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Education policy that will be relevant in Primary PGCE interviews

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by tifur, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. Hello,

    In just over two weeks I'm going to have an interview at Kingston University. As well as working on interview questions, maths and English tests, I am also trying to form an overview of education policy/education issues.

    I've been reading an condensed version of the 'Importance of Teaching' white paper, the Cambridge Review, the Rose Review (although I understand this framework is down defunct), Every Child Matters etc. etc.

    However, I'm finding these documents pretty heavy going, since they are couched in a very particular language (more political than technical). Although I'm used to political arguments, I'm trying to work out how their shifts in emphasis actually translate in the classroom? In other words: what they actually mean in practice.

    For example the white paper suggests a more minimal 'concise' curriculum which focuses on subject content. Cambridge suggests a broader curriculum that doesn't allow itself to be distorted by 'the basics' at the expense of other subjects. In practice, in the classroom I've seen teachers work with topics that encompass many subjects at the same time, generally play the game when it comes to core subjects but otherwise show a real commitment to providing a broad education for the children. Does the white paper suggest a narrowing of the curriculum or will the promised greater teacher freedom and authority allow for the space to broaden it?

    Any tips on forming a grounding in education policy/debates? What are the most important issues right now? Any tips on how to make this stuff 'stick'?
  2. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    As a teacher in my second year, in PGCE/NQT interviews I have never been asked to discuss educational policies. I did a little research in one particular issue before my NQT interviews, just in case, but it has never come up. I have found that interviewers are more interested in finding out what kind of person you are more than your ability to talk about something you have read.
    I can only suggest that the university are not going to expect you to have an in-depth knowledge or discussion about education issues; they are going to want to find out how passionate you are about teaching, what kind of teacher you think you'll make and how you will hold up under the pressures of a teaching course.
    Just speak from the heart about why you want to be a teacher and don't worry about how curriculum reforms are going to translate in the classroom. By the time you've finished training it could all have changed again anyway!
  3. Thanks for your reply. Well, I understand from a few 'heads up' threads education issues have come up at the Kingston PGCE interview. However, I'm confident about the other stuff, so I'll try and relax a bit! Or optionally, it will give me more time to worry about my Maths and English test :)
  4. Off topic: after two years, was going into teaching a good decision? What are the gains (and losses, if any) from your point of view?
  5. Hi Tifur
    I had an interview for Primary at Kingston in November. The question of "educational policy" did come up. As I remember it, the question was along the lines of "what educational policies or issues are you aware of?"
    Given how much has been going on this year, I said something like "Well, where to start?" and focused on two: the ongoing indecision about making languages compulsory in primaries and the forthcoming "places bulge" that is due to impact primaries over the next few years.
    I did little more than reference that I knew that the debates were going on and give my opinion. If you've been reading the TES for a few months you'll know enough to answer. I had read up on Rose, Cambridge Review, Every Child Matters, EYFS review, plus the new 'plans' from Mr Gove - again, enough to show I knew what they were and to articulate an opinion.
    My experience was that the interview was very friendly and relaxed. Good luck, I'm sure you'll do fine.
    (There's a post of mine about Kingston interview experience on here somewhere too!)
  6. Hi Clive,

    Thanks for the reply and the information - I really appreciate it.

    I searched the forum a while ago and read your account of the interview process - was a big help in terms of covering my bases and focusing my preparation.

    It was after reading through some of these reports and formulating positions on them I thought 'what do these things really mean?' - it's reassuring then your opener is similar to what I imagined!. I'll do another evening on this and leave it there.

    I think school experience may also count more this year, in order to differentiate applicants. I imagine you got either observation/work experience in?

