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Considering PGCE as an International

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by wherelifeleadsme, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. wherelifeleadsme

    wherelifeleadsme New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    This is my very first post here as I just got to know there's such a forum where I can look for teaching-related information.

    It really means a lot to me, because, as an international whose native language isn't English and who's never been to the UK, I only have a little knowledge about PGCE and the teaching profession in the UK and Europe.

    I am considering a PGCE because I am passionate about teaching, love students, and want to work at international schools.

    About me: I've been working as a TA at a university for 1.5 years; prior to this, I volunteered to teach at a high school abroad for one semester after doing my masters in the US.

    That said, I have a few questions and I’d sincerely appreciate if you don’t mind sharing any of your insights with me.

    1. Is it too late to apply for the class starting in Fall 2019? If I start to prepare for the application now, considering the language tests I need to take, most probably I can apply in April 2019 the earliest – I am afraid that programs would be full then.

    2. How to choose the program that suits me best? There are around 26 Economics/Business Studies programs in the UK, but by reading the descriptions, I cannot really tell the differences among them. I notice, for international students, the university programs are usually 1.5-2 times more expensive than those run by institutions, e.g. SCITT and training partnership. I wonder whether this means that they are generally better. But someone who got PGCE and is teaching in the UK told me that there’s no difference between programs and locations, because which school and mentor I’ll be assigned to is up to luck and job posts will be online, which means that technology I cannot pick a “better” program for myself. Is it true?

    3. If I have financial concerns (living in the UK is quite expensive to me), would you recommend that I find a teaching job at an international school first to save money and get some experiences at the same time and then apply for PGCE after, say, 2 years? I’m not sure if I should borrow money from my family and start PGCE this year, because I do not know how big the horizon PGCE can bring me.

    4. Any tips on a budget-friendly PGCE year for an international?

    Thanks for reading my long questions. Again, I’m truly grateful for any suggestions you might have for me and all thoughts are welcome! Looking forward to your replies.
     
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Applying for a PGCE is not like applying for undergrad or master's study - the unis/training providers are very picky, and places can be very competitive.

    If the training providers are interested in you then you would need to have a face-to-face interview, and would be asked questions about why you want to teach, why that subject, why that age phase (primary/secondary), etc. You would also be asked about past experiences in schools. You would be expected to understand how UK schools work (understanding the curriculum, workload, school culture etc.), and what UK kids are like in terms of behaviour and so on - how can you know, and how can you want to teach in the UK if you've never even been to the UK?

    You don't just need to do language tests (IELTS), you also need to have all of your educational certificates assessed to prove you have the equivalent to GCSE maths and science, and you need to complete the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy prior to the start of the course (they can only be completed in the UK).

    Jobs for economics teachers are rare in some parts of the UK. You may be expected to teach another subject too - how would you feel about that, as a non-native English speaker? You may not qualify for a work visa, depending on your home country, so would not be able to complete the NQT year (newly qualified teacher year).

    If you only want to work in international schools then complete an iPGCE instead - use Google to find out more info. You'd need a job in an international school already, and a mentor there. The iPGCE is just the theory part of the teacher training, and does not qualify you to teach in the UK, but most international schools do currently accept it.
     
    agathamorse and wherelifeleadsme like this.
  3. wherelifeleadsme

    wherelifeleadsme New commenter

    Thank you so much for the response! I really appreciate the concerns you brought up! :)

    Yes, you're right - not physically being in the UK does create some obstacles for me. I am aware that the application process is rather different and a lot of things can be challenging.

    I've heard that economics is not a popular/common subject in the UK, but I did not know that the schools might ask the applicants to teach other subjects - thanks a lot for informing! In that case, if I only have PGCE in Economics/Business studies, am I allowed to teach any other subjects?

    Yes, I've heard of iPGCE. I know it does not qualify me to teach in a few countries, besides the UK, so I decided to do a PGCE directly - since I'm already putting efforts into this, I better do it once and for all.
     
  4. wherelifeleadsme

    wherelifeleadsme New commenter

    Thank you so much for the response! I really appreciate the concerns you brought up! :)

    Yes, you're right - not physically being in the UK does create some obstacles for me. I am aware that the application process is rather different and a lot of things can be challenging.

    I've heard that economics is not a popular/common subject in the UK, but I did not know that the schools might ask the applicants to teach other subjects - thanks a lot for informing! In that case, if I only have PGCE in Economics/Business studies, am I allowed to teach any other subjects?

    Yes, I've heard of iPGCE. I know it does not qualify me to teach in a few countries, besides the UK, so I decided to do a PGCE directly - since I'm already putting efforts into this, I better do it once and for all.
     
  5. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    Applying for a PGCE with QTS in the UK has a number of paperwork and logistical challenges, including:

    1. Criminal record checks from the UK and other countries in which you have lived;
    2. The Professional Skills Test in literacy and numeracy;
    3. The awful environment of UK schools;
    4. Fees and living costs.

    If you are still interested, you could look for a salaried course, which would give you QTS without fees (and with a modest wage), or Teach First, which is similar.

    Good luck.
     
    wherelifeleadsme likes this.
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    In the UK once you are a qualified teacher you can be asked to teach anything, regardless of whether you have any knowledge of/interest in that subject or not. The problem you'd face is that, as you say, economics is not popular, and it's not taught at Key Stage 3 (11-14), only Key Stages 4 and 5 (GCSE and AS/A level) - it would be highly unlikely that you could fill a teacher's full timetable with only KS4 and 5 economics, which would mean you'd have to teach whatever you're asked to teach. But, on the other hand, you may find a job in a massive school where it's more popular, or end up being the sole economics teacher in a school (daunting, as a foreigner, and inexperienced teacher).
     
    agathamorse and wherelifeleadsme like this.
  7. wherelifeleadsme

    wherelifeleadsme New commenter

    Thank you! I have heard of numerous comments on "the awful environment of UK schools" indeed.
    Honestly, I know teaching is not easy in any country and always remind myself not to hold expectations, but I am still kind of surprised by the numbers of complaints about the environment in the UK particularly. I don't mean to judge at all, and I actually think it might result from selection bias. But I do want to hear the negative voice by all means. The more information gathered, the wiser the decision could be. :)
     
  8. wherelifeleadsme

    wherelifeleadsme New commenter

    Thank you for bringing up the concerns on the stages when the subject is taught, which I did not pay much attention to. It reminds of a question I had when reading through the program introductions. Some stated that their programs qualify trainees to teach across the 14-19 age range, while for some others that is 11-18. So, when I look for the right the programs, does the age range matter in terms of how versatile they could prepare me to be since you also said once qualified teachers can be asked to teach anything?
     
  9. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Once you have the PGCE and QTS you can teach anything - you could even move to primary, if anyone was willing you employ you.

    If you do an 11-19 PGCE then you will definitely get experience teaching every age within that range, and if you do 14-18 then it'll be within that range. That's all it means.
     
    agathamorse and wherelifeleadsme like this.
  10. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I have a feeling you are Chinese? Regardless, you will be shocked by British kids, there is no bias on behalf of posters. What you need to understand is that the culture of the UK, the social structure, especially welfare, means that there is a different attitude to education and life in general than in your home country.
     
    agathamorse and wherelifeleadsme like this.
  11. wherelifeleadsme

    wherelifeleadsme New commenter

    Sure, that makes every sense. Thank you! Since I want to teach in different countries, I think this step is necessary anyway. :) Much appreciated for your genuine replies!
     
    agathamorse likes this.

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