Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Programmes

Following the Ofsted inspection in February 2011, the Bristol PGCE was awarded 'Outstanding Provider Status'

collage of images of students

outstanding Ofsted logo

Following the Ofsted inspection in February 2011, the Bristol PGCE was awarded 'Outstanding Provider Status' 

Welcome to the ITE Programmes at the University of Bristol

The Graduate School of Education works in partnership with local schools, colleges and academies to deliver two teacher training routes:

Together we manage, design and work jointly on all aspects of the experiences needed to enable student teachers to achieve the Teachers’ Standards and become effective professional practitioners. This enables us to integrate the work of the programme in placement institutions and at the university throughout the year, allowing student teachers to learn alongside effective teachers and to reflect on their experiences to develop their own teacher identities.

This effective partnership was recognised in our latest Ofsted inspection, in February 2011, which identified some of our strengths as:

 ·         The effective procedures to recruit well-qualified, reflective trainees

·         The high quality of personalised support from both the provider and partner schools

·         The positive impact of university expertise on the professional development of teachers within partnership schools

·         The strong support for the provider from schools in the partnership who value the supply of high-quality teachers

We gained ‘Outstanding Provider’ status from this inspection.

Both routes offer one-year, full-time secondary initial teacher education courses in the following subjects:

We aim to educate student teachers who are experts in their subjects to develop the pedagogical understanding needed to enable school students to access the subjects and make progress in learning. For more details about the individual subjects click on the links above.

We recruit student teachers from a range of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences. Our student teacher cohort typically includes people from across the UK who have just completed their final year at university, or who have higher degrees or who have decided to become teachers after a period in another occupation or after a career break. We also recruit some student teachers from EU countries.  We always receive many more applications than the numbers of places allocated to us by the Teaching Agency. It is therefore advisable to apply early before courses fill.

For further information about either of the teacher training routes we deliver please follow the links above.

Jayne Prior, PGCE Programme Director (Partnership) 

Janet Orchard, PGCE Programme Director (University) 

The programme is a minimum of 36 weeks in duration and starts in mid-September. Its structure may be most conveniently described in terms of three major components, though the timetable and approach underline the intention that they are strongly interrelated. In addition the GSoE has strong links that allow some student teachers to benefit from international contacts. The components are:

Curriculum and Professional Studies - your main subject specialism

Main subject work, which continues throughout the year, is offered in:

The subject tutor works closely with a team of experienced teachers in designing and teaching the course and in selecting and assessing student teachers. Further details of these programmes are provided in the subject specific links.

Educational and Professional Studies (EPS)

Your work in this area comprises university- and school-based activities covering topics such as:

  • The classroom as a learning environment
  • Routines and procedures
  • Structures which support the teacher's intentions and organise learners
  • Building structures for effective learning
  • Behaviour management
  • Analytical observation of classrooms and practitioners at work
  • The care and welfare of school students
  • Form tutoring practices and procedures
  • Personal, Social and Health Education
  • Child protection
  • Equality of opportunity
  • Contact with outside agencies
  • The development of professional understanding
  • Expectations of schools
  • The organisation of schools
  • Professional judgement
  • Legal responsibilities
  • Career guidance and development
  • The Newly Qualified Teacher
  • The role of professional associations
  • Children with special educational needs
  • Inclusive education policies and strategies
  • Gender, ethnicity and diversity
  • Working with additional adults in the classroom and school setting (eg teaching assistants, technicians, librarians)
  • Cross-curricular requirements such as literacy, numeracy, and citizenship education; Key Skills; National Strategies.

Your coursework assignment in EPS starting in the Autumn term and continuing through the Spring term will give you the opportunity to focus on one of two themes.

These themes are provisionally titled:

  1. Creating effective learning environments
  2. Educating for inclusion, diversity and young people’s well-being

School experience

The programme starts with a period of experience in a primary school of your choice, normally one near where you live. This work will enable you to consider the child's experience before entering secondary school and to begin to identify issues of teaching and learning in a school environment.

During the first term, you will begin with preliminary visits to a secondary school in preparation for a period of approximately five weeks in that school.

The main school practice will take place through the whole of the school spring term, in a different school from that visited in the first term.

Student teachers are allocated to secondary schools of all types in the Bristol area and in Somerset, Gloucestershire, South Wales and Wiltshire.

Student teachers are assisted in their practical teaching both by Associate Tutors, specially trained teachers who act as mentors in the schools and by their subject tutors, or other specialists appointed for the purpose.

