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A PGCE Computer Science course that actually runs?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by marbeless, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. marbeless

    marbeless New commenter

    Hi all, I have a dilemma and I welcome comments and suggestions of options as I try to work out what to do.

    I want to be a Computer Science teacher, this has been a very long term goal, interrupted by other life commitments but I am just about to finish my PhD and have been applying for PGCE courses through UCAS. A university based course is the type best suited to me, I have thought long and hard about that and explored options already. I also have a disability and would need Disabled Students Allowance - I’ve never got that arranged in less than 4 months, so I need to have a place by April/May.

    I’ve hit a problem. My application timed out - the reason I’m told is that they have had so few applicants by this point they are considering not running the course, they haven’t decided and will still consider me until I accept a different offer, but I can’t wait long due to DSA. So I looked elsewhere, and found that many courses reserve the right not to run if they don’t get a quorum.

    How do I find a course that will actually run? I think if I contact them I’ll probably be assured they will just because they need the numbers. I am wondering if it would be better to train in a different subject just to be sure of a place.

    Any suggestions? Anyone else in this situation too? - I am wondering how widespread the problem is - I am so frustrated right now and don’t know where else to turn for advice - I know that there is a need for Computer Science teachers, I am very keen to be one and well qualified but getting that training place is elusive.
  2. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    I feel a bit mean for saying this but I am saying it to help you.

    Your post reads as all about your need and wants as opposed to being about how you could benefit a school / schools / education in general by becoming a Computer Science Teacher.

    Obviously for a post on TES it isn't that important but when you are inquiring about ITT and (hopefully) being interviewed for ITT, you need to sound less about you and more about what you can do for the school / university.

    There are currently 509 vacancies across the UK for full time trainee Computer Science teachers so I don't know why you can't find any that are running.

    I appreciate that some of those places are school-centered rather than university-based but whichever scheme you choose, you will still spend a lot of time on school placements.

    One thing I don't understand is what you mean by "my application timed out", if UCAS are showing vacancies on an ITT course then there are places. Obviously I can understand one uni not running a course but this should not be common place especially this early in the application cycle.

    I hope that this is helpful to you as I intended it to be and good luck with your application!!
  3. marbeless

    marbeless New commenter

    @PersianCatLady you are right that its a very “me me” post - I’m so utterly frustrated right now, and I can’t see much beyond that. I can only rant annoymously, I need it out of my system before any interview! Also, because the problem I have specified has nothing to do with actual teaching and everything to do with a frustratingly opaque recruitment system which I am struggling to see as fit for purpose - this is just one of the many problems I’ve had with the application process.

    Yes, there are vacancies on UCAS - the trouble is I can’t tell if they are real. The one I’ve applied to is still up there and that’s in limbo. It went over the 40 days UCAS allow for a decision (i.e. timed out) so UCAS have declared it unsuccessful by default, but the provider says different, that when they decide whether the course will run, then will then consider the applications.

    I think what I was really trying to gauge was how widespread this was - if there are a lot of us nationally in this situation then many courses may be uncertain, and I’d be better off applying for a different subject. If I’m alone them applying for another Computer Science elsewhere has a good chance.
  4. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    There are lots of reasons a course might not run - lack of demand for places, reliance on the OFSTED report for the uni running the course (e.g. inspection due, may not be allowed to run the course next year if not positive), issues at the placement schools (e.g. they may not yet know if they'll be running GCSEs/AS/A levels, so can't guarantee they can accept trainees)...

    In short, I don't think there is any way to 100% guarantee that a course will run. Having said that, I don't believe that courses recruiting then not running is a widespread problem. I think all you can do is keep applying. Perhaps instead of asking 'Are you running the course this year?' you could ask 'Did you run it last year? And the year before?'
  5. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    You are in horrible situation and I totally understand your frustration.

    Have you thought about training through a SCITT?

    I honestly think that it is an option for you especially in a subject like Computer Science.

    You may find that you are the only CS trainee or maybe one of two CS trainees but at a SCITT it doesn't matter.

    Thanks for taking my earlier post in the spirit in which it was intended.

    I wish you luck and if you want any more advice then I would be happy to help you.

    Good luck!!
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  6. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Are you willing to relocate?
  7. marbeless

    marbeless New commenter

    yes - I would be relocating for whichever course I take.
  8. marbeless

    marbeless New commenter

    @blueskydreaming - I really hope this isn't widespread - but the course did run last year, all the ones I've considered ran last year. And the provider in question is running their other courses this seems to be a specifically computer science problem. I have found several places who were recruiting last year for computer science dropped that subject from their lists for this year when UCAS moved the lists over to 2019-20. When I looked after having this issue - they seem to have become fewer again. Though it is hard to say since the new search engine doesn't let you filter by course type so comparing like with like is difficult when the search responds differently.
  9. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    I know that ideally you would prefer to do your teacher training at a university but I do think that it could be limiting your potential choices.

    I know you said in your initial post that you had already explored other options but do you mind me asking, what are the main reasons for preferring a university place?

    Or in other words, why do you feel that a school-centred course is not for you?

    I was in the opposite situation to you this time last year. I had applied for two school-centred courses but if I had not got a place on either of them, the only other option was a university course. Once I looked at them both again, I realised that there wasn't that much difference between them.

