Courses are currently closed but you can get your application ready

Courses starting in the 2021 to 2022 academic year are closed.

You can start or continue your application to get it ready for courses starting in the 2022 to 2023 academic year.

You’ll be able to find courses from 9am on 5 October 2021 and submit your application from 9am on 12 October 2021.

West Country Teaching School Alliance Biology (32BC)

PGCE with QTS full time

Accredited body
University of Exeter
Financial support
Bursaries and student finance are available if you’re eligible

A postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) 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 PGCE courses include credits that count toward a Master’s degree.

Age range
11 to 16
Course length
1 year
Date you can apply from
13 October 2020
Date course starts
September 2021


About the course

Biology - School Direct @Exeter (32BC)

School Direct@Exeter features all of the elements of a traditional University based PGCE but has the additional benefit of providing trainees with more time in school.

Trainees following this programme become part of the school community from day 1, joining their home placement school at the start of term and being inducted into the school alongside other new members of staff. This time in school provides trainees with an invaluable experience. They are introduced to the culture and ethos of the school and get to know the schools’ routines and expectations, ensuring that they hit the ground running when they start their main school based learning in the Spring Term.

During this initial phase trainees also undertake their cross phase placements and have taught sessions alongside other School Direct trainees.

Autumn Term:

Trainees are based in their home school for the first week before joining other School Direct trainees at Uffculme School for taught sessions aimed at familiarising them with both the Teachers’ Standards and the Exeter Model for ITE. They then join the University PGCE programme when it starts, normally the third week in September. Trainees return to their home school for a two week placement in November.

Spring Term:

Trainees are based in their home school where they are supported by both experienced and dedicated teachers and their University Visiting Tutor (UVT). During this time they will also attend three seminar days at the University.

Summer Term:

Whereas most courses offer a 6 week contrasting placement, our 10 week placement provides trainees with a fantastic opportunity to compare and contrast different approaches to all aspects of teaching and other wider areas of work that teachers are involved in. Trainees also have the opportunity to attend two further seminar days at the University.

Whilst on placement trainees will have twelve contact hours a week of classroom-based work.


  1. SPECIALIST SUBJECT KNOWLEDGE AND PEDAGOGY MODULE Masters level (30 credits) 6000 summative assignment (Autumn Term)
  2. EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL STUDIES (EPS) MODULE Masters level (30 credits) 6000 summative assignment (Spring Term)
  3. PROFESSIONAL LEARNING MODULE The aim of this non-credit bearing module is to enable students to provide reflection on their professional development. Trainees complete an Individual Development Portfolio (IDP) that contains evidence of achieving the Teachers’ Standards.

Successful completion of all three modules leads to the award of Secondary PGCE with QTS.

School placements

Trainees following the School Direct route into teaching are able to express a preference as to which of our partner schools they would like to be based in. This provides trainees with the opportunity to train close to home. Whilst most of our trainees are placed at Uffculme School, the lead school within the Alliance, we also offer placements in our Exeter, Wellington or Taunton based schools. Our diverse and extensive partnership of schools ensures that we can tailor our placements to meet the needs of our trainees. This can also include offering trainees an enriched experience of post 16 teaching or an opportunity to teach in the independent sector.

The length of the placements may vary but typically trainees spend 12 weeks in their home school and 10 weeks in their contrasting placement school. In addition to this they will also have a one week cross phase placement. Trainees who are not based in an 11- 18 setting for one of their placements will also be provided with a one week post 16 experience.

All placements, including cross phase and post 16 are organised for trainees.

Entry requirements

Qualifications needed

A typical student will have obtained good GCSE grades in ‘double science’ or in each of the three separate science subjects. You will have a good ‘A’ level grade in biology and ideally in another science subject and a good degree (first or upper second class Honours) with at least 50% of the content related to biology. Equivalent or alternative qualifications are always considered. Where necessary you may be required to complete some subject enhancement before joining the course.

Passes at GCSE in English and Mathematics at Grade C/4 are required.

Full guidance:

Personal qualities

We are looking for applicants who are passionate about teaching young people and who are driven by a desire to see every child succeed. Applicants should have a genuine love of their subject, they must be willing to learn and have the confidence to take risks. All trainees will need to possess resilience and above all they must be prepared to be reflective and learn from their experiences.

Our trainees need to demonstrate that they have the potential to become outstanding teachers who are committed to teaching and to developing their own careers.

