How to Apply

The window for applications for a place on the Optimus Alliance School Direct programme is now open.  Applications should be made via the UCAS website

When applying for School Direct places with the Optimus Alliance ensure that you take every opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the realities of teaching, as well as your enthusiasm for using your creative and intellectual skills in the classroom.

You can do this by including examples of any experience you have of working with young people – perhaps as a classroom assistant, or youth worker, or as a volunteer in a school. If you don’t have such experience, we strongly recommend that you get some before deciding to become a teacher.

You might also complete your application on the UCAS system in such a way as to:

  • emphasise the relevance of your previous work and/or studies for the course(s) you’re applying for

  • provide evidence of your social and communication skills

  • organise your information so that it is clear and easily accessible for the reader

    Ahead of completing your Personal Statement you may wish to familiarise yourself with the schools within the Optimus Alliance by looking through our individual school websites and obtaining any official literature.  Please see the Optimus Alliance website for the information about our  alliance members.
    Follow these simple guidelines and you should put yourself in a good position to be invited to attend an interview with the Optimus Alliance, where you’ll be able to build substantially on the evidence you provide on your form. The Optimus Alliance wishes you every success with your application and we look forward to seeing you start your teaching career journey.

Contact us for further information.  If you have any questions about School Direct please contact the School Direct Administrator, Mr Steve Shaw  -



Applicants need to complete 10 days’ school experience. It is not necessary to have school experience in schools in the Alliance, you may have a local school that you could contact directly and arrange a placement.

Further requirements

All students starting an Initial Teacher Training (ITT) are required to pass the Professional Skills tests in literacy and numeracy before the start of the programme. You should submit an application as early as possible via UCAS teacher training (applications open from the 18th of October 2016) and then make arrangements to take the skills tests.

If you studied outside of the UK, you should visit the National Academic Recognition Centre (NARIC) to find out whether your qualifications are of an equivalent level to UK GCSEs, A levels and an undergraduate degree.


After the initial selection process selected applicants will be invited to an Assessment Day interview at one of our partner schools.  From this process we will see whether the trainee has the passion and drive to potentially be an outstanding teacher.

The Assessment Day has a number of parts:

  1. Welcome and introduction to the course.

  2. An Ice Break Activity - we would like you to come prepared to deliver a 10 - 15 minute ‘ice breaker’ activity of your choosing to a small mixed ability specified Year Group.  

  3. A 2-3 minute presentation on any issue facing teachers today which will be observed by the other candidates and followed by a group discussion that will be observed by the interview panel.

  4. Interview – you may be invited to stay for a formal interview with the panel, which will include staff representatives from the Optimus Alliance partnership schools. During the interview you will be asked about your reasons for wanting to be a teacher and to comment on your recent school experience. 

During the day you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the programme and talk to members of staff.