The PGCE Education is a postgraduate teaching qualification. Where trainees are based in secondary schools, they'll teach and focus their academic work on the subject(s) for which their degree equips them. Primary trainees will teach a range of subjects in the class in which they are based. It's preferable that primary teachers are able to teach English, Maths, and Science – though this can be discussed with the PGCE team during the application process. Secondary trainee teachers will focus on their specialist subject or small range of subjects.
Please see the answers to frequently asked questions about the course below:
Published: 17 March 2023
The Qualification Assurance Agency (QAA) in the UK requires all universities to undertake a rigorous approval process for their programmes. This involves scrutiny by other academics and stakeholders from outside the institution who will only allow a programme to be offered if they are satisfied with the rigour of the academic standards and the organisation to support it. This PGCE began in 1999 and was revalidated in December 2016 for a further five years. Annually, a report is written on this programme to monitor its quality and part of that process is a commentary by an External Examiner whose role it is to assure the University that the programme is comparable to other similar programmes, that it meets its stated aims and is maintaining quality standards. This programme has consistently exceeded these requirements.
This programme regularly has trainees from over 50 different countries and all countries have somewhat different conditions for awarding their own qualified teacher status (or similar). The programme is based on the UK Teachers’ Standards which are similar to those in many other countries. As far as the requirements of getting Qualified Teacher Status in England (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic are different) are concerned, the only trainees who get QTS are those who undertake their training in a state school in England and then complete the NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) year afterwards.
However, for the market that this programme caters for – the international/private schools around the world – you don't need it unless the school only employs teachers who have already taught in the state system and have QTS. You'll need to check with the school and consider your own position in this respect.
This programme should not be seen as an alternative route to gaining state registration (QTS). Although it may be possible to get QTS from an individual country, there's no guarantee that it will be granted. If QTS is a key driver for doing this programme, you're advised that this may not be the programme for you or, at the very least, you should take steps to assure yourself that any country you apply to may look favourably upon your request.
There is an Assessment Only Route to QTS available which can now be completed internationally – provided that you satisfy the rigorous and extensive entry criteria. Further information for this can be found on our Assessment Only Route to QTS course page.
No, you won't receive a DfE number. Only trainees who undertake their training in England and whose teaching practice is in a state school will automatically get a DfE number during their PGCE year.
Some international schools may ask for this but it's meaningless unless the holder has also completed the ECT period and has full state registration. If a school does ask for QTS, they're probably expecting you to already be trained and state-registered in another country, and in the case of many international schools, that will mean England, the USA, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. This programme does not recommend for QTS.
The programme is marketed for in-service teachers or pre-service teachers (those looking to join the teaching profession) in international schools around the world. The expatriate teaching community is an extremely fluid one and teachers tend to move around the world regularly. It's our experience over the past two decades that this award is recognised in many countries – the programme has grown simply by word of mouth with its graduates and teachers who have worked with trainees, recommending it. We cannot guarantee that any particular school will accept it, but we have good evidence that they will.
The PGCE Education course is not designed as a shortcut to English QTS. It's designed for the overseas market and this is made very clear on application. A declaration of understanding is signed by all applicants to the programme.
There's currently one way of obtaining QTS after completion of the PGCE Education – this is the Assessment Only Route to QTS. No guarantee can be made that this option will remain open indefinitely, but for the moment it's still available. We've carried out international assessments for QTS in China, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Switzerland, Romania, Egypt and Vietnam and anticipate this will grow.
This is a distance learning programme and, as a prospective trainee on the course, it's a requirement for completion of the practical element that you find a school locally willing to host you throughout. The school will need to be clearly informed about the arrangements they'll need to put in place for the teaching practice element.
We're not able to help with finding placements for trainees but are willing to provide information and talk to interested schools about the course and its requirements. Further advice about finding a placement can be found on the PGCE Education DL course page.
Your mentor needs to be someone who has experience of teaching and schools but not necessarily of mentoring. The mentor is expected to have completed a teacher training programme themselves and have at least two years of post-qualification experience. If they've already mentored other trainees elsewhere in the world, that would be an advantage, but support and guidance is provided for mentors via the designated mentoring space on Canvas (the University of Sunderland’s Virtual Learning Environment).
