Primary Education (School Direct) PGCE

The key aim of the PGCE Primary Education School Direct programme is to deliver a high quality initial teacher education programme that is up-to-date with current developments in education and the primary curriculum and will equip you with the professional knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes to become outstanding Early Years practitioners and primary teachers.

York St John University
Course fees
2018 - 19 Full-time Home & EU students: £9,250, International (non EU) students: £12,500 per annum
Full-time only
Start date
September 2019

Course overview

The primary PGCE School Direct programme offers a one year school-centred route into teaching. You will either elect to take the lower primary (EYFS & KS1) or the upper primary (KS2) route and your assessed school placements will focus on your desired age range. However, upon the award of QTS you will be qualified to teach across the full 3-11 age range.

The school-centred PGCE programme offers everyone involved opportunities to work in close partnership and we have established excellent partnerships with several teaching schools within the north of England. This allows us to work closely with partnership school colleagues to support you in developing your professional practice, providing you with excellent opportunities to engage in wider professional issues relating to pedagogy and the curriculum.

Within this school direct programme you will be expected to critically engage with educational issues and develop as reflective practitioners, able to evaluate and adapt your practice to meet the needs of learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. The University provides a strong centre-based opportunity to develop and share good practice in order to enhance the experiences of all student teachers.

Course structure

The PGCE Primary programmes are structured in phases (introductory, developmental and consolidation. Within each phase you will follow a similar pattern of learning to that of a ‘spiral curriculum’. This is to enable you to reflect upon your learning and make effective links with curriculum and pedagogy by relating theory to practice.

Alongside academic assignments, you will be assessed in three school experience placements: these again follow the introductory, development and consolidation phases. The nature of these placements enables you to progress effectively by building upon your skills as student teachers.

Learning & Teaching and School Experience

Two modules are studied at Masters Level. The first includes professional issues including child development, planning, learning teaching and assessment, behaviour management and meeting individual needs. You will be provided with the opportunity to consider how learners from diverse cultural backgrounds can be supported within education and care settings. This aspect of education is embedded through all modules where diversity is considered in order to meet the needs of all learners in all subjects and within the Early Years. You will study, for example, current issues pertaining to inclusion, ethnicity, English as an Additional Language (EAL), SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and the way in which settings cater for children of a range of abilities. Aspects such as behaviour and classroom management, vital to the practice of the outstanding class teacher, are covered across a variety of sessions in all modules.

Emerging Professional & School Experience

The second module focuses on your developing skills as a reflective practitioner and researcher.  You will cover aspects relating to safeguarding and your role as a professional, working with others, career opportunities and the transition from student teacher to newly qualified teacher.  You will also be supported in developing your understanding of how to conduct research within educational settings.

Early Years & Primary Curriculum

In the Early Years and Primary Curriculum module, you will be introduced to all core and foundation subjects of both the National Curriculum and the Early Years curriculum (for the 3-7 route). There is also the opportunity to develop cross-curricular and thematic planning through workshops where you will engage collaboratively to develop planning units that will consolidate and extend your own skills and those of children.  ICT is a strong component and is used to demonstrate effective, enhanced teaching.  Subject knowledge in English, mathematics and science will be prioritised and you will be required to demonstrate a secure level of knowledge beyond the Key Stage 2 curriculum.

School experiences

The PGCE School Direct is a school-based programme. Student teachers are based in one school for the majority of the year with a shorter second school placement.

Programme specification

Further information on this course is available in the programme specification. Please note that the programme specification relates to course content that is currently being studied by students at the University. For new programmes, the programme specification will be made available online prior to the start of the course.

Disability Advice

York St John University works hard to create an inclusive environment for all our students. We offer a range of disability advice services to assist students throughout their studies.

