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PGCE Secondary Core Partnership Agreement

St Mary's School of Education

Secondary PGCE (core) Partnership Agreement 2023 - 2024

All PCMs need to ensure compliance with appropriate DfE frameworks. These frameworks aim to have a substantial impact on the support provided for the early professional development of all teachers from training to their first two years in post.

1.            Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework (ITTCCF)

This defines the minimum entitlement of all trainees and sets out the content that ITT providers and their partners must draw upon when designing and delivering programmes.

2.            Early Career Framework (ECF)

This defines the minimum content that teachers in their first two years are entitled to learn about and learn how to do with funded, high quality, professional development support.

Both frameworks establish an entitlement to a 3-year or more structured package of support for all new teachers at the start of their careers. The ambition is that with this support, teachers stay for longer and thrive in the profession. This should be viewed alongside the Government’s Recruitment and Retention Strategy (2016, updated 2019).

The frameworks have been devised using current research evidence reviewed and endorsed by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) alongside guidance from an Expert Advisory group and other sector representatives. The frameworks will be kept under review as the evidence base develops over time and adaptations made accordingly.

For more information on both of these frameworks please visit the Partnership Portal.

St Mary’s Partnerships

Partnership Office

For placement enquiries please email

Access to documentation on the Partnership Portal

Copies of all St Mary’s University Partnership documents are available on the Portal.

Index of appendices

Appendix A: Roles and commitments

1. Introduction

This document sets out the agreed commitment between our partnership schools and St Mary’s University to undertake the following programme:

•     Core (recruited by St Mary’s) PGCE with QTS leading to the award of one or two qualifications:  Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) with 60 credits of Masters (Level 7) or the Professional Certificate in Education (PfCE) with less than 60 credits at Masters (Level 6).

Please note: there is a separate partnership agreement for School Direct Salaried (SDS) and School Direct Fee (SDF) as these places are recruited by Lead schools who are responsible for the placements of the trainees they recruit.

Partnership in initial teacher education implies collective responsibility for all aspects of the training; all partners are committed to the planning and delivery of high-quality training and in the selection and final assessment of trainees. The partnership works to provide the best possible professional outcome for trainee teachers to ensure they reach their full potential. Central to this is the shared understanding of taught courses, mentoring and coaching.

Purpose of the Agreement

The agreement has been designed so that the Partnership fulfils the Department for Education (DfE) ITT Criteria.

Accreditation of the programme lies with St Mary’s University with all other matters being shared. All Quality Assurance (QA) requirements of St Mary’s University are fully met in line with the St Mary’s University PGCE Programme Specifications.

We ask you to read this Agreement carefully. When offering places via our electronic portal for 2022/23, the Professional Co-ordinating Mentor (PCM) will be asked to confirm their acceptance of the Partnership Agreement. Without confirmation of the Partnership Agreement we will be unable to pay for the placements on offer.

2. Statement of Values

Four core values define St Mary’s and underpin all we do as a University. They are:

  • Inclusiveness

We celebrate differences, recognising that everyone is born with a unique identity. St Mary’s is a place where students and staff can reach their full potential and make a positive contribution to society.

  • Generosity of Spirit

Our generosity of spirit sets us apart. It can be seen in the encouragement, collegiality, empathy, helpfulness and service to be found across the University.

  • Respect

We respect everybody. We treat everyone as we ourselves would want to be treated.

  • Excellence

We strive to be the best at everything we do. We seek professionalism through setting high standards and continuous improvement in all our practices and work.


The Partnership believes that the purpose of teacher education is to equip teachers with the relevant knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and behaviours so that, through their teaching, they meet the academic, cognitive, physical, emotional, spiritual, moral, social and aesthetic needs of the pupils and trainees in schools.

The Partnership is deeply committed to developing critically reflective practitioners who are committed to their own continual professional learning. In order to develop as effective teachers, it is essential that trainees have opportunities both to practise their classroom skills and to reflect on and develop their practice with the support of high-quality training, coaching and mentoring.

