School Direct

School Direct

School Direct  offers routes into teaching with the student’s teacher education being managed by a group of schools but with the University as a key partner. The University of Birmingham partners schools in School Direct routes at both primary and secondary. 

There are two routes currently being offered:

  • School Direct Training programme
    Graduates pay a tuition fee to the University of Birmingham but may be eligible for a bursary of up to £25,000, subject to criteria such as degree classification and subject. Attractive scholarships are also available for some shortage subjects in secondary.
  • School Direct Training Programme (salaried)
    This is an employment-based route available to graduates with at least three years' work experience. It is financed at least partly by a training salary.

Students on School Direct routes at schools partnered with the University of Birmingham will normally undertake Postgraduate Certificate in Education (School Direct) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This provides 60 credits contributing at Masters level and provides a progression route to our MA (Teaching Studies).

Current Vacancies 2015-16

Please view School Direct Vacancies

School Information

If you are interested in partnering with the University of Birmingham in the provision of either School Direct or School Direct (Salaried) please view information on the Course Details Tab

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 1 year


Simon Asquith 
Department of Professional Education
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7607

Where to Find Us

Ofsted outstanding primary



Students on School Direct routes at schools partnered with the University of Birmingham will normally undertake a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (School Direct) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). This provides 60 credits contributing to Master's level.

Subjects offered

Currently, School Direct with the University of Birmingham’s PGCE (School Direct) is available in the following phases / subjects where an agreement has been put in place with a School Direct school:   


  • Primary 5-11 General Primary
  • Primary SEN 

Secondary (11 - 18 years)

  • Secondary English
  • Secondary Geography
  • Secondary History
  • Secondary Mathematics
  • Secondary Modern Languages (French, German or Spanish)
  • Secondary Physical Education
  • Secondary Religious Education
  • Secondary Science: Biology
  • Secondary Science: Chemistry
  • Secondary Science: Physics

School Direct 'Lead Schools'.

For 2015-16 the University of Birmingham has agreed School Direct arrangements with a number of schools in the West Midlands. Note that these are ‘Lead Schools’ and that School Direct Students may by trained primarily in another school working with this ‘Lead School’ (this is why for several of our School Direct Partnerships, the school listed may be from the opposite phase of schooling (e.g a Secondary 'Lead school' with Primary places).

Information for Schools 2016/17 

If you are interested in partnering with the University of Birmingham in the provision of either School Direct or School Direct (Salaried) then we would be pleased to discuss working together. Please contact:

Simon Asquith
Department of Professional Education
Tel: 0121 414 7607

Why train with us?

The University of Birmingham School Direct partnership has worked to co-develop the programme for School Direct. The quality of both the programme and the newly qualified teachers that enter the profession as a result of it are critical to all partners involved.

The University of Birmingham's Initial Teacher Education provision has a record of being graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, most recently in May 2013 when all aspects of both its primary and secondary provision were once more awarded this grading.

All schools involved in the University’s School Direct partnerships are within the West Midlands area, many are National Teaching Schools and all are in carefully constructed School Direct alliances.


What is School Direct?

School Direct is a school-led teacher training route, where the schools who participate recruit and select their own trainees, working in partnership with accredited ITE providers such as the University of Birmingham. Student teachers may go on to work within the school (or group/alliance of schools) where they received their training.


Teachers need Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teach in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England. When training has been completed, the University of Birmingham an accredited Initial Teacher Education provider, will inform the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) of a trainee’s course results. The NCTL will then send out individual QTS certificates to successful students.

Importantly, all School Direct students in schools partnered with the University of Birmingham normally complete a PGCE
which provides 60 credits contributing at Masters Level. There are opportunities, once qualified, to continue study with the university and to achieve a full Masters degree.  

What will my timetable look like?

This will depend on the specific details of School Direct agreed between your School Direct school and the University. It will also depend on whether you are following the School Direct of School Direct (Salaried) route. Whichever phase and School Direct model you are following, however, there will be sessions at the university which involve whole days with a blend of subject workshops, seminars, tutorials or group-working sessions. There will also be personal research and learning time and significant school-based elements. The school-based aspects of the programme are coordinated by your School Direct Lead School and will involve pre-placement learning, substantive ‘School Experience’ periods organised by the School Direct school in conjunction with partner schools and focused training and learning activities coordinated carefully between the schools and the University. A minimum of 120 days of your programme will be spent training in schools but normally the number of days will be significantly greater than this.

What support will I get?

The University of Birmingham prides itself in the high level of support provided to all of its students, whether on School Direct or other programmes. There is a close relationship between students, school-based trainers and university-based tutors.

University pastoral and academic support systems and structures are highly regarded by our students and mentorship models in our School Direct partner schools are also very effective in providing students with immediate support when required in school.

