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As part of the process of ensuring that trainee teachers receive appropriate training and opportunities for completing their teacher training programme, the University has to be assured that the programme, in all its constituent parts, works towards this end.  This process, called Quality Assurance (QA), is thus essentially one of monitoring in order to be assured that the quality of the programme is adequate for its purpose.

All university programmes have External Examiners but these are not the only people involved in QA activities. All course staff in the university, teachers in Partnership Schools and all trainees contribute data which are analysed and incorporated in various documents and reports for the university (see 5.8 below) and for external agencies such as the Teaching Agency and OfSTED which is involved in inspecting intial teacher education courses such as the PGCE for the TA.

5.1 Student Feedback

Feeding back your views to the University

The University is committed to reviewing and improving its practice. The main ways in which we seek feedback are through (a) surveys and (b) Staff/Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs). Further information about the SSLC for the PGCE is given in Section 5.7 below. We also use focus groups, departmental working parties, and various kinds of feedback session.

You can get actively involved in determining how your educational and student experiences are organised by becoming active in the Students' Union or by letting the Department know that you are interested in contributing.

Student Academic Representatives also sit on the Academic Council of the Students' Union. This meets every three weeks during semester time in order to:

  • keep Students' Union Officers and Representatives informed of developments throughout the University;
  • discuss common problems and interests affecting departments;
  • gather student opinions and views to be used by the University and the Students' Union;
  • update Representatives on Students' Union activities.

 The Students' Union runs a full training programme for student representatives through the SORTED (Students, Officers and Representatives - Training, Education and Development) programme.

Further information

On becoming a Student Academic Representative:


The University requires every Department to have a formal system so that all students can comment routinely, in confidence, on the teaching they have received. Such comments help us to check that:

  • you have a clear idea of the aims and requirements of each unit you study;
  • our teaching is effective and stimulating;
  • the advice and feedback we provide on your work is helpful; and, 
  • our resources are adequate.

The main means by which we seek your feedback is through questionnaires. Please complete each questionnaire fully, thoughtfully, and candidly. In particular, please tell us not only your opinion of what you have studied but also the reasons behind your opinion. 

We analyse all responses to questionnaires and the DoS presents the results to the SSLC. The results are also discussed at relevant staff meetings where decisions about appropriate action are taken. Summaries of the feedback and the actions taken will be included in the Annual Monitoring Report prepared by the DoS. Each report is presented to the Faculty Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee, which will make sure that the actions taken are adequate, appropriate, and properly implemented.    

Student representation

As a student of the University you are automatically a member of the Students' Union. Officers of the Students' Union represent students' interests on University decision-making bodies. In addition, numerous student representatives play important roles on various departmental, faculty and University committees.

There are many opportunities to become an elected student representative. If you are elected by fellow students to serve on departmental, faculty or University committees you will be expected to represent the views of your fellow students and provide feedback following meetings.   

The PGCE Programme has a Staff and Student Liaison Committee (see Committee and Reporting systems section).

Student Academic Representatives also sit on the Academic Council of the Students' Union. This meets every three weeks during semester time in order to:

  •  keep Students' Union Officers and Representatives informed of developments throughout the University;
  •  discuss common problems and interests affecting departments;
  •  gather student opinions and views to be used by the University and the Students' Union;
  •  update Representatives on Students' Union activities.

The Students' Union runs a full training programme for student representatives.

Beyond departmental level, the next level of representation is the Faculty. Four student representatives (including at least one undergraduate and one postgraduate) are elected to sit on the Faculty Board of Studies. This Board makes most decisions in relation to teaching and research and reports to Senate. The Faculty Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee considers all matters relating to taught programmes across several departments within the Faculty and makes recommendations to the Faculty Board of Studies.  Two students (one undergraduate and one postgraduate) are elected to this Committee.   

Full University committees with student representation include the Council/Senate/Students' Union, the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee, and Senate. Elections to many of these posts take place at the start of the academic year.

If you are interested in representing student views at faculty or University level, please contact the Students' Union Vice-President (Education): email

Do feel free to approach your student academic representative at any time. This is normally the person who represents your subject area on the PGCE SSLC.  

If you need to raise a concern, remember there are various routes open to you. You can discuss issues directly with your Subject Didactics tutor or the DoS. Individual problems are often more readily resolved in this way. The Students' Union Advice and Representation Centre, described below, also provides students with information and confidential advice. All postgraduate students of the University (on taught and research programmes) are automatically members of the Students' Union and its Postgraduate Association. The Postgraduate Association is dedicated to representing the interests and views of all postgraduate students. For further information, please visit

5.2 The Role of External Examiners

External examinations form part of the Quality Assurance procedures within the University. The role of the External Examiners is to ensure that the examination of trainee teachers for the award of PGCE is fair and consistent across practice of teaching and coursework.

Two External Examiners are appointed by the Faculty Board of Studies. External Examiners make visits to a sample of trainee teachers during Week 34 and conduct viva voce examinations with a selection of different trainee teachers in Week 36.  External Examiners make oral reports to the PGCE Board of Examiners on all aspects of examination procedures and the course in general.  They also provide written reports which are presented to the PGCE Policy Committee, the Faculty Board of Studies and the Vice Chancellor of the University.

Current External Examiners are:

  • Julie Piacentini (Director of Learning and Teaching, School of Education, Cardiff Metropolitan University)
  • Andrew Hind (Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Newman University College, Birmingham).

It is not appropriate for individual trainees to contact External Examiners, but the SSLC representatives do have a meeting with them at the end of the course to raise issues.

