Mercia Learning Alliance History (35MS)

Postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) with qualified teacher status (QTS)

Accredited body
The University of Sheffield
Financial support
Student finance if you’re eligible

A postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) with qualified teacher status (QTS) will allow you to teach in state schools in England and may allow you to teach in other parts of the UK.

It may also allow you to teach overseas, though you should always check what qualifications are needed in the country you’d like to teach in.

Many PGDE courses include credits towards a Master’s degree.

Age range
11 to 18 - secondary
Course length
1 year - full time
Date you can apply from
11 October 2022
Date course starts
September 2023


Course summary

Our mission is to open minds to the realities and possibilities of teaching and learning by developing reflective, creative and inquiring teachers.

The Mercia Learning Alliance School Direct Secondary PGDE course prepares students to teach across the 11-19 age range.

You can find out more about your subject by clicking here and scrolling to Modules.

The course is a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) which offers exactly the same teaching experience as a PGCE, but with additional Masters Credits, meaning that you will be able to complete your Masters as soon as you qualify as a teacher.

You will spend two thirds of the year in school, and one third at the University, giving an excellent blend of practical experience and also a chance to reflect and make use of the research expertise of University-based tutors.

This is supported by Mercia led CPD at King Ecgbert School throughout the training year, alongside drop in sessions.

To complement your development as a teacher you will complete four assignments at Masters level, exploring key issues relating to your subject and your role.

Key Features of the course:

  • A dedicated team of tutors and school based mentors who provide excellent support for all students.
  • Excellent school partnerships. Our longstanding relationships with our partner schools enable us to ensure continuity for students.
  • A strong subject-specific cohort. You will have chance to develop working relationships with your peers whilst at Mercia training days and in university, which provide you with a support network once out on placement.
  • The chance to reflect. Teaching is an intensive profession, and at the start of your career it is essential that you have the opportunity to develop skills as a reflective practitioner. During your first placement, for example, you will spend every Friday in University sharing your experiences and considering ways in which you can develop your teaching.


Your progress in developing the skills of a teacher will be continually assessed throughout the year. You will always be kept aware of your progress and given opportunities to focus on specific areas where necessary.

Your academic work is carefully timed to ensure that you are able to manage your workload. Your Masters assignments are assessed by your University-based tutors, who offer extensive support and guidance to ensure that you are able to succeed.

School placements

You will undertake four periods of school experience:

  • One week in a primary school early in the programme
  • An eight-week placement between October and December
  • A 13-week placement between January and May
  • A 2-week enrichment/enhancement placement in June

In all curriculum areas you will also have the chance to visit a number of schools as a part of the University-centred parts of the PGDE. These visits will focus on specific themes such as working with pupils with EAL or supporting examination groups and will give you the opportunity to gain experience of schools beyond your main placements. Student teachers rate these visits very highly and appreciate the chance to develop a clear view of the kind of school in which they want to begin their careers.

We work with a small number of partner schools in Sheffield, including:

  • King Ecgbert School (Lead school in Mercia Learning Alliance)
  • Newfield School
  • Wales High School
  • Firth Park Academy
  • Forge Valley School

This range of inner-city, suburban and rural contexts provides rich opportunities for diverse and balanced experiences in schools, and we work hard to secure you two contrasting placements.

When arranging placements, personal circumstances such as child-care and additional needs are taken into account as much as possible.

Please note that although we will try to take preferences into account where possible, we cannot guarantee which of our partner schools trainees will attend until placements are finalised towards the start of the course. In applying to Mercia Learning Alliance, you are agreeing to train in any of alliance schools.

On each main placement you are allocated a subject mentor who supports your development within the department. Your mentor meets with you on a weekly basis to discuss your progress and to help you identify any support you may need. Our mentors are highly trained and well supported by subject tutors meaning we are able to offer excellent continuity between the university-centred and school-centred elements of the course.

Entry requirements

Qualifications needed

An undergraduate degree at class 2:2 or above, or equivalent.

As this is an 11-19 course we are preparing students to teach up to A-level and will normally take into account the balance of your degree content and profile of GCSE and A-level (or equivalent) subjects and results to assess your suitability for the programme.

If you have non-standard qualifications you are welcome to contact us to discuss your eligibility.

Your degree subject should be in history or a similar subject. Otherwise you’ll need to prove your subject knowledge in some other way.

Grade 4 (C) or above in English and maths, or equivalent qualification.

We’ll consider candidates with pending GCSEs.

We’ll consider candidates who need to take a GCSE equivalency test in English or maths.

We do not accept equivalency tests from third party organisations. If you are required to take an equivalency test, we will provide full details about our own test(s) at interview. There is no charge for our tests.

Personal qualities

At Mercia Learning Alliance we are looking for candidates to join our highly successful and aspirational, but also caring and supportive team; candidates who will deliver fresh subject expertise, energy, and new perspectives. We are looking for people who are able to shape a new forward-thinking initial teacher education culture at our school and across our alliance.

We consider six key elements when selecting students for our School Direct programme:

  • Commitment to teaching
  • Insight into the realities of teaching
  • Resilience
  • An analytical approach to problem solving
  • Enthusiasm for your subject
  • Interpersonal and communication skills

Other requirements

If English is not your first language you must have an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in all skills or an equivalent qualification. Further details on equivalent qualifications can be found here.

As this course leads to a professional qualification, student teachers will be required to undertake a DBS Enhanced Disclosure and Work Health Assessment. All Student teachers will also be required to complete Safeguarding training. Full information about how to undergo these checks will be provided once you accept your place on the course.

