Department of Education


Visit our virtual information event web page for videos about Initial Teacher Education at Sussex, the training routes we offer, and subject options.

PGCE / School Direct Primary Course Leader: Kevin Holland

* See also details of our Early Years Education MA (with Early Years Teacher Status)

What does the Sussex ITE partnership offer?

In 2014 our primary course was judged OUTSTANDING by OFSTED (the pandemic has delayed the following inspection). Our partnership offers a one year, full-time Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Primary course, providing both an academic award at Master's level and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This course will empower you to develop the professional knowledge, skills and characteristics you need to become a successful teacher of pupils at Foundation and Key Stages 1 and 2, with enhancement opportunities in Early Years (pre-school). You can do this on a PGCE course, or through School Direct.

Whilst the PGCE Primary is offered as a distinct route to QTS, those studying on a School Direct training route in partnership schools also have the opportunity to follow the same course and earn the same award.

During the course you will learn to:

  • Express the values, virtues and expectations of successful professionals challenging learners to fulfil their potential and enjoy learning
  • Secure a strong subject knowledge and critical appreciation of the curriculum and pedagogy across the relevant Key Stages
  • Plan, teach and reflect upon successful teaching and learning strategies and their impact on pupil progress
  • Anticipate and respond to the different learning, motivation and personal abilities and needs of individuals, groups and classes
  • Develop effective classroom management techniques which promote good behaviour
  • Assess the progress pupils make and the ways in which this can be enriched
  • Establish an understanding of a range of whole-school issues, the values and assumptions that underpin them, and their application to school and classroom practice
  • Meet the professional requirements for conduct and practice as set out in the Department for Education's Teacher's Standards.

The Primary PGCE can also be undertaken part-time over two years by suitable candidates. 

To see PGCE and School Direct places available for teachers training in 2023/24, see the latest PGCE and School Direct Place List. For funding opportunities, see our PGCE & School Direct Trainee Fees & Bursaries: 2023 and the Government's 'Scholarships and bursaries' web page.

Why is Primary teacher education distinctive at Sussex?

Our partnership believes that children come first. We have developed incredibly strong partnerships with schools across the region who share our philosophy of learning. Teachers in these schools are key members of our training team and we work together as teacher educators and excellent classroom practitioners to provide research-led, innovative and effective teaching. Our partnership promotes a creative and reflective approach to learning that starts with the individual child and the environment.

We are fortunate to be a relatively small course which enables us to be responsive to individual needs. As such, we try to match your skills and experience with those of our local partner schools. Children are involved from day one with the process and form part of every interview panel. Primary PGCE trainees gain experience across the whole Primary age range, as well as having opportunities to explore Key Stage 3 and Pre-Schools.

We continue to have 100% employment rate for all our graduates.

Teaching, learning and assessment

This PGCE course is delivered in partnership between the University and over 40 schools and academies across Sussex. Professional learning across the partnership is secured 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. Alongside curriculum sessions, which explore the most recent developments in subject specialisms, cross-curricular professional studies bring the cohort together to engage in broader educational issues led by visiting speakers and research-informed faculty.

Over the course of the academic year (190 working days), you will undertake two periods of professional practice in two different schools (a minimum of 120 working days). Initially, you will benefit from a 'serial placement' in which your working week is divided between four days in school and a day of reflection at the University. Towards the end of the course, however, you will approximate a full-time teacher's timetable during a 'block placement'. A distinctive feature of the PGCE Primary course is the integrated six month professional practice placement which is designed to enable you to build strong partnerships within a specific school community and its pupils. You will have a shorter, contrasting experience in a different school setting at the end of the course.

At all stages, you will receive comprehensive and personalised support from a dedicated University curriculum tutor as well as an experienced subject mentor who will give you extensive tutorial support. A senior professional tutor will also provide you with a programme of practice-based professional studies. 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.

You will earn the PGCE award having successfully completed all the modules that make up the PGCE Primary course. These are illustrated in the following table:

ModuleMode of assessmentCredit level & weighting
Professional Practice 1 Professional Practice Profile assessing quality of teaching and professionalism over first half of year 15 Credits / Level 6
Applying Professional Knowledge Coursework essay evaluating impact on pedagogy on professional practice (5000 words) 30 Credits / Level 7
Professional Practice 2 Professional Practice Profile assessing quality of teaching and professionalism over second half of year 15 Credits / Level 7
Reflecting on Professional Knowledge for Schools Portfolio of Evidence to map your progression in relation to Teachers' Standards and explored further at end of assessment in an exit interview 30 Credits / Level 7

The PGCE Primary course would constitute the first year of our innovative Education MA. Successful graduates of the Primary PGCE carry up to 90 Master's level credits towards this postgraduate course which can be taken part-time by Newly Qualified Teachers.

Additional entry requirements

To be accepted on this course, you must meet the partnership's established entry requirements for Initial Teacher Education. Additionally, given the significant competition for those applying for a place on the Primary course specifically, you should be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A strong knowledge and understanding of Primary education, and a sound awareness of current issues in state English Primary schools
  • A good honours degree (2:2 or above) in a subject related to the Primary national curriculum, or a related subject such as child development, psychology, etc.

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 website.


For most Initial Teacher Education courses, some 'home'/EU trainee teachers will be able to draw on a tax-free non-repayable training bursary of up to £25,000 - the amount will depend on your degree classification and subject/phase specialism. Additionally, scholarships of £25,000 are offered to graduates of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Computing by various professional bodies.For the latest funding opportunities, see our PGCE & School Direct Trainee Fees & Bursaries: 2023 and the Scholarships and bursaries page on the Department for Education's website for information on fees and eligibility for financial support. This page is also helpful if you are a British or EEA citizen and are eligible for government-funded tuition.


See full details of the Primary 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:
T: +44 (0)1273 877795