University of Chester

Programme Specification
Primary-Early Years (3-7) PGCE
2017 - 2018

Postgraduate Certificate in Education

Primary-Early Years (3-7)

PGCE Primary-Early Years (3-7), Core and School Direct

University of Chester

Faculty of Education and Children's Services with its Partnership.

Warrington and Chester Campuses and Partner Schools

Postgraduate (Taught)


Classroom / Laboratory, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

1 Year

3 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Education & Children's Services Initial Teacher Education

QAA Descriptors for HE qualifications at level 7.

Subject benchmarking examples, selected for 'closeness' in subject matter to teacher education, are used as points of reference.

On successful completion of the professional elements of this programme, i.e. all the modules whose code commences with the characters PR0, including providing evidence of attaining the Teachers' Standards normally at a good or higher level, the candidate is eligible to be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).  The University makes this recommendation to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).

The University is accredited by the NCTL as a provider of Initial Teacher Training.

ITE Module Assessment Board

Thursday 7th May 2015

The Academic aims of the programme are:

  • To encourage the exploration of education through approaches which foster thinking and practice about learning and teaching.
  • To develop critical professional reflection through engagement with education practices in order to position professional knowledge and experience within a school context.
  • To provide an opportunity to expand educational thinking and practice through enquiry and scholarship.

The Professional aims of the programme are

  • To produce high quality teachers of the Primary-Early Years (3-7 years) age phase, with subject specialisms across this age range.
  • To develop teachers who normally attain at a good level or above, the Teachers' Standards required by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, and are proven reflective practitioners, highly committed to the development of their own learning and that of their pupils.

The above aims are underpinned by the Faculty of Education and Children's Services' principles of learning and teaching, which include:

  • To promote open-minded, systematic enquiry and reflective practice;
  • To encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning;
  • To enable the expansion of opportunity and the removal of unnecessary barriers to learning;
  • To facilitate the development of learning that will equip students as life-long learners:
  • To ensure that all learning and teaching will be underpinned by a rationale for equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • To take account of relevant and current legislation concerning the development and well-being of children and young people ;
  • To encourage students to look at ways in which experienced colleagues take control of the curriculum.
  • Teaching and learning will reflect that required to exceed the Teachers' Standards.
  • To adopt creative and innovative elements reflecting and responding to national initiatives and changing agendas. The programme will offer distinctive features that will enable the University of Chester to compete successfully against other providers;
  • To run the programme in partnership with educational partners involved in curricular development, training and assessment.


Upon successful completion of this Level 7 programme, students will have:

  • Critically engaged with theoretical frameworks and literature (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Harnessed insights into subject knowledge (PR0016, PR0017, PR7102);
  • Critically reflected on the ways in which research methodology supports professional enquiry (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Applied critical considerations when undertaking research (PR7102);
  • Made effective use of professional learning to assess impact on practice (PR7101, PR7103);
  • Demonstrated a high level of relevant subject knowledge, enabling them to teach their chosen age phases (PR0016, PR0017 PR0018,PR0011);
  • Demonstrated and employed good pedagogical knowledge and understanding of the varying needs of their pupils (PR0016, PR0017,PR0018, PR0011);
  • Demonstrated through PR0011, knowledge and understanding of:

o the principles of Primary education, learning and development, including those relating to equality of opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice;

o the regulatory and legislative framework governing the organisation and delivery of education;

o curricular documentation, both statutory and advisory; in the management, organisation and delivery of education;

o the professional duties and responsibilities of a professional, including issues such as confidentiality;

o health and safety, safeguarding and child protection;

o and how to identify and draw upon academic sources to inform and enhance professional practice (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103).

Upon successful completion of this Level 7 programme, students will have:

  • Upon successful completion of this Level 7 programme, students will have:

