PGCE Primary Education (5-11 years) PGCE - University of Sunderland

Course overview

Do you want to become a primary school teacher and help children aged 5-11 years make the best possible start in life? This initial teacher training course covers the knowledge and skills that are required for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

This exciting one year, full time, innovative and high-quality PGCE Programme has been specifically developed to provide a route for students wishing to gain a PGCE in Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. It has been specially designed to blend University-Based academic learning with Practice Based teaching experiences in our Partnership schools. Our wide Partnership of schools works very closely together with University Tutors who are experts in Education to link theory and practice in order to ensure our Trainees develop into research informed, dynamic and confident Newly Qualified Teachers. The Programme actively draws on excellent Practitioners from our Partnership to complement theoretical input in University taught sessions.

In addition to this the PGCE also provides students with the academic opportunity to study at Masters Level as part of the Programme in order to gain 60 credits towards a Masters Degree. Masters Degrees are becoming increasingly desirable in Education and give teachers increased opportunity for promotion within this field.

This programme is also offered as part of our School Direct route.

According to the 2012 Ofsted report on our initial teacher education, key strengths include the ‘good pastoral support provided for trainees through good communication with tutors and through effective use of resources such as the virtual learning environment’.

The average starting salary for a teacher compares favourably with many other sectors and it is currently over £22,000. Salary packages include access to one of the country’s largest public sector pension schemes.

As a student on this course, you will be eligible for many of the University of Sunderland scholarships. Full details of the Sunderland scholarships available to you can be found on the Entry requirements tab of this course.

A video showing the benefits of becoming a teacher:

Course content

The University-based modules

  • Professional Studies (Masters Level)
  • Mathematics in Primary Education
  • English in Primary Education
  • Science in Primary Education
  • Foundation Subjects in Primary Education (Maters Level)

In addition to this we also provide our Trainees with sessions in ICT to prepare them for life in a 21st century classroom.

School Experience

  • Our Primary PGCE Programme is unique in its design. In addition to Assessed Placements we provide our students with seventeen additional Theory Linked Practice Days in schools. We are committed to providing our trainees with the richest and broadest opportunities. These TLP days have been especially designed to enable students to research and experience practice in important aspects of education introduced in University sessions. These include days in the Early Years Foundation Stage, experience of Diversity and Inclusion in school and Specials Educational Needs and Disability

Assessed School Experience is divided in to 3 Phases:

  • Phase 1: Students spend six weeks teaching in a mainstream school. This consists of one non-teaching preparation week to orientate Trainees into the life of the school and to also enable them to get to know the children and to prepare for teaching with the help of the School Based Mentor. This is followed by five assessed teaching weeks
  • Phase 2 consists of 5 assessed weeks teaching in a mainstream school
  • Phase 3 Final Assessed Placement consists of 10 assessed weeks teaching in a mainstream school

By the end of all teaching placements students will have gained experience of working in both key stages.

Teaching and assessment

School Based Teaching Placements are central to the Programme and all University Modules are designed to support Trainees in developing their knowledge and confidence in teaching. University input is delivered by both expert Tutors and excellent Practitioners from Partnership Schools, in a wide variety of ways including, lectures, tutorials and practical workshops as well as online discussions.

All aspects of the Programme are designed to enable you to meet and demonstrate the National College for Teaching (NCTL) and Leadership Standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Students will compile evidence against the Standards throughout the Programme in their online e-Portfolio.

The PGCE Primary Tutor Team is committed to providing the best experiences for our Trainees. Our unique Studies Advisor system ensures all Trainees are allocated an individual Tutor and are nurtured and developed both academically and professionally throughout the Programme.

Assessment is continuous throughout the course. Subject knowledge is monitored through the use of subject audits which enable students to identify their strengths and areas of development and to then action plan with Subject Specialist Tutors support to increase their knowledge and confidence in identified areas.

Modules are assessed through a variety of assessment methods including Reflections on practice, Assignments and Practice Based Interventions.

School Assessed Placements are assessed by Partnership schools in liaison with the University.

Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

Primary partnership

The University of Sunderland prides itself in the strength of the Primary Partnership which includes over 200 schools in 12 different local authorities. The Partnership Office works very closely with Students to identify ideal Placements.

According to Ofsted in 2012, a key strength of our provision is tutors’ “good knowledge of schools in the partnership which enables them to identify and make effective use of staff and schools with specialist skills”.

