Primary PGCE

At Reading we train teachers who become reflective professionals able to secure the very best for all children. We support them to be resilient, creative and inclusive. With the highest expectations of learning, progress and development, they inspire children to become confident, active citizens who are able to cope with the fast-moving demands of the 21st century.

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Our knowledge and support of each individual is a particular strength of our PGCE Primary programme, as is our inspirational teaching. We are graded third in the country for preparing trainees to teach phonics. External examiners and students year on year report that this is a fantastic training programme.  This is reflected in our employment rate which is substantially above sector average with many trainees going on to work in local Partnership schools.

Programme structure

The PGCE Primary programme runs from September to the beginning of July. The programme is organised, with a balance of school and university based training which will support you on your learning journey.  You will work with tutors who are highly knowledgeable about their subjects and who will support you in the development of your pedagogy. You will work alongside and support children to develop their literacy skills, to understand and apply mathematics and to appreciate how the world works.

Whilst on the programme you will work in two different age ranges, in four school placements, to ensure the broadest possible experience. In each placement you will work alongside experienced teachers and gradually assume more responsibility for planning and teaching as your training progresses.    Throughout this process, you will be supported by school based mentors and a University tutor.   Assessment is on-going and against the Teachers Standards.

The University based aspect of the programme comprises curriculum subjects and the wider professional role. We aim to develop the pedagogical and practical skills necessary to be an Outstanding teacher, as well enhancing subject knowledge.

On the programme you will study two Masters modules leading to 60 M level credits and will have the opportunity to top up to full Masters in the early years of their teaching career.


The Primary PGCE programme leads to Qualified Teacher Status and successful graduates can teach across the age ranges.   The programme enables you to specialise through pathways and routes:

  • Primary (5-11) with Foreign Languages Leadership Pathway 
  • Primary (5-11) with Special Educational Needs
  • Early Years (3-7)
  • Primary (5-11) with maths specialism

Early Years (3-7 years) Pathway X121Primary school pupils working together

The Early Years pathway gives you the experience, the opportunity and the knowledge to work in both Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) settings and Infant/Primary school settings.  The EYFS is a unique phase of education which involves learning through play and first hand experiences both inside and outdoors. This phase leads into Key Stage 1, when children really start to grapple with learning to read, applying their mathematical knowledge and making sense of how the world works.  

Choose this pathway if you are interested in early learning and early child development.  By choosing this pathway you will experience both the EYFS and KS1 phases and therefore be highly skilled in two curricula.   If you are interested in the rewards and challenges of being an Early Years expert teacher choose this pathway.

Primary (5-11 years) with Foreign Languages Leadership Pathway XR11

This programme prepares you for teaching in primary, infant & junior schools. It enables you to teach languages to young learners and become effective Language Co-ordinators. The structure and much of the content follows the Primary programme. You will need a minimum of an A level in a language other than English.  Choose this pathway if you are interested in becoming the Languages Co-ordinator in your future school.

Primary (5-11 years) with Special Educational Needs

This pathway will enable you to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of working with children with disabilities, within mainstream and Special School settings. You will undertake placements in mainstream schools with additional resources units, as well as Special Schools. Choose this pathway if you would like to deepen your understanding of teaching and caring for children with special educational needs, either in mainstream or Special School settings.

Primary (5-11 years) with Mathematics specialism

This programme prepares you for teaching in primary, infant & junior schools. It enables you to follow a particular interest in mathematics, leading to subject leadership and/or specialist teaching of mathematics within a primary setting. The structure and much of the content follows the Primary programme. You will have a minimum grade B at GCSE (or equivalent) in mathematics and typically have a B or higher in A-level mathematics and/or evidence of mathematics at degree level. Choose this specialism if you are interested in leading and championing mathematics in your future school.

Please note: in order to receive the additional bursary for the mathematics specialism you must have B or higher at A-level.

For further information please see our Frequently Asked Questions


All tutors on the programme are experienced teachers and teacher trainers, including a number of internationally and nationally recognised figures.  Professor Rhona Stainthorp has been researching the development of reading and writing for many years. Her work includes studying children with exceptionally precocious skills as well as those children with typical development and those with difficulties. Her work had contributed to national developments in the teaching of reading and writing since the start of the National Literacy Strategy. Dr Cathy Tissot is a national figure in Special Educational Needs.  She contributes regularly to the Special Educational Needs aspects of the programme.  

 Primary PGCE Entry Requirements

Candidates must have obtained:

  • A good honours degree of a UK higher education institution or equivalent qualification
  • GCSE grade C or equivalent in English, Mathematics and Science
  • For PGCE Primary, we prefer candidates to have a GCSE in a language other than English or equivalent language learning experience

Applicants must:

  • Be able to communicate effectively in both spoken and written English
  • If offered a place, obtain an enhanced DBS disclosure, arranged through the University. All non-UK candidates need to provide a certificate of no criminal convictions - provided by their own police force before entering the UK
  • If offered a place, meet the requirements for 'physical and mental fitness to teach', assessed by a declaration of health questionnaire and, in some cases, a medical examination
  • Pass computer-based Skills Tests in Numeracy and Literacy, prior to starting the programme (September 2013 entry onwards)
  • Undertake a recent (within the last year) placement, minimum two weeks, in a state-maintained, mainstream primary school prior to application.   Please note that many of our applicants have had more than the minimum two weeks in school prior to application.

Skills Tests

Applicants for ITT courses are required to have passed the Skills test before the start of the course. In order to help applicants with their planning the DfE has enhanced the process to allow applicants to register and book skills test appointments before they apply.

Applicants must submit an application before taking the tests and will need to provide evidence of this when they attend the test centre. They will be prevented from taking the test if they are unable to do so. Further details about acceptable evidence will be provided on the DfE website.

Applicants who have passed their Skills tests will be viewed favourably for interview.

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