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Thinking about doing PGCE - advice?

(23 Posts)
Rugbylovingmum Sun 16-Feb-14 14:04:05

Hi all,

I am thinking about doing a secondary science PGCE, hopefully starting in Sept 2015 if I can get a place. I worked in research until DD2 was born but I really wasn't enjoying it. I love science but found that my work was becoming too focused/specialised. Before I finished my contract I was doing lots of 'science education' events for the dept (science days for school, science festival etc) and I loved it. I felt I was getting back to the big concepts and ideas that excited me when I started and I love sharing my enthusiasm with children and non-scientists.

After my maternity leave I decided not to go for another contract and I have worked as a private tutor instead which I love. This year I started working at my local college teaching GCSE evening courses and a couple of BTEC modules. I really enjoy it and think/hope I could be a good teacher. I'd love to do my PGCE and then teach secondary science but I am worried about the impact on my DDs (and DH although he is totally supportive and thinks it will be a good decision for me). I know teaching will involve long hours and lots of stress - my last job was the same but the big bonus was the flexible hours.

DD1 starts school in Sept which is why I would like to leave the PGCE until the following year. The year after that DD2 starts school - could I take a year between my PGCE and NQT year to get DD2 settled? DH is brilliant and his job is quite flexible but I'd like to be available for the first term at least. I know teaching jobs are scarce just now, will taking a break make it even harder to find a position? I could hopefully go back to working in the college so I'd still do some teaching. Alternatively would I be better to just wait until my DDs are older? I could carry on with the tutoring and college work for a few years but the hours are quite limited and I'd like to get my teeth into the training (I love my kids but I get bored easily and taking on new roles has kept me sane during my time as a SAHM).

I am really torn between the idea that teaching could be great for me personally (tough but rewarding) and thinking that it's not the right decision for my family. Can anyone share their experiences?

Worriedthistimearound Sun 16-Feb-14 14:16:25

I did a pgce primary straight from university so no direct experience but I would say you can do your nqt year p/t although it will take longer do a .5 contract will take you 2yrs to pass you're nqt year. I actually know two different women who have done this, one doing secondary maths as it fitted better with family life. She qualified about 5yrs ago and has never gone f/t.
The pgce itself is quite full on-about 40hours a wk if irc. However, if you did your nqt year f/t, you'd still have one day non contact which would help with Sch run or maybe two afternoons. Could this help if you could pick her up 2 afternoons a week? Maybe your DH do one other.
Can't advise of how delaying would affect prospects but I doubt it. You could always do supply. I did some during my pgce year (got paid a lower rate but good experience)
Good luck

Worriedthistimearound Sun 16-Feb-14 14:17:34

Sorry, bloody autocorrect keeps changing your to you're for some reason.

EvilTwins Sun 16-Feb-14 15:40:26

Bit of mis-information above. In secondary, you wouldn't necessarily get a day of non-contact - your non-contact time is more likely to be spread across the week - this is how secondary schools work.

Yes, you can leave it a year between PGCE and NQT. If you are Science and you do OK on your PGCE, you ought to have no problems getting a job - schools are crying out for good Science teachers.

Teaching is full-on - but you already know that, by the sounds of it. PGCE and NQT years are tougher than subsequent years. Have you looked into the different ways of doing teacher training in your area? PGCE is not the only way. With your current experience, you might be just as well off going for a school-based approach. Definitely worth a bit of research.

I have taught since 1997, and took a few years out when my DTDs were born. I went back full time, though, when they started school, and it worked out OK. The first half term of Reception was tricky because they did half days for a few weeks, but DH's hours are more flexible and he covered most of that. We use the fabulous breakfast and after school club at their school which is brilliant and much easier for me than juggling childminders.

Good luck!

Worriedthistimearound Sun 16-Feb-14 16:07:57

Eviltwins may well be correct but not necessarily. I have also taught English in secondary for 2yrs and the nqts definitely had 2half days of ppa. This may have been because it was a large department and it was easier to have p/t member of staff A who was contracted for 2days a week to be directly covering for two nqts. So I appreciate this is only my experience.

EvilTwins Sun 16-Feb-14 16:12:39

I guess it depends on the school and timetabling.

Showy Sun 16-Feb-14 16:20:17

I am going through the application process for primary atm but not a pgce. Have you considered the other routes in? SCITT (school centered initial teacher training) would see you in a school from the beginning and is a good option for somebody who has experience in the classroom or who is changing careers. There's also salaried direct, which I am applying for, whereby you are employed as a full time teacher 4 days a week and then you spend a day being taught the nitty gritty. The workload progresses from 5 hours a week teaching to 13 hours a week teaching. It's a baptism of fire but might suit you. And you get paid! You can also opt to receive a pgce at the end of it if you fulfil the criteria.

