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Get Into Teaching

North Avon Teaching School Alliance School Direct

For queries about our courses please contact Jenny Sutton Kirby or Cressida Inglis

Click on a heading below to find out more.

Why train with us?

The North Avon Teaching School Alliance brings together two very highly regarded consortia based in the north of the city of Bristol and South Gloucestershire: Castle Consortium and Concorde Partnership. Most of the schools are members of two local Academy Trusts, Castle School Education Trust (CSET) and Olympus Academy Trust (OAT).

We work closely with local universities to provide high quality Initial Teacher Training. We offer our own School Direct PGCE courses accredited by Bath Spa University and the University of the West of England. Trainees on the School Direct programme will be awarded PGCE and QTS at the end of the training year, with perhaps the possibility of being employed by one of our schools (in the last 2 years 30% of our trainees were employed in our schools).

We are committed to developing teachers to serve our local communities and our Teaching School reflects our passion for and expertise in developing teachers and support staff in our institutions and beyond; providing excellent Continuing Professional Development in teaching and learning, career development and leadership skills at all stages and levels of teaching and education.

Working together allows us to provide a wide range of placements for PGCE trainees in the North Avon area in both secondary and primary phases; we have schools which are urban, suburban and rural in nature – all are comprehensive. By applying for a place on the School Direct route you will be placed in one of our schools for each of your two teaching placements.

For any queries about our courses please contact Jenny Sutton Kirby or Cressida Inglis

Our schools

Secondary schools

Click school name to access website

Click to access school profile

Abbeywood Community School


Bradley Stoke Community School


Bristol Technology and Engineering Academy


The Castle School, Thornbury


Chipping Sodbury School


Downend School


Mangotsfield School


Marlwood School, Alveston


Patchway Community School


Winterbourne Academy

Primary schools

Click here to access school website

Click here for school profile

Bradley Stoke Community School Primary Phase


Callicroft Primary, Patchway


Charborough Road Primary School (Filton)


Charfield Primary (near Wotton Under Edge)


Filton Hill Primary School


Lyde Green Primary School


Meadowbrook Primary School, Bradley Stoke


Severn Beach Primary School


Stoke Lodge Primary School


About the programme

All our schools have decades of hugely successful experience working with ITT students and have employed many of them. We have worked alongside the UWE, Bath Spa and the University of Bristol for many years.

This is our sixth year of offering School Direct courses. The programme brings PGCE and QTS qualifications.

Unsalaried School Direct courses with Bath Spa University offered in 2019/20:
  • Primary
  • English
  • MFL
  • Music
  • RE
  • Computer Science
  • Drama
  • Business
Unsalaried School Direct courses with UWE offered in 2019/20
  • Geography
  • History
  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Art
  • PE*~
  • Product Design/Design Technology*

*These courses are delivered wholly in school with only the academic aspects being delivered in the university- further information in the subject specific descriptions insert link

~ We also offer the PE with EBacc route

We do occasionally offer salaried School Direct places but these are usually for OAT and CSET staff being supported to gain their QTS.

School Direct to PGCE

Whilst the programmes for each subject and phase vary slightly, depending on which university is accrediting them, they all meet the basic requirements and expectations.

Aspect of the School Direct PGCE Course


Interview and offers of place on the course

Organised by NATSA; you will be interviewed in one of our schools by experienced, practising teachers

Subject Knowledge - how to teach your subject/primary

Delivered at the University for Primary and all Secondary subjects (except PE and PD/DT – for these, the delivery is in school by practising teachers)

Academic Modules

Set and marked by the university

Usually 4 modules (2 at Master’s level)

You will have an academic tutor

Professional Development

Generic aspects of being a teacher e.g. Safeguarding; behaviour management; meeting SEND; lesson planning; working with parents; assessment, marking and feedback

Delivered by very experienced, practising teachers at NATSA

Teaching Practice

Teaching in two different schools for a minimum of 120 days

You will be placed in our schools for both of your 2 placements

You will teach between 130-140 days across the two settings

You will have a mentor to support and advise you

You will attend the university for the aspects related to teaching your subject or phase e.g. National Curriculum at Key Stages 1-2 for primary (including the teaching of phonics, numeracy and all foundation subjects) and Key Stages 3-5 for secondary (including GCSE an A level). These sessions will cover subject knowledge, pedagogy, resourcing and planning schemes of learning. Please note that for PE and Product Design/DT these sessions are taught in schools by practising teachers.

The university will set modules and assignments to complete, at least two of which will be at Masters level. There are briefing sessions at university to attend and the work is collected and marked by the university; you will have a named academic tutor.

