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Posted Jan. 30, 2018

What’s It Really Like To Study A PGCE?

What is it like to study a PGCE?Do you want to become a teacher? Doing a PGCE is a popular way of training to become a teacher after studying an undergraduate degree, as not everyone who becomes a teacher knows that's what they want to do when they are applying for their initial degree.

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If you've done just a little bit of research, then you'll probably read about how tough the course is and yes, it is a lot of work, but it’s worth it. So, what's it really like to study a PGCE?

Is there a difference between primary and secondary level PGCE courses?

Both courses seem similar in many ways and the costs are basically the same. Being a PGCE student on either PGCE course will involve lectures, coursework, teaching placements and critiquing of your teaching skills, however there is a reason they are taught separately. Different age ranges require different approaches, and so the training teachers need different skills when working with different age groups. Primary school teachers need to have a large range of general skills along with creative and artistic talents to make lessons fun and interesting for younger children. Older children and teenagers need a different style of teaching and different types of support to younger ones. So the differently trained of teachers will be specialists in their field.

How much time will you spend studying and attending lectures?

A PGCE is usually taught as a full-time postgraduate course so expect at least 40 hours a week of lectures, as well as time needed to do assignments. There are part-time courses that take two years, but the majority of courses are full time. Most former PGCE students will advise you to get your assignments out of the way quickly to leave your mind free to get on with planning lessons and improving your teaching skills. 

How much time will you spend preparing lessons and teaching?

On a PGCE course you are learning to teach so you are going to spend more time in the beginning planning lessons than a teacher with 20 years experience. You’ll probably hear tales of it taking student teachers two hours or more to plan a single lesson. However in real life students can usually whittle this down to about 30 minutes of planning per lesson, and then add in the time to create the resources needed for the lesson. You'll spend at least 24 weeks in teaching placement throughout your course, and during your teaching placements, you also need to factor in the time you'll spend reflecting and critiquing your teaching skills.

How will you fit it all in?

Your PGCE year may be the busiest year you'll ever have, but you can do it! Do your assignments as soon as you can and always avoid leaving them to the last minute. Try to spend your time on your school placements working the whole time by arriving a little early and plan to stay there until at least 5pm. When you're not teaching you should be doing your marking, planning lessons and creating resources. Make life easy for yourself by using resources that already exist, creating resources that are easily adapted for future lessons and take all the support your fellow teachers, students, lecturers and mentors offer. Use other support as well, like online communities such as the Times Educational Supplement online community of student teachers. Prepare the people in your life that you're going to be busy for the foreseeable future, so they’ll know what to expect and when to offer that vital support. Also, make sure you take advantage of any PGCE funding opportunities so you're not too worried about financing your studies.

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Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries


Thandekile Edista Vezi Dec. 22, 2018, 11:03 p.m.

I am young woman in 40's, I like working with people especially children. I did social worker at UNISA, now I wish to add teaching in my box as both will allow me to interact with children and people. I don't have enough funds for my studies, how can I get help in teaching bursaries I tried Funza lushaka but my application was not completed as it reject my ID number and my password. I am looking forward to further my studies but my dream will not be success without your help

Charlotte King Jan. 4, 2019, 9:25 a.m.

If you have an offer on a PGCE course you are eligible to apply for one of our Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries worth £500 >
The UK government also offers great funding and financial support for PGCE students - this article should help you work out your options >
Good luck.

Jeanette Farrell May 23, 2019, 3:55 p.m.

If I have already completed an MA (self-funded) am I eligible for a tuition fee loan?

With thanks.

Charlotte King May 31, 2019, 5:08 p.m.

Hi Jeanette,

I think you should still be eligible for tuition fee funding as you haven't previously done a PGCE - but check the Government website to be sure >
You are eligible to apply for one of our £500 Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries once you have been offered a place on a PGCE >
Good Luck!


Bonisile Nov. 23, 2019, 5:43 p.m.

I did an undergrad degree in tourism and I would really like to take on PGCE as my additional qualification because of the love of kids and imparting on them

Charlotte King Dec. 1, 2019, 6:30 p.m.

Hi Bonisile – that sounds great. Once you get offered a place on a PGCE course you will be eligible to apply for one of our Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries worth £500.
Good luck with your future plans!

Claire Pritchard Dec. 3, 2020, 12:43 a.m.

I did level 4 teaching / lecturing course . 1 year ) I also did a placement at a further education college .
I’m interested in studying for a PGCE
Can you advise how long it will take to qualify ? Will having level 4 lecturer qualification help in any way ?

Charlotte King Dec. 11, 2020, 1:01 p.m.

Hi Claire – a PGCE takes one year of full-time study. Our section on Teaching & Education has plenty of helpful advice >

Vineet Sabharwal Jan. 15, 2021, 1:40 a.m.

I am a primary teacher residing in India. I am scheduled to move to UK along with my husband this year.
If you could be kind enough to guide me on the following:
1. Is it possible to find work as an overseas trained teacher in the UK without QTS?
2. To study PGCE, are overseas students eligible for any financial help?
3. How many hours in a day of classes do we have to attend at the university while studying PGCE?

Thanks again. Brgds.

Charlotte King Jan. 26, 2021, 7:51 a.m.

1. It is sometimes possible to find work at private (prep) schools in the UK without a PGCE.
2. This is the UK government's advice on funding >
Also once you have been accepted on a PGCE program you are eligible to apply for a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary worth £500 >
3. The ratio of class hours versus study hours varies, sometimes on a daily basis on – and tends to be higher if you opt for a School Direct PGCE program.
Good .luck!

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