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Secondary: English

Who is this course for?

This course is for people who understand that a command of language and a knowledge of great literature are fundamental elements of a child’s education and therefore want to train as secondary specialists in English. We are shaped by the thoughts and words of those who have come before us, and the best literature has the power to capture and transform human experience. Students require teachers who have the expertise to help them navigate and critically engage with this complex body of knowledge.

Candidates come from a wide variety of backgrounds: straight from university; from the education sector; from different professions; after having completing Masters or PhDs; from third-sector organisations. What unites these people is a shared understanding that the teaching of English is utterly essential, exciting, and valuable to secondary students.

Trainee teachers of English would usually have a degree-level qualification in English Literature. Related or combined degrees could also be considered.

We are looking for people who believe in the need for an academically rigorous training in the teaching of English, taking the subject as seriously as any Masters or PhD programme.

The rigour and demands of an academic qualification in secondary English are at the very heart of this unique course.

What will I study?

Breadth and depth

The course will aim to build broad knowledge while acknowledging that individual candidates will want to build their own areas of particular expertise. Our vision for English departments within the Trust is that they should be composed of teachers with a strong overall grasp of both the literary and the linguistic elements of the subject, alongside a deep understanding of particular topics. This deep, specialised knowledge will mean that over time, successful trainees will become a source of expertise and guidance for colleagues across the Trust.

Literature through the ages

The course will focus on consolidating knowledge of the literary canon for all trainees, so that they can confidently explain the significance of texts from any era in English literature. We will examine the structure of knowledge in English and the impact this should have on our teaching and assessment. Chronology and the concept of influence within and among literary movements will be key: for example, our students will not be able to assess the significance of the Romantic movement unless they have a thorough understanding of what preceded it.

Literature enables our students to break out of the present and encounter the thoughts and struggles of different ages, and we as teachers are their guides into this fascinating world which can expand their horizons so significantly. Therefore the course will focus primarily on literature from the past which has had a significant ongoing influence. This is also central to our intention of building cultural capital in our students. We are aiming to give them the keys to understanding the great human conversation that has continued through the centuries.

Knowing the literary canon intimately is the starting point for offering a meaningful critique of its contents. In our trainees, and in our students, we are aiming to build a foundation of knowledge that is so strong that we can begin to shape the discussion of how the canon should be shaped, and the future direction for the teaching of English literature.

Explicit grammatical knowledge

The course will include a thorough foundation in grammatical knowledge, based on an awareness that this element of English has been neglected for many years. If it is to be revived then trainee teachers must be thoroughly knowledgeable and comfortable with grammatical concepts so that they can bring them to life for their students, not merely as dry rules but as a rich framework of ideas that shape meaning for us as readers and writers.

How will I learn to teach English well?

You will learn through professional practice and through critically reflecting on your own practice. Your school placements within the course will give you the opportunity to teach, to observe, to practise, to experiment, and to innovate. You have the opportunity to reflect upon your own practice within your school context. As a course entitlement, you will have the time to discuss this with your school-based subject mentor; you can then identify the ways in which you need to develop as a specialist and as a professional. What results is a highly personalised programme in which, through dialogue with your mentor, you develop your teaching style, practice, and ideas in a bespoke way.

You will learn through participating within a community of practitioners. A community of practitioners within Inspiration Teacher Training includes other trainees on the same course, the mentors who are themselves subject specialists, and the subject specialist leaders (SSLs) at the Inspiration Trust. Mentors and SSLs are teachers of English who have reputations at the regional and national level. As a trainee, you become part of this interconnected web of professionals, all of whom are developing and promoting the subject of English. You will have the opportunity to observe some of these professionals at work, to discuss with them the challenges and opportunities you experience, to learn from them and their various approaches to the discipline. As part of your teacher training programme, your developing classroom practice will be supported by subject studies in which you will receive subject-based enhancement with curriculum experts.

You will learn through developing your knowledge as a professional and as a subject specialist. One of the most distinctive characteristics of Inspiration Teacher Training is the value it places on the richness of knowledge. Firstly, you will deepen your knowledge within your subject specialism through wide reading of literature and literary criticism. Secondly, you will develop professional knowledge to support your subject specialism. You will survey a range of educational research which will shape your teaching practice as you develop a better understanding about learning, reading, and memory.

In these ways and others, our secondary English course will develop you as a scholarly and able practitioner, able to become a leading voice within the field.

How much funding will I get?

Trainees will be eligible for a bursary of £12,000 to help fund the course. You can find more information about funding and bursaries on the UCAS website and Get Into Teaching.

You may be able to apply for a student loan to help pay your tuition fee or living costs - please visit for further information.