Best way into teaching?(29 Posts)
I've just finished my second year of my degree (humanities). It would make sense because of my degree to teach secondary but I'm volunteering full time for this last half term in a primary and I'm loving it, yes it's hard work but the atmosphere is nice and it's rewarding. However I'm unsure about routes into teaching! I know the university based PGCE is most popular but worried about how much experience id gain from two placements. I feel as though something school based would suit me best but confused about SCITTS/school direct/teach first, and gov.uk and UCAS's website hasn't really helped the alternative is the salaried school based training which would mean finishing uni and working as a TA for a couple of years to get experience I believe, which might suit me but obviously is less pay and I feel like I'd want a class of my own. So really I'm just wondering if you can comment on which way you entered teaching, and which route has seen the best quality teachers in recent years? Thanks!
If you don't think the PGCE gives you enough experience why on earth sign up to be thrown in the Mariana Trench (aka SD), never mind the deep end?
Don't do TF, the drop out and retention rates are shocking. SD also totally depends on having a supportive school who don't take the piss.
You do gain masses of experience on the PGCE, even although it doesn't look much time. Being at uni gives you time to slow down and reflect (with the bonus of theory behind you).
Ok! There is no reason why you can't apply for primary with a history degree, it is a primary subject too!
Routes: PGCE, primary or secondary, advantage that the course is likely to well established and you will be able to find out how others found it fairly easily. Perhaps easier to get on than school based course (but that depends where you are)
school direct, basically the same course as PGCE but more time in school and some or all of the academic stuff provided by a university partner. Course administered by a teaching school where you may train or they may provide quality assurance for the school where you do train. Advantages: moe immediately hands on, you "belong" more in your host school and still have the background support of a university. But disadvantages: some schools are not as good at this as they should be and it is harder to know how to resolve issues (although still possible)
SCITT: school based but school provides all the training (normally at the teaching school managing the cluster) programme is accredited by a university but not administered by them so the schools devise their own. Can be very good but very dependent on individual schools. Disadvantage, they haven't been around that long in their current incarnation so hard to find out much about what they are like.
Salaried: as you identify you would need to have worked in education for a while to really get a look in and even then it is by no means guaranteed. There are not a lot of these places and their future is not certain so you could work as a ta only to find the government no longer considers them "cost effective"
Most primary routes are very competitive so you will need lots of experience. It is probably a bit easier to access PGCE than others but I would apply for a range. Consider also if there is a school direct provider slightly off the beaten track. I say this as someone who runs a school direct programme in a small town very near a big city - we get far fewer applicants than the city although our course is good and accredited by the same university.
Feel free to pm me if you want to ask anything.
Hi, thanks for your reply, yes I suppose you're right about school direct depending on the school you're with. I like the fact that you get two different placements with the PGCE. It's just another year of essays and university when I'm itching to get into it but I suppose it's only another year and most of it will be spent doing placements anyway. Good point about the theory too!
Yes, getting to go to two different schools is great. It's so worthwhile to get experience of different classes and mentors too, rather than 1 class and 1 mentor all year.
Hi, my degree is in politics, so whilst it does relate to history it's not (I believe) part of the primary curriculum. I'm in Yorkshire. Do you know if there's a way too search School Direct placements other than through UCAS? I've seen the Leeds SCITT website but it's not overly clear how it all works! Experience wise I think I will be ok, I've got this 7 weeks full time voluntary experience that I'm currently doing and I'm thinking of volunteering for an after school club starting in September so my experience is well above the two weeks minimum. Thanks for your help!
Oh ok, not sure where I got history from. In that case you need to contact the lead school/ uni you want to apply to to discuss whether your qualifications would be suitable. It will vary depending on the school but you might have to emphasis links with history, citizenship etc to convince them. All courses are advertised through UCAS so if it's not there it doesn't exist. Having said that they can sometimes be in odd places so if you can't find something you know does exist contact the school and ask for help! Ucas is quite good if you search by subject or by region. Also if you contact your local uni(s) they will be able to tell you which schools are running sd or scitt with them. A note of caution on the experience, two weeks is very much a minimum, when we are looking at applicants we would expect to see a lot more than that and ideally in more than one school. (With lots of applicants places can afford to be choosey). You will also be expected to have a good understanding of current developments and news in your age-group or subject. I'm not far away from you.