    • Made critical use of research evidence (PR0016, PR0017,PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Formulated valid conclusions that link theory to practice (PR0016, PR0017,PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Thought independently about essential issues, concepts and ideas (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Identified their own learning needs as part of their on-going professional development (PR0011, PR0016);
    • Reflected critically on their own professional experience and development in the light of relevant educational literature (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Engaged critically with relevant educational issues within education and children’s services, including Government policies and structures (PR7103);
    • Analysed and responded to relevant issues in their age phase and subject specialist areas (PR7012);
    • Identified and responded to the pastoral and learning needs of their pupils (PR0011);
    • Taught creatively, and for creativity, within the school, promoting high standards of learning and teaching (PR0011);
    • Communicated ideas, principles and theories, arguments and analysis effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences, using written, visual, verbal and digital media, with a sense of audience (PR0011, PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Demonstrated appropriate critical thinking skills e.g. identified and summarised main points in an argument, developed an argument drawing upon evidence and literature, analysed and synthesised research, theories and ideas, examined issues from a range of professional perspectives and produced evaluative responses (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Used a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information relating to their emerging roles as teachers, and proposed solutions to problems arising in work settings (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
    • Worked independently and collaboratively and managed the demands and responsibilities of being a professional (PR0018, PR0011).

Upon successful completion of the programme, students will have:

  • Critically reflected upon aspects of professional practice in the light of key theoretical perspectives (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103):
  • Made effectual use of professional learning to assess impact on practice (PR0011);
  • Attained, normally at a good level or above, the Teachers' Standards defined by the National College for Teaching and Leadership for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (PR0011);
  • Demonstrated the experience, knowledge and skills that underpin effective pedagogical practice, both evidence based and reflective (PR0011, PR0016, PR0017,PR0018 );
  • Carried out effectively the work roles expected of a professional in a school or educational setting;
  • Communicated effectively with children, parents and other professionals (PR0011);
  • Designed, implemented, monitored and assessed specific activities which support the individual development and learning of children and which meet statutory requirements (PR0011);
  • Demonstrated a thorough understanding of difference and diversity, recognising individual needs as well as developing tolerance and understanding of others (PR0011,PR0018);
  • Demonstrated qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, requiring the exercise of personal responsibilities e.g. to manage and organise time, resources, records, information to support decision making and an awareness of strategies to support their own and their pupils' well-being and resilience (PR0011, PR0015).

Students will also, through PR0011, PR7101, PR7102, PR7103 have demonstrated the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, including:

  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations;
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
  • The skills of reflective practice;
  • Successfully working with a range of other professionals within the school setting;
  • Successfully working to tight deadlines under pressure;
  • Being a high quality role model for their pupils.
  • Engaged in group presentations and dissemination of findings;
  • Worked with professional colleagues to share ideas, research and good practice.
  • Worked with team of peers and professional colleagues in school and educational workplace settings to contribute to their own and others' learning;
  • Generated and applied new knowledge to problem solving;
  • Analysed complex concepts;
  • Met challenges that have occurred whilst carrying out the role of a teacher, drawing upon their own knowledge and expertise and taking account of the views of fellow professionals, inspection evidence and the results of research based enquiry.

Upon successful completion of this Level 7 programme, students will have:

  • Written, performed or exhibited the academic standards required at level 7 (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Engaged in meaningful debate and critical discussion (PR7101, PR102, PR7103);
  • Read and written critically (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Synthesised written and oral information (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Selected and used appropriate research methodology (PR7102);
  • Used the University’s VLE to access information (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Used electronic research skills (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Accessed databases for research and information (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Communicated ideas effectively in speech, writing and with the use of technologies (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103, PR0011,PR0016, PR0017);
  • Critically reflected on professional practice (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103);
  • Developed new pedagogical and leadership skills (PR0011);
  • Used initiative and managed own learning (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103, PR0011,PR0016, PR0017);
  • Improved their own performance through critical self-reflection, the implementation of evidence-based practice, and ongoing professional development activities (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103, PR0011, PR0016, PR0017).


The duration of the programme is normally a minimum of 180 days (minimum of 120 days of school-based learning and usually 60 days or equivalent of training). Of the training days, 15 are allocated to academic learning and accredited at Level 7. They consist of 3 modules (PR7101, PR7102, PR7103) which are compulsory and each worth 20 Level 7 credits. The additional training days are taught in either University or partnership schools with the focus on professional development learning and subject/curriculum specific learning. The knowledge gained through these training days is evidenced in the assessment of the school-based module PR0011.

During the periods of school-based learning (SBL), students teach across two or more age phases, engaging them with the expectations, curricula, strategies and teaching arrangements for those age phases plus those immediately before and after the ones they are trained to teach. As part of this module students will have taught in at least two different schools. This school-based module (PR0011) is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will verify that the student has exceeded the ‘Teachers' Standards’ (i.e. normally attained at least a good level as expected by Ofsted) and can be recommended to the National College for Teaching and Leadership for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

All students will study the three academic modules: PR7101 (The Nature and Purpose of Learning and Teaching); PR7102 (Understanding the Curriculum and it Development) and PR7103 (The Nature and Purpose of Assessment).