What are the benefits of School Direct and of School Direct (Salaried)?

Students on the School Direct (Salaried) route are paid a salary based on the unqualified teacher pay scale. You would be an employee of your School Direct school. On this route you would not qualify for a bursary, nor could you apply for a student loan from the Student Loans Company as you will not be charged a Tuition Fee.

 Students on the School Direct route are eligible for a loan to contribute towards the cost of Tuition Fees (subject to the Student Loan Company’s criteria) and may qualify for a bursary or scholarship depending on degree classification, and subject.

Can I follow a postgraduate award on both the salaried and unsalaried route?

The School Direct and the School Direct (Salaried) routes include QTS and normally the PGCE (School Direct) awarded by the University of Birmingham.


About the University of Birmingham as a Provider

Student Support

Information about student support for postgraduate students at the University of Birmingham can be found at

Child Care Facilities

Information about child care facilities for postgraduate students at the University of Birmingham can be found at

Disability Access

Information about disability access for postgraduate students at the University of Birmingham can be found at


Information about accommodation for postgraduate students at the University of Birmingham can be found at

Where to Find Us

Information on how to find the University’s campus in Edgbaston can be found at

The School of Education, also offers the PGDipEd route as an alternative to School Direct. If you are unsure as to whether to chose the PGDipEd or School Direct route, it might be useful for you our video and /or FAQ on the Initial Teacher Training  webpage.

Fees and funding

School Direct

You will pay tuition fees or £9000 to the University but if you are from the European Union you will be eligible for a student loan. If you are from the United Kingdom you can also apply for a means-tested maintenance grant and a maintenance loan.

You may be able to apply for a tax-free bursary. These vary depending on teaching phase or subject and your degree class or highest relevant academic qualification. For example, for 2015-16, bursaries of £9000 are available for those with 1st class degrees training to teach in the primary phase (this can be £12,000 for those training on a primary specialist mathematics course) and £25,000 bursaries are available for those training to teach in a secondary shortage subject who hold a 1st. Please note that these bursaries may change for 2016-17. There are also a number of subject association provided competitive scholarship opportunities for those wanting to train in shortage subjects (for a number of subjects these can now be for as much as £25,000). For information on the range of bursaries available and their value by phase, subject and degree classification, and on scholarship schemes, visit the National College for Teaching and Leadership website (

School Direct (Salaried)

You will be paid a training salary by the school in which you train. This salary will be in line with the unqualified teacher pay scale and will be funded through a payment made by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) to the school to cover this cost and costs associated with training. Information on this pay scale is available from the NCTL's site ( You will not pay fees and you will not be eligible for a training bursary. Normally you can expect a training salary to be £16,136.

More information on funding may be found on the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) website.

Entry requirements

In order to apply for a place on School Direct, you must have:

  • A UK undergraduate degree or a recognised equivalent qualification.
  • A GCSE grade C or above in English and Mathematics.
  • A GCSE grade C or above in a science if you are applying to teach primary or key stage 2/3 (ages 7–14).
  • Passed, or have plans in place to pass, the Professional Skills Tests in numeracy and literacy; please see the Professional Skills Tests section of the Department for Education web site for more information on the core skills required by trainee teachers

Before acceptance on the course students will also have had to:

  • Provide a satisfactory medical form
  • Completed an enhanced DBS/police check
  • Completed a Declaration of Suitability to Teach
  • Adhered to a Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise 

pdficonsmall   Download more specific information on the required experience and entry qualifications (PDF, 310KB).

The School Direct Training Programme focuses on developing teaching skills. You should have a strong understanding of the subject you wish to teach before you start training. If your degree subject does not link closely to your chosen teaching subject, it is recommended that you undertake a subject knowledge enhancement course before you begin training (visit  to find out more). A minimum of one week of experience of working, or undertaking placement or purposeful voluntary experience in a state school setting, is essential for those applying for School Direct places partnered by the University of Birmingham and School Direct (Salaried) students must have 3 years or more work experience.


If you studied outside the UK, you should visit the National Academic Recognition Centre (NARIC) website to find out whether your qualifications are of an equivalent level to UK GCSEs, A levels and an undergraduate degree.

For up to date information on this visit the National College for Teaching and Leadership website and specifically its Eligibility information

Additional information:

How we select our students

Application forms are considered by both the university and the individual school(s) involved. At application we are looking for evidence that the candidate is on a trajectory to meeting the characteristics listed in ‘What we are looking for’ (see below)

The application will clearly list the qualifications required and additional qualifications and experience relevant to training to teach. It will include references that are appropriate and allow us to obtain recent, relevant and appropriate professional perspective on you as a potential teacher.

