School Direct

This initial teacher training programme enables lead schools to choose the provider they want to work with. These schools play a key role in recruiting and selecting trainees and they work with the University to provide a high-quality training programme which leads to either the award of the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with Qualified Teacher Status at Primary level or the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDipEd) with Qualified Teacher Status at Secondary level. Applicants apply direct to a lead school and undertake their placements within the lead school’s partnership.  Partnerships may include a mix of primary, special and secondary schools.

Following successful completion of the 60 (level 7) credit PGCE (QTS) year, students may then opt to progress onto the Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching Studies and then the MA in Teaching Studies with the University of Birmingham.

Students who have completed the 120 credit PGDipEd (QTS) year may progress directly onto the MA in Teaching Studies. 

There are two routes currently being offered:

  • School Direct students pay a tuition fee to the University of Birmingham and may be eligible for a bursary or scholarship. 
  • School Direct (salaried) is normally for graduates with at least three years’ work experience. Students are employees of their schools and are paid a salary. The University does not charge fees for this route. 

The University of Birmingham is working with the following lead schools to recruit and train teachers on programmes starting in September 2017 on the School Direct route:


Chadsgrove Special School, B61 0JL

Primary SEN, Primary SEN (Salaried)

Contact: Iain Chatwin

Hales Valley Teaching School (Lutley Primary School, B63 1BU)

Contact: Becky Keen

Harborne Primary School, B17 9LU

Contact: Mandy Hughes

Manor Primary School. WV14 9UQ

Contact: Julie Mills

Our Lady and St Hubert’s Catholic Primary School, B68 0LP


Primary and Secondary

Woodrush Community High School, B47 5JW

Secondary: Chemistry, English, Geography, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Physics

Contact: Sam Bullivant

Download a list of all the Lead Schools for programmes starting in September 2017 (PDF) 

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

Students on School Direct secondary routes at schools partnered with the University of Birmingham will normally undertake a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (School Direct) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) which will provide 120 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

Information for Schools 2018/19 

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:

Tel: 0121 414 4866

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 primary and secondary 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 £9,250 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 2017-18, bursaries of £25,000 are available for those training to teach Secondary Mathematics. For Primary, a £3,000 bursary is available for those who hold a 1st.

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 £30,000). 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 tuition fees to the university 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

If you will require a Tier 4 student visa then you will be ineligible to apply for a School Direct programme.

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 

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.


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 the School Direct school 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.

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. 

Georgia TreglownThe School Direct (Special Educational Needs) course at the University of Birmingham has been perfect for me. After working in a school for one year after my undergraduate degree, the course appealed to me because of the “on the job” training element to it. Additionally, it was one of the only courses in the country which allowed me to complete the majority of my training in an SEN school. I also completed one placement in a mainstream school which I believe helped me to develop into a well-rounded and flexible practitioner. I have been fully supported by both my University tutors and my mentors in school who have worked together effectively. As well as the teaching element, the course included specialist training in school covering various areas of SEN and university sessions covering national curriculum subjects and professional development. I cannot fault the course and would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to gain a PGCE and develop a teaching career within SEN. I have also made lifelong friends along the way!

Georgia Treglown
Postgraduate Certificate in Education (School Direct): Primary Special Educational Needs