All Students will be enrolled on PR0011 (School-based Learning - Meeting the Teachers' Standards).

Students following the Primary/Early Years route will also be enrolled on PR0015 (Professional Development Learning (Primary and Primary-Early Years); PR0016 (Core Curriculum); PR0017 (Foundation Subjects) and PR0018 (Enrichment (Primary).

Students who successfully gain 60 credits at level 7 and attain the Teachers' Standards to normally at least a good level will be awarded a PGCE with recommendation to NCTL for QTS.  

If the 60 Level 7 credits are gained without recommendation for QTS, students are eligible for the exit award of Postgraduate Certificate in Education, Teaching and Learning.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
PR0011 0 School-based Learning: Meeting the Teacher’s Standards 0 Comp
PR0015 0 Professional Development Learning (PGCE Primary and PGCE Early Years) 0 Comp
PR0016 0 Core Subjects (Primary and Early Years) 0 Comp
PR0017 0 Primary/ Early Years Curriculum Foundation Subjects 0 Comp
PR0018 0 Enrichment (Primary and Early Years) 0 Comp
PR7101 7 The Nature and Purpose of Learning and Teaching 20 Comp
PR7102 7 Understanding the Curriculum and its Development 20 Comp
PR7103 7 The Nature and Purpose of Assessment 20 Comp

The programme is structured so as to create a synergy between theoretical study and professional placement. Where all modules are successfully completed, and the Teachers' Standards are evidenced to have been normally met at a good level or above, this will lead to the award of PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) with the recommendation to the National College for Teaching and Leadership for the conferment of QTS.

As the attainment of the Teachers’ Standards is achieved through the professional learning modules and the placements, it is possible for the student to fail the academic aspects of this programme but still gain recommendation for QTS provided the Teachers' Standards are met at a good level or above. 

Should a student fail to attain the Teachers’ Standards, normally at a good level or above, required for QTS recommendation, but achieve 60 credits at level 7, they will be eligible for the exit award of Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert.) in Education, Teaching and Learning without the recommendation for QTS.

For all ITE programmes we have been granted derogation as follows:

  - Derogation in order that students must pass all modules without compensation

  - Derogation in order that students must pass all components in all modules without compensation

This is justified because of the requirement that students address the Teachers’ Standards which have been carefully mapped onto each module to ensure full coverage.  Students need to pass all components of all modules in order to have the evidence of meeting, at a good level or above, the Teachers' Standards in their university and school-based learning.


All students are required to register with the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).  At the end of the programme the University will provide the NCTL with the names of those students who are to be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status.  In order for a student to be recommended for QTS (s)he must have successfully completed all of the modules whose code commences with the characters PR0, including the School-based Learning Module (PR0011,) through which they demonstrate that they have attained the Teachers' Standards normally at a good level or above.

Applicants will normally be required to hold, or be expected to gain, a degree of at least a 2:1 classification, in an area with relevance to primary and early years education.

All applicants are required by the National College for Teaching and Leadership to hold GCSE Grade C or above, in English, Mathematics and Science (or acceptable equivalents).

Applicants will also need to be able to provide evidence of relevant experience in schools and/or settings.

All applications will be carefully screened, and those deemed suitable will be invited for interview. 

Applicants are required to undergo a DBS check and to confirm they are not disqualified by association (Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 (updated 2015)). All students must have successfully passed the National College for Teaching and Leadership QTS Skills Tests, in Literacy and Mathematics, prior to enrolment. Those students for whom English is not their first language will need IELTS level 7 or above (or acceptable equivalent).

The published QAA descriptors for level 7 are used in designing the modules however as there are no benchmark statements which are directly applicable to professional Teacher Education courses other subject areas are considered by way of ensuring consistency of standards.  There are three other key external documents which inform all aspects of provision:

  • The ‘Teachers' Standards' outline in detail the teachers' standards that must be met and the Personal and Professional Conduct which must be adhered to.
  • The National College for Teaching and Leadership document entitled ‘Initial Teacher Training (ITT) criteria' specifies ‘Entry Criteria', ‘Training Criteria' and ‘Management and Quality Assurance Criteria'.
  • Provision is subject to regular inspections as outlined in the Ofsted Initial Teacher Education Inspection Framework.

