Undergraduate Education Studies students’ experiences of applying for postgraduate Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in 2015/16




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Peer reviewed



Content: Drawing on preliminary analysis of data from focus group discussions (that will take place in early 2016), this paper explores the experiences of undergraduate Education Studies students applying for ITE courses beginning in September 2016. Students at one East Midlands University will be invited to participate in group discussions about the process of applying and attending interview events for Primary and Secondary school ITE courses.

Comparisons will be made between the views of applicants choosing University-based teacher education routes with those that have opted for school consortia- and individual school-based routes. In light of concerns about the decline and closure of ‘traditional’ university-based PGCE courses and the rise of school-based routes in an increasingly fragmented ITE landscape, these findings are likely to provide much for Teacher Educators to consider. For ITE providers this research will give clear indication of how their type of provision is viewed by prospective applicants and how those perceptions interact with the on-the-ground process of choosing and meeting representatives of those providers.

Following the National College of Teaching and Leadership’s (NCTL) introduction of a system removing individual course allocations and imposing a national limit, the application process in 2015/16 has been characterised as a race to secure an ITE place amid rumours of courses recruiting quickly and closing early. Against this backdrop, and in response to mooted suggestions for a new system next year, this research has implications for future policy since it invites policy-makers to acknowledge the varied experiences of students that have navigated the terrain. As far as we can find there is little research exploring current HE students’ experiences of applying for ITE courses, and certainly in this year any insight gleaned from the users of the system must be seen as a vital component to inform future policy developments.

The paper will also be relevant to those within HEIs preparing students for ITE applications, and to those who partner or accredit school-based providers. This is because the research will seek to contrast the perspectives of successful candidates with those students who have been unsuccessful in securing a place. Based on experience of the system, what makes for a winning application? What makes a ‘good’ candidate? These findings may also be used to encourage future candidates to reflect on their own position in relation to those apparent success criteria.



initial teacher training, initial teacher education, National College for Teaching and Leadership - NCTL, applicants' experiences, qualitative focus groups, education studies students


Purves, R. and Pulsford, M. (2016) Undergraduate Education Studies students’ experiences of applying for postgraduate Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in 2015/16. paper presented at the 7th Teacher Education Advancement Network Annual Conference, 5th-6th May 2016, Aston University, Birmingham.


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Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice