PGCE Primary interviews

PGCE Primary Interviews

We look forward to welcoming you to Plymouth Marjon University for your interview day and hope that you will gain much from the experience. The day is important for both you and for us as it is important that we see if you are suitable for the course you have applied for, but equally that you find out if this is the place you want to study.

During the day you will have the opportunity to

  • look round the University
  • find out more about the course and meet tutors
  • meet headteachers or teachers from our partnership schools who are also involved in the interview process

We want you to present yourself in the best light on the day so there are a number of different components to the interview and we aim to make you feel comfortable and welcome. Please read the information provided in the letter and on the website carefully so you come well-prepared for the different parts of the day. 


Recommended preparation for interview

It is not essential that candidates have school experience when they apply for a PGCE Primary Education course, however, we would recommend that candidates obtain some observation experience to ensure that teaching is the right career path for them. If you want to gain experience, we suggest spending approx 10 days in a mainstream primary school as this amount of time should give you a good overview of primary teaching. 

Entrants for Initial Teacher Education programmes need to be aware of Government regulations regarding mandatory skills tests in numeracy and literacy. These will be taken immediately after application and prior to any offer being made. The cut-off date for achieving these is 30th June. 

Applicants should register here as soon as you have applied for an ITT programme, 

You should research the National Curriculum in your subject area and/or age group, 

You should also be aware of changes to policy and current issues in education.


The Interview Process

The interview process comprises two key elements:

  • An individual interview lasting 20–30 minutes with a University tutor or Partnership school headteacher/teacher
  • A group task where you will be expected to show your ability to share your enthusiasm for teaching and learning


Structure of the interview day 

Please click here for the structure of the interview day


Literacy Assessment

During the day you will be given a task to assess your ability to read, understand and provide a response to a written article.  You will be expected to critically discuss the arguments presented within the article (click on the title to access), 'Research schools: what are they and why do they exist? by Samantha Lauren King' (  September 26 2017).


Group Task

In preparation for your group interview we would like you to share something about which you are passionate or in which you have a particular skill. 

The activity will be in a group of 5 or 6 candidates and you will have a maximum of 10 minutes to complete your task. 

To be successful in this task: 

  • You need to teach the other members of the group something about this interest
  • You should expect and encourage the other members of the group to interact with you
  • The other members of the group should have learned something by the end of your task 

In addition we will be assessing: 

  • Your interaction with others when you are sharing your interest
  • Your ability to interact with others when others are sharing their interest
  • Your engagement with others
  • Your empathy with others
  • Your clear communication with others using Standard English 

This task will take place in a teaching room: 

  • You will not have access to ICT
  • You need to provide all the resources for your 10 minutes 

Please bear in mind that 10 minutes is not long - keep it simple! 

We look forward to learning about a broad range of interests and skills. Please remember that the subject matter is entirely your choice. It is how you go about it that interests us.  


Individual Interview 

You will be asked a number of questions which are designed to ascertain if you are a suitable candidate for teaching and for this PGCE course. The following areas will be focused upon: 

  • Professional Skills and Attributes
    • High expectations and commitment to realising pupil potential;
    • Professional behaviour;
    • The ability to reflect on your own practice and identify areas for future development.
  • Subject Knowledge and Pedagogy  
    • Subject knowledge per se – the essential knowledge and understanding needed to teach the subject effectively;
    • Pedagogy – an understanding of the teaching skills and strategies needed to teach all pupils effectively;
  • Pupils’ Development
    • How learning is linked to pupils’ development and their social, religious, ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds and contexts
    • How to promote positive attitudes to pupils’ learning.


Learn Direct: message to ITT applicants on skills tests

A recent announcement by the Department for Education about changes to the Professional Skills Tests for QTS, which we hope is of help to everyone:

The changes, which are outlined below, will come into effect on 14 February 2018. If you have booked tests prior to the changes being made we want to encourage you to take those tests as planned. Below are some FAQs which we hope will address any queries you may have.

What are the changes?

The limit of 3 test attempts per subject is being removed. As of 14 February 2018 you will have unlimited attempts to achieve a test pass. This means that the 2 year lockout period will also be removed.

Currently all candidates have one test booking free of charge, per subject. From 14 February 2018, all candidates will be able to book three tests per subject, free of charge. A charge will be applied from the fourth test attempt per subject.

What happens if I have a test booked between the announcement and the start date for the new policy?

If you paid for and took a second or third attempt at a test on or after the 24 October 2017 and before 14 February 2018, you will automatically receive a refund for the cost of your test. Refunds will be paid to candidates by 31 March 2018 and funds will be returned to the credit or debit card used to pay for the test. If you have not received the refund by 31 March 2018 then please call the helpline on 0300 303 9613.

If you fail your test for a third time before 14 February 2018 then your account will lock, but it will unlock automatically on 14 February 2018 and you will be able to access your account and continue to book tests as normal. You will also be able to take up to three more test bookings, free of charge per subject.

I took tests before 24 October 2017. Why am I not getting a refund?

This change applies to all bookings placed after the start of the 2018 recruitment cycle. We are unable to issue or agree refunds for tests prior to this date.

I was locked out of my account after three failed attempts at the skills tests. I am still interested in training to teach, so what should I do next?

Once the 2-year lockout period is removed on 15 February 2018, candidates will be able to take unlimited tests. The key to passing is plenty of preparation and practice. You can complete a free, fully interactive online practice test, which will help you to familiarise yourself with the test format. Simply follow the instructions on this page.

If you have not yet registered with Get Into Teaching, sign up to receive free support throughout your Initial Teacher Training application.

The press release about the announced changes  is available here.

The entry requirements to access training remain unchanged; candidates will still have to pass the skills tests prior to starting their Initial Teacher Training course. These changes simply remove financial and administrative barriers. Please note that the skills test passes for applicants to ITT courses continues to be valid for three years. In the event that an ITT course starts after the three years have elapsed, the candidates will have to re-take the tests.