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Teacher Training in general
Member Name: freediveheaven
Teacher Training in general
Advantages: Challenging career choice
Disadvantages: You have to pay for the pleasure
I then spent the following year having a break from work thinking about what I wanted to do (plus the previous two years had been so stressful working eight months in the year) so had another summer watching World Cup Football, Tour of France etc etc by now you get the idea. So it was obvious I needed a career that meant I did not have to work summers hence I started a year teacher training. In reality this is not the driving reason for my career switch but I like to play up to the stereotype the uninformed have of the profession especially if they are sat in a hot office staring out at the sunshine while Iím sat in my garden worrying if the battery on my laptop will hold out and whether I need more ice with my Pimms.
So to teacher training, gateway to a career in teaching. Now my experience is in Secondary Education and in particular the teaching of Business Education which includes Economics, Business Studies, Enterprise Education and Travel and Tourism. I do not have any experience of the training for Primary Education other than two days spent in a Junior School with the ankle biters and knee huggers and I have no desire to return. In addition my review is about the one year course to become a teacher and not any first degree three year courses in Education that some students follow.
There are three choices open to anyone looking to enter teaching. All of them aim to provide you with Qualified Teacher Status by obtaining a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and then you complete a further year in school as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) again needing to hit certain standards before you become fully qualified.
Graduate Teacher Programme
In this programme you are basically employed by the school and they will provide your training on the job, the salary you receive while training is about £14k and whilst in the school a mentor will oversee your training. It is not easy to get places and can be very competitive, it is ideal for those people who have experience within education such as teaching assistants wishing to become teachers. The main benefit is the fact that you get a salary whilst training however the quality of training is very dependant upon the school supporting you and you get no experience outside of your immediate work environment.
Schools Based Initial Teacher Training (SKITT)
This route is a Post Graduate Certificate in Education which is run by a number of schools within a local area. Some schools have their own scheme but the majority work together in collaboration and the PGCE is provided in a partnership with a university. Most of the time is spent in schools with day release to university, this route provides a lot of experience from day one and the more time spent in classrooms the better for your development however starting straight away in a school can leave you a little isolated from other trainees and may not be suitable for everyone, from my observation I felt that in the first couple of months the trainees in my local area did not get a great deal of support however that may not be typical of all such courses and locally some people I spoke to were very positive. There is no salary with this type of course and there are typically fees to pay, the section on finance later in the review applies to this type of course and the university based PGCE.
University based PGCE
This was the route that I chose to take and is probably the most common route chosen. I opted for Warwick University as my provider and even though it was a bit of a drive from Northampton and there were more local options it had a very good reputation especially for Business Education and was highly rated. Also having a fairly clear career path planned out I specifically wanted a certain type of institution on my CV as well as access as an alumni to their mastersí courses in the future.
The PGCE is a one year course that runs from September to the beginning of July and provides a mixture of time spent in university with two school placements during the year. The first of these is from October to the end of term in December and the second runs from March until the first week in July. This is how Warwick organise things, other universities do it differently.
During the year you will also need to apply and gain a job for the following September to complete your NQT year to become fully qualified. Whilst for some it can be daunting having to apply for jobs the reality is not that bad, many students get work in their placement schools and on my course there are only two people out of the 23 that completed the course who have not got a job and are still looking. A couple have decided not to continue in education straight away and in all six failed to complete the course as they decided that teaching was not for them.
In secondary education you will normally need a degree in the subject that you plan to teach, in reality you need to have knowledge to degree standard and if you have a number of years relative industry experience you may gain entry without a degree although this is not usual. In addition you will need five GCSE or equivalent qualifications with at least a C in English, Maths and Science. You will also need to complete a Criminal Records Check as well.
This can get a bit complicated as there are a number of teaching agencies set up and the process is under review, The Teacher Development Agency is the first port of call for University and SKITT course and basically you select your top five course in order and your application is sent to your top selection first. In the case of Warwick I was called to a one day interview which consisted of a panel interview, a presentation and aptitude tests and you were advised by letter whether you were successful or not. For the course I applied to they are oversubscribed b three to one so it is not a formality that you will get an offer.
