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can any one clear this up for me?

(18 Posts)
oneforward20back Mon 15-Jun-09 21:21:18

doing some prep for my PGCE interview this week and have got myself into a pickle. I am looking at the national curriculum and the gcse syllabuses and wasn't sure how the national curriculum works at GCSE level. Is the work that has to be covered on the exam syllabus dictated by the national curriculum or by the exam board? In my day there were very different requirements depending on the exam used.

If it helps I am one of those possible biology teacher <brings to attention Biochem degree and physics based topic OU short course with HNC computing [hopefull emoticon]>

oneforward20back Mon 15-Jun-09 21:36:47

Also lost about this:
relate subject content of ur education with role of secondary teacher

scaryteacher Mon 15-Jun-09 21:59:43

Apart from citizenshit and pshe and PE (and possibly RE if they aren't doing GCSE), then then the syllabus is governed by the exam boards. Many of the GCSE syllabii are changing from this September, the Edexcel RE in particular seems to be moving to a form of 'RE Lite' as they are dropping the harder questions...who says dumbing down doesn't happen? For RE GCSE the syllabus for the exams seem much of a muchness however.

If you look at the Standards Site, it is Ci and PE that have Schemes of Work for KS4, but not much else.

From Wiki (but it does say this is not a neutral entry)

The study of most subjects under the National Curriculum would usually culminate in the sitting of a GCSE at the end of Key Stage 4. Although the GCSE examinations replaced the earlier, separate GCE O-level and CSE examinations, the syllabuses were still initially devised entirely by the examination boards, *whereas since the implementation of the National Curriculum the syllabus outline is determined by law*. Thus much of the attention surrounding the claimed dumbing down of GCSEs[9] is, indirectly, a criticism of the National Curriculum.

Public schools are free to choose their own curriculum and examinations and many have opted for the more demanding[10][11] IGCSEs which are not tied to the National Curriculum. It is claimed that this is creating a two-tier system with state school pupils losing out. From time to time ministers have suggested that state schools may be given funding to enter pupils for IGCSE examinations[12] but a study was undertaken by QCA[13], which concluded that IGCSEs do not follow the programmes of study required by the Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum and therefore could not be offered as a state-funded alternative.

Loshad Mon 15-Jun-09 22:06:11

bit hard for me - just finished PGCE !!shock but be warned there are not thousands of jobs out there for biologists - about half of us on the course still have to get a job, and quite a few of those who have jobs are just maternity leave covers. Wouldn't have stopped me doing the PGCE but it's a bit disingenuous of the govn/unis to claim science teachers much needed - in yorkshire certainly that's not so true.

oneforward20back Mon 15-Jun-09 22:33:22

I would have liked to have specialised in chemistry but biochem degree had insufficent chem content as i had a minor in genetics. Hoping my broader background will help, plus have experience in SN and SEN. Am thinking about post grad subject change to chem or physics if can't get onto course this year. <whispers some issues with age appropriate experience haven't beenable to fix yet>

Thanks scarey teacher!

scaryteacher Tue 16-Jun-09 06:35:37

In 2000 I did my PGCE without any previous experience in schools at all. Maybe they thought 10 years in Community Charge and Council Tax made me sufficiently scary anyway!

scienceteacher Tue 16-Jun-09 06:53:58

In answer to the OP's question, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), ie the government, dictate what is in GCSE courses. The awarding bodies (exam boards) have to work within their paramenters, so the specifications are all QCA driven and approved.

As for your second question about subject content of your degree. This just means estimating what % of your degree is in traditional school subjects. I have a Chemical Engineering degree and had to estimate how much of it was Physics and how much Chemistry. There wasn't any distinction in my PGCE course between the branches of Science, but we all had to pick one as our specialism. I picked Physics as it was more marketable, but I have always positioned myself as equally Physics and Chemistry when going for jobs. IME, most schools expect, or at least value, two specialisms at GCSE.

DidEinsteinsMum Tue 16-Jun-09 18:43:34

Unfortunately it is defined PGCE ie Secondary biology PGCE as was advised by the uni that there is insufficent chemistry content when they looked at my units at a teaching fair.

scienceteacher Wed 17-Jun-09 17:15:38

They don't teach any subject content on secondary PGCEs. You are expected to know your subject. They teach educational theories, classroom management etc.

DidEinsteinsMum Wed 17-Jun-09 19:44:25

Thank you for advice. Interview feedback was good but have some issues to resolve - insufficent time in school. So will see what the official offer is.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 17-Jun-09 19:48:04

I'm a biology teacher and I'm teaching physics at the moment. If you are happy to teach science then a job shouldn't be a problem. We'd bite your hand off if you'd teach physics. Well, I would anyway...

DidEinsteinsMum Wed 17-Jun-09 20:28:00

I am actually enjoying my physic OU short course more then i did my degere hmm

Loshad Wed 17-Jun-09 23:14:55

Scienceteacher - sorry but they do - we had loads of subject content, very little on educational theories and not much on classroom management - this is from allegedly a good university which creates sought after NQT's (not my words!).
Fallen madonna - i'm going for science jobs not biology jobs, i'm happy to teach physics up to KS4 - have been doing so on placement, but there are just not that many jobs out there, and around 20-30 applicants for every job currently. i'm tied to area which doesn't help because of my boys and DH.

mumblecrumble Thu 18-Jun-09 06:44:52

Good luck Loshad.

May I suggest that you find out which exam board the schols use then look at their specifications?

Usually are either:


on the exam boads website [have you been on them yet?] there are lots of ideas and stuff worth lookng at

mumblecrumble Thu 18-Jun-09 06:45:32


Good supply work rocks as an inbetweener. Mayeb get in touch with lots of agencies now? Just in case!

Loshad Thu 18-Jun-09 10:06:38

I've been on the exam boards websites - I've been teaching GCSE/AS classes on placement so know the specifications for AQA, and obviously am checking different exam boards for other schools before going for interview - as have no experience of teaching some of them eg 21st century science.
I'm registered with loads of agencies, did that this week - thanks. One of them seemed quite hopeful and said she'd ring me back that afternoon about a longer term placement for sept (but didn't sighsad).
TBH will settle for any supply for experience - good or bad (trembles at knees slightly)

scienceteacher Thu 18-Jun-09 17:28:48


Your PGCE must be really boring if they are teaching you what you should already know. Are they really teaching you about photosynthesis/respiration, the particle theory, energy transfers, circuit electricity, etc?

Or when you say subject specific, do you mean about Science teaching (eg working in laboratories, safety, constructivism...).

Loshad Fri 19-Jun-09 11:30:53

it was really boring scienceteacher! - have finished it now but yes the university sessions were mostly dire - a little bit of useful stuff woven in with loads of going stuff we all should know (albeit with specific reference to what pupils were expected to know at KS3, 4 and 5)

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