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PGCE vs Schools Direct - chemistry

(13 Posts)
Goldrill Tue 17-May-16 12:53:44

Am in the early stages of considering a career change to teaching. Definitely secondary and preferred option would be chemistry, although my background is more biology/geography so I know I would need to do the SKE. (Have A level chemistry and degree with some chemistry involved).

Extremely feasible local option is Schools Direct; less feasible but still possible is PGCE at Russell group uni. Schools Direct qualification would come from a uni which is regarded as pretty appalling in my field, but better for education.

I have no feel at all for which will stand me in better stead across a future career; either as a teacher or later possibly in management. Advice from friend who was a Head of Science at big inner city school was that he would very likely have binned my CV if he saw the name of the uni that the SD would come from: but he now teaches at the RG uni so I am not entirely sure he is unbiased.

Complicated also by the fact my first degree was from what was pretty much the best uni for that field, but not RG; and my MSc likewise!

Any advice please?

OP’s posts: |
fourcorneredcircle Tue 17-May-16 14:13:48

I do know you're unlikely to end up teaching "just" chemistry. At least at KS3 science teachers are generally expected to do all three subjects, then possibly all at GCSE. Depends on the size of the school.

Goldrill Tue 17-May-16 16:01:37

Yep - that's fine. Happy with biology and physics to GCSE smile
But from the training end you do have to pick one, and after a lot of years in biology I feel I am better suited to chemistry!

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icklekid Tue 17-May-16 16:05:04

I doubt any head would bin cv given how hard it is to recruit good teachers at the moment! I would look at support given at school direct school you are applying to- good support would mean this option would prepare you well (and salaried?) And often leads to a job. Where as bad support makes it very tough and pgce a more appealing option!

fourcorneredcircle Tue 17-May-16 16:16:58

I didn't know you had to pick just one to train! A laudable concept of having highly trained specific teachers... But a little out of touch with recruitment/position reality!

MrsGuyOfGisbo Tue 17-May-16 16:57:29

I and the others on my course) had a dire Schools Direct experience 2 years ago accredited by a rubbish campus uni in SW London - really a waste of money - they were chaotic, complacent and tutors had a passive aggressive approach to SD trainees (constantly bad-mouthing the concept of SD)as they saw SD as a threat to their cosy status quo ).

SweepTheHalls Tue 17-May-16 17:01:01

It massively depends on the setup of the schools direct placement. I work with a SCITT and we offer the schools direct route and the PGCE route. They are in fact exactly the same provision, but doing both titles as it were allows us to provide enough places for viability.

SusanAndBinkyRideForth Tue 17-May-16 20:48:30

Chemistry teacher here who did PGCE and has been a mentor for both PGCE and schools direct students.

In terms of actual course content and experience for you - the PGCE is a much nicer course. Schools direct can be a bit chaotic, expect too much at first, and low on actual pedagogy.

However, considering that science teachers are like gold dust, I really wouldn't worry that schools direct will cut down your career prospects. Most schools in my area are having g to readvertise most science vacancies either due to lack of applications, or very unsuitable ones.

So really, if schools direct is much more convenient, then go for it. smile

ceebie Wed 18-May-16 13:14:54

I've recently applied to PGCE at a uni, and School Direct which would be accredited by the same uni.

In my case, the School Direct was very well set up, takes on about 20 trainees and has a dedicated training room and facilities - all very professional.

However, it was pointed out to me that School Direct can be great so long as you get on well at that school, but if you have any issues or problems, the support may not be there to help you out. With a PGCE, you have the university to support you and to help you resolve any issues you are experiencing with a school. I was also told (no idea how true) that SD might be prone to focussing on the more able trainees and leaving struggling trainees to flouder.

Some SD places are considerably less well organised and may have even less support available.

I had initially thought SD would be better for me, but as you may guess, I accepted the PGCE offer.

Having said all that, it has to be about convenience too. If SD works better for you logistically, that's an important consideration.

Katz Wed 18-May-16 13:19:27

if you considering becoming a chemistry teacher have you seen this?

Fallulah Wed 18-May-16 14:01:00

It very much depends on how your School Direct is set up. There were 15 trainees on my ITT course - 5 school direct salaried, 5 school direct non salaried (some of whom also gained PGCE) and 5 'normal' PGCE. We all did exactly the same course and had the same training. 3 days uni/2 days school until about November, then full time school with occasional weeks at uni.

The only difference was that the PGCE folk went in to uni over half term and Easter for some extra input on research methods, and they then did the two assignments to make a PGCE.

Some people (PGCE and SD) had bad experiences because of their school and/or mentor. But this would have happened whatever route they took.

As a salaried trainee, I was independent with one of my classes fairly early on (year 7 around October half term) and I felt like it was expected that I would take the lead on things like reports, parents evenings, tutor group and things like that. Weirdly the biggest difference was that the PGCE trainees didn't have their own SIMS log ins but the SD trainees did. Oh and the PGCE students got a longer Christmas holiday and finished in their schools in June, whereas salaried SD went on to the end. But I quite liked being a 'complete' part of the school - it was less of a shock when I became an NQT.

I thought the university input was really valuable and I had a brilliant mentor. These are two things I would check out in depth before applying for anything.

Goldrill Wed 18-May-16 14:57:00

Thanks very much for the replies.

I think I am prepared to take the risk on SD itself, because the schools in the group I would be going for are generally good (friends who are teachers but now work in associated areas rate them). So for the actual training I am not overly worried. But if going in through that route would seriously damage my chances of getting jobs and progressing, then I would definitely go for the PGCE.

It sounds like that bit is not too much of an issue - which is a relief as the PGCE would be a big stretch! I am used to working full time and long hours, and travelling a lot for work - with two small children and a husband in a similar position, but my current employer is also ultra-flexible which makes it all possible. I am expecting this to be tougher but the local one sounds considerably more manageable.

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BeckyWithTheMediocreHair Wed 18-May-16 21:25:10

I don't know many schools who would be in a position to bin the cv of a well-qualified chemistry graduate.

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