You will have at least 120 days spread over two placements in our schools. The School Direct route often sees these days exceed 135 days as we like to maximise your time in the classroom. Here you will plan, deliver and assess pupils’ learning and be able to fully participate in the life of the school including offering extra-curricular activities and being a tutor (in secondary schools). We pride ourselves on treating you as if you are a full member of staff while, obviously understanding that you are learning your craft.

In school you will have named mentor all of whom are excellent teachers committed to supporting your learning. All the teachers you will be working with are highly accomplished in their mentoring, teaching, coaching, feedback and observation skills. You will meet with them weekly to discuss your progress, celebrate your successes and set targets for your improvement. You are assessed against the teaching standards and your progress is reviewed regularly through observations and discussions. You will receive daily dialogue, masses of it, with specialist teachers who will be a vital source of feedback and advice. They will provide you with essential information on how to do the job, how to build your experience, and most importantly, how to become an outstanding teacher. We are very proud of the standard of training we deliver to ITT students.

You will be offered the opportunity to visit other schools e.g. primary if you are secondary (and vice versa), our special schools in the alliance and visit an offsite provision for pupils at risk of exclusion.

You will receive regular seminars from colleagues where you will focus on acquiring an understanding of how schools work, as well as on pedagogy and education theory. You will also be supported in developing your understanding of special educational needs and disability, as well as how learning support is provided. Other topics covered are safeguarding, working with parents and other agencies, behaviour management etc.. These sessions are delivered by very experienced staff including a Deputy Headteachers and Headteacher, both of whom have many years of experience in delivering ITT. We also call upon experts in our schools to deliver lively sessions on a range of topics.

The programme recognises that teaching children is rewarding and challenging and aims to produce teachers who are creative, resourceful, reflective, and professional. Working alongside the university lecturers, you will develop the skills to succeed in contemporary classrooms demonstrating a capacity to be creative and innovative. You will be supported in acquiring the skills you need to teach the National Curriculum at your chosen phase, linking in educational theory and research with your practical experiences. The course is designed to produce secondary teachers who are reflective practitioners and who are constantly learning, growing and questioning themselves.


Formal assessment for the PGCE is by coursework and reviews of progress throughout the year. There is no final written examination.

During the year you are required to complete the specified coursework assignments. Again, these vary depending on the accrediting university. These assignments involve a number of forms of submission including essays and oral presentations. In order to give you an opportunity to develop personal strengths and interests some flexibility is permitted in the choice and presentation of assignments, in consultation with tutors.

Alongside the coursework assignments, practical teaching is assessed regularly through the year, and formally reported on in four key Review Points.

Practical teaching is assessment is directly related to the Teaching Standards. You will be graded as Inadequate, Requires Improvement, Good or Outstanding. Coursework assignments are assessed against a comprehensive range of criteria explicitly linked to the standards for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Successful completion of the programme requires passes in all assignments and practical teaching. Regulations allow for opportunities to be re-examined once in each of any failed element(s). The PGCE award is Pass or Fail.

Entry requirements

  • Degree (usually at 2:2 or above)
  • Secondary: GCSE Maths, English at C grade or equivalent
  • Primary: GCSE Maths, English, Science at C grade or equivalent
  • Pass in the numeracy and literacy skills tests
  • Evidence of school experience
  • Good references
  • Satisfactory Health and Safeguarding (DBS) checks

All applicants should also have GCSE grade C or above in mathematics and English language (and science for primary) or equivalent. The English qualification MUST be in English as a first language. If you do not currently have these qualifications you may still apply to us but must have these in place before you commence the PGCE course.


Normally a first degree, with Second Class Honours (Lower Division) or above, OR an equivalent qualification in a subject relevant to the proposed main teaching subject.   Applicants should either have achieved, of be in the final year working towards their degree or an equivalent overseas qualification agreed to be of an equivalent level by NARIC. Applicants with overseas qualifications must present a NARIC certificate to the University PRIOR to Registration. Applications for NARIC certificates may be made to

Applicants should ensure that they clearly indicate their achieved or predicted degree grade and, if graduated within the past 5 years, at least one academic reference should be supplied.

Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE)

If you want to teach a subject that is not the same as your degree, or it is some time since you achieved your degree, you may wish to enhance your knowledge before you begin your PGCE. We discuss this with you at the interview stage.

Click here for a full list of providers.