The requirements of a mentor include:
Initiating regular observations, getting to know the trainee's circumstances and concerns, etc.
Providing friendly professional support and helping with any problems raised by the trainee
Introducing the trainee to key staff in the school so that they can benefit from help from a range of colleagues
Offering guidance with the preparation of lessons and teaching materials
Observing the trainee’s teaching (once per week) and providing constructive feedback
Meeting formally with the trainee (once per week) to discuss progress and set targets
Discussing the trainee’s progress with other staff and providing feedback where necessary
Discussing, and if practicable, sharing teaching materials with the trainee
Discussing construction of assessment strategies and lesson evaluations with the trainee
Listening actively, asking open and appropriate questions
Making suggestions without being prescriptive
Preparing interim and final reports on the trainee’s teaching
Assisting in the evaluation of the trainee’s evidence portfolio against the teaching standards
Mentoring would normally cover approximately 1.5 hours per week. The University makes a payment of £500 to the mentor for the two placements and their involvement in observing and writing an interim and final report on the trainee. On occasions, you can have two mentors, one per placement. This would mean that each mentor would receive £250 for the above work and commitment.
This is a generic PGCE and doesn't specifically focus on any phase or subject. Within the academic modules, there's the opportunity to explore and develop themes that relate to age, phase, and subject, but the certificate that you get on successful completion will not specifically mention any subject or phase.
Any reference or supporting letter provided by the University will make it clear in which phase of education you did your training, the curriculum you taught, and subjects taught.
Your PGCE will be based on the phase that you're working in while training and your academic assignments will most likely focus on that phase. Therefore, by the end of the course you'll be able to demonstrate a good understanding of that age group or phase.
International schools may be willing to accept that you have good subject knowledge from your first degree and that the PGCE has given you grounding in the aspects of teaching and, therefore, be willing to employ you outside the phase in which you trained. We cannot, however, comment on how likely it is that this would happen. You should be able to show competence to teach in the phase you were in during training from the standards you achieved and the academic work you submitted, and you should consider the position carefully if you're hoping to teach outside this in the future. This PGCE is generic and has the practice of teaching and learning integral to its aims.
We work with trainees from around the world and across many curricula and school structures, but to help you understand what we mean by phases (or by the term Key Stages) please note the following:
Early Years: Ages 3-4 Ages 4-5, Reception Year
Primary Key Stage 1: Ages 5-7, Years 1 and 2 Key Stage 2: Ages 7-11, Years 3, 4, 5 and 6
Secondary Key Stage 3: Ages 11-14, Years 7, 8 and 9 Key Stage 4: Ages 14-16, Years 10 and 11
Post compulsory education Key stage 5: Ages 16-18, Years 12 and 13
Teaching across two key stages is recommended and usually with the same mentor. It's possible, however, to have a different mentor for each practice.
The practical teaching element is full-time and although you're expected to teach 11 hours per week in the first block and 14 hours per week in the second block, you're still expected to be in school five days a week. This will allow you to enjoy the full school experience, attend meetings and undertake duties which your school and mentor see fit, carry out observations, meet with your mentor and other members of staff, and collect data in relation to your academic modules.
If you're a full-time member of teaching staff at the school then you would usually designate the teaching practice hours from within your normal schedule. While you would still have to have time for the activities/meetings/tasks mentioned above, much of this 'school experience' would already be part of your schedule. Many of our trainees are in-service teachers or teaching assistants and, although it's more of a challenge undertaking the PGCE at the same time as full-time employment, many have done it before.
If you're a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Educational Assistant (EA) you may be able to work with classes that are already part of your schedule, but this is an agreement that will need to be made with your school.
You wouldn't necessarily be expected (particularly if new to teaching) to teach whole classes immediately. We can allow trainees to begin with observations, one-to-one, small group, and team teaching in the first week and then build rapidly to whole-class teaching. The expectation in your second practice would be that the majority of your teaching would be whole-class. This will be different for every trainee and some full-time staff will already be teaching full classes as per their normal schedule.
