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Primary programme

Why choose Exeter for your Primary PGCE

Rated “outstanding” in our most recent Ofsted inspection in 2017, our primary PGCE programme offers you the unique opportunity to choose a subject specialist pathway, preparing you to become curriculum coordinators.

All children deserve to be able to access, participate in and engage with learning, and have the best possible education experience. We know that good teachers are at the heart of this. With this in mind, we aim to develop critically reflective teachers - able to challenge existing assumptions (including their own) in order to adapt and develop their practice to meet the changing needs of their pupils. Our programme is designed to enable trainees to understand and interrogate the principles of teaching and learning which lie beneath practice, so that they can make informed choices in their own practices. We aim to develop trainees' confidence in engaging with research by helping them to understand and interpret research findings, and also through direct experience of small-scale research-informed studies. Through this, we develop future teachers who have agency; they are adaptable, informed and passionate about pupil learning. The Primary PGCE programme is designed to enable trainees to develop their pedagogical subject knowledge across the primary curriculum as well as developing their understanding of wider issues in education. The opportunity to specialise via different pathways allows trainees to develop their leadership potential by exploring such areas as curriculum design or a curriculum subject in more depth. Equipped with these qualities and skills, our trainees will join a wide community of teachers making a positive contribution to schools and a difference to children’s lives.

Our outstanding PGCE programme offers you the opportunity to train to be a generalist primary teacher with an added specialist pathway. Our 36-week programme, which includes significant time in a school setting, is designed to equip you with the knowledge, skills and understanding you need to become a successful primary teacher.

Modules are designed to give you experience of all the curriculum subjects you will be expected to teach for your specified age range, as well as providing you with the opportunity to explore wider issues in education. All our tutors on the primary PGCE are experts in the field, passionate teachers and passionate about teaching.

Subject pathways are unique to the Exeter Primary PGCE programme and prepare you to become, for example, curriculum coordinators. Applicants who meet the entry requirements for our subject pathways will normally be expected to follow that pathway:

For applicants whose academic background does not match with one of our subject pathways, we have the Teaching and Learning pathway which prepares trainees to become leaders of curriculum innovation more generally.

The programme, over three terms, includes time spent both at the University and in school placements. University modules are designed to give you experience of all national curriculum subjects, as well as looking at cross-curricular learning and wider educational concerns. The taught element is made up of timetabled seminars, lectures and self-directed study. You will work individually and as part of small and larger groups. University lecturers, teachers and your peers will all contribute to your learning. Each term provides progressively more school-based work training:

AUTUMN TERM 
Preliminary School Experience 2 weeks
University Taught Course 10 weeks
School Placement 1: Autumn Experience 2 weeks
SPRING TERM 
School Placement 1: Spring Experience 11 weeks
SUMMER TERM
School Placement 2: Summer Experience 11 weeks

The programme has four main components

1. Curriculum studies

There is substantial preparation for teaching the core subjects of English, Mathematics, and Science through taught sessions combined with self-directed activities based both in the University and carried out in school. There is a particular emphasis on the teaching of writing, reading and mathematics to reflect the government’s current educational priorities. This module also covers the subjects of Art, Computing, Design Technology, Geography, History, Modern Languages, Music, Physical Education, and Religious Education, which are all delivered in shorter practical courses. These courses cater for trainees whose previous experiences may vary widely and aim to give a substantial introduction to the teaching of these subjects.

2. Educational and Professional Studies

The module content is designed to enable critical reflection on children’s learning and development, pedagogy, diversity, and teachers’ roles and responsibilities in multi-professional contexts. There is engagement with relevant government reports, policies and academic research in order to develop appraisal of contemporary social trends, and issues in theory and practice. The content of the module is inter-dependent with other modules in the programme, and will be developed in the professional studies element of school experience settings, where you will consider the practical implementation of educational principles and policies.

3. School experience

The University has excellent working relationships with its partnership schools, where trainees will be based for their school experience. School-based tutors and mentors are responsible for trainees’ learning and development and receive well-designed training. Trainees will initially work with groups of children, before taking on more responsibility for planning and independently teaching the whole class. There will be two main placement schools assigned and these will offer contrasting environments.

4. Pathway module (specialist or generalist)

Primary trainees will receive training in a chosen subject specialism from Art, English, Humanities, Mathematics, Modern Languages, and Science. The specialism builds on your subject knowledge strengths (from your degree or A levels) and aims to prepare you for an eventual role as subject leader or coordinator. Alternatively, we also have a generalist pathway, ‘Primary Teaching and Learning’, which will develop your knowledge, understanding and skills in research-inspired primary teaching and learning across the whole 5-11 curriculum.

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. This will be embedded into the training year and will not involve any specific testing at interview. Trainees will be given tools to help identify areas for development and improve their skills where needed.  The PGCE course will include activities to enable trainees to demonstrate they have the requisite skills by the end of the course.