In our experience you will almost definitely need to complete an SKE if you are applying to teach DT/PD as you will need to complete relevant H&S training and learn how to teach the whole range of disciplines e.g. resistant materials, food, textiles, CADCAM, electronics, systems and control. We teach an 8 week DT/PD SKE at NATSA.

If you have applied to do the PE with EBacc add link subject you will need to complete an SKE in the relevant EBacc subject.

There are opportunities in some subjects at secondary to attend a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course before starting your PGCE. If you need to boost your knowledge prior to the start of the PGCE there are Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses are fully funded and may attract a bursary.

Please discuss your needs with Jenny Sutton Kirby (

Click here for a full list.

Skills Tests

Applicants will be expected to have booked their Skills Tests before they are offered an interview date. Candidates will be at an advantage if they have passed the tests by the time they are interviewed.

For further information on the tests and how to book, please see the DfE website.

School Experience

You should be able to demonstrate recent experience of observing or supporting teaching in your subject area. This must be conducted in a comprehensive school (around 10 working days or two weeks equivalent within the last three years). However, getting school experience is sometimes quite difficult. The North Avon teaching School Alliance offers some School Experience Days through the year in both primary and secondary settings. Please see this link for details.

We operate this programme through the Get into Teaching School Experience Programme – click here to sign up. If you have significant experience working with young people in other fields, such as Duke of Edinburgh, Scouting, sports coaching etc. this will be of interest to us.

How to book

Book your school experience through the Get Into Teaching Site  . You will need to register and then book your place on the system.

Each day will start with a brief introduction, to ensure you get the most out of your visit, and then you’ll be in class for much of the day. We try to arrange for you to see different teachers throughout the day. There will be ample opportunity for you to ask about teaching as a career, your application etc.

Please note, anyone can apply to visit our schools but we only offer more days to those who have applied to North Avon Teaching School Alliance for a place on our School Direct PGCE courses.

School Experience Programme


29th January

Lyde Green


6th February

Chipping Sodbury


14th February

Severn Beach


26th February

Mangotsfield and Charbr'h Rd (late start)


5th March



14th March

Chipping Sodbury


21st March



2nd April



24th April



2nd May



22nd May



Drop-In Events

These events are intended for anyone who is thinking of becoming a teacher – both primary and secondary. They are hosted by a very experienced ex-headteacher who will talk openly and frankly about teaching as a career. She has been involved in ITT for many years and will be able to answer your questions about the application process, qualifications, the different routes.  These are informal sessions. Please book your place with Ann Hawkins on


11th January




6th February




6th March




21st March

Lyde Green



24th April




How to apply

You can apply through UCAS Teacher Training from October 2018 to start in 2019. There are a limited number of places for the programme, so you should apply as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of obtaining a place. We will close the course once we have filled all available places. We will publish our dates for interview for each subject/phase and ask that applications are completed on UCAS 2 weeks before these dates. Link to interview dates

Please read through the UCAS Teacher Training pages carefully for guidance on how to apply. If you have any specific questions these should be directed to Jenny Sutton Kirby ( )

Your application* will include your:

  • Personal Information (DoB, Address etc.)
  • Academic qualifications
  • Experience to date
  • A personal statement
  • Two references

For support with your application we advise you attend either a School Experience Day with us or attend a Drop in Session link to both.

The selection process 

In accordance with Department for Education regulations, we interview all shortlisted candidates prior to making an offer to train with us. If you are invited to interview you will be expected to be familiar with key issues and developments in secondary schools - especially those in your subject area or phase. It will help you to read the educational press and to talk to teachers and those currently undertaking teacher training.

The format of the interview varies between subjects. You will receive full details of what will be expected of you in a letter of invitation to interview.

Please remember that the purpose of interviews is for us to get to know you better and for you to have the opportunity to present your strengths to us. We will expect you to have undertaken a minimum of two days' observation in a state-maintained secondary or primary school so that you can talk about your experiences. In exceptional circumstances, an applicant student may be permitted to undertake the observation after the interview and submit a report on their experiences prior to the issue of an offer.

You will also have plenty of opportunity to ask questions about the programme and about teaching. The interview is designed to help us feel confident that you are a suitable candidate for the teaching profession, and to help you feel confident that you are well-enough informed about the challenges you will face.

School Experience

The best preparation, (and a requirement), for interview is a visit to a school. If you are considering a career in teaching this is one of the first steps you should take. Even if you left school only recently you will be surprised at how different it is when seen from the perspective of the teacher.

