The Downland Alliance English (2PQJ)

Postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) with qualified teacher status (QTS)

Accredited body
Oxford Brookes University
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 18 - secondary
Course length
1 year - full time
Date you can apply from
11 October 2022
Date course starts
September 2023


Course summary

We aim to provide a course which has at its heart 3 main objectives.

It is a course which is highly professional, of consistent high quality and personal to you.

Accredited by Oxford Brookes University, it covers a wide range of activities.

Immersion into a teacher’s daily life and exposure to outstanding practice ensures you have the best opportunity to reach your full potential.

As one of our trainees, you are attached to one “host” school for much of the year. This makes it possible for you to get to know the school’s teachers and students and to understand their policies and practices.

The core training package provides:

  • a main placement in one of our partner secondary schools
  • a second placement of 6 weeks in a contrasting school
  • a primary cross phase placement in one of our linked primary schools
  • 6th form experience
  • the possibility of experience in a special setting

The course covers:

  • Professional behaviours and responsibilities
  • Developing and enriching your subject knowledge and expertise
  • High expectations and managing behaviour
  • How students learn
  • How to plan and teach effective lessons
  • Improving outcomes for students – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with additional needs.
  • How to adapt teaching to respond to different student needs
  • Assessment for learning
  • Working with parents and carers
  • Supporting student mental health and well being
  • Safeguarding and child protection

By the end of the course you’ll feel equipped to:

  • share your love for English, inspiring your students and their creativity
  • develop innovative teaching approaches, designing and implementing stimulating resources
  • teach English within the national curriculum framework, meeting exam requirements

You’ll be part of a team from the start, receiving intensive support from your mentor so you won’t be teaching classes unsupported until you’re ready.

Assessment is through engagement with the core training, analysis and reflection, three academic assignments and successful completion of two teaching placements with classroom practice observation and formal feedback from your mentor and tutor to ensure you meet the teaching standards at the end of the course.

What do our trainees say?

“All the schools are excellent nurturing supportive environments. The training staff are engaging and informative; crucially the majority are senior leaders in their schools so their expertise is up to date and hands on.”

School placements

As a school direct trainee you are based in one of our secondary partner schools and from the beginning there will be a focus on school-based learning.

You will have a school based mentor who co-ordinates your classroom-related activities. They provide guidance and support and, as you develop your skills, judge when and how to increase your experience and responsibilities until you are ready to take on whole classes.

Another experienced teacher in the school (the ITT coordinator) co-ordinates activities relating to general educational issues.

You will also have individual tutor support from Oxford Brookes University.

This personalised approach means that you are supported throughout the course and you don’t have to worry about being thrown in at the deep end until you are ready.

Gradually you will begin to teach parts of lessons, and then short series of lessons. Before and after Christmas, almost all your time will be spent in schools, with a complementary placement at another local school arranged for approximately 6 weeks during February. There is also the opportunity for a cross phase placement.

We cannot guarantee your main placement will be in a particular host school - we do, however, take account of any specific requests and always consider any issues including individual travel distances. This forms part of the discussions which take place during the selection process. Above all, we consider which of the schools will be a “best fit” for you coupled with the mentor involved and where there are vacancies.

The majority of our training sessions, which are not school classroom based, take place in one of our partnership schools, although we may use an external venue such as Shaw House in Newbury.

PGCE sessions are delivered by Oxford Brookes University and generally take place at The Downs School.

What do our trainees say?

“Training across schools enables you to learn as much as possible and see a range of techniques.”

“Our mentors as well as the training staff are invaluable for their experience teaching wisdom and support. There is always someone to turn to if you feel your ship is sinking!”

Entry requirements

Qualifications needed

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

Please contact us if you have a query.

Your degree subject should be in English 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 offer equivalency tests.

Details of the testing provider and the costs are available at


Personal qualities

You should have a commitment to education and young people and be passionate about making a difference.

You’ll need to:

  • Be enthusiastic about your subject
  • Have a keen interest or hobby
  • Work on joint projects - successes in team working are important
  • Take part in discussions and respond to written materials so interpersonal, communication and writing skills are important.
  • Have organisational skills, a good work ethic, a positive approach to your own learning, resilience and a sense of humour!
  • Have the perseverance required to complete your training and become a member of the profession

Other requirements

You will need to complete a “Fit to Teach” declaration. This is to ensure that you have the health and physical capacity to teach and it is arranged before you start your training.

