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Teacher Training Pathways

As an Early Career Teacher, you have a unique opportunity to work with young people, inspiring the next generation, making a real difference to pupils’ learning and lives and helping them to realise their ambitions.

At Durham, our ITE courses are co-constructed and delivered by our Partnership colleagues in conjunction with University Teacher Educators. For our Primary courses, trainee teacher work within Clusters spread across the Partnership and in Secondary, our trainees work in our PODs (Professional Opportunities and Development schools) which are situated across the region.

All programmes are evidence-based and have woven within them, the trainee teacher’s minimum entitlement which is outlined in the Core Content Framework. The Initial Teacher Education Year is the first year of a structured package of support for future generations of teachers and feeds seamlessly into the Early Career Framework.

If you want to experience teaching before you apply, the Department of Education offer a chance to try it out with the Get School Experience Service

Undergraduate Route

BA Primary Education with QTS (X101)

The BA Primary Education with QTS is a three-year degree programme. You apply directly to the University via UCAS and successful completion of the programme awards a degree and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Postgraduate Route

PGCE programmes

Our PGCE programmes are for applicants who already have a degree. We offer both Primary and Secondary PGCE options. Applications are made via DFE Apply

Primary PGCE options:

Secondary PGCE options:

School Direct programme

We also offer a School Direct programme, where you apply directly to our school partners via DFE Apply.

Your placements are arranged by the school but you undertake the academic programme at Durham.

Applicants for PGCE and School Direct programmes should be aware that the programmes are longer than a standard university programme. The programmes start in the first week of September each year and do not finish until the first week in July.

Apprenticeship Route (Primary)

The Teacher Apprenticeship is a Level 6 qualification for existing graduate employees of a school. On successful completion of the programme, the apprentice will gain a PGCE Primary award in addition to the recommendation of QTS.


Assessment Only (AO) Route

Our Vision for Teacher Education

The vision of the Durham Partnership is to be a leader in the provision of high-quality teachers who aspire, through their scholarly, reflective and inspirational practice, to make a difference to the lives of their students, both now and in the future. 

Introduction to the Assessment Only (AO) Route

If you are already working as an unqualified teacher in a school, and have over two years’ experience of such, you may be eligible to apply for our Assessment Only (AO) route to QTS.

The Assessment Only (AO) route is intended for very experienced graduate teachers without QTS who can demonstrate meeting all of the Teachers’ Standards without needing further training. You would therefore be required to demonstrate that you are meeting the Teachers’ Standards at the point of entry.

We require that you are employed by the school in which the assessment takes place and that you are teaching in the age range for the qualification for the duration of the assessment period. 

You will normally have worked for at least 2 years as an unqualified teacher. You must demonstrate evidence of leading learning with full classes for the equivalent of at least 2 years full-time teaching – that is planning, teaching and assessing with responsibility for pupils’ progress: short-term supply placements or training placements which do not allow you to take full responsibility for their class(es) by undertaking the roles and responsibilities associated with a ‘typical’ timetabled teacher, are not considered appropriate.

Assessment is required to take place within 3 calendar months from the registered start date and can take place in a school, independent school, special school or pupil referral unit (PRU).

This route is a QTS-only route and therefore completion of this route does not gain an academic award such as a PGCE alongside QTS. Durham Partnership’s role is to verify the Head Teacher’s assessment and recommend QTS and does not involve any training; as such, AO route applicants are not students of Durham University.

Entry Criteria

  • You must have the right to work in the UK.
  • You must be employed by the school in which assessment is to take place. The school must have the capacity to undertake their responsibilities as your mentor.
  • The minimum length of teaching full classes on a full-time timetable would normally be at least 2 years, with responsibility for the pupils’ progress. Periods on a training placement, where you were not technically responsible for the pupils' learning, cannot be counted within the 2 years’ experience.
  • You must have taught in at least two schools, early years or further education settings, teaching children and young people from different backgrounds, across the ability range in the chosen age ranges for the qualification. At least 6 weeks' teaching in any school, with responsibility for leading pupils’ learning, would be required.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you already meet the Teachers' Standards across the age ranges and subjects of the qualification.
  • You must have achieved a standard equivalent to a grade 4 in GCSE English and Mathematics. All those who intend to teach pupils aged 3 to 11 additionally require a standard equivalent to a grade 4 in a GCSE Science subject.
  • You must hold a first degree or equivalent qualification granted by a UK Institution, or an equivalent degree or other qualification granted by a foreign institution (the National Recognition Information Centre for the UK, UK ENIC, provides advice on equivalent overseas degrees). Legislation does not specify that teachers must have a degree in a particular subject or discipline, it is the Teachers’ Standards that specify the subject knowledge required for the award of QTS. A first degree comprises of 300 higher education credit points of which 60 must be at a Level 6 of the Qualifications and Credit Framework. All applicants are required to provide original certificates.
  • Applicants who are not native English speakers must have an IELTS of 6.5 (with no component less than 6.0) or equivalent, awarded within the last 2 years.
  • You must be able to demonstrate the health and physical capacity to teach.
  • You must have regard to the Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance, and be deemed suitable to work with children through pre-selection checks; DBS and children’s barred list.
  • If you have lived or worked outside of the UK, you must not be subject to a prohibition order issued by the Secretary of State or prohibited to teach in another country of the European Economic Area.

