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Turn your talent to teaching. What happens on a PGCE course? Bob Vertes/John Rankmore St Mary’s University College What is a PGCE course?

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Turn your talent

to teaching.


What happens on a PGCE course?

Bob Vertes/John Rankmore

St Mary’s University College


What is a PGCE course?

  • The postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) has a 36-week (full-time) timetable, of which at least 120 days (24 weeks) must be spent in school. For primary teaching this is at least 90 days (18 weeks)
  • The programme will contain studies in current educational issues
  • It will also include studies in the teaching of a particular subject/s to a specified age range and practical teaching in two partnership schools
  • Successful trainees are recommended for qualified teacher status (QTS)

Primary or Secondary PGCE?

  • Primary PGCE courses will train you across two consecutive key stages:
    • Foundation stage and key stage 1
    • Key stage 1 and key stage 2 (specialist subjects offered by some providers, with full-time or flexible training courses available)
  • Middle Years PGCE is a hybrid course focused upon key stage 2/3
  • Secondary PGCE courses:
    • focused upon the 11-16 (KS 3/4), 14-19 (KS 4/5) or 11-18 (KS 3/4/5) age group
    • are offered in single subjects and aim to produce subject specialist teachers
    • are mainly full-time.

Applications for PGCE courses

  • All trainees apply through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) online, and must have a referee available online
  • To be eligible for subject knowledge enhancement courses applicants must normally have a relevant degree, or, for some secondary shortage subjects, sufficient pre-degree qualifications
  • Applicants must meet the relevant GCSE-level requirements in mathematics, English Language and (for primary) science
  • Applicants must generally have sufficient recent appropriate school observation experience to convey making an informed decision, before applying, and are encouraged to detail this in personal statement
  • Interviews are allocated to people on the quality of their application form and applicants are selected based on their potential to be good teachers
  • CRB disclosure process will be started as soon as an offer is made

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

The PGC Schedule

(example St Mary’s College)

Induction to the PGCE course

  • Weeks one to three:
    • registration and introduction to the university, the course and returning to study
    • a welcome to the teaching profession
    • familiarisation with the location, resources, staff and fellow trainees.
  • Information to help placement of trainees
  • Introduction to general and subject specific lectures, important educational issues and signposting the year ahead
  • Time observing in school

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

Phase One - Foundation

  • Trainees allocated to placements in partnership schools according to home location, personal needs and available transportation

The Autumn term: school experience 1

  • Weeks three to eight:
    • three days per week in college learning about the professional aspects of teaching and the learning and teaching of your subject
    • two days per week in a placement school

(The primary model is slightly different)

  • In school you will put your learning into practice with observation and activity tasks. You will be supported by a mentor, with whom you will have a 1 hour training session per week

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

School experience 1

  • The following half term until Christmas:
    • spend five days per week in the partner school
    • you will observe and support other teachers, and will be involved in collaborative teaching and learning to take sole responsibility for some classes (50% classroom contact).
  • School-focused assignments are completed
  • You will be supported by a school subject mentor and a college tutor who will visit at least once

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

Preparing for the second placement

  • Trainees are allocated to a second partnership school in the last week of the autumn term
  • On a designated day all trainees visit their new school to meet their mentor and the departmental staff
  • Trainees will take several documents with them, including their training plan, an ICT and subject audit and most importantly theiragreed targets for development

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

Phases 2 & 3: Development and Consolidation

The second school experience: January - June

  • Trainees are in college three days per week, and two days in their second placement school
  • Continuation of both subject studies and professional studies lectures and seminars
  • Trainees begin to prepare for job applications
  • From the spring half term to summer half term (May Bank holiday), trainees spend five days per week in the second placement school
  • Supported by subject mentor and college tutor who visits at least twice
  • Proportion of contact time rises to 70%

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

Subject study

  • During the second placement all trainees have further assignments, which are school-focused and involve school-based research and curriculum development, to complete for assessment. These include M level assignments which give Master’s in Education credits

The PGCE - QTS skills tests

  • The TDA specify that all trainees who expect to qualify during this academic year must sit and pass three national QTS skills tests
  • The tests in numeracy, literacy and information and communication technology are taken online at approved TDA test centres
  • Many providers offer additional support for those finding these difficult
  • A trainee may not now start their induction period until they have passed the tests. At present they are allowed unlimited re-sit opportunities while on the course
  • Trainees are advised to do the tests early

The PGCE Schedule

(example St Mary’s University College)

  • The last two weeks after the May half term are spent in college consolidating knowledge and skills to help trainees attain any remaining relevant standards
  • Preparation of career entry and development profile (CEPD)

September 2010

  • Trainee now a newly qualified teacher (NQT) and in first teaching post following an induction programme designed by their employer to meet TDA criteria
  • Successful completion of this induction year qualifies the NQT to become a member of the General Teaching Council for England

Turn your talent

to teaching.