School Direct

Dear Enquirer,

Balcarras is delighted to be able to continue offering teacher training via School Direct for September 2023.

We are now offering visits to the school via the School Experience service which can be found via the link below. This will allow you to book with the school.

We have been allocated places in English, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, Modern Languages, geography, history, computing and design and technology (product design and not textiles or food) to train from September 2023. All these courses are full time. We are also offering part-time courses in English, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, and computing.

Balcarras works with GITEP, the Gloucestershire Initial Teacher Education Programme, to ensure that we provide each person recruited with the best training possible. We are pleased to be able to say that this is also in conjunction with the University of Bristol.

To qualify for the scheme, you should be a graduate (preferably 1st or 2:1)

  • English – you would need a degree in English
  • Maths – you would need a degree in maths or engineering
  • Physics - you would need a degree in physics or engineering
  • Chemistry - you would need a degree in chemistry, forensic science or biochemistry 
  • Biology - you would need a degree in biology, zoology or biochemistry 
  • MFL (we do French, Spanish and Russian but might be able to accommodate Italian or German as well) – you would need a degree in the appropriate language
  • Geography – you would need a degree in geography
  • History – you would need a degree in history
  • Computing - you would need a degree in computer science
  • Design and Technology – you need a degree in a relevant design subject or engineering for Product Design. We are not offering places in food or textiles.

Please peruse our website and that of School Direct (click here)- we would be pleased to answer any queries you might have as well by contacting Mrs Rebecca Atkin, assistant headteacher and Training Manager, on

Then if you wish to apply please complete the application form through the government website  We will then arrange interviews and email you directly to let you know about the interview process.

School Direct costs £9250 for PGCE with QTS. There are bursaries of up to £25,000 available and scholarships up to £30,000 depending on the subject you would like to train to teach. For more information about bursaries please click here to go to If you have questions regarding bursaries and your eligibility for the course then please contact the GITEP office at or their number is 0845 0779005.

Further information regarding training to teach can be found at

School Direct 2022-23

Balcarras was one of the pilot schools for the School Direct programme, which started training teachers in September 2012.

Our 2020-2021 cohort of eight School Direct trainees have just completed their training and have secured jobs. They have particularly liked that they were in school from the first day and got to see the beginning of the school year for teachers and pupils. This has really helped them to feel that they are really valued members of the school. The subject mentors in each of the subjects have really appreciated that they train teachers that they themselves have recruited onto the training programme.

The GITEP course had an Ofsted inspection in 2015 and was graded as Outstanding. Balcarras school was involved in the inspection.

Inspectors noted in the report that “a key strength of the partnership is the sustained commitment to outstanding teacher training led by partnership school leaders and managers”. The outstanding quality of teaching inspectors saw from trainees and newly qualified teachers showed “skilled management of students’ behaviour by trainees and NQTs, underpinned by captivating lessons that engage and motivate students.” Inspectors also found that “trainees and NQTs really enjoy teaching”. 

The interview process

The interview process at Balcarras is:

  • Meet our head teacher, Mr Dominic Burke, on arrival
  • Tour of the school by pupils
  • Teach a 15 minute lesson on a particular aspect of your subject – which you would be given at least a week before the interview – this would be observed by one of our 3 training managers and someone from the relevant department    
  • One interview–with a training manager, the head of the relevant department and the course leader for GITEP
  • Written task - a task to check your subject knowledge

This is a rigorous process but we want to choose the best candidates to train at Balcarras. We want prospective teachers who are enthusiastic and passionate about their subject, committed to a career in teaching and ready to face the challenges of the training year.

Our programme has 3 phases:


Explore covers induction and parent placement 1. Three weeks of taught professional studies in September are followed by three weeks of school induction, exploring the application of education theory in the context of the parent school. After October half-term, assessed teaching time gradually increases, to 9-11 hours a week by Christmas. In addition, trainees continue to explore aspects of subject pedagogy with their subject leaders and mentors. The PGCE assignment focuses on special educational needs and disabilities. Trainees will explore the differing needs of pupils and how teachers adapt their practice to include them in learning.


Embed covers the twin placement, taking place between Christmas and Easter. This gives trainees the opportunity to embed their practice in a different school context, a contrasting one as far as possible. Trainees will be encouraged to try new approaches and to be more creative as they look to embed their learning from Explore. Assessed teaching time increases to 11-13 hours a week. The PGCE assignment focuses on short to medium term planning, giving trainees the opportunity to reflect on their subject learning and embed this in their planning.


Enhance covers parent placement 2, from Easter to June. Trainees return to a familiar environment with the opportunity to really progress and enhance their practice. The placement aims to give a better understanding of the big picture, with longer term planning and use of a variety of assessment techniques. Assessed teaching time increases to 13-15 hours a week. The PGCE assignment will focus on researching an area of interest within the subject curriculum, enhancing trainees understanding of subject pedagogy.

Subject pathway

A distinctive feature of our programme is that subject sessions take place every week throughout the programme, with the subject leader and other trainees in your subject. These sessions focus on exploring current issues in your subject, developing practical teaching strategies and subject expertise for teaching.


The programme leads to a PGCE awarded by the University of Bristol, with 60 Master’s level credits. No training takes place at the University - subject tutors from the University will visit the GITEP sessions in Gloucestershire.

How school placements work

Where you will train

You’ll be placed in two different schools during your training. For the Explore and Enhance placements you will be at Balcarras and at a different school for the Embed placement. You can’t pick the school you want to be in for that placement, but your course will try to place you in schools you can commute to.

The GITEP programme follows a “parent/twin/parent” structure, with three school placements. Trainees are placed in a “parent” school from October to December, a contrasting “twin” school from January to March and return to the “parent” school from April to June. Placements are 9-10 weeks in length.

Each school has a training manager, responsible for overseeing all the trainees within the school, and trainees are allocated a mentor, a subject specialist who will see them most days and meet with them individually once a week to review their training and plan next steps.

Our programme covers the 11-18 age range.