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Am I making the right choice re PGCE?

(17 Posts)
FaithLoveandHope Sun 27-Dec-15 20:06:36

Hi All,

Long backstory but I'll try to keep it short. Got a place on a science PGCE to start at the end of my first degree. Decided not to take up the place as I was lacking in confidence and decided to pursue the academic route. I started a 4 year phd (first year led to masters) but after around 8 months I felt like academia was so not for me. I tried to stick with it, completed my masters and a few months of the first PhD year. I left just before Christmas as it really wasn't working for me. The one part of the PhD I enjoyed was working with and helping the undergraduates both in my research lab and in their teaching labs. I thought maybe now was the right time to go for the pgce and secured a place before leaving my PhD to start next September. Now though I'm starting to question that decision. I don't know if I'm just having a lapse of confidence or if I was just using the PGCE as an escape from the PhD. Don't want to burn bridges by giving up my place again but not 100% sure it's the right choice to pursue it. My head is a bit all over the place with it at the moment so I can't express much more than that right now.

SisterViktorine Sun 27-Dec-15 20:52:32

You need to be strong and thick-skinned in teaching at the moment. ITT and NQT year are beyond horrendous for almost everybody.

However, if you make wise choices, find your niche and find the right school for you it can get better.

SawdustInMyHair Sun 27-Dec-15 21:50:50

The PGCE isn't as hard if you've worked before (much more of a shock for the 22-year-olds going from 5 hours uni a week!), but it isn't an easy escape either. When I go back to mine after Christmas I'm planning/teaching/ marking a 70% timetable, doing two M-level assignments by April, various other smaller assignments, all the paperwork to prove I should get QTS, and starting to job hunt.

Get into a school. You'll have to have 10 days 'observation experience' to get in anyway, but I'd recommend getting as much time as humanly possible. Don't worry if it's not direct experience of your subject, although of course that's best. If you do go ahead with it, the more time you've had in school the better prepared you'll be, too.

thelaundryfairy Sun 27-Dec-15 22:13:32

Agree with Sawdust. Go for it, and good luck!

Letseatgrandma Sun 27-Dec-15 22:26:57

Hand on heart, I wouldn't recommend anyone go into teaching at the moment. I know 2 people doing it who have never wanted to do anything else but teach, who have just dropped out and are on anti-depressants because it's made them so utterly unhappy.

If you're doing it to escape a PhD and your heart isn't 100% in it, it's possible not a good place to start.

As long as you're not getting into debt to do it, you're not losing anything, I suppose.

hollieberrie Sun 27-Dec-15 22:31:06

Honestly, don't do it. I am not a confident person and teaching kills me. Its the worst time right now - pressure from every angle. I wouldnt recommend it to anyone at the moment.
If youre set on it then get some real experience at schools first to make sure you know what youre getting in to. Good luck!

SisterViktorine Mon 28-Dec-15 10:34:20

An alternative could be to finish your PhD and then go straight into an Independent. It can be a gentler experience and many Independents will organise for you to achieve QTS on the job.

FaithLoveandHope Mon 28-Dec-15 10:51:07

Thanks all for your comments. I have a fair amount of experience but that was a few years ago. I work with youth in another setting and really enjoy that but I know it's completely different to teaching, the youth I work with want to be there whereas in schools they don't always want to be.
It's not the work load that I'm worried about tbh, during my third year of university I did a year in industry as well as studying distance learning modules which meant I barely got an evening or weekend off for the whole year. I think I'm worried that whilst I enjoy teaching undergrads and I enjoy working with youth, they're both in a different setting to school. I think I'm also worried that I've spent all this time studying my subject only to drop back to a really low level in order to teach it.

Letseat what is it about it that you wouldn't recommend?

hollie are you fully qualified now? Interesting to hear you wouldn't recommend it as somebody who isn't that confident. Is it the children and young people that make it difficult or everything else that comes with it?

SisterViktorine finishing my PhD isn't an option for a number of reasons which I'd rather not go into here.

SisterViktorine Mon 28-Dec-15 11:03:52

If you are a shortage subject you may still be able to go straight into an Independent.

crystalgall Mon 28-Dec-15 11:55:26

Don't. Do. It.

FaithLoveandHope Mon 28-Dec-15 13:36:53

That bad crystal?

I'm not sure Sister wouldn't that mean I'm thrown in at the deep end? I think the one thing I like about my PGCE course is the return to university on a Monday and therefore the support from the cohort as well as the tutors. Is that a naive way of looking at it though and actually we'll just be thrown in at the deep end either way?

SawdustInMyHair Mon 28-Dec-15 14:19:51

That depends which PGCE you're doing, whether you're doing School Direct etc. My PGCE is in blocks - so my next one is a 5-week block at school - then blocks at uni. I find the support from the cohort a bit limiting as they're nearly all younger and less experienced than me and I seem to do most of the supporting!

I'm loving the time in school, but very frustrated with the time at uni which is badly organised. There's a part of me that wishes I did SD (so long as I got a PGCE) but there's always a risk regarding the quality of them more than an established university.

MrsUltra Mon 28-Dec-15 14:41:55

Don't do it.
I was a mature career changer, and loved the bit in the classroom, but there is so much dross and politics that I chose not to do an NQT year. I am a secondary supply teacher and enjoy it because I have the fun of being in the classroom, but go home at 3pm.
It pays reasonably well, but I took a massive pay cut to do it, and can only afford it as my DH earns enough for my earnings to be insignificant.
If you only do 19 days observation in school you will not see anything like what a FT teaching job is really like, and they won't let you observe the tough classes.
Would be better if you could persuade someone to let you shadow them 24/7 for a few weeks grin

hollieberrie Mon 28-Dec-15 15:21:05

I've been doing it for 6 years. The kids are brilliant but everything else brings so much stress. There was a great thread on MN a couple of months the ago about why so many teachers are leaving the profession. I'll try and link it . Def worth a read for any prospective teachers.

hollieberrie Mon 28-Dec-15 15:22:05

Lucy61 Mon 28-Dec-15 15:55:39

Why is it that you are only considering either a pgce or PhD? What are your other options as you don't seem sure about either. I love teaching, but as others said, it's not something you can stick at if you don't have a passion for it. It's a tough job and you need to be resilient and passionate.

Also, whatever you choose to do, you need to persevere long enough to get good at it. I know people who spent years chopping and changing careers in search for the 'perfect job' only to realise that they haven't got very far at all.

FaithLoveandHope Tue 29-Dec-15 10:12:51

sawdust good point about the cohort being younger, I hadn't thought about that. One gentleman on my course is in his thirties but the rest who've been accepted on the course so far are younger than me.

Mrs that's lovely you've had the opportunity to take up supply. I think that'd be ideal but I'm not in a position to do that and even if DP and I were in that position I still wouldn't feel comfortable placing the sole responsibility onto his shoulders. My ex did that to me - though different scenario and he barely worked a day in his life - and I've just got issues from that even though I know it's completely different. That'd be great though wouldnt it if I could shadow 24/7 grin

hollie that's a really interesting thread you shared, thank you.

Lucy they're not my only two options. Pgce is just something that keeps coming back, people keep making comments about me making a good teacher and I really enjoy working with young people and get a lot from it. My other options would be low level research scientist in industry, lab technician or something completely unrelated to my first degree.

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