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Expectations for doing a PGCE and opinions on when to do it

(17 Posts)
Hilly1990 Fri 12-Jan-18 12:37:45

Hi Everyone!

I would love some advice and opinions from fellow teachers and PGCE students.

I have just been made redundant whilst on maternity leave. I am 27 and have spent the past 6 years working in dead end office jobs. This is not what I want to do! And I've kind of seen this is a wake up call to retrain in a profession I really want to do.

I always did want to be a teacher and did my English degree with the aim of becoming one, however at the time I was told id need loads of voluntary experience to be accepted onto a PGCE which I couldn't afford and struggled to get. It put me off and I fell into office work. Now I know English teachers are really in demand I feel it's the right time. That being said I think I am too late to apply for the September entry so will need to wait until the 2019 entry, this will give me more time with my daughter meaning she would be just over 2 when I start.

In that time I plan on doing some voluntary work in a school which the children centre are offering. This will take me to the end of my maternity leave. Then I will try and get a part time role as a teaching assistant so I will have plenty of experience.

Do you think this is a good plan? How much work can I expect to do? I know it will be really really full on and hard when I have a small child. I no doubt will feel guilty about missing out on her but the holidays will help. I have heard people suggesting waiting until she is at school however we want another child so I will be in the same situation with them too.

This brings me to my second question, if I was to have a second child say 4 years from now I would aim to have one after my first year in teaching. Does this seem okay? I understand that you have to complete a certain amount of days within 5 years to pass, is this still possible with a years maternity leave? Has anyone ever fallen pregnant during their PGCE? How does it work financially? Do you receive any benefits? Again what if you took maternity leave after your PGCE and before you became accepted as a teacher? Would you receive any pay?

I really want to figure how I can do this in the not so distant future and continue developing our family. I don't want to have to wait 7 years to have our next child.

What does everyone think?


bristollady Mon 05-Feb-18 14:20:06

Hello Emily!

I'm interested to see what replies you get as I'm in a similar situation to you. Good luck!

PersianCatLady Mon 05-Feb-18 18:01:32

I have just heard today that I didn't get a place on the PGCE course that I went for an interview for week before last.

Even though at the open days and evenings, this particular school said that they weren't that bothered about experience, they have rejected me for not having enough experience.

In a subject that has an even bigger recruitment crisis than English and when my subject knowledge was said to be great, they have suggested that I work in a school for a year then apply again.

I was so hopeful about the PGCE and now I honestly think that if the Government knew just how many potential teachers are being rejected, they would be surprised.

Sorry if this sounds negative but I am feeling a bit shitty right now.

bristollady Mon 05-Feb-18 18:58:43

So sorry to hear that. It sounds really tough. What will you do now? Do you plan to apply again? Assuming you went the school route rather than the university route for your PCGE?

Hilly1990 Mon 05-Feb-18 18:59:22

What experience did you have? That's rubbish. sad Xx

blueCanvas Mon 05-Feb-18 19:21:28

The course is bloody hard so I don't recommend having kids during that period.confused but if it works for you that's greatsmile

castasp Mon 05-Feb-18 19:25:10

It sounds like a good plan. I had a baby in the middle of my PGCE, so I did the first school placement whilst pregnant, then had baby, took 9 months off, then did the second placement after I'd had baby. No maternity pay though, because I was studying, not working. It was also a flexible PGCE, so it allowed for this. I wouldn't worry about when to have 2nd baby, just start trying whenever you want, don't worry about it's impact on your teaching career - you can always work around it. If you try to fit it in with teaching, you'll spend every year thinking "it's not the right time" until eventually you run out of time. In fact, in your position, I'd get on with having another one now.

If you're going to do it, then do it before your children start doing loads of after school stuff (usually around age 7) - it was at that point that I found the whole teaching thing a nightmare and I had to go part-time.

When they're still in nursery, you can drop them off at 7.30, be in work for 8am, work until 5.30pm, pick up at 6pm. They've had tea, so just a case of bedtime routine, into bed at 7pm, then time to do extra work in the evening if needs be. I worked on a weekend as well, with my husband and I splitting the day up, so eg. I would have DD in a morning, then work in the afternoon while DH looked after her, then we'd do a similar thing on Sunday as well, so I got 2 afternoons to get work done most weekends.

You can't do this though with older children - my older DD seemed to want to try out every extra-curricular activity going, so I was ferrying her around to various activities until about 7 or 8pm (it gets later with age), then she'd not go to bed until about 8.30, so 9pm was the earliest I could get started on work, and I wasn't in the right frame of mind to start work then. AND I had a toddler to drag around and keep occupied on top of that, so it wasn't even like I could get work done whilst spectating at her various clubs.

On the subject of experience, I don't know what they expect, because I'd worked as a TA for a term in the UK, and worked abroad for 2 years as an unqualified teacher, and they were very happy with that level of experience.

I suspect the need for experience is because you really are left to sink or swim and so many PGCE students sink rather than swim, but if you get loads of experience, then you'll either be put off before you start the PGCE or you'll have learnt loads from your experiences and will swim rather than sink during the PGCE.

MaisyPops Mon 05-Feb-18 19:30:52

I wouldn't have a child during pgce or nqt year. My NQT and NQT+1 years were the 2 most stressful years of my career. After that it fell into place. Other people did though and managed.

As another poster said, you can spend ages waiting for the right time. After a few years in you might start looking fr TLRs and then maybe a HOD etc.

They want to see you have experience mainly because they want to know you've not watched educating essex and thought 'i can di that'.

I'm surprised you've been rejected. We've got such a shortage that we are gettinf trainees through that ITT providers have accepted that schools are thinking 'seriously? They're an English teacher who can't explain how to use a comma'.