The personal statement of a successful applicant will demonstrate commitment to teaching and understanding of what good teaching and learning is about. It will include something of your own aspirations and vision for your career and will pull on recent and relevant experience (paid or voluntary) in appropriate settings, including a minimum of a week in a state school setting.

All successful applicants will have been interviewed and this will normally take place in the School Direct school. The University and the school jointly design and manage the interview process with the school leading the process. Applicants that demonstrate professionalism, commitment, a realistic understanding of the pressures of the course and the profession, an awareness of the school in which they are intending to train, creativity, organisational skills and a clear recognition of the need to synthesise practical and academic learning through refection are most likely to succeed.

What we are looking for

Successful University of Birmingham School Direct students will be those that: 

  • Have a clear, questioning and reflective understanding of schools in England and of what good teaching involves
  • Recognise that the job of the teacher is first and foremost that of teaching and that the understanding of the pedagogy of teaching and learning is fundamentally essential 
  • Have a solid knowledge of their subject(s) and are always committed to further developing this knowledge base
  • Have gained practical experience in appropriate school contexts prior to applying for their course
  • Understand that the training year, just like the job itself, is demanding in time and effort, and that it will involve some travel and will involve balancing academic study with substantial time spent in school 
  • Are committed to the education of all children, whatever their educational need and background 
  • Can work in teams, often under pressure, and can work with a range of other professionals
  • Are well organised and able to plan for the blend of academic and professional learning that the programme requires
  • Are able to reflect on their own experiences and apply learning to future actions 
  • Have a commitment to their own career development

How to apply

You will need to visit, register and apply using the UCAS Teacher Training portal. UCAS manages the applications to all postgraduate teacher training routes. It is a good idea to contact any possible school to check that it still has places and that the University of Birmingham School Direct programme would suit your needs.

Applications are checked by the University of Birmingham to make sure that necessary selection criteria are met before shortlisting is undertaken by schools in consultation with the university. Interviews are then organised by schools as necessary with the final decision on offers being made by the school and the university.

Learning and teaching


The primary course is designed in conjunction with our partnership of schools, is founded on our long-standing expertise in teacher education and combines the phase, curriculum and learning and teaching expertise of specialist tutors and seconded teachers at the University with the expertise of school-based colleagues. School Direct combines the best of these elements while developing analytic and reflective practitioners.

The course combines school based learning coordinated by the School Direct ‘Lead School’ with lectures, seminars, workshops, tutorials and practical sessions at the university. Study at the University is largely within the School of Education’s dedicated building which includes specialist facilities, a specialist Education Library, student study areas and online learning support.


A variety of teaching styles and approaches to learning are used in the University’s School Direct partnership training programme. These include university-based lectures, small group seminars and workshops, school-based work with pupils and teachers, and work undertaken individually or with other groups of students. The close relationship between School Direct schools and the university creates important learning and research opportunities for students.

Specialist university tutors are experts in their field and lead dedicated subject programmes. In some subjects a field course, involving work with children, may replace a number of single days in the year. Assessment is based on coursework undertaken during the year. There are specialist teaching facilities within the School of Education including a specialist Education Library, laboratories, student study areas and online facilities.

The ‘whole school issues’ part of the programme is concerned with aspects of education that are of importance to all intending teachers, irrespective of their particular teaching subjects. It is designed to provide a breadth of awareness, depth of insight and development of skills through a range of themes studied by all students. Themes currently include Managing Inclusion, Monitoring and Assessment, and Pastoral Care and Citizenship.


Simon Asquith 
Department of Professional Education
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7607

Where to Find Us

Ofsted outstanding primary


Related staff


School Direct students enter their training with an expectation that, if they are successful in their training and achieve QTS, they are likely to be employed within the schools in the School Direct training alliance in which they have trained.
School Direct students studying with the University of Birmingham and its School Direct partner schools can expect to be highly employable. Success in finding first teaching posts for students on the university’s postgraduate programmes is very high – and substantially above national averages. In addition to this, teachers educated with University of Birmingham partnerships typically remain in the profession and build excellent careers in teaching with progression on to leadership and management roles in schools where that is their desire. A significant number who follow our postgraduate programmes take up the opportunity to complete Masters study at some point after their induction year, further enhancing their career development. Employability rates for University of Birmingham postgraduate trained teachers are among the highest in the country.

School Direct (Salaried) students will be engaged as unqualified teachers within their School Direct school and therefore are specifically employable in that they have been trained via an ‘employment-based route’.

Many of those who have trained to teach with the University of Birmingham are now in headteacher, head of department and similar roles across the West Midlands, nationally and beyond – and many give up time and expertise to contribute to our programmes.


Simon Asquith 
Department of Professional Education
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 7607

Where to Find Us

Ofsted outstanding primary