The Partnership is fully committed to training high quality teachers capable of rapid professional advancement through to leadership roles.

The Partnership will actively promote fundamental British values through its work with trainee teachers. These values are embedded in democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and belief, and none.


3. Equal Opportunities

The Partnership is committed to equal opportunity for all individuals regardless of race, culture, religion, age, gender or disability and sexual orientation. St Mary’s University has the responsibility to ensure that all trainees have the health and physical capacity to teach, as set out in the DfE ITT criteria.

4. Funding

Hosting a St Mary’s Secondary PGCE student will be paid at £400 per student per placement.

5. The Strategic Partnership Board (SPB)

This group will meet termly, with an agenda based on schools and St Mary’s needs and a strong focus on the quality assurance of the Partnership. The meeting will be held ‘virtually’ with the recorded link distributed to all PCMs to view.

Any School manager or Professional Coordinating Mentor (PCM) can be a member of the SPB and we welcome active participants for the group.            

6. Partnership Responsibilities

By consenting to the Partnership Agreement, the School and St Mary’s University agree to form a Partnership and commit the institutions to:

  • ensuring compliance with the DfE ITT Requirements; and
  • ensuring that St Mary’s University Programme Specifications for the award of Qualified Teacher Status and the Secondary Post Graduate Certificate in Education are met.

As the Accredited Provider, St Mary’s University will be the lead partner for communication with DfE regarding the award of Qualified Teacher Status. 

7. Quality Assurance

St Mary’s will provide external visits from the University tutors, and in the summer term from External Examiners who will operate under the regulations of St Mary’s University. They will support and quality assure the assessment of approximately 10% of finalist trainees both:

(i)      against the Standards for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), and

(ii)    through two formal assignments for the award of the PGCE (M) or two additional assignments for PGCE (H).

The External Examiner will report to the relevant university exam boards.

Student Staff Forum

Core trainee representatives will report to the University PGCE Student Staff Forum twice in the academic year. The minutes are then fed back to the full SPB as well as Monitoring & Quality Assurance (M&QA) Link Tutor meetings. These minutes are placed on the Partnership Portal for all partners to access. 

8. Partnership Staffing

School-based staff will contribute to the recruitment and selection of trainees alongside university staff.

The Partnership will ensure that schools provide appropriate experienced staff for mentoring and the Partnership will ensure appropriate training for such Mentors. All Mentors MUST have undertaken designated mentor training modules and undertaken joint lesson observations with M&QA Link Tutors as part of their training.

University M&QA Link Tutors will liaise with PCMs on a termly basis to ensure individual training needs are met.


9. Training

Many school-based staff have significant experience of working as Subject Mentor and/or PCM. The current Partnership has a wealth of expertise in providing effective training for such staff. Mentor training is available throughout the academic year, and can be accessed live on line or in recorded sessions.  All information is on the Mentor Zone of the portal.

PCMs are expected to provide school-based training activities for trainees, support and training for Mentors, and guidance in the assessment of trainees. 

10. Assessment

For all trainees, judgements and decisions relating to progress and attainment will be the responsibility of the Mentor working with the PCM and the University M&QA Link Tutor and will be reported to the PGCE Examination Board.

Recommendation for QTS

All trainees in their final placement must be assessed as ‘Met’ in each of the eight Teachers’ Standards to be recommended for the award of QTS. This will be monitored and assessed through use of the training documents and Assessment Profiles used by the St Mary’s PGCE trainees and processed through the St Mary’s Examination Board. All trainees in all secondary subjects will be assessed in the 11-16 age range.

Course structure

Please see Appendix 2. 

11. Safeguarding

St Mary’s University will undertake an enhanced DBS check of all trainees which includes a check of the children’s barred list. The outcome of this check will be formally notified to the school.

