What Is A PGCE Student? A Definition

Put simply, PGCE students are teachers training students, but not all teacher training students are PGCE
students. All PGCE students are graduates and many students come straight from completing their undergraduate degrees. Not all PGCE students are in their twenties however, as a substantial number have decided to change career paths to become teachers as more mature students. Most PGCE students are full-time students who have lengthy work placements, so you're not going to see much of your PGCE student friends. Here's our summary of what PGCE students are (and aren't!)...

Who they aren't...

There are a number of ways people can become teachers in the UK. Many people who have a lifelong dream of teaching will do their undergraduate degree and teaching training at the same time. Other students might go a more practical route to gain Qualified Teacher Status, especially if they have been working in the teaching profession for some time already. This route is known as School Led Training and doesn't necessarily result in a PGCE qualification, although many do. 

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They're all postgrads

A PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is not necessary to gain Qualified Teacher Status, but it is a very popular route for graduates to take and an undergraduate degree is essential to gain access to the course. Most of the course format will be familiar to you as a graduate with rounds of lectures, tutorials and assignments where you learn the theory of education. The PGCE is a popular course as the qualification is recognised around the world and may qualify you to work as a teacher in many other countries. 

They study full time 

For the vast majority of PGCE students, the funding that is available from the UK Government means that they are able to study full-time. The advantage of this is that you are able to concentrate fully on this intensive course and for many students, it may mark a change of career plan, so provides a fresh start in your new path. There are very few distance learning PGCE courses as the majority are campus-based and of course, the placements in schools cannot be done by distance learning. 

They'r not all brand new graduates

Many people take up the opportunity to train as teachers slightly later in life. There are many incentives for those who have followed careers in Maths- or Science-based industries to retrain as teachers. It is not unheard of for students to be in their 40s and 50s, so it's never too late to undertake a PGCE and become a teacher. Being an older PGCE student brings many advantages to the course including a good perspective how short the course is at only a year. 

Where are they? 

If you share a house with a PGCE student, then you might find yourself wondering where they are. Every PGCE course has at least two placements. The first one is shorter and the second one lasts at least 6 weeks. During these placements PGCE students will be expected to be at school from before 8 am and usually finish up at 5 pm, but then when they get home it's time for lesson planning, marking and any assignments that they need to complete. A PGCE course is a busy and intensive course, so don't expect to see much of your PGCE housemates. 

What about the funding?

If you've got the right undergraduate degree and want to go into specific types of teaching, then you might find that the UK Government will be willing to give you substantial funding for your course and living costs. There are also further grants given to some teachers during their Qualifying Year after the PGCE. If you don't have specialist knowledge that the teaching profession in the UK is short on, then you will still qualify for student loans, scholarships and grants. There is an almost constant demand for teachers in the UK, so funding options can be very attractive. 

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