Teacher Education

Our Primary and Secondary teacher training pathways prepare top graduates for a career inspiring learning and transforming lives. Our highly acclaimed University and School Direct programmes have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and offer the supportive professional and academic training needed to enable both recent graduates and career changers to succeed.  

Download our Teacher Education brochure for information on all our programmes or view individual programme details below. Please make sure you apply early as demand is very high and places fill quickly.

PGDipEd University Route - Secondary

For general information on all the secondary initial teaching training courses please view: Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) 

For information on the individual Secondary PGDipEd subjects, please view the pages below:

For general enquiries contact: itesecondary@contacts.bham.ac.uk

School Direct

The School Direct route offered by a number of National Teaching Schools and other key partner schools in the region in partnership with schools in their alliances and with the University of Birmingham’s initial teacher training team. For School Direct students, the University of Birmingham offers a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (School Direct, 60 credits at Masters level) at Primary Level and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (School Direct, 120 credits at Masters level) at Secondary level.

For general enquiries contact: schooldirect@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses


The Mathematics SKE is a conversion course for those who wish to teach mathematics but have a degree with relatively little mathematics content.

Find out more: www.birmingham.ac.uk/secondary-mathematics-ske

Teaching Studies

We offer the Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching studies for recently qualified teachers who have a first degree and a PGCE with QTS at Masters level. Successful completion of the diploma will enable you to progress onto the MA in Teaching Studies.

Those who have passed their PGDipEd teacher education course and have successfully passed the induction year, may apply to study for MA in Teaching Studies.

For general enquiries contact: teachingstudies@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Application advice and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I apply? 

You need to apply online through the UCAS website. Applications start in the autumn for a start the following September and there is one intake per year. You can apply throughout the year although courses can get full very quickly. We therefore recommend you apply as early as possible.

Before completing your application form you are advised to have a look at the video guidance available on the UCAS website as it will help you to fill in your application correctly and, for example, write a good personal statement.

What’s the difference between a University-led and a School Direct teacher training course?

There are various routes into teaching. One is to complete a PGCE or PGDipEd offered and managed by a University in partnership with local schools. Another is the School Direct route which is offered and managed by a School Direct Lead School – often a National Teaching School – and its alliance of schools in partnership with a University. 

If you are unsure as to whether to choose the University-led route or School Direct route, it might be useful for you to draw up a list of questions to help you explore the different programmes on offer.

What’s the difference between a PGCE and a PGDipEd?

Both the PGCE and the PGDipEd lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), however:

  • the PGDipEd is a Postgraduate Diploma, forming part of a Master’s qualification with 120 credits. You may complete the Masters in Teaching Studies with us (part-time) once you have completed your induction year through carrying out your own educational research project (60-credit dissertation)
  • the PGCE is a Postgraduate Certificate which offers 60 credits. You may have the opportunity to complete additional Masters study following qualification that can lead to a full Masters in Teaching Studies. With a PGCE, either from our School Direct Route, or from another provider, you can enrol for a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching Studies during your first year or two of teaching. Please note this is a different qualification from the PGDipEd described above as it focusses on Masters level academic work only (not QTS) and aims to add to the credits gained during the PGCE towards gaining a full Masters. 

Is a PGDipEd more work than a PGCE?

The PGDipEd offers more Masters level credits than a PGCE. This means a slightly greater proportion of your time will be spent researching and writing about teaching and learning, as well as benefitting from spending a substantial amount of time in school on teaching practice as you would for the PGCE. While there are more credits with the PGDipEd the academic challenge of both the PGDipEd and the PGCE is at the same level – both are postgraduate ‘Level 7’ courses..

Can I get a bursary for the PGDipEd?

You may receive a government training bursary for the PGDipEd, as you would for a PGCE, depending on your degree, subject and classification.

How can I find out if my degree content is appropriate?

We advise you to read the information under Entry Requirements on our subject webpages carefully. You can get in touch with the subject tutor directly to check whether your degree content is acceptable if you are unsure about it.

I don’t have a GCSE in Maths / English Language / Science (grade C or above) – can I still apply?

For Secondary you need to have a GCSE in Maths and English (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification; for Primary you need to have a GCSE in Maths, English and science (grade C or above) or an equivalent qualification.

