About the course
Our mission is to open minds to the realities and possibilities of teaching and learning by developing reflective, creative and inquiring teachers.
The Mercia Learning Alliance School Direct Secondary PGDE course prepares students to teach across the 11-18 age range in English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physics with Maths, History, Geography and MFL.
Your time will be split between the training at the University and in our partner schools, with two placements running from mid-October to December for four days a week then from January to May full time. This will enable you to experience two different contexts where you will be able to immerse yourself in school life, working alongside established professionals to develop and build on your expertise as a teacher.
This on-the-job training will be backed up by the theoretical, pedagogical learning at University and in school-based bespoke ‘Mercia Training Days’ with the rest of the School Direct cohort. The course has been designed so that students' professional learning in the craft of teaching is grounded in sound theoretical understanding, alongside an active and practical application of that understanding within a school setting.
The course is a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) which offers exactly the same teaching experience as a PGCE, but with additional Masters Credits, meaning that you will be able to complete your Masters as soon as you qualify as a teacher.
To complement your development as a teacher you will complete four assignments at Masters level, exploring key issues relating to your subject and your role.
Key Features of the course:
- A dedicated team of tutors and school based mentors who provide excellent support for all students.
- Excellent school partnerships. Our longstanding relationships with our partner schools enable us to ensure continuity for students.
- A strong subject-specific cohort. You will have chance to develop working relationships with your peers whilst at Mercia training days and in university, which provide you with a support network once out on placement.
- The chance to reflect. Teaching is an intensive profession, and at the start of your career it is essential that you have the opportunity to develop skills as a reflective practitioner. During your first placement, for example, you will spend every Friday in University sharing your experiences and considering ways in which you can develop your teaching.
For information about course assessment please click here
Upon receipt of your application, it will be looked at closely by the School Direct Lead for Mercia Learning Alliance and the Admissions team at the University of Sheffield along with your references.
As well as making sure that all of your personal details are accurate, your personal statement which supports your application is of utmost importance and is central to deciding whether or not to call you to interview: make sure that it reflects exactly what you have to offer, including relevant experience, and why you are interested in a career in teaching.
If your application is successful, you will be asked to attend an interview with representatives from the Mercia Learning Alliance, including Curriculum Leaders and University of Sheffield colleagues.
On the interview day, you will based at King Ecgbert School and will be involved in a carousel of activities including a teaching activity with a small group of pupils, a written task and a formal interview.
It is a rigorous and thorough process designed to make sure that you are suited for a career in teaching, and we get the most suitable applicant for the places available.
How school placements work
You will undertake four periods of school experience:
- One week in a primary school early in the programme
- An eight-week placement between October and December
- A 13-week placement between January and May
- A 2-week enrichment/enhancement placement in June
In all curriculum areas you will also have the chance to visit a number of schools as a part of the University-centred parts of the PGDE. These visits will focus on specific themes such as working with pupils with EAL or supporting examination groups and will give you the opportunity to gain experience of schools beyond your main placements.
We work with a small number of partner schools in Sheffield, including:
- King Ecgbert School (Lead school in Mercia Learning Alliance)
- Newfield School
- Wales High School
- Firth Park Academy
- Forge Valley School
- King Edward VII School.
This range of inner-city, suburban and rural contexts provides rich opportunities for diverse and balanced experiences in schools, and we work hard to secure you two contrasting placements.
When arranging placements, personal circumstances such as child-care and additional needs are taken into account as much as possible.
Please note that although we will try to take preferences into account where possible, we cannot guarantee which of our partner schools trainees will attend until placements are finalised towards the start of the course. In applying to Mercia Learning Alliance, you are agreeing to train in any of alliance schools.
The course fees for 2020/2021 are as follows:
As this course leads to a professional qualification, student teachers will be required to undertake a DBS Enhanced Disclosure and Work Health Assessment. All Student teachers will also be required to complete Safeguarding training. The cost for these will be £71 and payable via the University's Online Shop. Student teachers who have already paid for a previous DBS Enhanced Disclosure and signed up to the DBS update service will need to pay the reduced cost of £27 via the University's Online Shop. These fees also include the cost of a learning journal, which will be provided at the start of the course.
