Dixons Academies Trust | Frequently asked questions
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Dixons Academies Trust

Frequently asked questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are Ambition?

Ambition are a leading national education charity. They’ve already worked with 54,000 teachers in over 9,000 schools to deliver high quality evidence based professional development. They provide qualifications for teachers at every stage of their career, from teacher training to headship.

Could you tell me about how this route differs from doing a PGCE through a university?

Many teacher training routes offer a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at the end. But there are two main ways you can get this.

You can choose to train on a university led route. You’ll spend the first part of your course learning about the theory of education at university. You’ll then complete placements in two or sometimes three different schools.

Another option is to get a PGCE on a school-based route. Although these courses are accredited by universities and organisations with degree awarding powers, they are led by schools. Essentially this route allows you to train “on the job”.

What are the benefits of doing a school-based training route?

On the Ambition route, you’ll be in the same school for almost the whole year so you will feel like a valued member of the school community. You’re also in school from day one so you’ll be around the students you will teach right from the beginning. This will help you to build strong and lasting relationships and you’ll also get to see what the day-to-day life as a teacher really looks like. Training in schools doesn’t mean you miss out on the academic rigour of university courses. You’ll attend taught sessions with experts every week and be exposed to the latest research about how pupils learn. But, unlike university routes, you’ll be straight back in the classroom the next day to put this knowledge into action.

What is mentoring?

You will receive 90 minutes of mentoring every week. This is where you will have protected time to discuss your successes and areas for development that week. One hour of this time will be discussing your learning from your independent study and putting that learning into practice. Your learning will be broken down into bite size chunks and each week will have a different focus. We know how important it is to practice something before having a go in the classroom. You will be able to practise with your mentor and they will celebrate your successes and give you tips on how to improve.

Every week, you will also have a 30 minute session with your mentor that is dedicated to workload and wellbeing. On alternate weeks you will either have an Instructional Coaching or Coaching on Planning session with your mentor.

Instructional coaching is a frequent cycle of observation, practice, and feedback. It involves a more expert teacher helping another teacher to develop their practice through coaching.

Coaching on planning is another structured one-to-one interaction that trainees will engage in with their mentors. It supports trainees to plan the non-performative elements of teaching e.g. aspects of lesson planning.

How is a typical week organised?

You will be based at your placement school for most of the year, Monday to Friday.

Each week, you will spend an average of 15 hours per week in the classroom. This will begin with observing experienced teachers, building up to team teaching and then independent teaching. You will be supported each step of the way by your trained mentor who is a highly effective teacher.

Each week you will engage in an independent study activity online and you will have 90 minutes of mentoring every week. You will also attend at least one ‘clinic’ per week where you will learn alongside fellow trainees and you will have the opportunity to put your learning into practice during deliberate practice sessions.

Will there be any additional opportunities available to me, such as working with SEN students, or helping with extra-curricular activities?

You will have the opportunity to work with a range of students through your main placement and Specialist Days. The wider development of our students is hugely important to us and Performing Arts and Sport, in particular, are areas of strength across our academies. You may also have the opportunity to accompany students on trips and visits.

How is the ‘out of the classroom’ training for secondary organised? Where does it take place and when?

There is:

An Induction Day in July and a week of induction in September as well as frequent correspondence with the Dixons Centre for Growth team before you start the course.

Weekly taught content (online and in person at Dixons Centre for Growth and other Dixons academies)

Opportunities to attend trust-wide Dixons Centre for Growth training and training organised by Bradford Research school

What are your expectations for meetings?

Trainees are expected to attend all meetings and training sessions as part of fulfilling wider professional responsibilities. Trainees are also expected to attend any additional whole school events e.g. Open Evening.

What support will I receive as a Dixons trainee?

You will receive support from the Dixons Teacher Training team as soon as you accept your place to train to teach with us. You will attend an Induction Day in July, and we will be in regular communication with you before then to answer any questions you may have. We also offer more bespoke support to any trainees who are relocating.

