Department of Education


Course Leader: Sue Pinnick

What does the Sussex ITE partnership offer?

You can apply directly to the university to study for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) specialising in English. Alternatively, many schools work in partnership with the University to offer School Direct places which also lead to an English PGCE award. Either route will prepare you, as a trainee teacher, to teach English at Key Stages 3 and 4 (11-16 years) with enhancement opportunities in the Post-16 A level English curriculum.

This course can also be undertaken part-time over two years by suitable candidates. 

Successful trainees will be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Why is English teacher education distinctive at Sussex?

"Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad and see how [writers] do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write."
William Faulkner

At the heart of the English PGCE course at Sussex is a belief in the importance of reading. Enabling pupils to become independent, critical readers who love reading and talking about texts with teachers and peers will allow them to succeed in all other areas of the English - and indeed the school - curriculum. Therefore, you will gain understanding of how to develop the reading abilities of your pupils, drawing connections between your own knowledge and love of literature and the comprehension strategies and exposure to challenging texts that will enable your pupils to become similarly enthusiastic, engaged readers. Exploratory talk about texts is also central to developing pupils' talk and writing, combined with rich, textual models. You will deepen your own grammatical understanding and that of your pupils, enabling them to become creative, effective writers.

The English team here at Sussex is drawn equally from the University and our school partnership. Teaching faculty include tutors with experience as Heads of English in school, Lead Examiners for GCSE examination boards and teacher-educator researchers, who specialise in developing pupils' reading and higher-cognitive talk and in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Our dynamic partnership includes excellent school practitioners leading sessions on topics including A level English Language, Drama and E-learning.

Your subject and pedagogic knowledge will also be enriched by visits to, for example, the British Library, the Globe Theatre and the Mass Observation Archive, modelling 'out-of-classroom' experiences, central to your pupils' learning. Visiting an 'outstanding' inner-city school that has rapidly improved performance in the last three years will enable you to explore key strategies in teaching English that can effect whole-school change. Our focus on reading is pivotal to raising the achievement of disadvantaged students, and our partnership is currently involved in  a range of research interventions on reading, including evaluating the most effective strategies for improving educational outcomes, such as 'Drop Everything and Read!' With us, you will develop your understanding of innovative, evidence-based practice, fusing theory and practice in academic assignments.

Many English teacher trainees and mentors progress to our Masters courses, in order to continue to enhance their teaching abilities and deepen their subject knowledge, by researching best practice. Seven former English trainees recently won prestigious National Scholarships from the National College for Teaching and Leadership.

Vimeo video + presentation about doing English teacher training at Sussex

Teaching, learning and assessment

You will learn to be an English teacher through a combination of taught sessions at the university and school-led professional development and classroom practice. You will start your course with a 2-3 week induction at the University in September, which is followed by a programme of lectures, seminars and workshops every Friday. These involve presentations, group work, role play, classroom modelling and peer teaching, for which you will explore ideas and approaches and reflect on your own experiences.

Over the course of the academic year, you will undertake two periods of professional practice in two different schools (these may vary slightly in length, but will equate to a minimum of 120 working days in total). You will be supported in your professional placements by an English specialist, who will act as a mentor, offering you tutorial support and developing a programme of practice-based professional studies for you. Your progress will be assessed through observations, feedback and discussion. To this end, you will create and maintain a portfolio of evidence demonstrating how you have met the various Teachers' Standards.

You will engage with the theoretical foundations of classroom practice and demonstrate the depth of your professional knowledge by completing three academic assignments during the course.

Additional entry requirements

To be accepted on this course, you must meet the partnership's established entry requirements for Initial Teacher Education. See 'Our Entry Requirements' at the bottom of our Applying web page. Additionally, given the significant competition for those applying for a place on the English Initial Teacher Education course specifically, you should be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A strong knowledge and understanding of English literature and language, and a sound awareness of how the subject is currently taught within Secondary state schools
  • A good honours degree (2:2 or above) in English. For English-related degrees (eg. Classics, Linguistics) candidates need to demonstrate that they have excellent subject knowledge of English literature to degree standard. Those without an English degree will need to undertake a Masters degree in English, or enhance their English subject knowledge via relevant degree modules before applying.

Undertaking a short classroom type teaching task and showing an awareness of the curriculum and school life is part of our interview process, so candidates may wish to prepare themselves by spending some time in an appropriate school setting for the subject/phase they intend to teach beforehand.

All candidates offered a place on a teacher training course will be required to satisfactorily complete an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly known as a CRB check), including a check of all cautions and warnings as well as convictions, before their place can be confirmed. The University will pay the costs of this check on your behalf.

How to apply

Applications for all Initial Teacher Education courses are made online via the Government's Department for Education websiteSee also our 'Applying' web page for a step-by-step process for how to apply to train to teach at Sussex.


See our Scholarships, fees and living costs web page for information on fees and eligibility for financial support. Specific information on bursaries, financial incentives and other sources of funding for Initial Teacher Education are available on our PGCE & School Direct Trainee Fees & Bursaries: 2023 and from the Department for Education.


See full details of the Secondary English PGCE course at Sussex on the Prospectus.

General enquiries about any ITE course, including application queries, should be directed to the ITE admissions team:

Specific course enquiries can be directed to the Course Leader: