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Help...secondary vs primary PGCE

(11 Posts)
cupcakeandtea Mon 21-Sep-09 08:27:59


I posted something similar to this a few months ago and need your advice again lovely Mumsnetters.

I was considering applying for a PGCE in primary for Sept 2010 but have been led to understand that there are far too many primary school teachers and not enough jobs. This has led me to wonder if I'd be best of applying for secondary English instead.

It's utterly pointless giving up a well paid job and to train for a year if there isn't a job at the end of it and from what I've been told the problem is going to get worse as a lot of institutions are taking on more primary students than last year.

I think secondary teaching would be a real challenge and I can handle myself well so I'm not worried about teaching teenagers but I just feel horribly confused. What if I apply for secondary and wish I'd gone for primary and vice versa> There seems to be so much negative press about secondary teaching that I think this is putting me off somewhat.

Has anyone got any advice before I go mad! My application is nearly ready to go off but I have to be sure I'm doing the right thing first!

bluefootedpenguin Mon 21-Sep-09 10:26:45

Hi cupcakeandtea! I would agree with your comment about primary teacher numbers and available jobs. I am a secondary teacher but many of my friends who trained as primary teachers have found it very difficult to find jobs, often relocating 100's of miles for a position. I'm glad to hear the teenagers don't put you off secondary, it's what deters most people! Teaching primary and secondary are very different. As a primary teacher you would be expected to teach all areas of the curriculum compared to teaching only English or related subjects as a secondary specialist. If I were you I would contact a local secondary school and primary school and explain that you are an English graduate considering a career in teaching and ask to spend at least a couple of days observing in each. My school often has ex pupils and parents of pupils doing this before they make their decisions. A lot of the negative press around secondary teaching is based upon how horrible teenage pupils are - which 99% of the time really isn't true. If you really love your subject and want to teach then go for secondary - once you have QTS you can teach across all keystages, it's just up to a school to employ you, so primary isn't ruled out. There are also conversion courses to equip you with the necessary curriculum knowledge for primary teaching. Good luck!

decidedlydizzy Mon 21-Sep-09 10:38:09

Hi- I work as a careers adviser in HE. I suggest in addition to bluefootedpenguin's good advice that you contact course providers and ask them how many of their PGCE graduates obtain teaching positions. We always advise people that classroom experience is imperative to get onto a PGCE but this would also give you a chance to speak to any NQTs (newly qualified teachers) and maybe ask them about their experiences in the labour market. Have you had any feedback on your personal statement from a careers adviser before you submit it? HTH & good luck with your application.

cupcakeandtea Mon 21-Sep-09 11:03:16

Thanks. that's really helpful.

I must admit that I have always felt a pull towards secondary teaching but my degree is media based so I din't know if I'd be able to get on a course. However I have worked as a journalist for the past 10 years so I'm hoping that may help.

The deadline for applications isn't until Dec although I would like to get it in a bit earlier so perhaps I'll see if I can get some teaching experience at a local secondary school and go from there.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Mon 21-Sep-09 11:06:29

You can put two primary and two secondary choices on your application, can't you? Therefore why not apply for both and increase your chances of getting on one at least?

InThisSequinBraYesYouOlaJordan Mon 21-Sep-09 11:12:55

I'm a primary school teacher and at least two of my colleagues are KS2 and KS3 qualified as opposed to primary/setcondary - which then presumably opens options at both types of school. I have no idea when or how they did this, but could be another option to explore?

overmydeadbody Mon 21-Sep-09 11:15:49

Do secorndary. More demand for them.

Primary teachers are two a penny. Last time I was applying there where over 100 applicants per job.

SamMitchell Mon 21-Sep-09 11:16:55

Can you get some experience of secondary school teaching first? I did a short stint teaching at GCSE level and although it was enormously rewarding you have to be a tough and fearless Crowd Management Expertgrin. The only real way to know if you can handle it is to see it close up and have a go at it. Teaching assistant work?

cupcakeandtea Mon 21-Sep-09 11:30:32

That's what I'm hearing overmydeadbody. A friend recently went for a primary vacancy and they'd had 80 applications and it was only maternity cover so god knows what response they'd have for permanent positions.

You're all right - best to get some practical experience and go from there.

Blackness Mon 21-Sep-09 12:11:57

Me and DW have gone through this a few years back...

but basically if you are not allready in a Primary as a Class assistant etc etc, do not go for Primary.

nearly all teachers want primary, how teenagers are I can not blame them.

My DW was adament no secondary, so went Adult route, and got a job first time as a Lecturer.

I would not do it, as you are going to struggle to find a job, and forget it completely if you are not willing to move, Oh you might not even get on the PGCE BTW.

All DW Uni Friends who did Primary PGCE, only 1 got a job after, 150 miles away, the others are doing T-assistants etc...

If I were you I would get a TA job, then approach the school to do PGCE and then as soon as a job opens up in that school it is almost always yours, if you are seen to be good.

decidedlydizzy Mon 21-Sep-09 16:33:47

Have you heard of the Graduate Teaching Programme route?- look on tda website. I have heard that course providers can be sceptical of applicants who put down both primary and secondary on their application- apparently they like to see a preference for one or the other to reflect commitment. The tda can help you find work experience in a school too.

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