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Geography PGCE with no Geography degree - jobs?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by vs8285, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Murr1

    Murr1 New commenter

    I'm thinking of applying for a PGCE in a couple of years, to start when my youngest child is in Y1, so this would be for Sept 2022.

    I've previously done TA experience in a school and got an offer for a PGDE at Edinburgh in Secondary English, though I subsequently pulled out pre-acceptance because I ended up getting a divorce and moving instead.

    I'm now reconsidering whether I might prefer Geography - it was my favourite A-level subject and one thing I found doing TAing was that I don't really enjoy the earlier, English language parts of English teaching, which make up a lot of earlier years. I am pretty sure I would *prefer* teaching Geography.

    However, my concern is getting onto the courses and then jobs afterwards. I've emailed some providers and know that for example at least one (and ex-poly Uni PGCE) has written back and said they would be keen for me to apply with my A in Geog at A-level, so I think getting onto 'a' course should be feasible.

    However, will I be at a disadvantage looking for a job after the PGCE without a degree in my subject? What are the markets like for Geog vs English teachers? I assumed Geo teachers are a little more in demand since the bursary is just slightly higher at the moment.

    My other option is to apply for Secondary English PGCE and then try to get into Geography teaching post-qualification, which I hear is feasible too. Any advice?
  2. Bouncyb22

    Bouncyb22 New commenter

    I am a Geography teacher without a Geography degree but my degree (Ecology and Environmental Studies) had a lot of Geography in it so I haven't had a problem finding jobs or with subject knowledge. However, my school had 2 PGCE students this year who also didn't have Geography degrees, but were probably more related to Geography than mine, and they struggled with the subject knowledge. They have also both struggled to find jobs (of course this could be unrelated to their degrees especially with Covid making taking an NQT a little bit more of a risk for next year). Universities will take anyone with a vaguely related degree and/or A level but if your degree is an English one I would expect that you would end up getting lots of questions about why you chose to do a Geography PGCE rather than an English one.

    With regards to doing an English PGCE and then swapping to Geography it is possible but in my experience unlikely. At the schools I have worked at English and History tend to share teachers and Geography and Science tend to share teachers.

    Geography teachers are in demand, hence the higher bursary, but that bursary is coming down now as the shortage starts to ease (slightly). However, lots of school will focus on that subject knowledge, especially if they want you to teach A-level, so you might find getting that job more difficult even if the number of applicants per job is lower for Geography than English.

    I would recommend that you get some shadowing experience in a Geography department, work out how much you remember from your own school days and if you think you'd enjoy teaching it and then decide if you want to take the risk!
    lau_bellagamba likes this.
  3. Lakes1975

    Lakes1975 New commenter

    Are you planning to teach in Scotland? Your degree and/or teaching experience will restrict what you can and can't teach.
  4. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I can tell you what the other poster says is accurate. You can certainly train as a geography teacher, but your employability is reduced. This goes for all subjects. I’ve had English with SKE and geography with SKE be rejected at interview and told to their face ‘it’s because you don’t have a degree in your subject' and I won’t lie, it hurt them tremendously. A number who come through on SKE struggle with imposter syndrome sitting in a room of people with degrees, masters and sometimes phds in the subject they only have an A level in. That’s the downside.
    Yet, you can train as a geography teacher and there are plenty of schools that will hire you, but you have reduced employability. So there is added risk with training for a subject that is not your degree specialism. Less risk for MFL and Maths (60% of new teachers without degrees in those subjects) more risk for those like English (20% of new teachers without English degrees). If you are a head, you will prefer one with a degree than one without, if presented with two fairly good candidates.
    And no, you won’t get to swap from one to the other. The SKEs and a full Year PGCE struggle with subject knowledge let alone no SKE and no year of PGCE input.
    It’s a balance of risk and reward. The reward of being a geography teacher comes with increased risk. Being an English teacher comes with much less risk - basket 1 subject and huge numbers needed. You have to balance your risk v reward before making the decision. Good luck though, whichever way you’ll be a teacher. Welcome to the profession.

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