    Good luck!!
  10. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Sent you a direct message
  11. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    Things are looking up already!!

    I have just seen the post above abut the DM from Stiltskin, sounds promising!!

    Best of luck!
  12. marbeless

    marbeless New commenter

    Many thanks all who have made suggestions.

    @Stiltskin I have replied, thanks.

    @PersianCatLady - From all I’ve found so far, SCITT don’t suit the way learn, I need to know the why of things before the practical and SCITT I believe is more “learn on the job” which suits many people, but is not my strength. I do like the practical - I have been thrown in at the deep end with a class or three and loved it, and I have learnt a lot via observing others, but for proper training for a career - for that I need a more theory based approach. I also want more balanced mix of schools not one main school and a short placement elsewhere.
  13. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Ah, ok, in that case I think you need to follow @PersianCatLady 's advice. What are your reasons for thinking a uni would be a better place for you than an SCITT course? What are your concerns?
  14. marbeless

    marbeless New commenter

    @blueskydreaming if you haven’t already, see my reply above re SCITT/University choices (seems our posts are crossing in the moderation queue)
  15. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    I trained in maths but taught computer science.
  16. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Ah, yes, our posts are crossing!

    Hmmm. I hate to disappoint, but I think that a uni-based course is not going to be what you imagine it to be.

    You will be told pedagogical theory in lecture theatres, but nothing practical for day-today use - honestly, understanding learning theory or Maslow's hierarchy does not help you in a classroom. No one will guide you though planning a lesson, teaching a lesson, managing behaviour, managing workload, understanding curriculums, exam specs and mark schemes - those are things that are learned on the job, and those are the things that you'll be doing day in day out as a teacher.

    I did School Direct, in association with a uni. We did 2 long placements - 1 from Sep to Dec, the other 1 from Jan to May, then a 2 week 'consolidation' placement - not 1 long and 1 short. We attended some uni lectures, and some stuff through our lead school. All SD or SCITTs are different.

    I personally found the PGCE pretty useless (and would have done whether a core uni or the SD course), and my NQT year was awful, in terms of teaching me to teach. I'm in my 4th year of teaching, and only now do I feel vaguely competent. This is quite normal.
  17. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    this is absolutely NOT what you will get in a university course.
  18. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    If there are not enough trainees already then that isn’t a good sign. Having said that, the market is very different since uncapped came in. Before, people would get their application in early. Now, due to uncapped, they are hedging their bets and seeing what else shows up before they apply. The course that timed out - forget it. The provision you want? There is no issue with that. This can be organised exceptionally quickly on a PGCE. It’s not like a ug course. I’d just be patient and you’ll find the right PG course.

    I see the debate quickly turned to PGs v SD v SCITT.
    You do a minimum of 120 days in schools on every single course in the country. That’s the law.

    The input depends on whether it is a PG or a non PG i.e. QTS only. Academic qualifications require academic input. QTS isn’t an academic qualification.

    An SD can be identical to a uni PG or a QTS only SCITT. So you have to evaluate on a case by case basis.

    On a uni course you will be exposed to a wide range of approaches with criticialty - strengths and weaknesses to all approaches will be set out. Some will be non-subject based so all the cognitive science, knowledge rich, social constructivist debates are covered. Some will be subject specific - what approaches are there that can teach coding in a way that is compelling and successful? Uni staff have to be both experienced subject teachers and academics so they are very used to supporting and teaching at L7. But your relationship is with the uni rather than the schools.

    A SCITT will buy in the non subject uni teaching as they need. The relationship is with the school rather than the uni. You will have less uni teaching, fewer writing days, less access to uni staff and more access to school staff. The knowledge will have less criticality, but it can still produce a good teacher. There is a different risk with school centred. If you don’t get on with the school you have limited options. A uni can move you, but in school centred you do have more politics. You are likely to have fewer peers of the same subject as well.

    It is horses for courses. Just like a school - if you choose a good fit for you then you’ll think the type of course was perfect. Different people do better with different routes. One uni's PG course will be wholly different to another and so are the SCITTs. You have to listen to their recruitment day outline to find out just what the individual course offers.

    Best of luck. You will get there soon enough and welcome to the profession.
  19. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    As far as I can tell from talking to other trainees around the country, there isn't really that much difference between SCITT and University in regards of practical against theory.

    For the first three weeks in September, all of the trainees on my SCITT course stayed at the lead school for introductory training.

    Even now, we go back to the lead school once a week for a training seminar or activity. Also, when we have a PGCE assignment to do, somebody comes to the lead school from the university that validates the PGCE qualification to explain it all to us and give us an opportunity to ask questions.

    I am concerned that you have a false expectation of what both University and SCITTs are like and that you may make a decision based on that incorrect information.

    Have you spoken to any current or previous trainees from both types of course at all??

    I think that without more information about your options, you may dismiss a perfectly suitable and preferable option for you.

    If you want any information from me, feel free to reply or DM me.

    Good Luck!!
  20. PersianCatLady

    PersianCatLady Occasional commenter

    Mr Media you seem to know what you are talking about as you have just described how my SCITT course works perfectly.

    @marbless - Another factor to take into account is that through a SCITT or SD, once you are qualified, you will have already made a lot of contacts in local schools. When you are trying to get your first NQT job, you may find that knowing a few people works in your favour.

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