Statutory guidance, Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education, requires us to ensure that all trainees have been subject to Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and criminal records check before they start their training.

Having school experience will help support your application, but don’t worry if you don’t have any – it isn’t a mandatory requirement.

Fees and financial support

The course fees for UK students in 2023 to 2024 are £9,250.

The fees of £9,250 include both PGCE and QTS.

The option can be available to undertake QTS only in which case the fees are £7,250.

Financial support from the training provider

Many courses are supported by scholarships and bursaries. Student finance is available if you are eligible. Details on ways to fund your training are available on the “Get into Teaching” website.

About the training provider

This is a unique opportunity to train with a highly successful group of schools that make up our partnership, located in the beautiful county of West Berkshire but close to Oxford, Reading, Winchester and London.

A wide spectrum of high achieving schools ensures a range of opportunities including a primary/secondary placement and 6th form experience for secondary trainees.

The secondary in-school training is organised jointly by The Downs School, Compton, St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, and Kennet School, Thatcham.

Our primary training is organised jointly by our primary partner schools - a full list is available on our website.

The Downs School is the school direct lead school; it has been judged outstanding in all areas by Ofsted.

Our courses lead to either QTS with PGCE or you can apply for QTS only.

These professional qualifications are awarded by Oxford Brookes University so you get the best of both worlds – high quality school led training linked to a renowned higher education institution.

But our training programme is just the first step on your teaching career.

There is a complete programme of training offered in West Berkshire from Early Career Teacher to becoming a school leader, if you have the right skills.

School-led courses have high rates of employment and, above all, of trainee satisfaction.

Every part of our programme is aimed at preparing you to be the best teacher possible. Immersion into the life of the teacher and daily exposure to outstanding practice ensures you have the best possible opportunity.

About the accredited body

The School of Education at Oxford Brookes is one of the largest schools of education in the UK,

The university’s core belief is that education has the power to change lives and it is proud of its strong reputation for bringing this great gift to its students who will in turn work with children and adults to open up the world of learning and knowledge.

The partnership with The Downland Alliance is very well established.

Together we aim to educate excellent teachers to become agents of change, improving classroom practice for future generations.

Interview process

How do we select our trainees?

You should be clear in your personal statement about why you want to become a teacher, the skills involved and what you want to bring to the profession.

Your application will be shortlisted.

If you are successful, you will be asked to attend a selection session at one of our schools to meet students and staff and spend some time in the classroom. You will also have a tour of the school.

The selection session will also include the following:

  • a subject specific / teaching task presentation by you. Details will be sent to you ahead of time
  • an individual interview with our programme director and a representative(s) from the host school

You numeracy and literacy skills will be assessed during our programme.

You will be judged by the criteria:

  • appropriateness of your subject qualifications and the relevance to subject teaching
  • your capacity to continue professional learning
  • your awareness of the role and responsibilities of the teacher
  • any school experience
  • your evidence of resilience
  • your ability to communicate effectively
  • your enthusiasm for and commitment to teaching
  • your awareness of your personal strengths and weaknesses

You will also be expected to be familiar with key issues and curriculum developments in schools – especially in your subject area.

The programme for the selection process includes a collaborative approach between Oxford Brookes University and our partner schools.

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, you may need to apply for a visa. The main visa for fee-paying courses (those that you have to pay for) is the Student visa.

To apply for a Student visa, you’ll need to be sponsored by your training provider.

Sponsorship is not available for this course.

If you need a visa, filter your course search to find courses with visa sponsorship.

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

We welcome applications from all sectors of the community including if you have a disability or other individual needs.

We will make any necessary arrangements to help you attend your interview and reasonable adjustments to enable you to undertake your training.

Please ensure you let us know by contacting our Teacher Training Manager for further information.

Schools within the partnership have partial disabled access and Oxford Brookes University has full disabled access.

Contact this training provider

01635 270096
Downland Alliance - The Downs School
RG20 6AD

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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