PGCE Primary Education PGCE - University of Sunderland

Course overview

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. Trainees will have the opportunity to choose an Early Primary or Primary route as well as selecting a subject enhancement. 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.

We are proud that the 2015 inspection from Ofsted rated our Primary Provision at Sunderland to be “Good” noting strengths in Trainee employability and Trainee confidence about entering the profession as well as their commitment to teaching.  Ofsted highlighted in particular Trainees’ awareness of potential barriers to pupils’ learning and personal development, reflected in the way they seek to tackle discrimination of any kind.

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.

Course content

University-based modules

  • Professional Studies (Masters Level)
  • Core subjects
  • Negotiated study (Foundation Subjects/Enrichment Subject (Masters Level)


School Experience

  • Our Primary PGCE Programme is unique in its design. In addition to Assessed Placements, we provide our students with additional Theory Linked Practice/Focus days in schools. We are committed to providing our trainees with the richest and broadest opportunities. These TLP/Focus days have been specially 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, KS3/4 experience of Diversity and Inclusion in school, EAL and Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Assessed School Experience:

  • Trainees will experience assessed placements in Early Years and KS1 or KS1 and KS2 in at least two contrasting mainstream settings.
  • This will include two weeks non-assessed enhancement which provides students with the opportunity to develop their subject specialism in preparation for employment in a school.

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 Personal Tutor 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, Assignments, Portfolio  and Practice Based Tasks.

 Assessed Placements are assessed by Partnership schools/settings 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 good honours degree (classification normally 2:1 or above) however those with 2.2’s will be considered if they can demonstrate significant experience in schools/settings

Applicants should also have at least grade C in GCSE Mathematics, Science and English Language (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 NCTL  skills tests for Literacy and Numeracy prior to the course starting is an additional requirement, please see details below. 

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, recent experience (two weeks minimum, but preferably more) of working within English state mainstream Primary Classroom(s) in Foundation Stage, KS1 and/or KS2 during the past two years.

Additional requirements:

The course includes working in schools so the following are required:

  • Applicants to this course are expected to attend an interview as part of the selection process. Interviews will be taking place from early November 2016
  • All trainee teachers are required to pass Skills Tests in Numeracy and Literacy Skills Tests before starting their course. It would be helpful, but not essential if you are able to take the tests before the interview
  • DBS Enhanced Disclosure
  • Completion of a medical pro forma (based on DFEE Circular 8/92)
  • Self-Declaration


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.

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.


Fees & finance


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 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 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

Programme Leader:
Susan Edgar
Tel: 0191 515 2270

Contact the recruitment team for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Recruitment Team
Telephone: 0191 515 3000 

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 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

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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