Entry Requirements


Entry requirements for programmes leading to QTS are stipulated by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) ITT criteria 2012. These are:

  • An Honours degree from a United Kingdom higher education institution or equivalent (Ordinary degrees cannot be accepted)
  • GCSE in English (or York St John University approved equivalent) at Grade C/Level 4 or above
  • GCSE in Mathematics (or the GCSE award from at Grade C/Level 4 or above
  • GCSE in Science (or York St John University approved equivalent including GCSE Human Physiology, GCSE Human Biology, Intermediate GNVQ Science or the GCSE award from at Grade C/Level 4 or above

In addition, applicants must also:

  • Satisfy the institution that they have the intellectual capability for the demands of teaching.
  • Take part in an interview designed to assess their suitability to teach.
  • Obtain a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) enhanced disclosure check and/or any other appropriate background check.
  • Obtain a satisfactory medical report. 

Successful applicants will normally have an 2:1 honours degree from a UK higher education institution, or the equivalent.

School experience

Whilst school experience is no longer an essential criteria for entry onto the PGCE programme, it has proven highly effective in supporting candidates with the application and interview process, as candidates are able to reflect on their experiences and demonstrate their emerging/developing knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning in a secondary school. Furthermore, having some school experience has proven to support preparation for the programme as students already have a foundation they can build on. 

In order to gain maximum benefit from your time spent in school you should try to: 

  • Work out a timetable, with the teacher who is supporting your placement, to ensure that everything you observe/do in the school has been agreed to. 
  • Ensure you adhere to school policies and procedures, like signing in/out at the reception each day. 
  • Look at a range of schemes of work, lesson plans and resources in the subject you will be doing your PGCE in. 
  • Talk to a range of staff in the school about their roles, for example, classroom teachers, subject leaders, pastoral leaders, teaching assistants, SENCO, data/assessment leader.  However, please remember that they are busy people and ask them for a time it might be more appropriate to meet/talk. 
  • Talk with pupils about their work and the progress they are making. Look at how their work is marked/assessed and how pupils are encouraged to respond to this. 
  • If appropriate, become involved with wider aspects of the school, for example, accompany staff on break duties, support with after school clubs and extra-curricular activities.
  • Try to look at a range of school policies, for example, on rewards and sanctions, teaching and learning.
  • Keep notes, especially of resources, activities and strategies which work well. 
  • Reflect on each day and consider what you have learnt/observed (both positive and negative aspects) and consider how this might affect you as a classroom teacher, in the future.


QTS Skills Tests

Anyone applying for an initial teacher training (ITT) course is required to have passed the QTS skills tests in literacy and numeracy before starting the course.

Once you have submitted your application to us, you will need to arrange to take and pass the tests, ideally before interview. Please refer to the  for more information.

If your first language is not English, you need to take an IELTS test or an equivalent qualification accepted by the University, please refer to  for more information.

If you do not have traditional qualifications, you may be eligible for entry on the basis of Accredited Prior Learning (APL) or Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).


Interviews for the PGCE Primary School Direct route will take place within the alliance and will involve a range of assessment activities to evaluate your suitability.

The day provides us with the opportunity to meet with prospective students to find out why they have applied for the course, and to discuss in more detail the information provided on their application form. It also gives applicants an opportunity to talk about themselves, and to demonstrate their practical and academic skills relevant to the programme through a variety of tasks.

Activities may vary between alliances but all will involve a teaching activity where you will be asked to plan a whole class or group lesson. You will also be observed interacting with a group of children and consideration will be given to your ability to support learning.  You will take part in group/individual interviews and be asked to reflect on your teaching activity. You will also be asked to respond to an academic article and demonstrate your potential to study at Masters Level.

Assessments are made during the day regarding the candidates:

  • commitment to and understanding of primary education
  • potential to successfully meet the demands of the programme
  • personal and intellectual qualities
  • ability to communicate effectively with adults and children in a school context

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

UK & EU 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2018 entry to this postgraduate course is £9,250 for full-time UK/EU, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students.



Overseas 2019 / 20

The tuition fee for 2018 entry to this postgraduate course is £12,500 for international students.

Due to immigration laws, International Students on a Tier 4 visa must be studying full-time. For more information about Visa requirements and Short-term study visas, please visit the  webpages.




How to Apply

To apply, please visit the UCAS Teacher Training pages.


Ask a question

Do you have a question about this course? Fill out our form to send a question to our Admissions team. Alternatively, you can call us on 01904 876922.

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