Have a look to see if there are any open evenings run by local training providers and ask at the university too for more information about the pgce foute.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 16-Feb-14 16:25:24

Also have a look at the part-time PGCE through the Open University (I'm assuming it still exists). You could time it so you only finish once you're ready to work, which will make finding a job easier. I personally think if you finish the PGCE and then wait for a year you'll find it very, very hard to find a job.

Showy Sun 16-Feb-14 16:28:06

I don't think the OU is offering it anymore. Part time PGCEs are like hen's teeth.

Rugbylovingmum Sun 16-Feb-14 16:29:22


Worriedthistimearound - that would be lovely but I've been told that it is nearly impossible to get a part-time place for your NQT placement. I know that the PGCE year is very full on but I'm sure we can manage for the 9 months or so that it takes. It's the following year I'm worried about - DH would definitely help but I feel guilty being able to take DD1 for her first few weeks at school but not DD2.

EvilTwins - thanks for the advice. I have looked into other ways of training. There is a schools direct programme (unsalaried) but I have heard mixed reviews about doing it this way. It seems very dependent on the mentor you end up with and collecting evidence as you go along adds to the stress of your first year. I enjoy teaching my college courses but I have been pretty much thrown in and left to it. My background is in lecturing and I fall in to that style far too often during lessons - too much talking at the students rather than getting them to think. I was hoping to pick up more activities and techniques on my PGCE - do you think I would get that from the schools direct course? I have arranged a few days shadowing science teachers in both a middle and high school - fingers crossed I get some lesson planning ideas then.

EvilTwins Sun 16-Feb-14 16:37:05

I think you would get that from schools direct as long as you were very up front about your current skills and are confident about asking for advice. IME the best trainee teachers are the ones who are aware of what they personally need to develop. I had 2 last year - one constantly striving to get better, even though she was already bloody good. The second thought she had everything covered so would listen to my advice politely then ignore it. So frustrating.

Showy Sun 16-Feb-14 16:39:06

Talk to the people who have done the courses. I know some excellent new teachers who did the SCITT and SDS routes. They say they felt supported and prepared and they rave about it. It just has to suit your learning style and you have to know that the mentors and staff are going to supply all you need.

Rugbylovingmum Sun 16-Feb-14 16:42:10

Sorry x-posted. I haven't come across the SCITT scheme locally but I'll look in to it. If there are any Schools Direct salaried places available next year then I will apply but they didn't offer any places this year.

The OU websie says "The PGCE (in all nations and all subject areas offered) will be presented for the final time in March 2014 and applications are therefore no longer being accepted for places on the PGCE directly with The Open University. We continue to offer School Direct places"

Rugbylovingmum Sun 16-Feb-14 16:57:11

Thanks again Showy and EvilTwins - I think the Schools Direct route might really suit me and I am very willing to ask for help and advice. People tell me that I am doing well with my students so far but I feel I have so much to learn. I have read a few books about teaching practice but sometimes I struggle to see how to use them in my lessons. I just want my students to do as well as they can - I think I'll be more nervous for their results than they are grin.

Worriedthistimearound Sun 16-Feb-14 18:06:41

It sounds like the schools direct route would suit you especially as you're on here saying you have lots to learn and can already see the limitations of theory in books. Tbh, I think it's probably a better preparation than the pgce in that it's so hands on and I found that I learned more in my nqt year or even in that first term than I did in pgce lectures. Theory does have its place but it doesn't really teach you how to teach in the same way that being in the classroom does.

Sorry to hear that p/t nqt years are no longer available, at least in secondary. That's a shame as they can be so practical for mature students, esp women with young children who are career changing into teaching and have something really valuable to offer. As I said, I do know women who have done this and it suited them wonderfully and one has never gone f/t!

bulby Sun 16-Feb-14 18:25:25

Hi, I often read 'I'm thinking of becoming a teacher' threads and my heart sinks when I read the op but I have to say you really do sound like the perfect candidate. To be honest I wouldn't worry too much about your second daughter starting school, there are many many FT teachers out there who have school starters of their own!
I second looking at the different routes but would also look at the PGCE. It's hard but ultimately you should be rewarded with a job you love. It isn't quite so easy as some people are suggesting to get science teacher jobs, your specialism will influence this massively.
Things to be aware of; PPA time in secondary really is an hour here or there, I have never come across it being blocked (although don't dispute the earlier poster who says it can be). Also many (most?)secondary schools have 2 week time tables meaning PPA time can be different on both weeks but of more importance if you want part time this can be different both weeks making extra child care a nightmare to organise. Much part time work can be 2/3 days over 5 as well rather than whole days.
Just one last thing, PT can be a nightmare for some teachers because they miss scheduled meetings etc meaning they can feel out of the loop (again, many manage quite happily) and you can end up with 'split' classes , a real pain if the other teacher you share with works different days to you!
Gosh- I sound really negative, I didn't mean to but I do think these are things to consider. Lots of luck'