To reached Qualified Status you need to meet a large number of standards, these are detailed in your Personal Development Plan a large A4 folder that you will spend the next ten months filling with evidence that you have achieved the required standards and identifying where you still have development needs when you start work in the following September. At first it looks pretty daunting and you do have to keep on top of the paperwork and be organised however the course is designed to give you the chance to gather the appropriate evidence and as such you will soon start completing the blanks.
Whilst at university time is split between subject sessions aimed at the topics you will be teaching and core educational sessions aimed at wider issues in education. I liked the fact that this meant for some sessions I was with people who specialise in my subject while other sessions had people from different subject backgrounds, the format is split between lectures, tutorials and classroom sessions. There are also one off events arranged and visits to certain specialist schools with focus on Special Needs Education, the transition from Primary School and teaching to those pupils where English is not their first language (EAL), these days are excellent and very useful especially if your particular school placements do not have these issues especially the EAL part.
There are also a number of academic assignments to complete during the course, some of these are subject specific whilst others relate to core educational issues. There are deadlines for each of these and it is important that you get organised and hit these deadlines even if the final piece of work does not have to be handed in for a couple of months it is important to sty on top of the work and make use of time in university as the school placements are hard work. My longest assignment was 5,000 words with three running to 2.500 and a host of shorter 500 to 1000 ones often in different formats such as PowerPoint as well as word.
While ay university you will have a subject mentor and a personal mentor to provide one to one coaching and a contact point if you have any issues while at university or on placement.
Whilst the university based parts are a great preparation and learning platform it is the school placements where the real learning takes place. Here you will teach lessons and carry out the role of a teacher. Now every placement is different and so is every school and people on my course had good and bad experiences, I was fortunate and had two great schools. The first was a pretty tough school with lots of behaviour issues, on my second day I got to break up a fight; my second school was more challenging from an academic background with fewer behaviour issues. In placement one you have a 50% timetable and in placement two a 75% one (of a full time teacher) and you will have a lot of lessons observed and feedback provided. You will also get the chance to observe other teachers which is great for your own learning as you not only get to see best practice but also some of the things that you should not do as well.
The school placements are the most important and certainly the second one decides whether you will pass the course or not. In order t pass the course you need to meet a number of requirements. You must have evidence that you have meet all of the standards laid down in your PDP, you will need a signed off assessment from your school that you have completed your placement satisfactorily, you must also complete three skills based computer tests on Maths, English and ICT run by the TDA as well as passing all of your university based assignments.
A university based course this year cost £3,000.00 for the year for which you can get a student loan. There is financial support for Trainee Teachers, all teachers get a bursary, for most subjects this is £6,000 however for shortage subjects like Maths it is £9,000. This bursary does not have to be repaid. You can also apply for a maintenance grant, all students are guaranteed £1,200 with an additional £1,500 being means tested, and again this does not have to be repaid. In addition you have access to student loans which if you have no other form of income and earn gross interest on your savings then the rate you pay is lower than the rate you would get in a savings account.
In addition some shortage subjects also pay what is know as a golden handshake once you complete your NQT year and this amount can be as much as £5,000 although these schemes aimed at addressing shortages in certain subjects can change dependant on government whims.
So far I have enjoyed my time in teaching, I love the fact that I go in to work each day knowing it will be different from the last, the pay may not be great but there is a lot of time spent away from the workplace especially in the summer.
The course itself is quite tough, was exhausted on my first placement and rarely went to bed before midnight either due to lesson planning or marking work however on my second placement I was a lot more efficient and managed my time better.
Doing a university course was definitely the right option for me but the other training solutions also have their merits as well, for me I have built up a useful list of contacts and made some close friends, I have even discovered the joys of facebook.
Finally and please donít hate me but how will you be watching the Olympics in 2012?
For more information on teacher training check out the TDA website
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
Summary: My thoughts on teacher training and my experience.