PGDE subjects

The PGDE course prepares student teachers to teach across the 11-19 age range in the following subjects: English, Geography, History, Mathematics, Languages and the Sciences (including Physics with Maths).

PGDE students

English

The English course is a research-led, reflective and exciting course presenting a balanced approach to language and literacy development. 

We aim to encourage critical reflection which will enable teachers to develop their own rationale for English in school. Fiction, drama, poetry, media and cultural studies, as well as elements of language study, are all given an important place on the course. There is an emphasis on academic reading and critical enquiry, as well as upon practical experience in the classroom; student teachers frequently share the benefits of their experiences and research with their peers in both formal and informal situations.

Course overview

University-based sessions are practical and workshop based, allowing opportunities to try out teaching ideas. Student teachers will be asked to study children´s fiction, poetry and Shakespeare in order to discuss ways of presenting them in class and to read children´s writing in order to decide how to respond to it positively. There will be additional workshops on A level teaching, drama and media education.

A close relationship is maintained with the English Departments of the University Partnership schools and there is close consultation between the PGDE tutor and the English mentor in the schools concerned on existing and changing patterns of English teaching.

What are we looking for?

As this is an 11-19 course you will train to teach up to A-level and we will normally take into account the balance of your degree content and your profile of GCSE and A-level (or equivalent) subjects and results to assess your suitability for the programme.

You will need a degree that is predominantly English based, either in Language or Literature. If you have other related degree qualifications (such as in Law or in Journalism), we would like evidence of a strong engagement with literature and/or language-related work and that that you have read widely across a range of literature types, including Shakespeare.

 

Geography

Geography is an important and dynamic subject and has an important role in educating young people to live successfully in a diverse society and a changing world. This course will help you to develop teaching strategies and skills so that you can use your enthusiasm to interest and motivate pupils.

Sheffield offers excellent opportunities for Geography PGDE student teachers. The Geography PGDE course is regarded very highly both locally and nationally. The course is planned to promote teaching as a research-based profession in which critical understanding is developed alongside practical competence. Alongside this, several of the schools supporting Geography student teachers have been at the forefront of geographical education in this country for many years, and many are involved in innovative approaches to education.

Course overview

The Geography curriculum course aims to develop your confidence to enable you to teach in a wide variety of situations. The course takes into account the requirements of examination specifications at GCSE and A-Level and the Geography National Curriculum and enables you to develop a critical understanding of recent developments. The theoretical foundations which underlie approaches to teaching and learning are considered, particularly with regard to how these relate to Geography teaching in schools.

The use and application of digital technology is a major feature of the work of teachers and there will be opportunities for you to gain practical experience in this area. The course will also help you to develop expertise in fieldwork activities and working with pupils outside the classroom. All student teachers will have the opportunity to attend a weekend course at Cranedale Field Studies centre in Yorkshire to find out more about teaching Geography in the field. Some student teachers will also have the opportunity to participate in field trips organised by schools.

Geographically, Sheffield and its surroundings provide an interesting area for local studies and field-work. The border of the Peak District National Park is within five miles of the University of Sheffield and the towns and cities of South Yorkshire provide good examples of urban renewal and redevelopment. Furthermore, the national headquarters of the Geographical Association (GA) is in Sheffield and student teachers are expected to become active members of the GA.

What are we looking for?

You will need a degree in Geography or have at least 50% of your degree in Geography. If your degree has less than 50% Geography, we might still accept you, subject to your completion of a Geography Subject Knowledge Enhancement course. As this is an 11-19 course we are also preparing students to teach up to A-level and we will normally take into account the balance of your degree classification and your profile of A-level results.

History

History plays a significant role in educating young people to become well informed and active participants in a diverse society. Our PGDE course will enable you to develop teaching strategies and skills so that you can use your knowledge and enthusiasm for history to engage and motivate pupils.

We see no divide between theory and practice. Our work in the University is intensely practical and your practice in school must be thoughtful and reflective. You will belong to a History subject group supported by university subject tutors with years of experience in teaching History in secondary schools. There will also be an opportunity to participate in a range of externally provided training including  ‘Teaching the Holocaust’.

Course overview

You will consider how to manage a classroom successfully and how to engage pupils of different ages and abilities in the learning of history. The emphasis is on a collaborative, seminar style of learning.

The use and application of digital technologies is a feature of the work of teachers and there will be opportunities for you to gain practical experience in this area, as well as in various forms of History fieldwork which are used to provide experience in planning and organising school history visits.

What are we looking for?

You will need a degree in History or have at least 50% of your degree in History. As this is an 11-19 course we are also preparing students to teach up to A-level and we will normally take into account the balance of your degree classification and your profile of A-level results.

Mathematics

Our PGDE in Mathematics will help you share your enthusiasm for this interesting subject and to develop teaching strategies and skills that will empower the pupils to generate their own interest and motivation. 

Mathematics teaching is constantly developing, now involving the use and application of digital technologies, you will gain practical experience in this area.

We see no divide between theory and practice. Our work in the University is intensely practical and your practice in school must be thoughtful and reflective. The Mathematics PGDE course is organised around three themes:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Mathematics Subject Knowledge
  • Issues in Mathematics Education

In the university-based sessions, you will be actively involved in your learning, through leading seminars and presenting to your peers. We work closely with local schools and involve mathematics teachers from partnership schools who make significant contributions to the taught programme.