If you are unsure whether your qualification in English / Maths / Science is equivalent to GCSE you need to contact Admissions before you apply and check as some courses (e.g. primary) will not consider applications without these.

Alternatively you might be advised to take an Equivalency Test if you do not meet the GCSE requirements.

What are the Professional Skills Tests?

If you are applying for a teacher training course, you will need to take the numeracy and literacy skills tests and ensure you have passed them both before the start of the course. 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. 

How can I find out more about subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses?

There are subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) courses available in Biology, Geography, Chemistry, Maths, Physics or a Language: see the Department for Education website for more detail. 

Do I need some school experience before I apply?

Some programmes/subjects require that you have some school experience before you start. For example you are expected to have completed at least one week of observation in a primary school before you apply for a place on the Primary programme. In any case it is strongly advised that you gain some experience. Having some school experience will:

  • help you with some of the interview questions as you will be able to relate your answers to real experience
  • help you at the beginning of the course as you will be able to start making links between your learning and practice in school to some extent
  • help you check that you are making the right decision to apply for teacher training

What is the time commitment needed?

Both routes are one-year full-time courses, with substantial time spent in placement schools (at least 120 of the 180 days). When on placement you can expect to be at school from before the school day starts until after it ends for meetings. You will also need to prepare lessons and carry out marking outside school hours. There are also a number of assignments and tasks to complete during the year.

What can I do in preparation for my studies and training?

You may be contacted before the start of the course and be provided with a list of suitable activities to carry out before the start of the course.

How much will it cost to train to become a teacher? Am I eligible for a government bursary?

Fees for 2017-2018 are: £9,250 (UK/EU full-time), £15,570 (overseas full-time).

* To be confirmed

Home/EU students will be eligible to apply for statutory support from their relevant funding agency. Government training bursaries may be available depending on your subject and degree classification. See the 'overseas equivalency table' on the above webpage if you have an overseas degree for example and check whether you qualify for a government training bursary. For further information contact the School of Education directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries.

I already have a DBS/police check, do I need to apply for a new one?

Unfortunately we cannot accept a DBS check provided for another purpose, so you will need to complete a criminal check via the University. 

What type of schools will my placements be at and where are they located?

On the University-led teacher training route we work with a range of schools (e.g. 5-7, 7-11, 5-11, first, middle, 11-16, 11-19, faith, single sex and mixed schools) in and around Birmingham (e.g. Dudley, Walsall, Solihull). Schools enter a partnership with us, which ensures that you receive appropriate support and guidance with your training. You will be allocated a school mentor while at school, who has been trained within our Partnership, in addition to your university tutor. A large number of schools have been working with us for many years ensuring continuity in our Partnership and practices.

For School Direct where you are placed depends on the School Direct Lead Schools and their alliance of schools.

Why should I choose to train to teach with the University of Birmingham?

The University of Birmingham has repeatedly secured ‘Outstanding’ grades with Ofsted (national school and initial teacher training inspectorate) in all of its provision.  Ofsted, our External Examiners, Headteachers who employ out students and students themselves all consistently emphasise the quality of our initial teacher training.  Our employability statistics are amongst the very best in the country and a significant proportion of those who train with us complete their Master’s degree (Teaching Studies) with us and move on to middle or senior leadership in schools across the Midlands and further afield.  The quality of our Initial Teacher Education Partnership is praised repeatedly by schools themselves, by our External Examiners and by Ofsted.

What are the School of Education and the University of Birmingham School?

The School of Education is a large faculty within the University of Birmingham dedicated to the study of education, including initial teacher education courses. It is located on the main Edgbaston campus. The School of Education has a long-standing reputation as a centre of excellence for teaching and research in a wide range of areas of educational practice and policy. It is an international leader in education with a history of top rated research. In the 2016 QS World Rankings, it was ranked 28th in the World and joint 7th in Europe.

The University of Birmingham School is a comprehensive secondary school in Birmingham dedicated to the education of 11-18 children on its own site and with access to the University’s facilities. It is the first secondary University Training School in the country and offers a range of enhancement activities for initial teacher education as well as a location for the sharing and generation of educational research in addition to its main remit.