Learning and Teaching will take place through a variety of modes. On 'Training days’ these may include  seminars, workshops, tutorials, lectures, blended learning, visits and fieldwork. The learning during the school-based days will take place through a range of professional activities, observation, practical teaching and reflection. The course is designed to meet individual needs and thus endeavours to build on prior experiences. Students reflect on their professional development as teachers, and these reflections form an important tool for their own learning. 

A distinctive feature of the course is the enrichment activity which takes place at key points. This is designed to enhance students' experience and employabilty and broaden their cultural and pedagogical awareness.

Learner Support

Every student will be assigned to a Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) who contributes to the programme and has oversight of the individual's progress. In addition to monitoring the student's progress in relation to the Teachers' Standards, regular meetings with the PAT will focus on effective strategies for the enhancement of the academic profile. This academic, professional and pastoral support is provided for the duration of the programme. Students who are assessed as requiring additional support for specific needs or disability will negotiate Inclusion Plans to address these.

Auditing of subject and pedagogical knowledge and experience takes place throughout the programme, enabling students to identify areas for further development and enhancement.

Support during professional placements/periods of School-Based Learning

Whilst working in school, students are supported by a Class teacher Mentor, who provides regular age phase and/or subject specific training, day-to day advice and weekly lesson observations. There is also a professional mentor, who takes oversight of students within the school, and provides weekly sessions on general professional issues. In addition the University Link Tutor and QA Lead will ensure that high quality training is in place and support where particular needs are identified.

As noted above students will be assessed against the Teachers' Standards.

Academic Assessment

The three academic modules will normally be assessed through written assignments or their equivalent. Assessment is undertaken in accordance with the University of Chester's regulations and requirements. In general terms, students are assessed, at level 7, on their ability to:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding, in breadth and in depth, of the subject-matter studied;
  • discuss, interpret, and critically analyse a range of literature, critically reflecting on implications for practice;
  • utilise effectively the transferable communication and skills of speaking, listening, reading, writing, and arguing;
  • conduct independent and collaborative research, using relevant skills and methods (including technologies).

Students will be informed about the assessment requirements of each element of their programme. The formal assessment requirements are described in each module descriptor and will be communicated through module handbooks. Students will be provided with assignment specific criteria that relate to the learning outcomes for that module as well as generic level assessment descriptors appropriate for level 7.

Students enter the programme as postgraduates, and by the end they would be expected to exhibit:

  1. Confidence and competence in relating to the demands of the early years and primary school context;
  2. Strong subject knowledge, enabling them to teach across the full age and ability range for which they are trained;
  3. Flexibility, resilience  and adaptability in relating to professional demands;
  4. The knowledge and understanding required to initiate, research, and sustain projects centred on the effectiveness of their own and others’ practice, based on individual initiative and/or research;
  5. A proactive approach to their own continuing professional development.

They are required to attain, normally at a good level or above, the current Teachers' Standards. 

Support mechanisms are in place from both Careers and Employability and the Department.  Careers guidance is in place which support the process from application to school/settings visit and interview, drawing on the expertise of school partners.

The University of Chester is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education. Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

To this end, the programme team will ensure that:

  • All students and staff (including those in partnership schools) are treated with respect;
  • No students or professional colleague will be knowingly discriminated against;
  • All participants in and contributors to the programme will be encouraged to become involved in the development, management, delivery and evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme.

The Programme is designed to cover a minimum of two age phases. Primary-Early Years students are assessed in Key Stage One (KS1) and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  They should spend time away from their base classes as enhancement to ensure coverage and understanding and engagement with expectations across each year within the age phase 3-7.

All students will also engage with the curriculum and assessment arrangements, and or developmental expectations, for the age phases before and after the phase they are particularly training to teach. Primary-Early Years students will have enrichment experience in KS2 and with the 0-3 age-group. In addition, dependent on students' profiles, there may be time spent working with children for whom English is an additional language, in special schools or in schools in challenging circumstances.

There are approximately 300 schools and settings in the partnership. These schools are mainly located in the northwest including Cheshire, Wirral, Halton, Warrington, Shropshire, Manchester, North Wales and Staffordshire. School-based learning occurs in at least two schools and overall offers a range and breadth of experience.

Where and when it is appropriate for students' development, they may have the opportunity to spend some of their school based time in other relevant alternative educational settings.

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