How to apply

All applications for PGCE, School Direct non-salaried and School Direct salaried, must be made via an online application through the DfE. For our assessment only route, please use our contact page.

You are advised to apply as early as possible for courses beginning the following autumn as a number of courses fill quickly. Places are allocated by the DfE to each initial teacher training provider and these are limited. Usually successful applicants are invited to Keele and/or a partnership school, where they will undertake a personal interview.


All places on our teacher training programme are offered following successful interview which comprises of four elements:

  1. All candidates will receive an introduction to The OAKS programme from the OAKS personal tutor who is interviewing you. They will outline the nature and requirements of the programme for which you have applied.
  2. All candidates will complete a generic writing task and a written subject-specific test. Each test takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and full instructions will be provided by the tutor overseeing the interview.
  3. All candidates will be asked to prepare a short ‘lesson’ of approximately 15 minutes to deliver to a whole class or smaller selected group of pupils. Candidates will be informed in advance of the topic which the school would like you to prepare, the year group/age range of pupils you will be teaching, the number of pupils and sometimes the level at which they are working.
  4. All candidates will have an individual interview with an OAKS tutor and a member of school-based staff.

Please note that the activities described above can take place in any order depending upon the timetabling requirements of the school you are being interviewed at.

Throughout the interview process you will have the opportunity to ask questions about any aspect of the programme that is unclear, and we encourage you to do this. It is important that you have a clear understanding of the programme to which you have applied in order that you can make a fully informed decision as to whether the programme is right for you. An interview is a two-way process and you should treat it as an opportunity to ask the OAKS tutors and school-based staff questions. The whole selection process takes approximately 3 to 3½ hours and following this, you will be informed of our decision.

If you are successful, you will be offered a conditional place and an email will be sent to you explaining the conditions of our offer and the next steps you need to take. If you are not successful at our selection day, you will be given feedback on your performance and the reasons why we are unable to take your application further at that time.

You will be given hints and tips on how you might improve weaker areas of performance, to enhance future applications. The OAKS is an equal opportunities organisation. We welcome diversity and do not discriminate on the grounds of age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. If you have any individual or specific needs, please contact us in advance so that we can discuss your requirements and make the necessary arrangements.

Applying to our hubs

Our partnership is split into hubs (geographical areas) and these are where our numbers are allocated. These are:

  • Birmingham and Black Country: schools in the Birmingham region, the provider code is 9J3 and the lead school is Fairfax Academy in Sutton Coldfield
  • Cheshire: schools in the east Cheshire region, the provider code is 18U and the lead school is Brine Leas High School
  • Norfolk: schools in the Norfolk region, the provider code is 4T7 and the lead school is Ormiston Venture Academy in Great Yarmouth
  • North Staffordshire and Shropshire: schools in Newcastle-under-Lyme and surrounding areas, the provider code is 1JA and the lead school is Madeley School
  • Stafford: schools in the Stafford area, the provider code is 1WB and the lead school is Sir Graham Balfour School
  • Stoke: schools in the Stoke-on-Trent region and surrounding areas, the provider code is 1UV and the lead school is Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthews Academy
  • Suffolk: schools in the Suffolk region, the provide code is 4T6 and the lead school is Ormiston Sudbury Academy in Sudbury

Visit our hubs page for more information about each of the above.

Applying to The OAKS

You can also apply directly to The OAKS. Our provider code is 24P.

Regardless of which of these entry routes you apply to, the accredited training provider for each programme is The OAKS and the outcome is the same:

  • Recommendation for QTS awarded by The OAKS
  • PGCE academic award which is awarded by Keele University (with the exception of our Assessment Only programme)

Colleagues from our partnership schools will normally be involved in the interviewing and selection process. Irrespective of whether you are applying for a conventional PGCE programme or via the School Direct route, the final stage of the recruitment and selection process will normally include working with pupils in a classroom setting.

For any candidate who makes an application within five years of graduating, it is a requirement that a reference should be provided by the candidate’s university tutor.