Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Mathematics Subject Knowledge Enhancement route

The Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course, is a full time, campus-based conversion course for those who wish to teach mathematics in secondary schools. It is suitable to those who have studied a degree with less than the 50% of mathematical content of an undergraduate mathematical degree as well as career changers. The SKE course helps develop a deep understanding of mathematics at GCSE, A level and beyond and includes some school experience. 

It is possible to follow a 24 week SKE programme or a 12 week programme depending on the need of each student. Prospective students are welcome to apply at any time and successful candidates will be placed onto a suitable programme of study.

Following successful completion of the SKE course, students are automatically eligible to take up their place on the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) Mathematics course which currently attracts bursaries of up to £20,000 (depending on qualifications) in line with the government’s priority to attract more well qualified mathematics teachers as well as an additional £10,000 early-career payment once in teaching. Students may also be eligible for a scholarship of £22,000 in lieu of the bursary from the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) in collaboration with the London Mathematical Society (LMS), the Mathematical Association (MA), Maths in Education and Industry (MEI) and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS).

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The SKE course at Birmingham is a highly rated subject knowledge enhancement course for those who wish to teach mathematics. The course will help you to increase your confidence by developing a deep understanding of mathematics at A level and beyond. The subject enhancement course at Birmingham works on two levels: the development of personal mathematics knowledge, and also thinking about teaching and learning issues whilst being a learner of mathematics. We wish to develop you as a thinking teacher who can be aware of choices in how to teach mathematics and make informed decisions about how you work with students. The SKE course is suitable for career changers as well as those who have recently graduated. Former students include those who have worked in law, banking and marketing as well as those who have worked in schools as teaching assistants.

The majority of the SKE course will be University based with face to face sessions with experienced mathematics teachers. There will also be opportunities to visit schools in order to gain experience of mathematics being taught in a secondary school allowing students to reflect on developing good practice in teaching and working with school students.

Following the successful completion of the 24 or 12 week full-time SKE course, students are automatically eligible to take up their place on the PGDipEd course.

Please contact the course tutor if you require further information.

If your degree has the equivalent mathematics content of 50% of a mathematics degree then you might like to consider the one year Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) - Mathematics teaching course instead. We also offer the Postgraduate Diploma Primary Education (SSPIP) Mathematics course if you are interested in teaching young children.

Information on our other PGDipEd (QTS) secondary subjects may be found on the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) course page. 

Following satisfactory completion of the PGDipEd course, plus a successful induction year in school, students can return to complete an MA in Teaching Studies (data collection and a 15,000 word dissertation).

Equal Opportunities

The School of Education is committed to equal opportunities in the access to and provision of education. For more information please see the following documents: 

Fees and funding

For eligible applicants there are no tuition fees for the Subject Knowledge Enhancement course (SKE*). Students not eligible for DFE funding should contact us for course fees. 

* as the SKE is funded by the DFE.

Scholarships and studentships
Students are not eligible for statutory support during their SKE period. Home/EU students will be eligible to apply for statutory support from their relevant funding agency during the PGDipEd year. Please view the Funding for Initial Teacher Education page for more information.

For further information contact the School directly or visit the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via online enquiries.

For students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to eligible financial support for the duration of their course. For more information visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

Entry requirements

All applicants for the SKE course must hold a degree or equivalent qualification (preferably with some mathematics content). You will need to have a pass at A-level in mathematics.

If you wish to discuss your qualifications further, please contact one of the tutors.

All candidates also have to:

  • have a GCSE in English grade 4 or above (GCSE C) or an equivalent qualification in addition to the mathematics qualification which must be attained prior to application. The DfE require us to check the original certificates; you therefore cannot start an SKE course with the intention to progress to a PGDipEd (QTS) course unless you already hold these qualifications. 
  • have passed Professional Skills Tests in numeracy and literacy by the date stated in any offer; 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. The University of Birmingham has produced a resource list  which you may find helpful.
  • complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
  • complete relevant checks to ensure you have the health and physical capacity to teach.
  • agree to abide by the University of Birmingham Code of Professional Conduct and Fitness to Practise.

How to apply

In order to apply for this course you can apply directly to the Postgraduate Diploma Secondary Education (QTS) – Mathematics course. It is worth mentioning in your personal statement that you are interested in following the Subject Knowledge Enhancement route.

We welcome applications from anyone with a mathematics A-level with any Undergraduate degree. If you have any further questions regarding this course please contact David Coglan.

David Coglan
Telephone +44 (0)121 414 4833

Mary O'Connor
Telephone +44 (0)121 414 4864

Tom Francome
Telephone +44 (0)121 415 8288

The Subject Knowledge Enhancement course (SKE) consists of taught sessions in algebra and calculus, geometries, statistics, operations and structure, mechanics and decision mathematics. Other taught sessions include mathematics education, topics sessions and an introduction to using selected mathematics software. You will be part of self-learning groups which will be given the task of learning about further mathematics topics and presenting a taught session to your fellow students. You will also be put into a group to design a display to engage people in mathematical activity.

During the course, you will have the opportunity to teach small groups of pupils from a nearby school within the confines of the School of Education and will gain experience of working in a mathematics department in one of our partnership schools.

Assessment methods

The SKE course will assess your mathematics knowledge. This will be done through: (a) assignments; (b) a folder of work carried out throughout the year; (c) reflections on teaching and learning issues relating to yourself as a learner on this course; (d) involvement in taught sessions; (e) completion of other requirements for the course, such as successful involvement in group activities as mentioned in the course content above.

Many local schools have a very high regard for Birmingham mathematics PGDipEd (QTS) students and particularly value students who have completed the SKE course and have been successful on their PGDipEd (QTS) course. 

We have been running this pre-ITE Mathematics course for over 30 years and have an excellent record of students securing jobs at the end of the course. Many of our ex-students get quickly promoted to more senior roles such as Head of Department and many become mentors in partnership schools.