Yes, it's possible to complete your two practices in two different schools. However, the schools would need to be in the same education phase (either primary or secondary). The subjects and phase you're teaching in should be clearly indicated when you provide your School Proposal form either as part of the initial application or before you begin your teaching practicum.
This is a postgraduate course, so the entry requirements include holding a bachelor’s degree with honours. In certain circumstances (at our discretion), we can accept other qualifications if their content and specific background is of an equivalent or corresponding level. This is not automatic, and we look closely at your qualifications and make judgements on individual cases.
It's possible for you to send a copy of your degree certificate to us before application so that we can tell you what your qualification equates to – please email Pgceeducation.firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have two entry points for the programme. Currently, our start dates are usually September and February. The course is 36 weeks long.
Those who wish to take part in our graduation ceremony are welcome to do so. For the September intake, this is held in Sunderland around the second week of July each year after the main course is completed. If you complete at a different time, you can still attend graduation.
If you're located in Hong Kong, you may also attend the University of Sunderland in Hong Kong graduations if you wish.
We require proof of English language proficiency from all students, including those from the UK. If your degree was studied in the medium of instruction of English, you may be exempt from providing the proof of English requirement (degrees from any UK university are exempt). Please check if your degree certificate has this stated on it, or the transcript. If not, ask your University to provide a note on headed paper, which clearly states the degree and medium of instruction.
If you cannot provide this, you may have to undertake the academic IELTS test to prove that you're ready to study at postgraduate level in the medium of instruction of English. A minimum IELTS band score of 6.5, with 6.5 in writing and no less than 6 in Reading and Speaking and Listening is required.
Other types of evidence that we accept are GCSE/iGCSE in English Language (as a first language) of Grade C or above and Malaysian STPM Grade C or above if completed within the last five years. If you have any questions regarding proof of English, please email Pgceeducation.email@example.com for advice.
Payments can be made via our Payment Portal. This is the quickest way for the University to receive your deposit and there are no chargers by the University for using this portal. Payments can also be made via bank transfer, but please be aware that there may be some hidden charges which you will be liable for. Bank details can be found on our How do I pay my fees? Help and Advice article.
£1,000 will be due at least two weeks prior to the course start date. The full tuition fee will be split into three instalments (with your deposit being allocated to your first instalment) that will be due throughout the programme. Further financial information can be found within the tuition fees policy for independent learners.
The sponsored amount will be invoiced in one instalment. We'll require the following to be emailed to Pgceeducation.firstname.lastname@example.org two weeks prior to the start of your course (if this isn't received by this deadline, it will result in you being invoiced for full fees):
Name of school/company paying for the fees
Name of the student along with the student application number (e.g. 189095994)
How much the school/company is paying for on behalf of the applicant – it must be in GBP
Contact details of the school, which must include address, email and telephone number
Point of contact at the school/company who will deal with any future enquires relating to this invoice
Letter must be on official letter headed paper
We'll consider your application as soon as possible, but it will be subject to certain checks first. In some cases, we may also need you to confirm school placements or provide some outstanding documentation. You'll be given access to an application portal (myApplication) where additional documents can be uploaded and you can check the status of your application.
Once your application has been reviewed, you'll be given a conditional offer pending either paying of the £1,000 deposit and/or proof of English Language Proficiency. Once you've met all the conditions of your offer, you'll then be sent an ‘unconditional’ offer. You'll be advised to enrol at least two weeks prior to the course start date (at which point your deposit will become non-refundable) and once enrolled, you will be contacted by the FES registry and academic teams via your student email account (access to this will be given when enrolling) regarding induction before the start of the programme.
We'll provide successful applicants with a pack of Keeping Warm activities. These aren't compulsory, but will be useful if you're new to teaching. Other than this, we don't expect you to do anything before we open the Virtual Learning Environment to you (one week before the scheduled course start date), but any reading around education or teaching and any involvement with schools will be beneficial.
Make sure you have a computer that's rated for multimedia use (typically with a minimum speed of 1GHz and a minimum memory of 256Mb, but the faster and with the greatest memory, the better). As all the tuition is web-based, you should also ensure that you have satisfactory internet connection.