Rugbylovingmum Sun 16-Feb-14 19:00:03

Worriedthistimearound - thanks again for all the advice. It would be great to do a part time NQT if it was available.

bulby - thanks for all the info and don't worry about being negative, I want to make sure I have considered the downsides. I was assuming there was little or no chance of part time work but hadn't really thought about PPA time. My experience in the college is that any 'free' time is quickly taken up with meetings, extra tutorials for struggling students or trying to get photocopying and printing done. I do my planning and marking at home once the kids are in bed (I am sitting with a pile of papers this evening). I teach/tutor for 10-12 hours a week but easily do double that or more (why on earth do I want to do this full time confused).

I realise it could be difficult to find a job after my PGCE, particularly as my specialism is biology. I considered seeing whether I could do a chemistry PGCE with a SKE course but I don't think that I have enough chemistry in my degree and my PhD is biology based. A few local schools send students my way for tutoring so I hope that means I have a good reputation (ever the optimist) but really I face the same problem in any new career and I know I don't want to go back to research. Any tips on making myself more employable would be great, I have a year or so to get more experience.

Worriedthistimearound Sun 16-Feb-14 19:55:18

You're very welcome and I shall bow out as clearly my short secondary experience is not the norm and I don't want to confuse the situation. It certainly is the norm in primary but if course your timetable doesn't need to fit that of others and a lot of schools employ a p/t teacher just to cover the 2.5 or 3days of other teachers ppa. That teacher usually spends half a day in each class or a full day if the teacher is an nqt.

Have you considered primary? I did a pgce primary, taught y6 for 3yrs then thought i'd try secondary for a couple of years but I missed the 'whole child' part and things likeChristmas which is magical in primary school. Y6 was/is a good age for me as they're old enough to develop a real interest in what you teach but you also get to see them develop across the board.
Pay scale is the same these days and I've found that these days a much larger number of colleagues are well qualified with at least good RG degrees. When I did my MA, I was the last upper ks2 teacher out of 6 to do so.
Good luck with it all!

meerschweinchen Sun 16-Feb-14 20:07:25

You sound an ideal candidate! Secondary schools certainly are crying out for good Science teachers. Obviously it depends on the school, but it is certainly possible to work part-time. In many ways, it's probably easier in secondary than primary. You could look for a part-time job for your NQT year maybe? That way there wouldn't be a 'gap', but you'd also be around some of the time for your daughter when she starts school. I also agree that the school based route right suit you, rather than a PGSE. Worth looking into both though, as I think grants are/were available for Science trainee teachers? Good luck!

Rugbylovingmum Sun 16-Feb-14 21:06:14

Worriedthistimearound - please don't bow out unless you want to. it's great to hear about different experiences. I haven't really considered primary as it seems even more competitive than secondary and I wanted to do more science than I would at primary. I really like the kids I tutor and they are all 13-18 (of course I might feel differently when I have a room full of them).

meerschweinchen- thank you, that is very kind. I just hope the interviewers feel the same way when I apply next year!

FourArms Mon 17-Feb-14 09:19:05

I did my PGCE the year before last (NQT+1 now).

I moved house to be closer to my parents as my DH is in the Forces. I managed with a child in Y1 & Y3. It was hard, but I think the experience of juggling a family and having worked FT made it easier for me than the students straight out of uni.

Now I've found the right school for me (and have dropped from FT to 0.8) it's the best job in the world. smile

Where in the country are you? No-one in my area struggled to find a job and there were lots of Biologists.

Rugbylovingmum Mon 17-Feb-14 10:10:45

FourArms - thanks, I am in Yorkshire so fingers crossed there will be plenty of jobs here when I qualify. It's great to hear from people who are really enjoying teaching as I see so many posts, here and on tes, from teachers who hate the job. I worked crazy hours in research pre-DD1 and had to make lots of changes when she came along - learning to prioritise my work and set myself time limits for writing reports etc.

FourArms Mon 17-Feb-14 10:37:39

I'm sure you'll be absolutely fine then smile

I was alone Sun PM to Fri PM and often over the weekend too and got by. It was exhausting, but enjoyable. I'd aim to do the PGCE and NQT FT to get them out of the way and then look at PT hours if you need them. 0.8 is absolute bliss smile

I'm in the SW, but if you want any more help or tips with applying feel free to PM smile

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