5.3 The Role of Internal Assessors

In addition to External Examiners, a number of our senior partnership colleagues from schools are nominated from the Board of Examiners to act as Internal Assessors. The role of Internal Assessor is to undertake a moderation role from the perspective of a subject specialist. As with External Examiners, Internal Assessors will observe and discuss the teaching of a sample of trainee teachers.

If you are selected as part of the sample to be visited by External Examiners or Internal Assessors you will be notified in writing during Weeks 32-33.

5.4 Link Tutors

A team of Link Tutors visit Partnership Schools during each academic year to meet with Professional Tutors and explore QA issues about the course, monitoring school provision and providing a channel of communication to the university. They collate issues which are fed back to the PGCE Policy Committe (see 5.8 below) and to Professional Tutor meetings.

5.5 Moderating Group

The Moderating Group is responsible for moderating aspects of coursework. The Group's purpose is to ensure that academic standards are maintained. The group consists of University tutors and at least two senior colleagues from Partnership Schools. The Chair of the Group, a senior University tutor, reports to the PGCE Board of Examiners on the Group's findings. A report is also made to the PGCE in Partnership Policy Committee. During Block 3 you will be informed in writing if your coursework is to be looked at by the PGCE Moderation Group. 

5.6 Viva voce Examinations 

In week 36 a number of trainees from the Moderation Group sample will be invited to meet with the two External Examiners on an individual basis. This group of trainees will be informed in writing in week 34-35 if they are required to meet with the External Examiners for a viva. The purpose of the viva is for the External Examiners to carry out their Quality Assurance function. All grades need to be regarded as interim and provisional until this process has been concluded and grades confirmed at the final PGCE Board of Examiners meeting of the year. These grades will subsequently be approved by the Faculty Board of Studies and the University Senate.  

5.7 The PGCE Staff Student Liaison Committee

The Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) consists of trainee teachers representing all subject groups, University Tutors, the Director of Studies and Partnership School representatives. 

The University's regulations relating to the SSLC can be found here

It constitutes a formal channel of communication between staff and students. Its terms of reference are to "consider and make recommendations on matters relating to the Programme of Study and the welfare of students on the Programme". Its membership is:

  • trainees (one elected from and by each Subject Didactics group);
  • three School Subject Mentors;
  • three University PGCE Tutors;
  • Director of Studies

Subject Didactics groups will be encouraged to identify/elect a SSLC representative early on in the course. Additional members may be co-opted by the Committee for discussion of particular issues.  The Committee elects a Chair from the trainee teacher members and a PGCE Administrator supports the Committee. 

The SSLC elects a trainee teacher representative and a deputy to sit on the PGCE Policy Committee.

Minutes of meetings of the Committee are considered by the PGCE Team, by the Policy Committee, and are also submitted to the Faculty Board of Studies and the Faculty SSLC. The Chair of the SSLC is required to submit an annual report covering the key issues that have been raised during the preceeding year:

Dates for SSLC meetings are in the Dates & Deadlines table of this handbook. All meetings begin at 1630 and end at 1745, unless otherwise stated.  Rooms to be notified.

5.8 Committees and reporting systems

The PGCE in Partnership Programme involves a large number of trainee teachers, University Tutors, Professional Tutors and Subject Mentors who work in over 90 institutions. Effective and transparent communication and reporting systems are therefore essential for the effective management, evaluation and development of the course.  These systems provide opportunities for regular evaluative feedback about the course, which is used to inform on-going course development as well as the more formal annual evaluation of the course, presented in the Director of Studies (DoS) Annual Report which is presented to the PGCE in Partnership Policy Committee and to the Faculty Board of Studies.

PGCE in Partnership Policy Committee

The Committee consists of Subject Mentors, Professional Tutors, University Tutors and a trainee teacher representative, normally the Chair of the Staff Student Liaison Committee. The Chair of the PGCE Policy Committee is elected from amongst the school representaives.  The Committee meets three times a year in order to:

  • receive reports about the Programme from the DoS and monitor aspects of quality assurance of the Programme;
  • consider evaluation reports on the Programme, or aspects of it, in line with the Department's policy on course evaluation;
  • consider reports from External Examiners; and,
  • review any aspect of the course brought to its attention through papers submitted by members of the committee.

Minutes of the Policy Committee meetings will be available to Professional Tutors on request. The minutes of the Committee's meetings are presented to the Faculty Board of Studies.

PGCE Team Meetings

PGCE University Tutors meet regularly in a number of Team Meetings. All PGCE tutors contribute to the agenda of meetings. These meetings regularly consider matters relating to on-going course evaluation and development.


Subject Didactics tutors are required to undertake evaluations of their programmes using a framework agreed by the PGCE in Partnership Policy Committee and the Faculty Board of Studies. Trainee teachers and Subject Mentors are involved in these evaluations.  Similarly, evaluations of the EPS programme and of the experience provided for trainees at their placements are completed by means of questionnaires to trainees. Reports of the evaluations are presented to the DoS. From time to time the PGCE in Partnership Policy Committee may require the DoS to make a separate evaluation of an aspect of the course.

Professional Tutor and Subject Didactics (SD) Liaison Meetings

Each year a programme is provided for Professional Tutors, Subject Mentors and new Mentors.  These meetings cover a wide agenda and provide good opportunities for evaluative feedback and on-going discussion of course developments.

PGCE Board of Examiners for Units and Programmes

The Board consists of Professional Tutors and University Tutors.  The Head of the Department of Education, or another nominated representative, is Chair of the Board.  The Board meets in January, April and June to consider grades for Practice of Teaching and coursework.  The PGCE Programme Board of Examiners also receives oral reports from the External Examiners and Internal Assessors.


From time to time OfSTED is required to inspect Initial Teacher Education provision. The framework for these Inspections can be found at  OfSTED most recently inspected our PGCE programme in April 2010 and the following link will take you to the report:

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