What are we looking for?

You will need a degree in mathematics or have at least 50% of your degree in mathematics. If your degree has less than 50% mathematics, we might still accept you, subject to your completion of a mathematics Subject Knowledge Enhancement course. As this is an 11-19 course we are also preparing students to teach up to A-level and we will normally take into account the balance of your degree classification and your profile of A-level results.

Languages

Languages teachers need to be enthusiastic, resourceful, innovative and imaginative in order to create an exciting environment for language learning. 

The PGDE Languages course is designed to enable you to respond to this challenge. It also takes account of the local and national policy contexts, encouraging an awareness of the many opportunities which exist to support language teaching and learning.

We will train you to be a reflective practitioner, and the academic masters-level work on the course fosters a deeper understanding and critical stance in relation to language pedagogy and teaching and learning in secondary schools.

Course Overview

Applicants will specialise in two languages from French, German and Spanish and it is common for applicants to have a main and support language. The main language is the language you studied at degree level in conjunction with a sustained period abroad in the target language country; this is the language you will teach on the course to A-Level. The support language may be a language you took to A-Level yourself and it will provide the basis for you to teach to at least KS3.

Alongside this and subject to school availability, it may be possible to offer very limited places for Japanese, Chinese, Russian or Urdu plus one other language from French, German or Spanish. Please contact the course coordinator before applying.

The Languages element of the PGDE is designed to give you the confidence and skills you will need. The course brings together theory, practice, and research, to explore methods and strategies appropriate to the range of teaching situations likely to be met in an all-ability school.

 In addition to periods of block school experience, other school visits are organised and student teachers can also take part in the activities of The Association for Language Learning (ALL).

What are we looking for?

As this is an 11-19 course we are preparing you to teach up to A-level and we will normally take into account the balance of your degree content and your profile of GCSE and A-level (or equivalent) subjects and results to assess your suitability for the programme.

Most applicants will have studied one or both languages as a major part of their degree and we expect a total of at least three months´ residence in an appropriate country. Native speakers may have a degree in another subject. They will, however, need to demonstrate an adequate level of spoken and written English. It is desirable for applicants to have spent time in a secondary school in the United Kingdom either working, volunteering or as a visitor and to have spent some time with the Languages department in particular.

The PGDE in science is offered in the following ways:

  • Science with Biology
  • Science with Chemistry
  • Science with Physics
  • Physics with Mathematics

Course Overview

All science courses aim to prepare you with a passionate commitment to the subject which you are able to teach confidently and creatively to 11-19 year olds.

The Science with Biology, Chemistry or Physics courses are designed to prepare you to teach Balanced Science in the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3, and in your specialist subject at Key Stage 4 and post-16 courses. The Physics with Mathematics course is designed to prepare you to teach Physics at Key Stage 4 and post -16 and Mathematics at Key Stage 3 and 4.

The University teaching team has extensive science teaching experience across the science curriculum. Early in the course you will be introduced to a range of schemes and strategies currently in use in secondary science teaching and a range of teaching approaches will be explored. Other important aspects of work include lesson planning, laboratory safety and first aid issues for science teachers.

You will receive appropriate support through University taught sessions that are designed to enhance your subject knowledge together with your pedagogic content knowledge. This work is complemented by sessions to support your subject specialisms at KS3, 4 and post 16. Physics with Mathematics student teachers will work principally with fellow science student teachers, but will have sessions based with Mathematics PGDE students as well. In all University-based sessions you are expected to be an active participant.


Coursework is practically oriented and closely related to teaching and learning.

What are we looking for?

As this is an 11-19 course we are preparing students to teach up to A-level and we will normally take into account the balance of your degree content and your profile of GCSE and A-level (or equivalent) subjects and results to assess your suitability for the programme.

It is usual to have a first degree which had at least half of its content in your science specialist subject (Biology, Chemistry or Physics). We do accept graduates of other science-related disciplines, such as Engineering, Earth science, Materials Science, Clinical disciplines and Psychology and in such cases tutors can advise whether a subject knowledge enhancement course would be necessary prior to commencement of the course. Physics with Mathematics applicants would usually be expected to have a Physics, Mathematics or Engineering based degree, along with A levels in Physics and Mathematics. All PGDE science student teachers, irrespective of degree subject, have curriculum `gaps´ to fill during the course. Because of this, a capacity for disciplined self-study is a characteristic of student teachers who do well. Other key personal characteristics are curiosity, perseverance, and organisation. If you are a graduate with these qualities in abundance you should thrive on the course!

The University of Sheffield works in partnership with four clusters of schools to offer an additional route to a PGDE called School Direct. This route sees you working closely within a cluster of schools to complete your course.

School Direct runs alongside the Provider led PGDE and leads to the same qualification.

School clusters

Lead school Location Subjects offered

Aston Community Education Trust (ACET)

Aston Academy

Sheffield/Rotherham English, Geography, Mathematics, Languages, Biology, Chemistry, History, Physics with Maths

The Mercia Learning Alliance

King Ecgbert 

Sheffield English, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, History, Biology, Physics with Maths, Languages

Sheffield TSA

Sheffield Teaching School Alliance

Silverdale School

Sheffield Geography, Mathematics

Ashfield School ITT

Ashfield School

Nottingham English, Geography, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, History, Biology, Physics with Maths, Languages

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Information last updated: 25 February 2020


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