School Teaching Experience

Teaching experience is different from spending time as a trainee or observer or helper in a school: you are expected to have worked with full classes with responsibility for pupils’ learning for at least 2 years.

You should previously have taught children and young people from different backgrounds across the ability range in their chosen age ranges; and should have gained experience of different approaches to teaching and learning and to school organisation and management.

You may have teaching experience in age ranges other than those for which you are to be assessed.

Evidence against the Teachers' Standards

The Teachers’ Standards must be demonstrated prior to acceptance on the AO route and sustained during the period of assessment. 

Evidence for the Teachers’ Standards must be demonstrated with pupils of the appropriate age ranges for the qualification (rather than by the National Curriculum level at which they are working).

You must have documentary evidence that you have demonstrated each of the Teachers’ Standards, both Parts One and Two, over a sustained period of time. Your evidence can be from ‘performance management’ documents, e.g. appraisal or probationary reports, observation reports, etc.; and/or from your lesson planning records, examples of pupils’ work, classroom displays, feedback from parents or staff, etc.

If you are accepted on the AO route, the observation and assessment of your teaching must be within the specified age range for its three-month duration.

School Support

You will need the full support and commitment of your school or setting and in particular that of your school mentor who will work closely with you through this process.

The school mentor will help arrange preparation for assessment in the chosen age ranges and will check and confirm to the Head Teacher/Executive Head that they have seen evidence relating to your ability to consistently fulfil the demands of the Teachers’ Standards, these being the ability to:

  1. Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils;
  2. Promote good progress and outcomes by pupils;
  3. Demonstrate good subject knowledge and curriculum knowledge;
  4. Plan and teach well-structured lessons;
  5. Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils;
  6. Make accurate and productive use of assessment;
  7. Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment;
  8. Fulfil wider professional responsibilities; and
  9. Demonstrate consistently high standards of personal and professional conduct in accordance with the statements of Part Two.

The school mentor must be in a position to verify to the Head Teacher/Executive Head that you have demonstrated competence against each of the Teachers’ Standards in a practical context across the relevant age range while teaching the National Curriculum. The Head Teacher’s/Executive Head’s letter will be signed to ensure all parties are aware of their roles, responsibilities and commitments prior to the start of the assessment period and of the need to inform the University Assessor of any change in circumstances relevant to the assessment.

Age Phase/Subject

You must demonstrate that you can meet the Teachers’ Standards across the age range of assessment for your chosen phase;

  • 5-11 (primary)
  • 11-16 (secondary)

For secondary assessment, the specialist subject must be English, Maths, Science (Biology, Chemistry or Physics), Geography, History, PE, or MFL (French, Spanish or German).

Course Fees and Application Process

The cost for the AO route for schools in the UK is £3,000, which is non-refundable. Payment is due by the commencement of the assessment period. Enquiries for Partnership schools should be directed to

Applications are usually accepted between September and April, and assessment can begin at any point. 

If you meet the criteria and wish to apply, please request an application form and the AO Handbook by contacting

PGCE International Geneva

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (International) is being offered, through a collaborative partnership with the International School of Geneva as a full-time programme for one academic year.

Places will be offered to applicants who wish to train to teach Primary or Secondary pupils in an international school context.

You can apply for this course through our Durham University postgraduate application portal.

Please note, this course is taught in Geneva and that the PGCE (International) is not awarded with QTS, English Qualified Teacher Status. However, the students will have gathered a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate that they have met a set of agreed professional standards for teaching and will also have completed experiences related to International Baccalaureate working that could make them eligible for the IBO Certificate in Teaching and Learning (IBCTL) if successfully completed. This is desirable for those who want to work in International School contexts.

Before you apply please contact the International School of Geneva to make sure that you have met the entry criteria and there is a subject specialist place for you.