In the third term there is a further period of school experience.


Main subject work is a major time commitment on the programme.

This is normally the subject in which you have specialised during your degree studies.

You will be helped to think about its nature, to re-experience it for yourself and to consider its relevance to pupils in schools and its relationship to other subjects in the school curriculum.

Main subject work, which continues throughout the year, is offered in:

The subject tutor works closely with a team of experienced teachers in designing and teaching the programme and in selecting and assessing students. Further details of these programmes are provided in the subject-specific pages.

How to apply

The University has an active equal opportunities policy and applications are particularly welcome from graduates from minority ethnic backgrounds and those with disabilities.  We are a member of the Positive Action Training Hub (PATH)  a consortium of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers in the South West region, working together with the government and local authorities in the region to address under representation in the teaching profession. 

Prospective applicants with disabilities are encouraged to visit Disability Services  to identify the range of services and provision available and to make contact with both Disability Services staff and the PGCE Office to discuss any potential need for support. We encourage applicants and student teachers to be open about disability and be confident that we have a commitment to manage disability issues positively. Judgements at interview are only focussed upon academic and professional requirements.

Applications are made through UCAS Teacher Training which acts as the clearing house for admissions to PGCE programmes across the UK

Applications can be made from 21 November 2013 and throughout the year, depending on vacancies.

  • Universities and colleges will begin to consider candidates from November 2013.
  • Early application is advised in view of the demand for places in most subjects.
  • Please see individual subject information for further advice on programme requirements
  • For candidates who have graduated within five years of the proposed start date of the PGCE, the principal referee MUST be an academic from the candidate's university. 

Generic selection criteria

There are generic selection criteria which apply to all subjects and some subjects also have additional subject-specific selection criteria. You are encouraged to visit the individual subject pages of the PGCE for subject specialist information.  As you prepare your application for the PGCE, we stress the need for you to visit a state secondary school in order that you become well informed about current practices. During the PGCE year you will be developing your skills, knowledge and understanding in relation to teaching. We look for some evidence of these at the selection stage through our generic selection criteria although these will be developed further throughout the course.  

The generic selection criteria for all subjects is as follows:

  • Good academic qualifications
  • Good subject skills and knowledge in a relevant subject
  • Good understanding of the place of the subject in the secondary school curriculum
  • Up to date awareness of effective teaching and learning in the subject
  • Interest in and awareness of what working with young people involves
  • Commitment to teaching in the state sector
  • Strong skills, appropriate to teaching, in the following areas (in alphabetical order):
  • Communication
  • Critical analysis
  • Inter-personal skills
  • Organisation
  • Reflection
  • Resilience

The selection criteria will be assessed initially using evidence from the UCAS Teacher Training form and, if called for interview, from the range of activities on the interview day. Interviews are conducted by a subject tutor often with a school teacher from a local partnership school. Although the way interviews are conducted varies between subjects, when candidates are invited to interview typically this will include: making a presentation, engaging in a group discussion with their peers, completing a variety of interview tasks and having an individual interview.

Pre-Entry Skills Tests

It would be helpful if applicants to the PGCE at Bristol could book their Skills Tests as soon as they have made their UCAS Teacher Training application and confirm the date of the tests to us.  Candidates will be at an advantage if they have passed the tests by the time they are interviewed.

For further information on the tests and how to book, please see the Teaching Agency pages on the DfE's website.


It is PGCE programme policy, in line with DfE (Department for Education) regulations, to interview all short-listed candidates before a place is offered.  Candidates are expected to attend interview in Bristol in person. We do not conduct telephone or Skype interviews.  Wherever possible, staff from our partnership schools are involved in the recruitment of candidates to the PGCE, including taking part in the interview process.

It will help you to read the Educational Press and to talk to teachers and those currently undertaking teacher training.

School visit

The best preparation for interview is a visit to a school. If you are considering a career in teaching this is one of the first steps you should take.  Even if you left school only recently you will be surprised at how different it is when seen from the perspective of the teacher.

You should try to secure some observation in a comprehensive school in the state sector and observe some lessons in your subject area with students in the 11-16 age range.

It is important that you have some letter of introduction since schools are rightly wary of unknown visitors. The University of Bristol will normally require you to make a school visit, preferably before interview, and will supply you with a letter of introduction if you are offered an interview.

When you visit a school be sure to talk to teachers and students and participate in lessons if you are encouraged to do so. Try to evaluate what is being learned and the way in which the teacher encourages this learning.