Schools do not have to (but may wish to) record this evidence on their single central record (DfE Keeping Children Safe in Education, September 2021).

Please note: St Mary’s would be deemed non-compliant in sharing a trainee disclosure as it is an offence under the 1997 Police Act punishable by fine and / or imprisonment AND for the school to obtain such information (DfE update January 2015).

Where a school allows an individual to start work in regulated activity before the DBS certificate is available, they should ensure that the individual is appropriately supervised (DfE Keeping Children Safe in Education).

If St Mary’s University removes a trainee from a programme because that trainee has harmed or poses a risk of harm to children, advice will be sought from and a report will be sent to DBS.

There are some convictions, offences, cautions and warnings that would not pose a barrier to a trainee joining a programme of ITT. Cases where disclosures are made will be considered by the Head of Admissions and the Registrar and where necessary, the Programme Director and the Head of the School of Education. These will then be anonymised and discussed with strategic partners to ensure transparency.

It is the responsibility of the trainee to inform St Marys University if there are any changes to the content of a DBS. Failure to do so could result in termination of programme.

St Mary’s full Safeguarding Policy for ITT can be found on the Partnership Portal  


12. Withdrawal from the Agreement

Either partner may, following consultation, withdraw from trainee placements if there is evidence of a change in circumstances which would affect the quality of the training experience provided.

It is understood that all partners will do their utmost to avoid late cancellation of placements and that withdrawal during a placement is reserved only for exceptional circumstances and after communication between Partnership Managers and PCMs.

13. De-selection

University M&QA Link Tutors may de-select departments / schools after consultation with the Head of Partnership for ITT and the PCM in any Partner School, if there is evidence of an inability to meet the quality assurance demands within this Partnership Agreement. This would be relayed to the PCM in writing.

Appendix 1: Roles and commitments

The University will:

  1. provide a Programme Director and M&QA Link Tutor to ensure the fulfilment of the responsibilities of the University, which are specified here;
  2. handle all administrative matters related to course accreditation, inspection, assessment and examination procedures and quality assurance;
  3. work with all schools to manage and co-ordinate the course;
  4. provide training opportunities for all staff involved in delivering the course;
  5. share the University-based programme content;
  6. audit each trainee's subject knowledge and plan for trainees to be assessed against all the required Teachers’ Standards by the end of the course;
  7. collate information on trainees' academic background, initial audit and interim and final assessments, and facilitate discussion of these between Partner Schools and the University;
  8. provide personal guidance and support for trainees through academic staff tutorials and access to expert counselling, if required, through Student Services and/or the Students Union;
  9. provide trainees with training in awareness of their legal status in school and of e-safety procedures in schools and subject classrooms;
  10. ensure that trainees undertake DBS clearance and provide partners with confirmation that the DBS has been undertaken;
  11. ensure that trainees undertake a ‘Fitness to Teach’ assessment;
  12. monitor the Partnership School’s contribution to training through the Professional Studies programme;
  13. aim to ensure that trainees are placed in diverse settings that include challenging socio-economic placements or experiences in schools;
  14. ensure that all procedures are carried out for the final assessment of trainees for the award of the PGCE and Qualified Teacher Status, and for the completion of an ECT transition document;
  15. closely monitor trainees work life balance to protect the trainee’s well-being and challenge unnecessary workload demands;
  16. adhere to the Partnership procedures in course materials relating to trainee concerns.