PS all courses will give you training in two schools sd is six weeks in a contrasting school in my area but longer in others. PGCE is 8 weeks on your shorter placement round here but as it is very early on you end up with about the same amount of hands on experience either way.
Check to see if your uni runs any student into school type modules to help you gain some experience for your application and give you a chance to find out more about teaching.
I would strongly suggest you look for a TA post for a year or so - the experience will be invaluable for you when you start your training. I had 2 years of once-a-week parent helper behind me when I started a 1 year post as a TA - the TA job taught me soooo much more. It meant that when I started my PGCE I was at least up to speed with the acronyms and jargon.
We were talking in the staff room the other day, saying how difficult it was to get everything into a PGCE year when we did it 10 plus years ago. The expectations on teachers are so much higher now, so I think that someone has got to be almost exceptional to finish a PGCE ready to take their own class. Certainly the two BEd students we've had in school this term have been far, far more able to get stuck in than the PGCE girl (which is of course due a lot to her and her personality/attitude). I still think the PGCE is a good qualification but would caution going into it without a year or two of experience in school first. Most schools will recognise your ambition to be a teacher and involve you in all sorts of extra things to give you as wide a range of experience as possible.
From what I've read, Schools Direct is like the Wild West - no guarantee of support or quality, and everything from outstanding to dreadful is out there. It's just too new, being led by people with insufficient experience, for many places to have the proper support and quality control measures in place.
If you do take a TA role, you might even end up like one of the TAs at my place. Graduated last summer, took a TA job at the last minute to buy a year while deciding what to do with the rest of their life. The Head has recognised their potential and signed them up to Schools Direct from September - main placement at our school, second placement at one known very well to us. Win win as far as I can see.
That's funny, toomuchicecream, we were talking about students today too. The consensus was that the postgrads we've had have been far better recently than the BEds. Obviously personality plays a huge part!
Thanks for the replies, so just to clarify, the postgrads are the people who've done their degrees in their subject and then gone onto do a PGCE or school based training whereas the BEds are those who've done a degree in primary education?
That's a really interesting point, I'm starting to think that taking a year out and working as a TA would be really good for me, in terms of having more experience and being more confident, I'm pretty certain that primary teaching is what I want to do but feel like I don't particularly want to spend another year at university, although of course a PGCE year would be a lot different to my degree.
Outof, I think my degree will be suitable, I've chosen lots of history and history related modules so may've been better actually doing a history degree but I've also done modules on community - more of the politics of living together which borders on philosophy as opposed to a study of the political system if that makes sense. Also, thanks for the info about how much experience is required. I think I'll try and sort out another placement for next year incase I decide to go down the PGCE route but I'm leaning towards looking for a TA job for a year. Nice to hear that you're local too, I know these things can vary from region to region!
Which, I'm at the University of Leeds and they have a really good careers centre so will definitely look into the students into schools thing, thankyou!
Yes to your question.
In our area students into schools is an accredited module.
If you want to become a ta, especially without the relevant qualifications you will need a substantial amount of experience.
Could not agree more with comments on SD above. If you go down that route (which I really do not recommend), make sure you have a supportive school, ask them if they have enough mentors for the scheme (yes, really), agree in advance that your job is not to do PPA cover for the various teachers but that you're here to get trained (might be difficult). Basically don't do it and go with a uni provider!
My school does School Direct. We have no problems with it. It is overseen by a university, but we have plenty of mentors and support for trainees. We're in Yorkshire, but we are a secondary
I would recommend doing a TA job first before doing any route in, so you see the reality before you pay any fees.
I've just finished School Direct salaried in secondary and it's been brilliant. For us (Reading Uni) we did exactly the same course as the PGCE students, we were just employed by one training school rather than paying fees and belonging to the university. I've been supernumery all the way through but in reality my classes have been 'mine' since I came back from 6 weeks at school B, with the class teacher just coming into lesson once a week to do my observation.
