Department of Education

Subject knowledge enhancement (SKE)

Everyone begins their teacher training with different gaps in their subject knowledge. You might have a degree in a different subject to that which you are training to teach. You might have subject knowledge that is limited to a narrow field, or a long time may have passed since you completed your degree. You might need to learn how to relate very advanced subject knowledge level to demands of the school curriculum. Sussex SKE courses are designed to be flexible enough to meet your personal needs.

Most SKE courses involve a 'blended' approach to learning, ie. a combination of face-to-face teaching and distance learning. Distance learning gives you the flexibility to focus on your own needs (we will guide you in identifying subject knowledge gaps), planning your study around work, child care commitments, family holidays, travel plans and/or the completion of other studies. All SKE students have access to a university Tutor from the start of their course who is also an experienced classroom teacher. Contact with them can be via email, video call or phone.

Many SKE courses include a 'Summer School' (of variable length but usually between 2 and 4 weeks), an opportunity for the cohort to come together on the University of Sussex campus. During this period you will work alongside your peers in intensive sessions, and get feedback on aspects of the course which are more difficult to study independently. Summer School is ideal preparation for your training year, and students often tell us how valuable they find this particular part of the course. At the time of writing, it is still unclear whether we will be able bring people together in 2021. There are some parts of our courses for which we think there is no real substitute for being in a classroom, lab or workshop with your peers. For these subjects, if it is practical for us to offer face-to-face teaching this year (2021), it will never be compulsory. For those who choose not to attend in person, we will endeavor to facilitate remote participation through video conferencing.

As a teacher, you will continue to develop your subject knowledge well beyond your training years as you work with the National Curriculum, Exam Board specifications, past exam papers, text books, revision guides and internet resources. SKE courses help prepare you for teaching by giving you access to the same resources that you will be using in school as well as familiarising you with various teaching approaches.

We believe that the experiences you gain from working in industry, raising children, travelling and through your personal interests are all assets in the classroom. These experiences provide unique and inspiring contexts you can use to present your subject curriculum. However, it often takes some work to present areas of expertise in an accessible way and relate them to the curriculum requirement. We encourage you to use the time on your SKE course to think about how to incorporate your subject knowledge strengths into your future teaching, whilst addressing the gaps in your subject knowledge.

To receive the SKE bursary you need to complete the equivalent of 25 hours of study each week. However, it may be possible to extend the duration of the course enabling you to work less hours per week for a longer period. You should indicate on the application form if you intend to study part-time. 

Eligibility and funding

You must have been offered a place on a PGCE or School Direct course with enrolment on an SKE course as a condition of acceptance.

SKE courses are funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and are free to participants.

A bursary of £175 per week is available for those parts of the SKE course completed prior to starting your training year (in September).

The DfE has introduced new rules that mean, if you have been awarded a degree within the last 5 years, it must be significantly different to the subject you want to train to teach before you are eligible for SKE funding.

We have produced a tool to help you determine your eligibility for DfE funding: Sussex University SKE Elibility Checker
(NB. This may not work on a phone or tablet)

If you have any questions about your eligibility regarding SKE, please email