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St Mary's has been recognised as one of the highest quality providers of training for primary teachers in the country. Our courses are excellent preparation for a career in teaching. 

  • This programme is rated 'outstanding' by the government (OFSTED)
  • Gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and 60 Master’s degree credits
  • 98% of PGCE Primary students are employed or in further study (or both) within six months of graduating
  • Excellent Teaching and Learning.
  • Excellent school partnerships.

Why study Primary?

The programme is designed to increase your understanding of teaching and learning processes. You will study alongside creative, reflective and dynamic practitioners, both university tutors and primary school partners, in order to develop and maintain the high levels of enthusiasm, ability and passion necessary within the teaching profession.

At St Mary's, we look for those who wish to learn from challenges and seek to develop professional knowledge and understanding. The course has been carefully planned to reflect all elements of the new Core Content Framework (CCF) and prepares trainees for their transition from student to Early Career teacher. The curriculum offers a broad, balanced and innovative approach to primary teaching.

In line with the University Mission Statement, the programme seeks to prepare teachers for schools both at home and abroad. For those intending to teach in Roman Catholic and other Christian schools, we offer the Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS).

We run three programmes: 

PE Specialism course

This is a course for primary practitioners with an additional focus on PE. All areas of the national curriculum are covered. Trainees do the same assignments as the FT cohort but have fewer taught foundation subject sessions and more PE. They have the same core subjects, professional studies and master’s sessions. They will be expected to teach in both KS1 and KS2 and will be assessed on their ability to teach primary subjects, not just PE. It is not a course for people who just want to teach PE.

The full-time course for the Primary PGCE (M) with a Specialism in Physical Education, is for those trainees wishing to gain a deeper understanding of teaching and learning within primary PE.

This is closely aligned to the content of the other Primary PGCE programmes, but the this course is specifically designed to address the directive from the UK Government about improving the quality of training and teaching of physical education (PE) in primary schools.

Find out more about the PE specialism course...

Why St Mary's?

The Primary PGCE programme provides an intense training experience that combines academic rigour with personal and professional learning experiences. The training is designed to meet the needs of each trainee to support and develop the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to start a teaching career in primary education.

In preparation for your career in teaching, you will be trained across the 5-11 age range, developing knowledge and practice to support your:

  • Critical understanding of educational theory
  • Reflective practice linked to the Teachers’ Standards
  • Practitioner research
  • Understanding of a wide range of educational issues including the unique characteristics of children and their learning needs
  • Subject-specific knowledge and creative ways to enthuse and educate children.

Our Primary and Secondary Initial Teacher Education courses have been judged by Ofsted, the government department that regulates teacher training, to be ‘outstanding’ - the highest grade attainable in an Ofsted inspection. The courses were deemed to be outstanding for both ‘overall effectiveness’ and the ‘capacity for further improvement and/or sustaining overall quality.’

Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)

Our PGCE programmes include Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and 60 Master’s degree credits. A large part of the programme is spent in assessed school placements that our School Partnership team will arrange for you, based on your home residential address.

QTS is required to teach in all state-maintained schools in England.

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Upcoming open days and webinars

We'll be running events for you to find out more about Primary PGCE on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 8th March 2023, 5.30pm

Course lead

Helen Williams headshotHelen Williams
Programme Lead - Primary PGCE

Ofsted Outstanding

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

2:2 Previous degree

Applicants should have (or be working towards) a Bachelors degree, preferably with a 2:2 or above.

Additional requirement information

GCSEs (and equivalents)

A minimum of level 4 (grade C if taken before 2017) in GCSE English, Mathematics and Science (or equivalent). GCSE equivalents are offered by St Mary's University.

For all 2021 Primary PGCE programmes (PGCE Primary General, PGCE Primary with PE Specialism and PGCE Primary part time) - two of the three GCSEs required for primary teacher training must be held at the point of application. Only one equivalence test will be accepted. Applicants must hold two full GCSE qualifications.

The Irish equivalent to GCSE is the Irish Leaving Certificate. In order to qualify to apply for the PGCE Primary programme you must already have a C grade or above (at Ordinary level) or a D grade or above (at Higher level) in all three subjects. The Science subject studied must be Biology, Chemistry or Physics. Home Economics and Agricultural Science at Leaving Certificate level are not accepted.

International students must have a ‘pass’ in their high school or senior school examination in these subjects and evidence of this needs to be submitted to the University for approval.

School observation

At St Mary's, we would like all applicants to have made a fully informed decision about considering joining the teaching profession. As part of that decision making process, spending some time in school(s) observing what teachers do and beginning to give some consideration to how they manage learning can be really insightful and informative.

DBS check

Successful completion of a physical and mental fitness to teach and a Satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check are also required.