It's very inconsistent though - others on the course have done far less and far more than me, and it succeeds or fails on the quality of mentor and resilience of the trainee. I have been very lucky on both counts and I think being a career changer helped - I think it would have broken me if I'd done it at 21!
I have a politics degree and teach primary so I don't think that would be an issue - lots of links to curriculum areas like PSHEC, History, Geography, English, Maths etc. I also did the GTP (with a Postgrad certificate included in it) which I think was pretty much a precursor to the Schools Direct salaried route and would agree that the training was incredibly variable and in some cases truly awful! If you do decide to go down that route I would make sure that both the school and the mentor have had people training with them successfully on initial teacher training routes recently. Good luck.
Thanks for all the advice, I'm really torn between the PGCE route and the school direct route! I wouldn't be able to do the school direct salaried as it's for people with a minimum of three years experience in industry, so would still be paying fees. The advantage of school direct though would be being able to move away from a university city back to my home town where there's cheaper housing. Tough decisions!
For me, as an employer, in the last five years, the quality of training applicants appear to have received goes like this:
3. Schools Direct, usually following a year or two TA work. I've only come across one person who did SD without TA experience.
4. Teach First. Interviewed four, three of whom appeared traumatised by the experience. One was great, but had a lot of prior experience working at the DFE.
I have come across teachers from all routes and found the opposite to spud:
Teach First - very hard to get into which for us has led to very strong teachers who seem to cope very well and be very hard working. It is a paid route. Heard it is better for primary than secondary in terms of lower drop out. (The drop out and retention is actually the same as PGCEs)
School Direct - really depends on school but came across a brilliant one who had been trained through ark schools. She hated ark though as they apparently have unrealistic standards but did admit their training was very thorough.
PGCE - more struggle with NQT year
BEd - had little actual teaching experience but lots of observing, found educational background wasn't as strong but obviously seen more variety of schools. We've found while they come into schools more confident, the quality is lower.
I agree training is far harder these days. We've had TF in our school the last few years and they are expected to be pretty much ofsted outstanding by the end. I am constantly amazed at how they do it... and it makes me realise why teaching is experiencing such issues. We do expect far more from all teachers from day 1 of their career because of the pressures...for better and for worse.
Having said that I'd only recommend TF after experience in a challenging school and if you are incredibly tough and hard working!!
None of our School Direct had TA experience
Some SD courses (like the Reading one mentioned) involve following an almost identical course to the PGCE students, with the same support and input from the university. Others involve only distance support and a few visits from university tutors. If there is a problem with the school, or school input isn't very good, the university can do very little about the latter set up. So if you're looking at SD, do a lot of research into the one you're looking at!
In terms of essays etc, you may find that an SD course required exactly the same amount (it will if it gives you a PGCE rather than just QTS) without the support for it you'd get from a traditional PGCE route.
Teach First works well for people who want to do a couple of years in the education sector, developing "leadership skills" before moving on to another career. The workload is insane. Many participants get management points in their NQT year which sounds great but leads to burn out. I teach on all 3 routes (SD, PGCE & TF) and wouldn't recommend TF to someone who wants to learn to be a really good teacher and stay in the profession.
Of my SD cohort of 10 2013-2014 , 4 continued with NQT year after qualifying, one is part time, I chose to do supply instead of an NQT year and may never do the NQT year.
The university was chaotic and passive-aggressive towards SD - really unprepared for it, and like rabbits in the headlights when people had less than adequate mentors. None dropped out during the actual year (despite wobbles), which compares favourably with PGCE drop out rate (and with the drop-out rate in a neighbouring borough, but that was mainly because as older people with other career experience, the SD may have been more resilient and aware of the realities of other workplaces.
As others have said, research the school and university in minute detail. (Our uni admitted - 'without prejudice' - that two of the placement schools were basket cases but they had no procedure in place to mitigate that - they had done no due diligence on placement schools before taking the 9k fees.
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