University Library Services

At the University there are thousands of books and e-books on topics related to education and training, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles. Resources include the EBSCO Professional Development Collection, which is a specialised collection of over 500 education journals.


The David Goldman Informatics Centre

St Peter's Campus, St Peter's Way, Sunderland, SR6 0DD

Entry requirements

Applications are welcomed from holders of a goods honours degree (classification normally 2:1 or above).

Applicants should also have at least grade C in GCSE Mathematics, Science and English (or equivalent) by commencement of the course.

All successful applicants will be invited in for an interview. Interviews start mid to late November time so we recommend for you to apply as soon as UCAS opens in October. Completion of the Teaching Agency skills tests prior to the course starting is an additional requirement, please see details below. 

Applicants should demonstrate that they have a broad educational background which will support the teaching of the primary curriculum at Grade C or above in a range of other National Curriculum GCSE subjects and A level subjects (or equivalents). Recent and relevant experience in English mainstream state primary schools and other educational settings is also very desirable and this will strengthen applicants written personal statements and references.

Applicants are expected to show substantial, recent experience (two weeks minimum, but preferably more) of working within English state mainstream Primary Classroom(s) at KS1 and/or KS2 during the past two years.

Applicants are asked to provide a start and finish date of any experience, the name of the school and the class year group under the appropriate heading on the application form. Applicants may also demonstrate the relevancy of any appropriate work experience which may be relevant to the programme and to the teaching profession.

Additional requirements:

  • DBS Enhanced Disclosure
  • Completion of a medical pro forma
  • Entrants to Initial Teacher Education Programmes need to be aware of the Government regulations regarding mandatory “Professional skills tests for Trainee teachers” in numeracy and literacy. Successful completion of the Skills tests in literacy and numeracy are a condition before starting the course. It would be helpful, but not essential, to take the tests before your interview. More details can be found by visiting the Department of Education website

Applicants whose first language is not English must achieve a minimum IELTS band score or 6.5, with 6.5 in writing, no sub section below 6.

After 6 April 2015, you must take your IELTS exams at one of the test centres listed on the UKVI website. If you took your IELTS exam before 6 April 2015 this does not apply, and your qualification is still valid regardless of which test centre you used.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Applications are welcomed from holders of a goods honours degree (classification normally 2:1 or above).

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,000 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,000 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Government scholarships

The UK Government is keen to encourage high-quality graduates to train as teachers, and so offers bursaries to attract more people into teaching. For more information and to check the eligibility criteria, please see

University of Sunderland scholarships

Students on this course are entitled to a Get There Scholarship. Full details and eligibility criteria can be found on the University of Sunderland Scholarships page.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for any of the above scholarships, please contact:

The Scholarships Team
Tel: 0191 515 2865

Employment & careers

Everyone who wants to teach in a state-maintained school in England and Wales needs Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This course leads to QTS and, on successful completion, you will become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT).

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 

According to recent research, twice as many teachers find their work extremely enjoyable when compared to professionals with careers in marketing, IT and accountancy. Almost half say they regularly experience a ‘natural high’ at work.

The starting salary of an NQT is over £22,000, with extra if you work in London. Teachers see their salaries rise by an average of 30 per cent after their first four years in the job.


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Studies Advice Tutor who will meet with you at key points throughout your course. Studies Advice Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries or concerns. Studies Advisers are able to point you towards specialist services at the University, such as student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views and to react to student voice.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you to clarify your ideas, and make effective applications. The Professional Studies Module includes sessions to support your application to your first teaching post and is delivered by both University Tutors and Partnership Head Teachers. 

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extra-curricular activities available to you. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

Apply for this course

Applications for entry must be submitted through UCAS Teacher Training (UTT).

    Next open day

  • Date: Thursday 26th May 2016
  • Time: 1:30pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: The Gateway at City Campus

Contact Sunderland

Programme Leader:
Susan Edgar
Tel: 0191 515 2270

For more information, contact:

The Recruitment Team
Tel: 0191 515 3845

The details

Course Name PGCE Primary Education (5-11 years)
Classification PGCE
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 19 September 2016
UK/EU Fee £9,000
Intl Fee £11,000

Entry requirements

Good honours degree (2:1 or above) at least 50% of which should be in a national curriculum subject

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