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The Downland Alliance Biology (2PQL)

PGCE with QTS full time

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
Course length
1 year
Date you can apply from
13 October 2020
Date course starts
September 2021


About the course

Why train with us?

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

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

Accredited by Oxford Brookes University, the programme covers a range of activities relating to important educational issues and practical classroom strategies.

Every part of it aims to prepare you to become the best teacher possible. Immersion into the life of a teacher and daily exposure to outstanding practice ensures you have the best opportunity of reaching your full potential.

We are looking for trainees who display the potential to become outstanding teachers of the future. Trainees who will develop in their students a passion for biology.

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 pupils really well and to understand its policies and practice.

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 such as a Pupil Referral Unit

Training modules will cover:

  • motivating and engaging learners
  • creative lesson planning and design
  • behaviour management
  • assessment for learning
  • special educational needs and disabilities
  • subject knowledge and curriculum development
  • inclusion and differentiation
  • understanding school data and its use in the classroom
  • attachment theory and working with young people
  • working with parents/carers
  • safeguarding and Child Protection

Assessment is through a combination of written academic assignments and successful completion of two teaching placements with classroom practice observation and feedback from your mentor and tutor.

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

Our training sessions are held in schools within our partnership. Some PGCE sessions may be held at Oxford Brookes University.

What do our trainees say?

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

School placements

From the beginning our trainees have a focus on school-based learning.

All our trainees have a mentor who co-ordinates your classroom-related activities. Your mentor provides guidance and support, and, as the year goes by, judges 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 related to general educational issues.

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

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.

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

You need to have a degree (or equivalent qualification). For equivalent qualifications, you’ll need to confirm your qualification is equivalent to a degree.

If all or part of your qualifications are from outside the UK - you will need to get formal recognition through UK NARIC.

You must also be able to show that you can communicate effectively in both spoken and written English.

You’ll need to have GCSE grade C / 4 (or standard equivalent) in mathematics and English.

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 “Fitness to Teach” declaration. This is to ensure that you have the health and physical capacity to teach and is arranged before you start your training.

Statutory guidance, Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education, requires us to ensure that all successful applicants have been subject to Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and criminal records check.

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 2021 to 2022 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.

To encourage and reward training to teach in certain specified subjects teachers in specific areas of England, the Teachers’ Student Loan Reimbursement scheme will pay back the student loan repayments you’ve made in the previous year.

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, Compton, St Bartholomew’s, Newbury, Kennet, Thatcham and Park House, Newbury.

Our primary training is organised jointly by our primary school direct partner schools in West Berkshire including Compton, Beedon, Falkland, St Nicolas, Robert Sandilands and John Rankin,

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

Our course leads to QTS and PGCE - both 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.

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

There is a complete programme of training offered in West Berkshire from NQT 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.

Interview process

How do we select our trainees?

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

Your application will be shortlisted from your application form and references.

If shortlisted you will be invited for interview at one of our partner schools. Details will be confirmed but could include the following:

  • meeting students and staff with some time spent in the classroom
  • tour of the school
  • subject specific presentation by you
  • individual interview
  • lesson observation and a teaching task
  • numeracy / literacy task

Our selection process will be adjusted to reflect current guidance during the COVID19 pandemic.

You will be judged by the criteria:

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

You will be expected to be familiar with key issues and developments in schools – especially in your subject area. You will be judged on your ability to communicate clearly and on your engagement with the audience whether students or staff.

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

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 Teaching School 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

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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