PersianCatLady Mon 05-Feb-18 19:37:06

What experience did you have? That's rubbish
I had spent a day each at that school and another local school in the computing department.

Both schools put on spectacular days for me full of all different classes, abilities and age groups.

I appreciated them doing this for me but there was no way that they could offer me any more time as it takes a lot of work to have a "spare observer" in your department all day.

What gets me is that at the open days, it was stated that actual school experience didn't really matter and that the whole point of the training programme was to get people ready to teach.

I feel that if they thought my experience was so inadequate, they could have suggested more experience.

So, I replied to the programme leader thanking them for their decision whilst choking back the tears (pathetic I know!!) and said that I would be willing to come and volunteer at the school until September.

I am going to go to my next interview on Wednesday and when they ask me what my weaknesses are I am going to specifically say that I am aware that I am slightly lacking in experience but I would love the opportunity to spend some time in one or several of their partnership schools.

PersianCatLady Mon 05-Feb-18 19:42:19

Sorry if I didn't make this clear but I applied to study PGCE Computer Science as I have just finished an OU Computing and IT degree.

The school said that my subject knowledge was excellent.

I think that was because I spent a lot of time before my interview making a card for each of the subject knowledge requirements and writing how I would show my knowledge for that item on the back.

I was really hopeful because there has been a major change from IT to Computer Science recently and my degree was particularly CS based.

LadyLance Mon 05-Feb-18 19:44:46

You could apply for September 2018 still, although some unis will have filled spaces plenty still have space. It's worth a look at least. However, there may be bigger bursaries for English next year.

I've applied for a PGCE this year and everyone has warned me it will be intense. You have masters level assignments to complete as well as the placements so I'm not expecting it to be easy. The Nqt year is also supposed to be very tough and them in theory things are supposed to start getting easier.

Placements can be a long way from the uni base, so it's worth considering this when thinking about childcare etc.

I think it would be very hard work with a young child, but people do it! Younger might be better in terms of being able to do assignments while they nap etc?

Shimmershimmerandshine Mon 05-Feb-18 19:50:34

I would try sending your cv to schools to see if they will train you via GTP or the new apprenticeship route. English is a very in demand subject assuming you are thinking secondary.

CisMyArse Mon 05-Feb-18 19:53:59

I did my PGCE in my late 30's after a life in industry. My eldest was 5 and my youngest 18 months. It was hard - I cannot lie. I survived on about 4-5 hours sleep for the whole year and we are lots of ready meals and beans on toast. My DH is a busy manager in his industry and I barely saw him so I'd be Mum until DD's were in bed the my studies began late at night into the night and usually early hours. Worked all weekend too. It's really daunting teaching, lesson planning and juggling the research for Uni but it's all worth it now.

I'd never be able to go through anything like that again OP - you have to rely on friends and family, put things like housework on hold, and be prepared to not really have a life until your training ends.

I don't think it's a good idea to fall pregnant during your PGCE - it will IMHO break you. Get your NQT sorted then family plan.

sakura06 Mon 05-Feb-18 20:10:20

@PersianCatLady can you apply to schools to train you in-house? Not sure what they call this now, but it used to be the GTP?

OP I agree with others that you shouldn't be too late to apply for September!

PersianCatLady Mon 05-Feb-18 20:45:11

@PersianCatLady can you apply to schools to train you in-house? Not sure what they call this now, but it used to be the GTP?
I applied to study my PGCE with my old school (and a partnership of other local schools).

It is called a SCITT programme and I think it is basically a new name for what you refer to as GTP.

Anyway never mind, they did send me a link to TES to apply for a job as Cover Supervisor so I am going to forget about it all until Thursday, after I have been for another interview with a partnership of schools in another local town.

Thanks for your kind words ladies!!

TellMeDinosaurFacts Mon 05-Feb-18 21:10:05

For the (Ofsted outstanding, university-led) Secondary English PGCE that I work on we don't have mandatory expectations of prior experience but do try to see how well people can reflect on whatever experience they've had. The key thing for us is whether you really understand what the day to day job of teaching is like and the qualities you need to possess to multitask, empathise with students and handle the fact that you will never reach the bottom of your to-do list- so that you won't get a shock and withdraw once you get into your first school placement! Other providers are different so I very much advise directly emailing any you're interested in working with to ask them about their requirements and your suitability for the course. I regularly field such emails and always look favourably on applicants who contact me in advance as it's usually an indicator that they are proactive and conscientious!
There's a confusing array of routes now- SCITT routes and School Direct are different but for both you apply to a school not a uni. School Direct routes involve a university partner, but SCITTs don't (they may have a uni partner who assesses/accredits but they don't usually provide direct training input). Or you can apply to a university-led route. Or there's a brand new apprenticeship route! Look out for whether you'll get a PGCE with QTS or QTS only. A PGCE includes Masters' level elements which makes it more desirable imo (aims to engage you more deeply and critically in understanding learning and pedagogy). See for more info- though do note that on university-led courses you spend more time in school working with experienced teachers than you spend at uni, so the idea that you should choose a 'school-led' route if you want to learn from 'working with teachers' is a little dubious.
The bursary for English has gone up significantly this year so I doubt it's going to go higher next year as our recruitment figures have bounced back up a bit in response. I might be wrong about that though.
Good luck to anyone applying- it's hard work (especially for the first 2 or 3 years) but it's genuinely rewarding and never boring!

TellMeDinosaurFacts Mon 05-Feb-18 21:12:47

PS I've had a couple of brilliant trainees with 1 or 2 year olds recently who excelled on the course. I'm rather in awe of them though! I know other subjects have had trainees who fell pregnant during the year and completed, but it is tough. We had one trainee who had just 4 weeks off (2 over Xmas) after giving birth and powered through, but that was truly exceptional and not something I'd ever advise!

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