Surrey Downs Partnership

School Direct Teacher Training

Univeristy of Sussex Standards : SECONDARY : ... : Education : University of Sussex

The Sussex Partnership School Choice (formerly known as School Direct)  course is available as either a 1 year full-time programme or 2 years part time training you to teach Key Stage 3 (11-14) and Key Stage 4 (14-16) with enhancement opportunities at Key Stage 5 (16-18). 

The course is delivered by the University of Sussex on their Brighton Campus with placements in two Surrey Downs Partnership Schools. You will be awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) accredited by the University of Chichester and a PGCE of 90 Masters Level Credits conferred by the University of Sussex allowing optional progress onto the Sussex Part-time Masters in Education for newly qualified teachers with a 30 credit advance.

PGCE courses with University of Sussex are among the most established and popular within Initial Teacher Education in the UK, and have a reputation for developing successful teachers. Education theory and practice are brought together to encourage you to critically reflect on approaches to learning and teaching and develop your classroom skills. Excellent teachers from partnership schools are seconded to the tutor team and contribute additional currency to teaching and trainee support.  

In early September the course begins with a three-week induction course delivered on the University of Sussex campus and online to prepare you for starting your school placement. Thereafter you will spend Mondays to Thursday training in school and attending the University on Fridays for lectures, workshops, seminars and practical subject sessions with the team of experienced specialist tutors. Teaching at the University is modelled on the most successful, creative and active methods of learning.

Part-time candidates attend the university fulltime for Induction and thereafter on Fridays, spending two days each week training in school.

In addition to passing your two school placements the course assessments are a Masters level essay in February and an innovative Viva style Masters level exit interview at the end of the programme.

There are some funded Subject knowledge Enhancement Courses available prior to the PGCE for those with related degrees and/or who need to develop specialist knowledge.

Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) : Short courses : Study with us : University of Sussex

Further course information


Interview process –

If you meet the entry requirements you will first be invited to an interview with the University of Sussex either or in person on the Brighton campus which will assess your suitability for teaching and your subject knowledge. As part of the interview you will be asked deliver a short pre-prepared classroom type teaching task or presentation to the panel of a university subject tutor and an experienced teacher from a partner school. Your invitation to interview will include full details of what you’ll need to prepare. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask the panel questions about the course, the university and discuss your individual circumstances.

If the university panel decides you will be ready to train to teach in September they will recommend you to interview for a training place with Surrey Downs Partnership. 

Showing an awareness of the curriculum and school life is part of the selection process so if possible you may wish to prepare yourself by spending some time in school before interview – if you wish to make a visit contact us at 



You will undertake two periods on placement in two contrasting placement schools.

Placement 1: End of September to February halfterm in the school you selected in your application. The working week is divided between four days learning from experienced teachers in school and a day of training and reflection at the university on Fridays. This ensures a weekly focus on theory and pedagogy in addition to practice. It also gives you an important weekly opportunity to be supported by your university tutor and to network with you peers in your subject cohort.

Placement 2: February Halfterm to Easter in a contrasting school arranged by BOSCO. You’ll then return to your main school placement until the course finishes at the end of June. There are fewer University days in Placement 2 to give you experience of working a 5 day school week.

Part time trainees will undertake their second placement in year 2 of their course.

You will be highly supported in both placement schools by a trained Surrey Downs Partnership subject mentor, an experienced teacher who will gradually introduce you to teaching following a structured programme. You’ll learn to plan and deliver engaging lessons, develop your own teaching resources, assess learning and adapt your teaching to support students with individual needs working in partnership with school colleagues. The School Professional Tutor will arrange a varied training programme for all trainee teachers in the school and also supports you whilst training on placement. Your university and school tutors will keep in close contact with each other on your progress throughout the year.

During your training you will also participate in two Intensive Training and Practice Weeks (ITAP) in your school when a structured programme focussing on a specific area of teaching will be arranged for you by Surrey Downs Partnership and the University of Sussex. One week will focus on Behaviour and Relationships and the other on Adapting your teaching to meet the needs of all students.


Entry requirements (Can be used for all courses)

A degree 2:2 or above.


Degree subject requirements

Related degrees may be considered if the candidate is willing to undertake a Subject Knowledge Enhancement Course (free and funded by the Department for Education) before their PGCE course starts.

Grade 4 (C) or above in English and maths, or equivalent qualification

Candidates with pending GCSEs will be considered Equivalency tests will be accepted in English or Maths.

 If you need to take an equivalency test you will need to book and pay for this. We accept online tests offered by A Star, and Equivalency We strongly advise you to make arrangements to study for and book a test as soon as you accept your place on the course. Some candidates need to take their test more than once to secure a pass and we are not able to admit trainees onto a teacher training course in September without passes in both subjects.


Personal Qualities

We are looking for;

A passion and an interest in the subject beyond your degree

Knowledge and understanding of current issues in science education and an awareness of how the subject is taught in UK secondary schools.

Effective communication skills  and good organisational skills


Other requirements

We also require the following

DBS: You must not be excluded from working with children, as a result of a criminal record or other reason. The Disclosure and Barring Service provides access to records held nationwide. All trainees must obtain Enhanced DBS clearance before starting the course.

Health: Candidates must undertake an online Health questionnaire for mental and physical fitness with the University Occupational Health Department before admission to the programme

Candidates with English as a second language are required to pass IELTS at minimum level 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in each section.


 Training with your Organisation 

The University of Sussex Schools Partnership offers high quality professional and academic teaching courses leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), a PGCE of 90 Masters Level Credits and a progression route onto a Masters in Education.

With a history of innovation we pioneered a model of school-based teacher training over 50 years ago, now adopted nationally. Schools are involved at every stage of the selection, training and assessment of our beginner teachers. This long standing relationship results in excellent support from experienced teachers mentoring trainees on placement and dedicated University tutors offering models of successful pedagogy. As a small friendly department we offer our trainees a personal approach and aftercare support and training as Newly Qualified Teachers

We aim to train 'thinking' teachers with an overriding desire to make a difference to the lives of young people.  

As a research intensive university, Sussex believes that teachers benefit from critical engagement in evidence-based practice, reflection on research and continuing professional development as well as excellent practical classroom skills.

The University of Sussex sits on a leafy campus at the edge of the South Downs National Park, accessible by road or rail from East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and South London. The historic seaside city of Brighton is minutes away, with its pebble beaches and vibrant social and cultural opportunities.

Course outcomes are consistently high;  100% achieving QTS on first attempt,

94% completing with Merit or Distinction, 

98% securing a teaching post

99% of ex-trainees rating the course 'good' or 'very good'. 


OfSTED judged Sussex Initial Teacher Training courses as ‘Good’ and Very Good’ in January 2023


Training with disabilities and other needs

The University of Sussex welcomes applications from all candidates who have the potential to make excellent teachers regardless of disability and additional needs.

We have previously successfully supported trainee teachers with dyslexia, dyspraxia, aspergers, mental health conditions and a range of physical, hearing and visual impairments.

All trainee teachers are first screened for mental and physical fitness to teach by the University's Occupational Health Department through an online questionnaire before admission to the programme.  Following this, if you have a disability or health condition, you will register with the University Student Support service and an assessment is arranged to establish your needs. The team will identify the additional support and adjustments recommended to help you be as successful as possible on the course both at the university and in your placement school. A wide range of dedicated student support services are available on campus and remotely.