    I guess we may cross paths next year?
  7. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    Well, I had the best day today, so I'm in a very positive frame of mind! First day back, taught some really fab Maths and Literacy, as well as PSHE and Geography. The kids were on board, the resources were ready, the IWB was working...
    I do still enjoy. I love the challenge, I love the things my Year 4s can come out with (one child laughed out loud while I was talking today; when questioned he said the star-shaped post-its on the wall were set out in the midfield layout of Arsenal, it was so bizarre I couldn't tell him off and just laughed!), I love the enthusiasm the kids show.
    Yes, there are hard days - I had a difficult NQT year with a tricky class that made me cry a lot - but this year is much better, I know what I'm doing and can feel pleased with my own progress as well as that of the children.
    You hear lots of horror stories in the papers and on here and some people do have a difficult time and have to leave. However, I am one of the lucky ones who has found it a rewarding experience, I've made some great friends in my colleagues and I get to have a laugh every day! (Whether or not I'm in the mood to, is another matter!)
    Okay, so I said I'd had a good day, sorry for waxing lyrical!
    Don't worry about being asked about education reform and stuff, as the above poster said it would just be the basics of policies etc. The uni are not expecting you to know anything and everything about teaching; you are there because you have a passion and want to learn to be a fab teacher!
    Good luck! Let me know how it goes; Kingston is a fab part of London (I went to Roehampton, lots of family live in Kingston/Surbiton/Merton)!
  8. Hi

    Great to hear that you found the older post useful. I gleaned so much info from this site last year that I thought it was only right and proper to try and give some back!

    I managed 4 weeks in school over the last calendar year. I'm also coming to teaching from a career in IT sales so I guess I had transferable skills that they thought would help too. Kingston seem a bit more lenient than some others in terms of getting the experience in before the course starts. Also their minimum is 2 weeks. That said, the more you can do or can show you are planning or have booked, the better. Don't forget you can plan to do an afternoon a week as well or instead of a week in a block - it all adds up.

    We may cross paths but I've also secured a GTP place (subject to funding, as is the place at Kingston). I have a wife and two boys to support, so I really need the income from a GTP (pitiful though it is!). Kingston is my back-up.

    Best of luck and if you have any other questions, please shout.

  9. Sorry - sent from a Mac, so it ignored my paragraphs!
  10. No worries. It's curious you need to insert a paragraph HTML tag to get a line break. Assumed it was the forum software they were using.

    Well that's all good. Luckily I've managed more classroom time than the two weeks they're asking and I should have 6 months in a school this year as a TA. The bit I haven't considered is funding. I just assumed I'd have to pay the fee myself and then get a loan to covering living costs (along with TDA assistance).

    So the GTP is a completely different route into teaching then. As a career changer it might have been a good route. Any pitfalls over PGCE?

    No family to support so PGCE seemed the way to go...
  11. Thanks a lot for your reply - I really appreciate it.

    Yes, I've heard the horror stories of midnight kitchen table breakdowns and lessons that never quite work. Some others have said they never managed to plan more than a day ahead. How do you manage lesson planning - experience helps I imagine? If you had 6 months before a PGCE what would you do with them? I'm doing TA work, but I'm thinking more in terms of 'reading' or 'stuff I should know'?

    It's a lovely obtuse conceptual leap - one of the kids I work with loves to tell me stories of curious observations she's made that morning, such as seeing a man walking down the street in his bath robe and PJs!

    Being an NQT does look challenging. I'll have to find someone to cry with! Finding a school culture that you fit into looks important though.

    Thanks and I will post back. Yes, I know Kingston well (West-London boy). Cycling from Isleworth, through Richmond to Weybridge by the river path is fantastic.
  12. Hi

    If you've been a TA you should be OK!!

    The main differences between GTP and PGCE:

    With GTP you are in school for the whole year, bar 20 days of studying.

    With GTP you are left to your own devices a lot more and need to be used to independent learning

    The other point everyone always makes is that the GTP is not recognised in New Zealand and Australia

    Both result in the same end: you are a NQT after the year!

  13. I'm sure it wasn't for a waiting list. No reason or need for them to over-commit on places at the moment. The told me that they will interview until their places are full and then stop.
    The focus subject thing was odd. It was explained to us that they have to report it back, so that's why they need to know so early on. I'd be very suprised if they use it to make a decision on candidates.
    Don't be worried if you don't hear for a while - each interviewer gives their feedback in their own sweet time. Mine took ages!


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