Further information about fees and funding for the PGDE can be found here
You’ll get a bursary of £26,000 if you have a degree of 2:2 or above in any subject.
You don’t have to apply for a bursary - if you’re eligible, you’ll automatically start receiving it once you begin your course. Find out about eligibility and how you’ll be paid.
You may also be eligible for a loan while you study.
Find out about financial support if you’re from outside the UK.
Applicants should have an undergraduate degree class 2:2 or above in a relevant subject. If less than 50% of your degree is in your specialist subject you will be required to undertake a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course.
If you have a 3rd class undergraduate degree and a strong (grade A or B) A level in your specialist subject we may consider your application but you should be aware that you will not be eligible for a bursary.
English Language and Mathematics GCSEs at grade C or above.
Non-standard qualifications - you are welcome to contact us to discuss your eligibility.
At Mercia Learning Alliance we are looking for candidates to join our highly successful and aspirational, but also caring and supportive team; candidates who will deliver fresh subject expertise, energy, and new perspectives. We are looking for people who are able to shape a new forward-thinking initial teacher education culture at our school and across our alliance.
We consider six key elements when selecting students for our School Direct programme:
- Commitment to teaching
- Insight into the realities of teaching
- An analytical approach to problem solving
- Enthusiasm for your subject
- Interpersonal and communication skills
As this course leads to a professional qualification, student teachers will be required to undertake a DBS Enhanced Disclosure and Work Health Assessment. All Student teachers will also be required to complete Safeguarding training. Full information about how to undergo these checks will be provided once you accept your place on the course.
About the training provider
Based in the vibrant city of Sheffield with its amazing facilities, transport links and access to the Peak District, Mercia Learning Alliance is a first class choice for graduates looking for a successful career in teaching.
Our vision as Mercia Learning Alliance is to become a centre of educational excellence with a national reputation. Our ethos is that every professional in our alliance should strive to be the absolute best they can be. This places professional learning at the centre of all that we do and we see initial teaching training as integral to this.
Mercia Learning Alliance offers aspiring teachers a broad range of opportunities across subjects and key stages. Working with The University of Sheffield (Secondary) and The Sheffield SCITT (Primary), with a wide range of postgraduate qualifications on offer, you will have the opportunity to carry out your training in some of the best schools in the country, learning from inspirational teaching staff who are leaders in their field.
Our partnership schools are all committed to finding and developing their own teachers, therefore they are committed to their trainees. At Mercia Learning Alliance we want to ‘grow’ our own teachers, supporting you throughout your professional career from trainee all the way up to senior leader and beyond.
We offer unrivalled choice in terms of type of school and location across Sheffield to train and work in, but we remain small enough to know every trainee as an individual enabling us to personalise training needs.
About the accredited body
The University of Sheffield is a world top-100 university. A member of the UK's prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
They are ranked in the top five universities in the UK for best overall student experience for the eighth year in a row by the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2018. The students' Union was voted number one in the UK for the tenth year running.
The University of Sheffield is a creative place, buzzing with original ideas and a desire to make things happen.
Training with disabilities and other needs
As a student teacher at The University of Sheffield (Secondary) you will have full access to support if you have a disability or additional needs. Full information is available here
We work closely with all our school partners (Primary and Secondary) to ensure that your needs are met whilst on placement, offering support and adaptations where necessary.
We ask applicants to discuss their specific needs with us so we can place trainees at the most suitable school to meet their needs.
Apply on the UCAS website. You’ll need to register with UCAS before you can apply.
Visit Get into Teaching for guidance on applying for teacher training.
When you apply you’ll need these codes for the Choices section of your application form:
Training provider code:
Training programme code:
Choose a training location
You’ll also need to choose a training location – select the relevant location name on the application form.
Main Site Secondary
King Ecgbert School , Totley Brook Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S17 3QU
Support and advice
For questions about this course you should contact the training provider using the contact details above.
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