Sector Spotlight: PGCE

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or PGCE, takes a year to complete and focuses on nurturing a PGCE student’s teaching skills. You can enrol on a PGCE at many UK universities and choose to study full or part-time. As well as having taught units, you’ll spend a significant amount of time in schools developing your talent for teaching. You can specialise in a range of academic subjects for the PGCE in secondary education, or take the more general primary PGCE if you’d prefer to work with younger children. Both types of PGCE applications are made through UCAS and you can apply from the 1st November each year. For more information you can register for a Teacher Training Information Pack on the UCAS website.

Do I meet the entry requirements?

Graduates should have a GCSE or equivalent, grade C or above in Science, Maths and English. If you don’t meet these criteria, some universities offer equivalency tests to prospective students. You’ll be expected to have a 2.2 grade in your degree, and 50% of the subject should be relevant to the PGCE specialism you’re applying for. There is some flexibility with certain subjects however, for example, if you’ve majored in politics, it could be considered relevant to history, and so on. Aside from your formal qualifications, it’s equally vital that you have gained an extensive knowledge of teaching and schools in some capacity. This can be through helping out in the classroom on a voluntary basis or in a paid role, such as a teaching assistant.

What modules can I expect to study?

Most PGCE courses have two main strands of study, the first relates to professional and academic development. Here you’ll learn about planning lessons, managing a classroom and the art of teaching. You’ll also be taught about how the education system works in the UK, assessments, and the responsibilities you’ll have as a teaching professional. Secondly you’ll look in depth at the National Curriculum, or the academic subject of your secondary PGCE. You’ll learn about delivering lessons in innovative and new ways, and the technologies available to assist you. Units often have titles like Reflection on Professional Development, Research on Leadership, Thinking Skills and Creating Long-term Plans.

Will I gain classroom experience?

As well as modular study, you’ll spend at least two weeks of your first term in a classroom. In the second term your school placement will take up most of your time, with a just few seminar days spent at your university. Your third school placement will take up your entire final term; in this period you’ll work alongside your tutor and other experience teachers to hone your skills.

Is teaching is a fulfilling profession?

So you want to get into teaching? As the saying goes ‘Those who can teach’; teachers enable you to bring your experiences to work, lighting a spark in your pupils and making a real difference to their lives. You’ll innovate, lead, and inspire future generations, it’s hard work, but extremely rewarding. Plus, if you have considered working abroad as a teacher in the future, it’s good to know that a PGCE is recognised in many other countries.

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