a place on the course.

Application Process

The application process for a PGCE is different from other postgraduate courses so please see our information on how to apply.

You should also read this advice for applicants before you apply.

English Language Requirements
You must have a GCSE Grade C in English Language. Please see our entry requirements (left) for more information.
International Qualifications

Find your country in this list to check equivalent qualifications, scholarships and additional requirements.

Countries list

Fees and Funding

Career Opportunities

Many School Direct students secure their first teaching post within one of their Alliance’s schools. We will support you in applying for teaching posts by guiding and supporting you through the whole process including workshops run by head teachers and recruitment specialists. The workshop content includes writing letters of application; interview techniques; teaching sample lessons and one-to-one coaching and mock interviews. We know that this approach is highly successful every year and, and Ofsted noted, ‘Former trainees from this provider are highly prized locally and demand often outstrips the number of NQT positions available’.

We foster your continued relationship with Education at Leicester once you become an NQT by supporting your career development in a number of ways, including running a successful NQT Conference each spring.

Education CPD+ offers a range of professional development opportunities for practicing teachers.

Our PhD opportunities are very popular with those wishing to pursue a particular research interest at doctoral level. We are committed to training excellent teachers during the PGCE and beyond, and we are proud that so many of our students return to Education at Leicester for further study once qualified.

During your NQT year you will be invited to attend an NQT conference which includes keynote speakers, a variety of workshops and networking opportunities. Previous attendees have said:

  • “It made me think a lot about my ethos in the classroom. Humorous and insightful, put the year into perspective.”
  • “Fantastic and inspiring."
  • “Lots of ideas to put in place tomorrow!"

Our Career Development Service is here to support you, with advice on interviews, CVs, work experience, volunteering and more. From Freshers’ Week to Graduation and beyond, they are here to help you reach your professional goals.

Course Qualification Duration Start Dates Availability
School Direct Primary Education PGCE 1 year full-time September each year Apply Now
School Direct Primary Education
1 year full-time
Start Dates
September each year

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