Other requirements

In addition to the academic requirements listed, selection is based on performance at interview, a satisfactory fitness to teach assessment and a satisfactory DBS enhanced disclosure. Note: the DfE entry requirement to pass professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy has been removed for 2020/21 entry onwards. Instead PGCE trainees will be benchmarked during their training against a Government-defined set of fundamental mathematics and English skills.

Although not essential it would be an advantage to be able to reflect on any school-based experience or experience working with young people in another context at interview.

Fees and financial support

The course fees for 2021 to 2022 are as follows:
Student type Fees to pay
UK students £9,250
International students £19,500

About the training provider

Our diverse partnership of schools & sixth form colleges across Devon and Somerset make us a great choice for Teacher Training in the South West.

  • Outstanding schools and contrasting placements: Most of our School Direct trainees are based at Uffculme School, which is regularly among the top performing non-selective state schools in the South West. Uffculme School has been judged Outstanding by Ofsted in every inspection since 2007, and in 2017 was ranked 11th nationally for Progress 8. Our diverse partnership of schools and sixth form colleges provide trainees with the opportunity to experience a variety of contexts, giving them the tools, skills and expertise they need to build highly successful careers.

  • Outstanding partnerships: The West Country Teaching School Alliance works in partnership with the University of Exeter, which is itself rated Outstanding as a Teacher Training provider. Trainees who successfully complete the course receive their PGCE qualification from the University.

  • Outstanding provision: We offer trainees a bespoke programme combining the expertise of classroom practitioners with academic theory. Trainees can choose either a school or university based programme. 72% of our 2018/19 trainees were rated as Outstanding.

  • Outstanding employment opportunities: Our reputation for delivering high quality teacher training has resulted in local schools seeking to appoint our trainees. In 2019, all of our trainees who sought employment secured a teaching post.

About the accredited body

The University of Exeter are leaders in Initial Teacher Education. They have been consistently graded as Outstanding in all areas by Ofsted and ranked 3rd amongst University providers of teacher training in the Good Teacher Training Guide 2017.

The School Direct programmes offered through the University are uniquely characterised by innovative research-led teaching informed by professional practice and academic excellence. University tutors work in partnership with schools to ensure that all trainees have a high quality teacher training experience.

Interview process

All applications are screened initially by the University of Exeter Admissions department to check suitability for the programme. Suitable applicants will then be contacted by the West Country Teaching School Alliance and invited to attend an interview.

The interview with WCTSA has 3 elements consisting of: a teaching task, an observation task and a panel interview. Whilst Covid restrictions are in place, we have moved our ITT interviews online and these will be conducted via TEAMS.

Pre-interview Task 1:

One week before the interview, applicants will be sent a short video clip of a lesson and will be asked to analyse the quality of the teaching and learning that they observed. Various prompt questions will be given to inform their reflection.

Pre –interview Task 2:

Applicants will be asked to prepare a 20-minute section of a lesson on PowerPoint. During the interview, applicants will be invited to share how they would deliver each aspect of the lesson that they have planned. The title and learning outcomes for the lesson episode will be shared with applicants one week prior to the interview.

Panel interview:

The interview will be conducted by the Director of WCTSA and a subject specific member of staff. It will include questions on the pre-interview tasks in addition to questions on safeguarding, knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning, education and experience.

Training with disabilities and other needs

As all of our programmes are accredited by the University of Exeter if you declared a disability, specific learning difficulty or mental health difficulties on your UCAS application form, the University’s AccessAbility team will contact you before the start of your course to ask you to complete a prospective student questionnaire.

Once registered with AccessAbility/Wellbeing Services the University will, where appropriate, draw up an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) to ensure that any required adjustments are made.

You can find out more about Individual Learning Plans here: Physical Health, Disability or Learning Difficulty:
Mental Health Condition:

Contact this training provider

01884 842908
Uffculme School
EX15 3AG

Support and advice

For support and advice, you can speak to a Get Into Teaching adviser for free. They’re all experienced teachers who can help you to prepare your application, book school experience, and access exclusive teaching events.

You can also call Get Into Teaching free of charge on 0800 389 2500, or speak to an adviser using their online chat service Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm (except public holidays).

Find out about the different ways to train if you do not have a degree, or are already an experienced teacher.

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Courses are currently closed but you can still start or continue an application anyway.

You'll be able to:

  • find courses starting in the 2022 to 2023 academic year from 9am on 5 October 2021
  • submit your application from 9am on 12 October 2021