Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Applying for a PGCE?

17 November 2015 |

Fiaza Boota, Employability (Teaching) Intern in the School of History at the University of Leeds, interviewed Katherine Ingham for some top tips on applying for a PGCE. Katherine manages the Teacher Education Partnership for the School of Education; this covers PGCE teacher training programmes, masters programmes and research degrees. She has worked as a secondary school mathematics teacher in Bradford and has an MA in Education.

Why should Students choose to do a PGCE in order to become qualified teachers?

A PGCE is a university-accredited course that leads to Qualified Teacher Status. There are three ways to study for a PGCE – through a SCITT, School Direct, or through the University-led PGCE course.

The University-led PGCE gives students the chance to be taught by researchers and academics. Furthermore, the lecturers are qualified teachers and therefore are familiar with teaching their subject in schools.

A University-led PGCE also provides students with a breadth of experience. During the course, students gain experience in two different schools. This allows students to understand how their subject is taught in different schools.

Applying through School Direct or a SCITT means you know which alliance or group of schools you will be working in. It’s up to you to research which Universities each alliance works with and who will award your PGCE.

How much work experience is recommended in order to apply for a PGCE?

A minimum of 10 days (two school weeks) is required when applying for a PGCE. It is recommended that the work experience is done before the interview, so that the applicant can draw on their experiences when answering questions.

The more work experience you have, in different school settings the better. It is recommended that you find experience in both Primary and Secondary schools in order to explain why you would prefer to teach the years you have chosen.

What does the PGCE application process entail?

Students will always be invited to an interview. During the interview applicants may have to take part in numeracy and literacy tests. Please note that these tests are different from the official government Skills Tests. Applicants may also have to engage with subject specific discussions or teaching tasks.

It depends which institution is conducting the interview Therefore, you may want to research what your specific interview will include.

How should students prepare for a PGCE Interview?

General advice for interviews:

Arrive on time for the interview, this will put a good first impression onto the Admission tutors. Please keep in mind the possible delays in public transport when planning your journey.

Dressing smartly will reflect on the applicant’s professionalism.

During the interview, make eye contact with the interviewers. Be confident and think about the question before you answer.

Be confident to ask for clarification if you didn’t hear the question properly.

Preparing for your interview:

Before your interview do some research and find out information about the National Curriculum for the age group and the subject you want to teach.

Make sure you have some background knowledge about current Education policies and any current Education issues in the news. You may be asked to take part in discussions regarding these issues.

It is recommended that you have done some work experience before the interview. This will give students an understanding what they will be expected to do on a day to day basis in the classroom.

Students should be aware that being a teacher is not just about teaching your subject. Teachers  might also be expected to take on pastoral tutor  or mentor roles. Therefore, during the interview, the applicant should show their awareness of the different roles teachers are expected to embrace.

Thinking about key questions in advance can help you during the interview. This includes questions like: why do you want to teach? What are the main roles fulfilled by a teacher? What are the different approaches to behaviour management within the classroom?

The interview:

You will be interviewed by two people at the university, or the School if applying through School Direct, and you may be asked to give a short presentation.

Admission tutors are looking for professionalism and resilience. Therefore the interview can be seen as a job interview, as your placement could offer you a job at the end of your training.

How can students write a ‘good’ personal statement?

Take your time writing it and leave time to edit the statement. Also use formal language and do not use abbreviations.

Explain why YOU want to be a teacher and why you think you would make a good teacher.

Write about your experiences in schools and show what you have learnt from them.

Remember you can use the Career Centre service to check over your application! You can book an appointment. Or you could turn up for their daily drop-in service (Monday-Friday, 1pm-4pm).


Fiaza Boota (Teaching Intern: School of History)

Email: ll13f4b@leeds.ac.uk

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