Before I did my post graduate certificate in education, many people said it would be ‘the worse year of your life’. Strangely it wasn’t. Now that it’s over people ask me would I recommend the course? And yes, I would. Here’s why…
1. It’s quick. With a PGCE you are a qualified teacher (if all goes well) in less than a year. Usually, 9months. I personally couldn’t imagine doing a 4 year course, I liked the fact that I was still passionate and excited about teaching at the end of the course.
2. Bursaries are available. Studying is hard financially as it is and every little really does help. At the moment there are some great bursaries available for people choosing to do a PGCE. Up to £20,000 for someone with a 1st training to be a maths teacher and also help for parents or people with dependants.
3. Life experience. The majority of the people on my course had life experience. Only two people had come straight from university. For me, I love the fact that I have ‘had a life’ before teaching. That I have travelled, lived all over the country and had my fun. I know that I wouldn’t have been as passionate and energetic about teaching if I’d gone straight into it at 21.
4. Fellow Students. This may not be the same for everyone- but I was lucky enough to have a truly fantastic group on my course. We really are friends for life. I would not have been able to get through the year without them. (Plus, they made for a great social life).
5.Diverse placements. If the university have a good placements office you’ll get much more diverse placements than my friends on the 4yr course seemed to get. I was in a brand new, multi million pound outstanding Special Needs school; a Church of England school in a very deprived area and a school with 82% EAL. I loved every single placement.
6. Two degrees. Having a PGCE means that you will have two qualifications that are essentially equivalent to having two degrees. A teaching one and the original degree. This makes you stand out to employers and means that you are ‘bringing more to the table’ in jobs.
7. Employability. PGCE qualifications are still highly regarded by all employers, not just Head teachers. I know people that have gone into other careers thanks to their PGCE. Working for CBBC, High positions in the police and mentoring.
8. Up to date training. The fact that the course is less than a year means that your training is fresh. Education is changing so fast that things that were in place last year have completely gone 12 months later. At least with the PGCE you know that nothing has changed.
9. It’s intense. This is actually a good thing. With the PGCE you literally hit the ground running so you have experience of what it is really like as a teacher. My friends on the 4yr course said that they felt they were not ready for teaching and didn’t know what a typical working day was like. Sometimes they were only in twice a week for an hr. With the PGCE it’s 24/7 from day one.
10. Prior teaching experience. To get onto the PGCE course you need prior experience. For most people that experience comes in the form of being a teaching assistant. I believe that having TA experience adds another, positive layer to teachers. We know what it’s like to cut out 30 homework sheets and stick them in books, we have worked from the bottom and know how we like to be communicated with and how we didn’t. I can always tell if a teacher has had TA experience. They tend to be that much nicer…