You will be expected to discuss your observation visit at interview and to be able to go beyond a description of what you have seen by analysing the experience and showing an understanding of the deeper processes. It may well help to take notes and to refer to these at the interview.


Prior to admission to the programme, all students are required by the DfE to have:

  • at least GCSE or 'O' level at grade C or an equivalent overseas qualification in English and Mathematics;
  • a degree (with a 2:2 or above) or an equivalent qualification in a subject relevant to the proposed main teaching subject.

We do not offer equivalence tests for the GCSE Mathematics and English requirements and we do not accept equivalence tests.

We do not accept the Adult Literacy and Numeracy qualification or Access course qualifications as equivalences of GCSE Mathematics and English.

Candidates wishing to teach Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics, but with insufficient subject content in their degrees, may be accepted on the programme conditional on successfully completing a Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics Enhancement course (PEC/CEC/MEC). These run from January to July in various locations including Bath.

Candidates wishing to teach a shortage subject and needing to strengthen their subject knowledge may wish to attend a subject knowledge booster course run in August in various locations including Gloucester.

All students are required to undertake prescribed medical formalities before starting the PGCE. A University of Bristol Health Questionnaire and other required documentation are automatically sent to candidates holding an offer prior to the start of the programme.

Any offer is conditional upon the satisfactory receipt of an Enhanced Disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service and medical clearance from the University of Bristol.  Details will be provided in your offer letter.

If you are offered a place you will be expected to take it up in the next academic year. If you cannot take up a place in the next academic year, you must re-apply through UCAS Teacher Training. All offers are subject to the verification of admission requirements.

Acceptance of offers

If you are offered a place you will be asked to confirm online with UCAS Teacher Training. We ask you to consider this acceptance most seriously as it is a formal undertaking to take up the place.

Holding a place governs the offers which can be made to other applicants. The number of places is strictly limited and it is essential that the University fills its quota in each subject.

If you withdraw your acceptance, particularly after July, you are likely to be denying an opportunity to other candidates.

Tuition fees

In 2013/14, the University of Bristol will be charging £9,000 tuition fees for the PGCE course.  The fees for 2014 will be updated here as soon as they are available.

UK/Home and EU students will not have to pay the fees up-front and can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the cost of the fees.

Students from England should apply to Student Finance England for a tuition fee loan.

Training bursaries

Information about  training bursaries for the PGCE starting in 2014 is now available from the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) pages on the DfE website.

Extract from Training Bursary Initial Eligibility Guidance:

The bursary awards are not taxable; however may be treated as capital income for the purposes of assessing income for trainees in receipt of state benefits, as with student maintenance loans. Providers are advised to direct trainees towards their local benefits office to check whether this may affect their state benefits.

University support and government funding

In 2014/15, the University of Bristol will offer a financial support package for PGCE students, delivering:

  •  A bursary of £9k for students with a first class undergraduate degree, whose residual household income is £42,620 or below and who is not already in receipt of bursary funding of £4k or above from another source.

  •  A bursary of £4k for students with an upper second class undergraduate degree; whose residual household income is £42,620 or below and who is not already in receipt of bursary funding of £4k or above from another source.

  • An initial assessment will be made on the basis of SLC data, as in the case of our undergraduate support package. Any student identified as having a residual household income of £42,620 or below will move on to the second phase of assessment.
  •  In the second phase of assessment, we will factor in any bursary support which students are eligible for from other sources. Any student who meets the academic criteria detailed above and not eligible for a bursary of £4k or above from another source would be eligible for a University of Bristol bursary.
  •  The University reserves the right to restrict the number of bursaries awarded, in the unlikely event that the number of eligible applicants in any given year result in the available funding being over-subscribed.
  •  The PGCE support package will be reviewed on an annual basis, within the context of any potential changes in wider bursary availability.

Please ensure you read the full Terms and Conditions (PDF 206.5Kb) before applying. An application form (Word document 85.5Kb) can be downloaded and should be returned by the deadline of  9am on Friday 1st August 2014.

For further information on financial support available including government support please visit the fees and funding website.

National College for Teaching and Leadership pages of the DfE website

directGov Student Finance page


Alumni of the Bristol PGCE may find this information useful


Transcripts and confirmation letters

If you require a transcript of your PGCE studies or a confirmation letter, please contact us on


Replacement PGCE certificates

If you require a replacement PGCE certificate, please contact the Exams Office on