At the start of the course, you will be assigned a trained ITT mentor in your academy who is responsible for your professional development. Our mentors are fantastic and aim to develop the ‘whole’ person so you thrive during your training year and are prepared for the rest of your teaching career. You will receive 90 minutes of mentoring every week. This is where you will have protected time to discuss your successes and areas for development. Built into the 90 minutes is a 30 minute session dedicated to workload and wellbeing. You will also check in with your mentor informally, between these mentoring sessions, so if you have any questions or queries, you don’t have to save them all up for one mentor session!

You will also be supported by the ITT Lead in your academy who is responsible for training trainee teachers and ensuring you are successful during your placement. Our schools are very supportive, and everyone is happy to help. Our trainees often comment on how supported they feel by everyone in the school, not just their department.

To develop personal skills, we provide training on maximising resilience and trainees have found this helpful in supporting them to control the controllables and develop healthy habits. We ask for trainee feedback regularly and strive to improve our provision by acting on feedback. All trainees and employees at Dixons Academies Trust have access to a free employee assistance programme, Validium.

How will I be assessed on the course?

You’ll be assessed in three different ways on the course.

Ongoing formative assessment

Every week you’ll complete multiple choice quiz questions and reflections on our online learning platform. These will help your mentor and other people working with you to find out where you might need more support. There will be a regular cycle of drop-ins from your mentor and any other expert staff you work with to ensure you are receiving feedback on your practice. They’ll give you small action steps which will help you improve.

Termly reviews

At the end of each term, you’ll also have a review with your mentor. This will involve a discussion around how you are getting on and will track your progress to achieving QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) at the end of the year.

PGCE assignments

You will also complete a number of PGCE assignments across the year which will be marked by university tutors from Liverpool Hope University. You won’t have to attend Liverpool Hope University as your weekly Ambition clinics will prepare you to compete your university assignments.

What will the PGCE assignments look like?

Ambition have designed the PGCE elements of the course with their university partner – Liverpool Hope.

You’ll do a number of academic assignments across the year. These will align carefully with the curriculum so you’ll be writing about ideas that you’ve encountered in your weekly independent study and in your clinics. These assignments will be spaced carefully across the year to manage your workload. They will involve doing academic reading and then applying that to your classroom practice. Just like in your degree, these assignments will be written in an academic style and be fully referenced. Support with writing these assignments is available from Liverpool Hope.

Do you offer visa sponsorship for international students?

No but other providers may have different criteria.

Do you offer SKEs for my subject and how long would it be for?

The link here gives information about which subjects are eligible for SKEs. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/su...

Please note that the offer of an SKE and the duration will be specific to your application and will be discussed if you are offered a place.

What are your expectations around prior school experience?

School experience is desirable but not essential. If you are offered a place and we feel you would benefit from school experience, we will arrange for you to have at least a day of school experience in a Dixons academy.

How can I check to see if my international qualifications are suitable?

Candidates with qualifications from non-UK institutions may need to provide evidence of comparability by applying for a UK ENIC statement.

Do you accept CVs if I choose to apply for teacher training?

All applications will be submitted through the DfE Apply system or through Ambition Institute. We will contact applicants if they need to submit a CV. Apply here.

If you require further information, please complete our enquiry form so we can fully support and advise you with your application.

How many places are available on the course? 

Each course has a varying number of placements on offer. Our course is highly competitive and places fill up fast so we strongly recommend early application. Our course information is updated on Apply and on our website so you will be able to see if a course is still open.

Click here to see which courses are still open.

When do you stop accepting applications?

Applications close at the beginning of July and we encourage early application.

What do I do if I want to make a complaint?

We work hard to ensure all potential applicants, applicants and trainees have a positive experience with us. We welcome feedback and the opportunity to discuss any concerns or queries you may have. Should you wish to complain formally, please contact the email address here:


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