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Primary Education and PGCE interviews

If your application to study Primary Education or PGCE is accepted we will invite you for an interview. An offer to study with us will only be made after a successful interview.

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Primary Education

Go to: What to expect on the day  |  Interview preparation  |  What to bring  |  Tips and tricks

What to expect at the interview

You will move through 5 interview stations. Each station will:

  • Focus on a different aspect of being a student teacher
  • Have a different interviewer
  • Use a different interview approach (such as tasks or questions).

Interview preparation

When you are invited to interview you will be sent a 3-part presentation about the Primary Education course. We recommend watching this before you come to your interview. You will have the chance to ask questions about this presentation at your interview.

You might want to think about the following before your interview:

  • Your recent experience of working with children, especially in primary schools.
  • What you know about being a primary school teacher.
  • What you want to tell us about yourself.

The interview will take place in a single room. We want your interview day to be professional, friendly, informative and fair. We hope it will be a positive experience and we look forward to meeting you.

On the day we will provide refreshments and there will be a short presentation for any friends or family members who have come with you.

What you need to bring

  • Certificates: all GCSEs, Level 3s (A-Levels, BTECs etc), degree certificates. If your grades are pending, you do not need to bring confirmation of what you are studying.
  • ID: you will need 3 items of ID to allow us to start your DBS and Medical Check. A passport, birth certificate or full driving licence will be sufficient for the first 2 documents. A bank statement, credit card statement or a P45/P60 will suffice for the third.

Top tips

  • Show some enthusiasm, genuine passion and enthusiasm for working with children and helping them to learn.
  • Reflect on any experience you have in schools and use this to flesh out your answers.
  • Make sure your answers are full and detailed, not short single sentences.
  • Show what you have learnt about the job of teaching, what you have learned about how children and teachers interact, what you know about the rewards and challenges of the job and show us that you have a realistic view of teaching alongside your passion and enthusiasm.

PGCE Primary (University Centred)

Go to: What to expect on the day  |  How we assess you

What to expect at the interview

Our PGCE interviews give academic staff an opportunity to meet with prospective students. This is so they can find out why you have applied for the course and discuss the information provided on your application form in more detail.

It also gives you an opportunity to talk about yourself, and to demonstrate the practical and academic skills relevant to the course through a variety of tasks.

We are looking for your:

  • Commitment to, experience and understanding of primary education
  • Personal and intellectual qualities
  • Ability to communicate effectively with adults and children in a school context

These assessments are made through group and individual interviews. There is also an opportunity during the day to tour the campus.

How we assess you

Group Presentation (40%)

As part of your interview day, you will do a short teaching task.

You will be placed in a small group (of up to 6), and will be allocated 8 minutes, in which you have to teach the other members of your group something new. It can be absolutely anything, and may be a skill or interest you already have. It is up to you to decide how and what to teach, but it should not be aimed at primary level teaching, as you will be teaching adults. Examples of a teaching task might be how to make a serviette place setting, how to snorkel, a card game, how to survive an overnight hike, or learning a new song.

The short amount of time available to you will limit the nature of the task. You may bring any simple resources to help you, but these may not be necessary in many circumstances. There will be some floor space, tables and chairs if needed and the task will take place in a general teaching room. The facility for PowerPoint presentations will not be available. During the task, an interviewer will assess a number of personal attributes, and the potential you demonstrate to succeed on the programme.

Interviewers will consider your:

  • Presence, personality and aptitude for teaching
  • Creativity of ideas and approach
  • Communication skills
  • Effectiveness and ability to engage the group
  • Timing and structure

Group presentation assessment criteria: PGCE Group Tasks Criteria 2015 (DOCx, 18.5kB)

Individual Interview (40%)

The interview is your chance to tell us about yourself. We want to get to know you better and find out more about the information on your application form.

Interview assessment criteria: PGCE Individual Interview Criteria 2015 (DOCx, 16kB)

Presentation (20%)

At the beginning of your individual interview you will be asked to give a 5 minute presentation where you reflect on the issues raised in this article: PGCE Primary Interview Paper - Principles of Instruction (PDF, 0.8MB)

In the presentation, we will consider your ability to discuss the topic in an analytical and critical way. You may wish to prepare by reading further about the topic to discuss different perspectives on the issue. The interviewer may ask you questions to develop this further.

Again, the facility for PowerPoint presentations will not be available.

Presentation assessment criteria: PGCE Presentation Criteria 2015 (DOCx, 14kB)

Primary and Secondary (School Direct) PGCE

Go to: What to expect on the day

Interviews for the Primary (School Direct) PGCE and Secondary (School Direct) PGCE courses will be conducted by members of the University's academic staff in collaboration with school-based staff. 

Interviews take place within a school setting.

What to expect at the interview

At the interview you will need to demonstrate:

  • Your commitment to teaching
  • Your capacity to learn from experience of working with children and young people
  • Your ability to communicate effectively with others
  • Your knowledge of current educational issues
  • An appropriate level of competence in writing, to reflect the demands of the course
  • Your experience of working in an appropriate setting (for example, voluntary or paid work as a teaching assistant or nursery nurse, or time spent in an educational setting)

PGCE Secondary RE

Go to: What to expect on the day  |  How we assess you  |  Interview preparation

What to expect at the interview

The interview will include:

  • Welcome and introductory briefing
  • School tour with pupils
  • Teaching and learning activity with pupils
  • Individual interview with staff
  • Group task
  • Literacy task
  • Reflection activity

How we assess you

The interview activities are designed to make sure we recruit high quality individuals who have the potential to become outstanding teachers in the future.

We are looking for your:

  • Ability to interact and communicate with pupils and staff in a professional environment
  • Personal and professional conduct
  • Ability to plan, organise, deliver, and engage pupils in learning
  • Subject knowledge, personal and intellectual qualities, commitment to and understanding of secondary education and current issues in education
  • Understanding of key issues such as behaviour management
  • Quality of writing and ability to prioritise
  • Ability to reflect and identify targets and strategies to prepare for the programme

Interview preparation

In preparation for the interview day we ask that you complete the documents attached to your invite e­mail and bring these to the interview with you:

  • Prior achievement booklet
  • Initial subject knowledge audit

You should also come prepared to discuss how your subject area is taught as part of the curriculum.

As part of the interview day, you will be expected to deliver a short teaching/interaction activity to staff, the pupil panel and peers.

You will choose any aspect of your subject to teach a small group of pupils for 10 to 15 minutes.

We recommend you keep the following points in mind when preparing for this task:

  • Aim to use the full 10 to 15 minutes. You will be stopped if you exceed the time.
  • The pupil group will consist of 6 to 10 pupils (unless advised otherwise).
  • You are not limited in terms of specific topic or content.
  • You will be expected to engage and interact with pupils and demonstrate the ability to facilitate learning.
  • You will not have access to a computer or projection equipment but may bring other resources if you wish.

If you are successful at the interview and are offered a place, you will be invited to an afternoon at York St John University for an initial induction session.

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