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Please note: this degree has recently changed title from Education in Context FdA.

Primary Education is a work-based teaching foundation degree. You will attend St Mary's University one day a week whilst employed in work with children and young people for at least half of the week (in either a paid or voluntary capacity).

  • St Mary’s graded ‘Outstanding’ in all areas of teacher training (Ofsted 2019)
  • Successful completion of the course allows the opportunity to progress on to either BA Hons in Primary Education QTS (Work-Based Route) (Two Years) or BA Hons in Primary Education (Work-Based Route) (One Year)
  • Recognised qualification for HLTA status
  • 100% satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey 2021.

Why study Primary Education - Foundation Degree?

This foundation degree provides opportunities for people working directly with children to build on their knowledge and experience through study at higher education level (one day a week).

We offer an established vocationally-based degree that prepares you for working in schools and other educational settings. 

The programme allows you to build your knowledge and experience through study at higher education level. The programme will help enhance your understanding of your current professional role. It can be completed within two years studying one day a week during term times.

Students completing the programme have found that they have become more confident in their ability at work and at home, and have been offered opportunities to develop their role in a variety of ways. The current emphasis on the development of the school workforce as a whole has been one of the driving forces behind this degree.

Our partnership office will help you to find a placement. Though we will try and place you near to where you live, you may be required to travel up to one hour each way.

Why St Mary's?

This foundation course is suitable for anyone working with young children, such as teaching assistants, learning support assistants, higher level teaching assistants, or early years or special educational needs practitioners.

Primary Education - Foundation Degree is an extremely popular and flourishing course. It gives you the unique opportunity to continue to work within the education sector whilst studying for a foundation degree.

This pathway into teaching can be completed in a minimum of two years study (one day a week during term time). It also provides a stepping stone on to our undergraduate programmes:

The QTS programme also allows you to specialise - if you wish - in one of the following subjects: 

  • Early Years
  • Physical Education (PE)
  • Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

Course lead

Carolyn Porter headshotCarolyn Porter
Programme Director - Work-Based Route Programmes

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Ofsted Outstanding logo

We are Outstanding!

Following our inspection in 2019, we are delighted to announce that Ofsted have graded St Mary’s University as ‘outstanding’ in all areas of teacher training. Read more...

Entry requirements

An A Level, NVQ Level 3 or equivalent is required. 

You will need to be employed in work with children and young people for at least half of the week (in either a paid or voluntary capacity). At least one year's experience working in a school (either paid or voluntary) is also required prior to the start of the programme.

List of free level 3 qualifications available to eligible adults

The UK government website has a list of places where students can find colleges that offer free level 3 qualifications which in turn will allow them to apply to St Mary's.


GCSE level 4/C (or equivalent) in English Language is also required. We offer GCSE equivalency tests for those who need to improve their GCSE grades.

Head teacher supporting statement

Your head teacher will need to complete the Supporting Statement Form in order for us to confirm your place on the course. We will notify them of your application, but feel free to send them the link. 

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Course content

Year one

  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core

Year two

  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core

Please note: it is possible that a module listed on the website will not be able to run due to reasons beyond our control. For more information please refer to our course information disclaimer.

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Career opportunities

This foundation degree is suitable for anyone working with young children i.e. teaching assistants, SLA’s, HLTA’s, Early Years or Special Educational Practitioners.

We support people who wish to progress further with their own studies and future employment within education.

More information about career opportunities can be found on the following websites:

The Careers Service has more information on graduate careers and part-time work available during your course.

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How the degree is taught

Teaching methods

You'll be taught on our beautiful and historic campus located in Twickenham, London.

The course is taught using a range of teaching methods including presentations, discussions, small group work, observations and practical work-based activities.

You are expected to bring your own work experiences into the discussions and relate them to the academic theories that are introduced. A virtual learning environment will support you throughout the course with an appropriate range of resources.

Tutorials will be used throughout the programme to support your learning experience.

Class sizes range from 25 to 35 students.

Teaching breakdown

Learning on the course is made up through a combination of:

  • Contact time: 10%
  • Guided learning: 74%
  • Independent study: 16%

Independent study is a key feature of your degree and is crucial to furthering your knowledge.

You will receive your timetable a week before teaching is due to start at the latest.

Assessment methods

All assignments are designed to develop your knowledge, understanding and use of transferrable skills in teaching children, linking theory with practical.

A range of assessment methods are used, these may include both group and individual presentations, practical visual presentations (posters, leaflets, 3D display, use of green screen) essays, case studies and portfolios.


We adhere to the university’s policy of providing feedback on assessments within three weeks.

See how your final degree mark is calculated...

Compensated passes

Please refer to the information on compensated passes throughout your degree as outlined in the academic regulations.

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Fees and funding

2023/24 fees

  • Home: £6,620
  • International: not available to international students

*Please note: tuition fees are subject to an inflationary increase each year, meaning if your course runs over more than one academic year you may pay an increased fee for each subsequent year of study. Tuition fee increases for returning students will be capped at the higher of 5% per annum or the rate of Consumer Price Index inflation in the United Kingdom.

Information about tuition fees, student loans, and funding your studies can be found within our fees and funding section.

Additional costs

Your tuition fees will cover the cost of all mandatory elements of your programme.

You can claim help with travel expenses during your school placement, but there will be no costs around coursework or additional materials.


A range of scholarships and bursaries are available to new undergraduate students. This includes:

Living costs

A guide to your living costs has been created by our Student Funding Team.

Accommodation costs vary depending on whether you opt for an en suite room and on-site catering. Take a look at our accommodation options and the prices you can expect to pay.

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Further information

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Visit the campus

Upcoming open days

Meet current students, explore our green campus, and find out why St Mary’s could be the place for you.

You'll also get a chance to:

Staff from various teams, including the Student’s Union, Student Funding, and Admissions, will also be around to discuss any questions you may have about studying at St Mary’s.

Book your place now

Campus tours

There are plenty of opportunities for you to explore the campus, even if you can't make it to an Open Day. We run campus tours every Wednesday at 12pm. If you'd like to join us for one of these tours please register your place for your preferred day.

Virtual tour

We know that for it's important to you to see where you'll be living and studying before you make your decision. However, we also know that for many people it's not always easy to make it to the campus.

That's why we've developed a virtual tour of campus, allowing you to explore that facilities and the beautiful views that we have to offer.

Launch the virtual tour

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