Initial Teacher Education
Primary PGCE

Primary PGCE

We think primary teaching is one of the best jobs in the world! We can’t promise you a 9am–3.30pm working day, but what we can promise you is that every day will be different with the excitement of seeing those little ‘lightbulb’ moments, and the impact you will have on children who really need you.

At the University of Nottingham, we have a demonstrated track record of nurturing teachers from diverse backgrounds, who are committed to critical engagement with the goals of a socially just education, and who are able to make thoughtful judgements informed by an evolving philosophy of education, which is shaped and re-shaped by research, debate and intellectual curiosity. 


  • Qualified to teach Key Stage 1 and 2 (5-11years)
  • Rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted in 2022
  • PGCE qualification (60 masters-level credits) with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
  • Time spent in first placement school from week one 
  • Support from academic tutors and school-based mentors
  • Benefit of a large and strong schools partnership
  • Enrichment activities
  • 60 PGCE credits can be used towards an MA Education and 30 credits can be used towards other masters courses

Teacher training events

We hold monthly events from October through to July to give you the opportunity to find out more about starting your teaching career with the University of Nottingham.

Teacher Training Open Day - Saturday 14 October 2024


Entry requirements

  • UK undergraduate degree/equivalent – any subject
  • GCSE/equivalent – English language, mathematics and science, 4 (C) or above
  • Satisfactory medical report
  • Enhanced Disclosure from Disclosure and Barring Service 

Course length

The course is 10 months long, starting in September and finishing in June.

You can view the current course schedule to get an idea of your time in school and university, which will be full working days.

Primary PGCE course schedule (PDF)


Placements - school-based learning

We have a very strong, collaborative partnership with the schools we work with. University tutors and school ITE leads work closely with you, and each other, throughout the year to support and challenge you to develop into the best teacher you can be.

We firmly believe that learning to become a great teacher isn’t about doing as many lessons as you can as quickly as possible. It is about gradually building up your experiences and working with experienced teachers in lots of different ways. Your school-based learning will include:

  • a carefully structured programme to support your progress each term
  • a gradual build-up of teaching
  • observations across all key stages with expert teachers
  • weekly mentor meetings to discuss your progress and agree targets for development
  • involvement in all aspects of school life, for example helping with clubs, school trips, joining staff meetings, break-time duty 

Throughout your time in school you will undertake a wide range of professional development activities to develop your understanding of teaching and learning and the complex role of a teacher. Although placements are intensive and demanding, we carefully structure your progression, with a gradual build-up of teaching commitments, so you are well prepared to teach in different contexts. During your time on placement you will become part of your school's community and work professionally as a member of a team.

As part of your second placement, you will undertake a small-scale research project where, working with others, you will formulate and develop a research project on an area of interest. You will also experience enrichment days and weeks in a range of educational settings to further support your ongoing professional development - this will include a week in a form of alternative educational provision.


University-based learning

Your school placements will be supported by university-based teaching days, as well as periods of independent study. 

You will actively work with tutors and peers, constantly exploring teaching and learning. You will engage with theory and research to make you a better teacher, for example we will look at theories about behaviour for learning to help you analyse what is and is not working in your classroom. Your university experience will include:

  • working with groups of beginning teachers
  • modelling of teacher approaches you can use in your classroom
  • exploring research and practice
  • keynote inputs from experts, for example staff that specialise in special and inclusive education
  • peer teaching and learning
  • exploring and practising all elements of being a teacher in a 'safe' space


Learning and Teaching in School (Primary)

This 30-credit module explores teaching and learning in the primary context and more generally. An extensive programme of lectures and seminars will enable you to develop a practical knowledge of teaching informed by a critical understanding of theories of teaching and learning. The module is assessed through written assignments, presentations and related classroom-based work. 

Issues in Primary Teaching

This 30-credit module considers various aspects of teachers' wider professional roles as well as social, cultural and legal aspects of schooling.

The module is assessed through written assignments and presentations, some of which are collaborative.


Your practical teaching will be assessed by university tutors and school-based colleagues and moderated by external examiners. All elements of your work across the year will be taken into account and there are no written exams.

You will need to demonstrate your practical abilities as a teacher and your theoretical understanding of this practice and must fulfil the requirements for the Teacher Standards by the end of the course. We take an holistic approach to assessing whether you have met the standards that avoids gathering pieces of evidence to tick off boxes. Our key message is that if you are engaging successfully with all elements of your course you will be meeting the standards.


Fundamental mathematics and English skills

Before being recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), you must be able to demonstrate competence in maths and English. At interview we will discuss your current level of ability and if needed, we will direct you to resources to engage with before the course. Throughout the course you will be supported to develop further to ensure you are fully competent by the end of your course.


How to apply

Applications are closed for 2023 entry.  Applications for 2024 will open early October.

Once you have submitted your application it is sent to us. Suitable candidates will be invited to interview at the university. Successful applicants will be offered a place on the course. When the offer has been accepted, access to a pre-course website will help prepare for the start of the course.


Relationship building is my top priority as a teacher educator, just as it was as a classroom teacher. Taking time to listen and respond appropriately is something that I always try to focus on and continue to develop.

Esther Fulton
Primary PGCE
Course Leader

I am always inspired by beginning teachers’ enthusiasm and commitment to making a difference to all children, but particularly those who can be disadvantaged within the education system. 

Dr Helen Victoria Smith
Primary PGCE
Course Leader

See all staff profiles


I was really well supported by both my school-based mentors during my placements. They were both really well informed about the course and I felt like I could turn to them at any time about any questions, issues, or ideas that I had. My mentors were also both excellent examples to learn from as a trainee teacher. My university tutor was also very supportive when I needed it and the regular feedback that they provided throughout the year was brilliant.

Jonathan Green
Primary PGCE 

See all alumni profiles


School of Education

University of Nottingham
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

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