The Partner School will:

  1. ensure that all trainees are provided with clear guidance in respect of the safeguarding of children with special reference to Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE, September 2021);
  2. provide a senior and experienced member of staff, taking leadership of ITT, to fulfil the role of the Professional Co-ordinating Mentor (PCM) and make appropriate provision for them to carry out these responsibilities;
  3. ensure that all mentors receive appropriate on-going training and support to fulfil their roles in ITT and to the trainee teacher;
  4. ensure that staff training encompasses equal opportunity legislation and other current issues as it applies to their roles in ITT;
  5. provide outstanding Mentors (NOT an ECT) who have the appropriate knowledge and understanding, the pedagogical skills, and the interpersonal qualities, willingness and time to support trainees in developing the assessed standards;
  6. provide appropriate training and support for trainees including a guaranteed weekly subject training session between Mentor and trainee, the outcome of which is recorded on Abyasa Pro. It is anticipated that this will normally run for 50-60 minutes;
  7. provide a programme of induction to the school and training in whole-school issues;
  8. provide access to information on the school’s use of a range of data to support pupil learning and progress;
  9. include trainees in parents' meetings, reporting to parents / carers and other meetings deemed to support a good training experience;
  10. include trainees in the school’s wider professional development programme;
  11. participate in the assessment of trainees and course evaluation and monitoring procedures;
  12. keep the Partnership Office informed of any developments in school that might affect adversely the quality of the trainee experience in school;
  13. closely monitor trainees work life balance and well-being and challenge unnecessary workload demands.


The Professional Co-ordinating Mentor (PCM) will:

  1. act as the first point of contact with the Partnership Office in co-ordinating all aspects of the training and assessment of the ITT programme;
  2. have responsibility for quality assuring all aspects of training and assessment within their own school e.g.

by monitoring the provision of weekly subject training sessions and the observation of trainee teachers’ lessons towards the end of each training block;

  1. lead a school-based Professional Studies training programme for all trainee teachers that supports the Partnership specification;
  2. co-ordinate the on-going development and quality of all ITT mentoring within the school;
  3. co-ordinate the school-based assessment of the trainees;
  4. co-ordinate the evaluation of school-based training by trainees and Mentors and liaise with the Partnership Office as appropriate;
  5. have responsibility for implementation and review of school experience activities;
  6. manage the school-based aspects of any Additional Support Procedure for a trainee ensuring that all involved (trainee, mentor, university M&QA Link Tutor) are informed, in good time, of the concerns, targets, time-frame and outcomes agreed.


The school-based Mentor will:

  1. work closely with the PCM and Link Tutor to ensure the quality, coherence, consistency and appropriateness of the school-based training provided;
  2. provide induction into departmental procedures, data, resources and specifications as appropriate;
  3. negotiate a timetable that meets the training needs of the trainee as appropriate to the phase of the training, e.g. approx 30% of a ‘normal’ main scale timetable in the Foundation Phase, moving to 60% in the Developmental and Consolidation Phases;
  4. ensure that the timetable includes a designated 50-60-minute time-slot for the Weekly Training Meeting where progress against the Teachers’ Standards is discussed and appropriate targets are set. The trainee will record the discussion for the Mentor to agree and confirm;
  5. receive and approve the trainee teacher’s lesson plans in good time and provide appropriate feed-back in time for the trainee to make agreed amendments;
  6. ensure that the trainee is formally observed twice a week (KS3 and KS4) during Block School Experience and is provided with written and oral feedback in relation to the Teachers’ Standards;
  7. jointly observe with the university M&QA Link Tutor and/or PCM as appropriate;
  8. complete the trainee Assessment Profile by the due date at the end of each block, with the trainee and possibly the university M&QA Link Tutor and/or PCM;
  9. identify in the trainee Assessment Profile areas for development for the next phase of training and work with the trainee to set SMART targets and agree a plan of action;
  10. Complete a short evaluation of the school block to support ongoing improvements within the Partnership.


The University M&QA Link Tutor will:

  1. visit trainees on at least one occasion during each of the three Block School Experiences to monitor trainee progress and well-being in relation to the Teachers’ Standards for QTS and to carry out a QA check of the placement;
  2. through joint observation with the Mentor, support the training and development needs where required;
  3. Quality Assure the training provision the trainee is receiving to ensure the Partnership Agreement is adhered to;
  4. complete and share with the school an M&QA report on their visit.