Our course:
School Direct Primary PGCE (with QTS) with Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy

School Direct enables graduates to develop close links with local schools as well as receiving academic and University support whilst training to teach. Our School Direct course lasts a year and results in qualified teacher status (QTS) as well as a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) and Master’s-level credits.

You’ll train in at least two good schools, getting the chance to learn ‘on the job’ – that said, you shouldn’t worry about being thrown in at the deep end. You’ll be part of a team from the very start, receiving intensive support from experienced teachers and mentors. You won’t be teaching classes unsupported until the school thinks you’re ready. The principles of academic rigour on School Direct are the same as on university-led courses, too. You’re also equally eligible to apply for the same financial support, such as student loans.

Subject(s) offered: General primary (5 – 11 years)
HEI partner: University of Cumbria
School Direct provider: Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy
School Direct training provider code (UCAS): IQ4
Number of places available (2020/21): 16

Pre-course induction day (2020/21): Friday 3rd July 2020

UCAS course code Course length Start date
Primary (2KMM) 39 weeks (Sept. – July) 1st September 2020
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For the vast majority of the programme, trainees are in schools; a strong emphasis upon learning from concrete experience in a school setting is one of the great things about School Direct courses.

The course is made up of:

  • Taught modules (seminars)
  • School-based learning days (observing experienced teachers, supporting learning, etc.)
  • Teaching placements (beginning placement in autumn; developing placement in spring; extending placement in summer)

From week one of the programme, our trainees spend time in both taught sessions and in schools within Shining Lights Teaching School Alliance. This allows trainees to see the connection between theory and practice from the very beginning of their training.

Taught modules

Seminars, including those taught by the University of Cumbria, are typically delivered at one of our alliance schools (usually Parbold Douglas Church of England Academy).

Module Delivered by Taught hours
Pedagogy and practice Shining Lights 120
The Cumbria teacher of reading Shining Lights 24
High quality teaching and learning* University of Cumbria 20
Raising the achievement of children* University of Cumbria 20
Leading and managing change in the primary school University of Cumbria 20
Certificate in Church School Studies (see below) Shining Lights / The Church of England 5 – 10

*These are Master’s-level modules. Each module awards 30 Master’s credits (60 in total) and results in the award of a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from the University of Cumbria. Master’s-level credits can, in the future, be used towards a Master’s degree (further information available from the University of Cumbria).

In addition to the taught hours shown above, all modules involve additional work-based learning hours and independent study hours. Full module details can be found in the module descriptors which are circulated to all trainees at the beginning of the programme.

Certificate in Church School Studies

Our trainees complete the ‘Certificate in Church School Studies’. This certification will give our trainee teachers a basic understanding of key elements of Church school distinctiveness. The learning content will include: effective RE teaching; how to lead a collective worship experience; the history and context of Church schools; facilitating spiritual development in children; and much more.

The certification is made up of two face-to-face days and some online learning modules / discussions.

This is an important part of the course as a quarter of all primary schools in England are Church of England schools (attended by approximately 1 million children). We very much hope that some of our graduates will go on to teach in Church schools.

The award has been designed by a partnership between Liverpool Hope University and six Church of England dioceses in the North. There is no additional cost to trainees.

Programme tutors

Shining Lights Teaching School Alliance:
Shining Lights tutors are practicing school leaders, teachers and advisers working across our successful alliance of schools – all are united around our goal of providing innovative teacher training of the highest standard.

University of Cumbria:
University of Cumbria tutors are very experienced and have an outstanding reputation across the UK.

Occasionally, we invite guest speakers and tutors to deliver seminars and workshops. We are fortunate to have close professional links with some of the country’s leading practitioners and education experts – where possible, we invite them to deliver sessions for our trainees.

School-based learning days and teaching placements

During taught weeks, trainees typically spend 3 days in school settings. These school-based learning days provide opportunities for trainees to observe experienced teachers, support the learning of individuals and groups, ask questions, and ‘learn on the job’.

In addition, trainees complete three professional placements at schools within Shining Lights Teaching School Alliance:

Placement Length Term
Beginning professional practice 4 weeks Autumn
Developing professional practice 5 weeks Spring
Extending professional practice 9 weeks Summer

During each placement, an experienced and trained mentor is assigned to each trainee. The mentor works at the alliance school and plays a key role in the trainee’s development journey. The proportion of time spent teaching increases incrementally throughout the year.


Enrichment opportunities are built into the programme to ensure that our trainees gain  a broad set of experiences.

These typically include: visiting nursery and Early Years providers; visiting a secondary school; visiting specialist provision schools; and visiting schools in different regions to our own.


The assessment of trainees has two goals:

  • Identifying individual development needs so that support can be provided and challenge can be maintained.
  • Establishing high-standards to ensure that all qualified teachers are relentless in pursuing excellence for their pupils.

The progress of trainee teachers is assessed and monitored regularly throughout the programme. Examples of assessment practices include:

  • Looking at your written tasks (planning, lesson reflections, observations of experienced teachers, etc.);
  • Formative lessons observations and professional discussions;
  • Progress reviews with mentors;
  • Submission of documentary evidence of meeting the Teachers’ Standards.

The two Master’s-level modules (high quality teaching and learning, raising the achievement of children) are assessed through the submission of assignments to the University of Cumbria.

Further information about our course is provided to trainee teachers in the form of a ‘course handbook’ before the programme commences. If you would like further information about our course, please email John Coxhead at info@sltsa.org.

Please note: Exact course structure and course details for 2019/20 are subject to change.


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