Fees and financial support

The course fees for 2023 to 2024 are as follows:
Student type Fees to pay
UK students £9,250
International students £21,400

As this course leads to a professional qualification, student teachers will be required to undertake a DBS Enhanced Disclosure and Work Health Assessment and complete Safeguarding training. Information about how to undergo these checks will be provided once you accept your place on the course.

Additional costs to cover non-UK criminal clearance checks may be levied where necessary, and will be payable by the student. Further information can be found here

Students are responsible for the cost of travel to and from school placements. However, financial support may be available to those students without a bursary, decisions are made on an individual basis.

Financial support from the training provider

Students are responsible for the cost of travel to and from school placements. However, financial support may be available to those students without a bursary, decisions are made on an individual basis.

About the training provider

Based in the vibrant city of Sheffield with its amazing facilities, transport links and access to the Peak District, Mercia Learning Alliance is a first class choice for graduates looking for a successful career in teaching.

Our vision as Mercia Learning Alliance is to become a centre of educational excellence with a national reputation. Our ethos is that every professional in our alliance should strive to be the absolute best they can be. This places professional learning at the centre of all that we do and we see initial teaching training as integral to this.

Mercia Learning Alliance offers aspiring teachers a broad range of opportunities across subjects and key stages. Working with The University of Sheffield (Secondary) and The Sheffield SCITT (Primary), with a wide range of postgraduate qualifications on offer, you will have the opportunity to carry out your training in some of the best schools in the country, learning from inspirational teaching staff who are leaders in their field.

Our partnership schools are all committed to finding and developing their own teachers, therefore they are committed to their trainees. At Mercia Learning Alliance we want to ‘grow’ our own teachers, supporting you throughout your professional career from trainee all the way up to senior leader and beyond.

We offer unrivalled choice in terms of type of school and location across Sheffield to train and work in, but we remain small enough to know every trainee as an individual enabling us to personalise training needs.

About the accredited body

The University of Sheffield has a long-standing reputation in Initial Teacher Education; we’ve been training teachers and educational professionals for over 50 years. Our highly qualified team includes a blend of university-based tutors and seconded school-based staff, enabling us to offer outstanding teacher development.

The University of Sheffield is a world top-100 university (Times Higher Education World University Rankings, 2022). As a member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence. Our Students’ Union has been voted best in the UK for the past 5 years in ‘Whatuni Student Choice Awards.’

Interview process

Upon receipt of your application, it will be looked at closely by the School Direct Lead for Mercia Learning Alliance and the Admissions team at the University of Sheffield and consider the following:

  • Do you demonstrate a clear interest in becoming a teacher?
  • Do you have strong references that suggest you have the capacity to train to be a teacher?
  • Do you have strong subject knowledge, or an awareness that you need to develop this further?
  • Have you written a strong personal statement, demonstrating your commitment to teaching, your passion for your subject and an understanding of the realities of the profession?

Whilst school experience is not a requirement prior to interview, we tend to find that candidates are more confident during the selection process if they have spent at least some time in schools beforehand. However, if this is not possible, you are strongly encouraged to apply for the course and arrange school experience following the selection process.

Your selection day will take place at King Ecgbert School, and will consist of the following elements:

  • Introduction to the course
  • A task designed to ensure that your subject knowledge is strong
  • A chance to interact with other candidates (where possible), and to reflect on this experience
  • A written task
  • A formal interview, carried out by a University tutor and a school representative

You will be sent any relevant materials in advance.

Where appropriate, the selection day may take place remotely.

International candidates

You’ll need the right to study in the UK. You already have this if, for example, you:

  • are an Irish citizen
  • have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (you may still be able to apply)
  • have indefinite leave to remain in the UK

If you do not already have the right to study in the UK for the duration of this course, you may need to apply for a Student visa.

To do this, you’ll need to be sponsored by your training provider.

Before you apply for this course, contact us to check Student visa sponsorship is available. If it is, and you get a place on this course, we’ll help you apply for your visa.

Alternatively, check if you’re eligible for a different type of visa, such as a Graduate or Family visa, that allows you to train to be a teacher without being sponsored.

Find out more about training to teach in England.

International qualifications

If your qualifications come from a non-UK institution, we may want to see a ‘statement of comparability’ from UK ENIC. This will show us how they compare to UK qualifications.

You can call Get Into Teaching on 0800 389 2500 for:

  • guidance on the UK equivalents of your qualifications
  • a free statement of comparability once you’ve submitted your application (if we ask you for this)

Training with disabilities and other needs

As a student teacher at The University of Sheffield (Secondary) you will have full access to support if you have a disability or additional needs. Full information is available here

We work closely with all our school partners (Primary and Secondary) to ensure that your needs are met whilst on placement, offering support and adaptations where necessary.

We encourage all our applicants to declare their disability on their application form and to discuss their requirements with us at interview. While disabled access to our schools is good we can only place trainees at the most suitable school to meet their needs if we know what those needs are.

Contact this training provider

King Ecgbert School
Totley Brook Road
South Yorkshire
S17 3QU

Support and advice

You can speak to a teacher training adviser for free, dedicated advice. They are all experienced teachers who can give you one-to-one support with your application. They can also help you get school experience, and find events where you can speak to training providers and teachers.

Call Get Into Teaching free of charge on 0800 389 2500, or chat online Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm (except public holidays).

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