You should be able to demonstrate recent experience of observing or supporting teaching in your subject area. This must be conducted in a state primary or comprehensive school. Around 5 working days or equivalent within the last three years is ideal, but two days is the minimum. However, getting school experience is sometimes quite difficult. The North Avon teaching School Alliance offers some School Experience Days through the year in both primary and secondary settings. Please see this link to School Experience Programme for details.

We operate this programme through the Get into Teaching School Experience Programme – you can sign up here. If you have significant experience working with young people in other fields, such as Duke of Edinburgh, Scouting, sports coaching etc. this will be of interest to us.

When you visit a school be sure to talk to teachers and students and participate if you are encouraged to do so. Try to evaluate what is being learned and the way in which the teacher encourages this learning. You will be expected to discuss your observation visit at interview and to be able to go beyond a mere description of what you have seen by analysing the experience and showing an understanding of the deeper processes. It may well help to take notes and to refer to these at the interview.


We look at all application forms. If your academic qualifications are appropriate, your personal statement is convincing (and accurate in terms of grammar) and your references supportive you will be called to interview. Interviews will take place in one of our schools. Typically, an interview day will consist of:

  • working with a group of school students
  • the opportunity to talk with students/staff
  • various interview tasks to complete
  • an individual interview
  • the opportunity to demonstrate subject knowledge


Sometimes we also include:

*a tour of the school by our students

*a group (peer) discussion

*giving a presentation (probably with peers)

This may seem a rigorous process, but we want to choose the best candidates to train at the North Avon Teaching School Alliance. We want prospective teachers who are enthusiastic and passionate about their subject, committed to a career in teaching and ready to face the challenges of the training year.

How we select

The general selection criteria are:

  • good academic qualifications
  • good subject skills and knowledge in a relevant subject for secondary – any subject for primary
  • good understanding of the place of the school curriculum
  • up to date awareness of effective teaching and learning
  • interest in and awareness of what working with young people involves
  • commitment to teaching in the state sector

*strong skills, appropriate to teaching, in the following areas (in alphabetical order):

  •      Communication
  •      Critical analysis
  •      Inter-personal skills
  •      Organisation
  •      Reflection
  •      Resilience

The selection criteria will be assessed initially using evidence from the UCAS Teacher Training form and, if called for interview, from the range of activities on the interview day.

What we are looking for

We are looking for creative and dynamic individuals who can motivate and inspire young people.

We are looking for ambitious trainee teachers who are passionate and enthusiastic about wanting to become teachers and have a desire to work with young people of all abilities in your chosen age range. Resilience and determination, self-awareness and willingness to learn through success and mistakes are essential personal attributes for a career in teaching.

In your application you should demonstrate that you have had meaningful experience of working with young people of primary age. For example, you may have been involved with some work with young people in previous jobs or on a voluntary basis. You may have direct experience in schools through visits which you have organised or through some other scheme. We will also expect you to be able to write in your application about what interests you in teaching, what you think you have to offer and what you think you have to learn. 

We will expect you to show a commitment to teaching and demonstrate an enthusiasm ad desire to be around young people. Your first degree can be in any relevant subject – for more details of this you should contact us if you are unsure of the suitability of the degree subject you have studied. We will expect you to have some basic ICT skills to build on but will not necessarily expect these to be directly linked to how ICT is used in teaching that will be part of your work on the programme. 

We expect applicants to come from a wide range of backgrounds and, therefore, with a wide range of skills. This is a strength of the programme as it allows us to use your differences so that you can learn from one another. Some trainee teachers will be coming straight from a first degree, some will be making a fairly early career change, some will be returning to study and work after spending time bringing up children and some will be changing career later in life. All are very welcome and we believe our School Direct Programme is enriched by this variety. 

Frequently Asked Questions


We are unable to provide accommodation

Child Care Facilities

We are unable to provide child care facilities but may be able to signpost towards local provision.

Disability Access

We are able to provide full access and support for disabilities - please ask for further information.

Public Transport

There are good public transport links around our centres and they are close together. Further information can be provided on request. Maps are available on the institution websites.

Special Features

There will be an opportunity to spend time in other schools and some trainees may also visit other institutions, such as special schools or colleges of further education. We have a UTC (specialist engineering centre) in our alliance which will appeal to some trainees for a short placement.

Student Facilities

We are very close to the University of the West of England and within easy reach of Bristol city centre and Bath Spa University. Trainees will have access to study facilities at the universities where you will be able to access all facilities as members of the university e.g. Student Union, sports facilities.

Study Facilities

There will be space for trainees to study within a school setting and all trainees will also have access to the library at the universities which are close at hand. Much of the training time will be spent in the specialist areas in the schools.