Postgraduate Certificate in Education

Postgraduate Certificate in Education

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a one-year course in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for undergraduate degree holders that allows them to train to be a teacher.

In addition to the PGCE qualification itself, those taking the course in England or Wales are recommended for either English or Welsh Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is required to teach in maintained schools in England and Wales. Those passing PGCEs in Northern Ireland are granted 'eligibility to teach' in Northern Ireland (equivalent to QTS). Though the QTS/eligibility to teach only applies in the Home Nation it was awarded in, applying for QTS/eligibility to teach in either of the other two Nations is a formality and is nearly always awarded to PGCE holders. Furthermore, the PGCE is also widely-recognised in Scotland and the rest of world, allowing holders to easily register as teachers there.

This course includes credits towards a master's degree. In England and Wales only, a PGCE without master's credits was phased in from 2005 to 2007, which is called a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education.

The PGCE was previously also offered in Scotland, but was renamed the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from 2005 to 2006 (the exact year depending on the university offering it). It is identical in content to the previous PGCE. Like the PGCE, the PGDE is widely recognised throughout the rest of the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.

Applications for admission to PGCE (and PGDE) courses are handled by a national clearing house, the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR).

Further and higher education lecturers are not usually required to hold QTS/eligibility to teach. However, many lecturers attend lecturer training courses to gain qualifications such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (FE), which is comparable to the regular PGCE.


Course content and structure

The PGCE is a professional qualification normally taught at a university or other higher education institution, with much of the course time spent on placements in local schools. A trainee teacher will have to meet the Standards for Qualified Teacher Status and any course specific requirements to be awarded the PGCE. In England only, a trainee teacher also has to pass the QTS Skills Tests in literacy, numeracy and ICT. The training provider will then recommend the trainee teacher for QTS to the relevant General Teaching Council:

or eligibility to teach to the:

  • General Teaching Council for Northern Ieland

After gaining QTS, the candidate becomes a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) and embarks on an induction programme in their first post.


A recent review of the equivalence of qualifications in Scotland declared the PGCE to be equivalent to a postgraduate diploma (which in turn is equivalent to the taught element of a master's degree). This left the PGCE with a rather inappropriate name as a postgraduate certificate is a lower level than the postgraduate diploma, requiring only half the amount of work. As a result, the PGCE in Scotland were renamed to Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).

From 2005 to 2007, most universities attached credits towards a master's degree to their PGCEs. PGCEs that do not carry master's credits are now known as Professional Graduate Certificate in Education.

The PGCE sits on the Master's Level of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, while the Professional Certificate in Education sits a level lower on the Honour's Level.

Technically, the PGCE is a non-degree qualification (as it is directly related to a career, it is considered vocational) that does not grant any postnominals, though this is often ignored.

The PGCE is equivalent to a master's degree from the USA, according to Education International, an American corporation specializing in evaluation of foreign education and training, established 1977. EDIT: There is no evidence shown for this, the link just leads to a general page.


Students on PGCE courses in England and Wales now have to pay tuition fees of £3290 (September 2010) and are usually eligible to apply for a Student Tuition Fee Loan from the Student Loan Company (SLC). Students from England are also eligible to apply for a means-tested (and non-returnable) Maintenance Grant of up to £2,906 to cover part of the fee costs.[1] Students from Wales should contact Student Finance Wales for information about assistance with course fees.[2]
They receive a training bursary in monthly instalments over the course of the year. Until 2011, for most subjects the bursary amount was £6,000, but for shortage subjects in secondary schools, such as Mathematics, Sciences and D&T (Design and Technology), the bursary was £9,000. For Primary PGCEs the bursary was £4000. For September 2012, rumour has it that bursaries will have ceased for all except shortage subjects, and bursaries will be based on the trainee's degree certification (those with 1st class degrees will be offered £9,000, whereas those with Thirds will not be funded). In addition, secondary school teachers of shortage subjects formerly received a Golden Hello after successfully completing their induction period. This can be up to £2500 for English, Religious Education, Modern Foreign Languages, Design and Technology and Music, and up to £5000 for Mathematics and Science. Students in Scotland and Northern Ireland still do not pay any fees, but do not receive a bursary. There are also other financial incentives for teachers once qualified.

Independent schools

Teachers in independent schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not required to hold any particular qualifications, although most schools now prefer applicants to have a PGCE, especially younger people going into teaching as a first career. This flexibility does allow them to occasionally hire older people who have practical experience, such as appointing ex-engineers as mathematics or physics teachers, or appointing people with high-level postgraduate qualifications but no formal teacher-training.

Other qualifications

The PGCE is the main postgraduate route for teacher training in England, Wales, but there are a number of other ways to gain QTS. See Qualified Teacher Status#Routes to QTS.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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