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How do I become a secondary school teacher?

Secondary schoolchildren

Become a qualified teacher with Warwick for 11-18 year olds

This one year PGCE postgraduate course will recommend you on completion for Newly Qualified Teacher Status teaching 11-18 year olds.

What career does this course lead to?

98% of our graduates who wanted to pursue teaching gained employment upon completion. Read more.

About the course

What is this course?What is a Secondary PGCE?

Our Secondary programme aims to develop you into a highly reflective practitioner, passionate about working with children aged between 11 and 18. It's based on a partnership between us and local schools in Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

Studying at Warwick means you’ll be taught and supported by highly experienced tutors, practitioners, and mentors. We're known nationally for the quality for our training.

We’re a top-ranked university in the Midlands, with Ofsted Outstanding teacher education courses.

If you study with us, you’ll become a confident teacher, able to make a real difference to young people's development. You'll see learners engaging in active and independent learning, and they'll develop their knowledge and grow into young adults under your care.

We'll provide you with the skills needed to forge a strong personal and professional identity, which you will continue to develop throughout your career.

Course aims:

  • Gain practical teaching experience in contrasting schools
  • Build your confidence and help you reflect on your professional practice
  • Become an authority on the latest curriculum developments, issues and innovations
  • Learn to teach a specialist subject of your choosing
  • Learn to manage pupils' behaviour and maintain a purposeful learning environment
  • Grow confident in the latest technologies and develop multimedia resources
  • Leave with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to begin your teaching career
What is a PGCE and how long will it take to train?What is a PGCE and how long does it take to train?

Typically a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a one-year teacher training course. It offers a mixture of academic and practical learning, and it's the first step for graduates in the development of a teaching career.

It provides a recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), a requirement to teach in the state school system as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), along with the academic qualification of a PGCE.

There are three routes as follows, and each has its own advantages:

  1. University-Led (Core):
    If you are passionate about your subject and would like to experience placements in different schools, including one with a sixth form, this may the best option for you. You'll work with 11-18 year olds. You'll pay fees but you might be eligible for funding through tuition fee loans, training bursaries or scholarships.
  2. School Direct Training:
    Your placement is based mainly in one school with time spent at University. You'll also experience other schools through shorter placements. You'll work with 11-16 year olds. You'll pay fees but you might be eligible for funding through tuition fee loans, bursaries or scholarships.
  3. School Direct Salaried:
    The salaried route provides an employment-based option. The salaried route is ideal for graduates with extensive work experience, who have worked in a school or similar setting for some time. You won’t be eligible for any bursaries or scholarships but you will receive a salary while you train.
What will I learn?What will I learn in the course?
Choose a subject

First, you'll need to choose a subject specialism from following courses: Art & Design | Biology | Chemistry | Computer Science | Design and Technology | Drama | English | Geography | History | Mathematics | Media Studies | Modern Foreign Languages | Music | Physical Education | Physics | Religious Education

Develop your skills

Then in order to develop expertise in your chosen area, you'll take three core modules. They're all designed to equip you with the knowledge, understanding and practical skills you'll need in your successful teaching career:

  • Subject Studies: You'll learn all aspects of how to teach your subject, including planning, teaching, assessment and classroom management.
  • Professional Studies: You'll learn about working in classrooms and schools, and the broader context of teaching today.
  • Professional Practice: You'll take placements with opportunities for observation, practice and investigation in partner schools.
How will I be taught?How will I be taught?

Teaching is delivered by a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials. You’ll also attend specialist conferences where external providers deliver workshops in their specialist areas. You’ll receive a high level of support for both pastoral and academic needs.

Time spent at Warwick will focus on exploring the links between educational theory and practice. Lead lectures will introduce a key concept and theory, with seminars then enabling you to apply this new knowledge to your own practice. You’ll understand the IT skills and programs available to help you inspire pupils and do your job effectively.

You’ll be committed to promoting the educational achievements of all pupils, and have a deep respect for their diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. You’ll be equipped with a secure subject knowledge base, and the ability to plan and teach in order to maximise pupil development. You’ll also gain the ability to assess, record and monitor the outcomes of learning, and have an understanding of the critically important processes of reflection.

How will I take up placements in schools?

In school, you will directly observe pupils as they learn and teachers as they teach, as well as trying out ideas in practice in classrooms for yourself. The course is designed to ensure that your experience in schools complements and builds on what is addressed at University.

  1. Secondary schoolUniversity-Led:
    This route has two extended Professional Practice placements in contrasting settings (1 term and 2 terms respectively). This ensures a varied and balanced experience of teaching in different schools, which will prove invaluable to those who wish to experience working in different contexts before qualifying.

    You'll also get a five-day placement in a Primary school.
  2. School Direct Training and School Direct Salaried:
    This route offers trainees an extended Professional Practice placement in one main school (called a “Base School”), supplemented by an additional placement (half a term) in a contrasting school. This ensures a varied and balanced experience of teaching in different settings, whilst allowing you to contribute significantly to the life of your Base School.

    If you choose to follow the salaried route you may have to plan and assess classes independently. You'll also get a five-day placement in a Primary school.
How will I be assessed?How will I be assessed?

