School Direct and Initial Teacher Training

"I am so glad that I chose to do my teacher training through Aspirer. Doing my school direct in the middle of a global pandemic was never going to be easy but Aspirer could not have been more supportive. Our theory was split between live and recorded sessions and these were engaging, helpful and backed up by a wealth of research.  Despite never meeting in person, due to Covid, the team ensured that they kept in contact with us to provide any help or support that we needed. Being in school right from September has really prepared me for my first ECT year and I am so grateful for the opportunities I was offered through Aspirer. (Kristina, 2021 Graduate)

Why choose School Direct with us?

School Direct is a way of training teachers which puts schools at the heart of the process.

You won't be a "student".  You'll be an Associate Teacher, working in the classroom alongside the teacher in one of our core alliance schools, taking on some of the roles of a class teacher from the start.

The lead school of Aspirer School Direct is Ash Grove Academy, an "Outstanding" school in Macclesfield. 


We work with schools in the Macclesfield area, Wilmslow, Manchester (Fallowfield), Sandbach, Crewe, Northwich and Buxton.

We have designed a programme with our partners, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), which is school based - Associate Teachers spend the vast majority of their time in the classroom - but supported by high quality professional development both at Aspirer and SHU.

We work in close partnership with SHU, sharing the teaching and assessment of Associate Teachers with them.  A recent OFSTED inspection of teacher training at SHU rated the provision, including the Primary and Early Years School Direct partnership as "Outstanding", saying,"Attainment of trainees across the primary phase and in all routes, is consistently high", that trainees are,"very well prepared for their future careers" and that there is,"excellent support provided to trainees to help them seek their first jobs, ensuring that employment rates have been consistently very high".

Training to teach with Aspirer School Direct equipped me with the support, knowledge and experience to start my teaching career in the best possible way. Working with Aspirer teachers provided me with extensive experience into outstanding teaching practise in the classroom, whilst the Aspirer and Sheffield Hallam training provided essential insight into the research that underpinned this. Throughout the process I was fully supported to develop my teaching skills and consequently my confidence in undertaking the roles and responsibilities of a teacher grew. With the training that I received from Aspirer School Direct I feel confident and prepared in my new role as a class teacher.  (Sabine, 2021 Graduate)

COVID adjustments

Our cohort of Associate Teachers completed their training in a difficult year last year and are now Newly Qualified Teachers. We have made some changes to the course for the present year and are providing flexible and bespoke support so that trainees can become outstanding primary teachers!


From the moment I contacted Mark to register my interest in the programme, he went above and beyond to ensure that I was supported throughout the application process, starting my first placement, and also with the training that Aspirer and Sheffield Hallam University delivered.

Deciding to do my Teacher Training through Aspirer Schools Direct, was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it has enabled me to finally achieve my lifelong ambition of becoming a Teacher.

As an Associate Teacher, I was able to learn from highly qualified professionals and colleagues, which presented me with a multitude of opportunities to develop professionally, academically and as a result, my confidence and resilience in the classroom flourished.

I am truly appreciative of the training, support, and dedication that the Aspirer Teaching Alliance showed towards me, it most definitely prepared me for my role as an Early Career Teacher and to begin my journey in this rewarding profession. (Rosie, 2021 Graduate)

Our link with the Aspirer Research School also means that Associate Teachers have a direct link to the most up to date research about teaching improvements and internationally respected researchers.

Successful completion of the course will award you a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and 60 Masters Credits from Sheffield Hallam University.               

I was absolutely delighted with the course provided through the Aspirer trust. Throughout the year, I felt supported from both the programme leader and my mentors in school. There was nothing I couldn’t ask of them. The course has provided me with great experience and opportunities for my career in teaching. My mentors gave me the confidence to apply to a teaching job abroad and I am now fulfilling that role in Abu Dhabi. (Maisey, 2021 Graduate)


You will:

  • spend the entire year learning how to teach in a real classroom;
  • work towards being an outstanding teacher; 
  • have experience of working in two contrasting schools and key stages over the course of the year (Covid permitting);
  • be mentored by your Learning Coach, who will be an experienced, expert and outstanding teacher;
  • have a good expectation of employment in an Alliance school at the end of the course;
  • follow a rigorous but rewarding programme of professional development;
  • have lots of opportunity to collaborate with other Associate Teachers.
  • have access to the most up to date research evidence through the Aspirer Research School

To apply please click HERE and you will be taken to information about the courses that we run Primary (5-11), Primary Early Years (3-7) and Primary (5-11) Physical Education Specialism.  Click on "Recruitment and Selection" on this page for lots of helpful information that you will need before you apply.

For more information, to arrange a chat, visit one of the schools or arrange some school experience before applying, please contact Mark Avis (Aspirer School Direct Programme Leader) on or telephone 01625 466914