Irish applicants

Make sure to check our information for candidates applying from Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Writing ability

The course is fast paced, and trainees need to come in ready to write at postgraduate (master’s) level. PGCE is awarded on receipt of 60 master’s credits. The first M level assignment is due at the end of October. A high standard of basic writing is required. ECs are not automatically given for students with a learning disability so this should be flagged at interview in order they can be signposted for additional support early on.


Placements for 2023-4 are changing. All placements have to be assessed by us. This is a DfE requirement. 120 days minimum have to be spent in school over the year. The first placement lasts 7 weeks (from after October half term), with 6 days of preparation beforehand.

Students are encouraged to find their first placement themselves. This can be in KS1, KS2, or special. Schools cannot be abroad. Schools must be in Ofsted categories 1-3 and have to be ‘approved’ by us, i.e. checked they can conform to our partnership agreement.

If a student currently works in a school as a TA, they cannot do their placement in the same class they have worked in, and ideally must do it in a different key stage. Students are strongly encouraged to spend some time volunteering in this school in the summer before they start with us if they do not already work there. If a student cannot find a school themselves, we will find one for them.

The development and consolidation placements will be found by us. Students will teach in a different KS to their first placement. There will be a week of preparation days before February half term; the assessed placement starts after half term and lasts for 5 weeks. Students will be required to pass this placement before going on, at the same school, for their final (consolidation placement) which starts after Easter and lasts for 10 weeks.

ECT (Early Career Teacher) Induction

Induction takes 2 years and must be done in England after achieving QTS. A person deemed to be a fully qualified teacher has completed a recognised teacher education qualification and programme of induction in the country in which they qualified and can provide an official letter from the relevant teacher registration body, competent authority or Ministry of Education confirming recognition as a fully qualified teacher in the State/country.

Therefore, if you qualify for a QTS at St Mary’s University, you will need to remain in England as an ECT to complete your induction years.

We have been notified by the Irish Teaching Council that this must now be carried out in schools in England, before registering to teach in Ireland.

International requirements

International students should check our country-specific pages for equivalents. If English is not your first language you will need to achieve an IELTS score of 6.5 overall with no less than 6.0 in any section (or equivalent).

We now accept IELTS Indicator test results as proof of your English language level.

The website has a 'Get into teaching' guide for overseas students.

Further information

For more information about entry requirements please email

Course content


  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  School placement
  •  School placement
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
  •  Core
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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.

Career opportunities

A career in teaching offers the same rewards that you would expect from a graduate position with good salaries and opportunities for career progression. The opportunities, however, to inspire, educate and teach future generations of children are unlike any other graduate job!

Graduates from the PGCE are in great demand in teaching posts throughout the UK.

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

You will leave St Mary’s achieving a standard of good or outstanding. If this is not achieved, further support and time in school will be required. On the programme you will study two Master's' modules leading to 60 credits at postgraduate level. You will have the opportunity to further your postgraduate studies in your career as these credits are transferable.

Assessment methods

Assessments are used to ensure you understand and can apply the knowledge gained while on the course - both in schools and on campus. This is done through a range of methods:

  • Self-assessment
  • Audit of subject knowledge for maths, English and science
  • Presentations
  • Micro-teaching
  • Posters
  • Essays
  • Practical sessions

Assessment is ongoing and tracked against the Teachers Standards. High standards of attendance, punctuality and participation are requirements of all course elements. Assessment is ongoing while on school placements.

Part-time route

Our full-time course runs from September-July. The part-time course covers the same content but currently runs for 20 months, starting in April and finishing in December the following year. Trainees are expected to be available to attend lectures on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and most lectures are timetabled from 9 – 1pm.

When on school placement, trainees are expected to attend school on a full-time basis from Monday – Friday. There are two full time placements, the first being a foundation placement from October to December in the trainee’s first year of training and then the final, consolidation placement the following September to December.

School placements

You will spend 120 days in school and this is organised and co-ordinated by our Placements Office Team, in partnership with our schools. You're supported through this element of the course by the school and link tutors.

We are partners with over 700 schools that support our training programme. During your placements, you will be guided from working with small groups of pupils alongside a class teacher towards taking responsibility for whole class teaching.  


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Fees and funding

Tuition fees

September 2023

  • Home: £9,250
  • International: £15,000

Please note: these fees are annual and may increase in line with inflation each year subject to the Governments review of Higher Education Funding.

Alumni discount

A 10% tuition fee discount is available for our undergraduate and postgraduate alumni planning to study a PGCE.


If you are a Home student joining the PGCE programme you may be eligible for a Government training bursary. The bursary amount is based on the highest previous qualification that you have attained to date.

Information about financing your studies can be found within the Fees & Funding section.

Additional costs

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

Additional costs could be incurred depending on optional modules chosen and other projects undertaken.

For further information about additional costs please see our additional costs webpage

Teaching staff

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Further information