You’ll be assessed in the following three modules:

  • Subject Studies (PG1) M Level: A series of assessments focussing on both educational theory and issues in your specialist subject (1 x 1500 word formative essay, and 1 x 4000-word essay, 1 x Academic Poster)
  • Reflective Practice (PG2) M Level: A reflective case study on an area of educational practice in your placement school(s) supported by a literature review (1 x 5000-word essay)
  • Professional Practice H Level: Meeting the Teachers’ Standards at a Good or Outstanding level (Regular observations by mentors and Teaching Fellows; Tutorials; Professional Digital Portfolio, Viva Voce)

You’ll also be assessed on whether you meet the Teachers’ Standards at a level appropriate for a newly qualified teacher.

All assignments are submitted in electronic form. Your tutors will give you formal feedback identifying the strengths of the academic piece, and offer any advice for future work.

What support will I get?How will Warwick support me?

There’s lots to take in when you think about becoming a teacher. That’s why we ensure that support is available whenever you need it, in an environment that gives you the space to think.

As well as a personal tutor who will support you throughout the time you’re at Warwick, you can rely upon the friendship and guidance from your fellow trainees. Find out more about what we offer you.

What's the career progression?What’s the career progression from this course?

Upon completing this course you'll be recommended for qualified teacher status (QTS) and gain 90 credits at Master's level. This allows you to fast-track to stage two of our Master's degree, quickly progressing your professional development. If you choose to complete a different Master's, you can still use 60 credits towards your course.

Career progression may be through a specialist curriculum or pastoral role, or by moving into management. Teachers may become heads of department, heads of year or coordinators of a cross-curricular area, such as special needs or careers education, as well as subject or professional mentors for trainee teachers on placement.

The PGCE course at Warwick gave me an excellent grounding in my subject area, teaching and learning and the initial experience in the classroom. I have been promoted each year that I have been in teaching. I firmly believe the training at Warwick gave me the skills to aid my progression.
Andrew, PGCE Alumnus

Studying at Warwick gave me a solid foundation for my career as a teacher. Some great lectures, visits and guest speakers provided some useful information to help me on my way. Warwick also arranged some brilliant teaching placements for me where I got up and taught in front of a class for the first time! I would definitely recommend Warwick.
Yasser, PGCE Alumnus


Secondary school children


About applying to Warwick

icon-requirements.pngWhat are the entry requirements?

We expect you to be a proactive person who's confident with the age group you want to teach.

You'll be skilled at developing personal relationships, working well as part of a team, and being adaptive to changes. You’ll also be able to critically reflect on your own teaching and learning. You'll inspire trust and confidence, and be able to respond to individual and cultural differences in students. Read more about our expectations of teachers here.

As well as these characteristics, there are three things you need to demonstrate:

  1. QUALIFICATIONS
    1. Degree
      You must have graduated, or be about to graduate, from a UK Higher Educational Institute or equivalent, with a 2:2 or above honours degree.

      If you’re applying from overseas, you can see our equivalent overseas qualifications which we accept, and you may wish to see our International Applicants page too.
    2. GCSEs
      You need at least Grade C in GCSE English Language and Mathematics.

      Please note, the new grading system for those receiving their results for GCSE Maths and English was adopted in 2017. The grading system is now 9-1, with Grade 9 awarded to those students in the very top tier. The New Grade 4 is considered equivalent to the Old Grade C within the new grading system.

      If you’re applying from overseas, you can find information about equivalent qualifications in Mathematics,and English Language online.

      Please note, you will need ORIGINAL copies of all your qualifications (not copies). If you don’t have these any more, you obtain a Certified Statement of Results instead. These can take some time to retrieve from exam boards. You may also need to pay a fee. Read more here.
    3. Skills tests
      As part of your application, you must pass two Professional Skills tests on numeracy and literacy. We suggest taking these before applying. You have unlimited attempts to pass, and the first three attempts are free. There’s no 2-year lockout period anymore either. You can practice and register at the National College for Teaching and Leadership website. Remember, your results are only valid for 3 years, so make sure that yours will be valid on the course start date.
  2. REFERENCES
    It’s important to get these right because your application can’t be completed without them. If you graduated in the last two years, you’ll need to provide an academic reference. It can take a while to complete and submit a reference, so the sooner you get in touch with them, the better – you might want to send them a description of the course and what you’d like to get out of it to make it easier. UCAS have more guidance about references here.
  3. EXPERIENCE
    Last but not least, we really recommend that you have some experience in mainstream UK schools (Key Stage 3 and 4) before applying. Whilst not compulsory, this will give you a flavour for your potential future career, and help you write your application. Find out how to gain school experience now.

When can I apply?Apply online (UCAS) 

When can I apply?

Applications are open from October until the following June.

How do I apply?

Once you have your course choice, references and certificates, you need to apply through UCAS.

Please note: On UCAS, when applying for the University-Led PGCE, you need to select the University of Warwick. If you are applying for a School Direct route, you select the name of the school accredited by the University Of Warwick.

We recommend that if you wish to gain your qualification through the University of Warwick, you pick at least two of your UCAS options as University of Warwick (Core PGCE) and one of the schools affiliated with us (School Direct). Places can be found here.

Selection Process

If your application is successful, you will be invited to a Selection Day. This usually involves:

  • Presentation by the course leader
  • A written exercise
  • A group exercise
  • Individual Interview

The day gives us a chance to find out a bit more about you, but crucially it’s also your opportunity to meet us find out more about the course, and see if it’s the right one for you.

Don’t worry for now though, we’ll give you more guidance when you’re invited.