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Good riddance PGCE! I QUIT

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by dashep, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    I did my PGCE in 2004-2005. My fellow tutees and I found that the University didn't tell us about the dark side of teaching, so those unfortunates (including myself) who were unlucky enough to be poorly treated at their placements really suffered (I also suffered in the following year as I made the wrong decision about where to work). Not a criticism of the ITT provider itself as I loved the PGCE side of it. Now that I've been around long enough to be called experienced, I can say that as bad a time as I've had at times (I've been poorly treated in 3 places), I think that teaching is the best form of personal development as it has taught me to be less shy and quiet (not thicker skinned) and to stand up for myself more. I also do my best to warn the newbies about the dark side when I meet them in my current job and offer support when I can, so that they can avoid the mistakes that I made due to my early naivety.
    saluki likes this.
  2. thin_ice

    thin_ice Occasional commenter

    You sound like a good colleague to have around.

    Naivety is different to ignorance that is caused by arrogance. And that doesn’t sound like you at all.
    ATfan likes this.
  3. PGCE_tutor

    PGCE_tutor New commenter

    That's genuinely got me thinking.
    I think we (Universities, mine anyway) assume you know what you're letting yourself in* for and wouldn't see it as our job to 'warn' you about this - there's enough of a recruitment crisis as it is after all! But we certainly don't shy away from the reality of it being a tough job in itself.
    We also tend to work with schools we know can support student teachers appropriately, and we don't hesitate to take a school off our list if there's clearly evidence of the 'dark side' being aimed at one of our students.
    But ATfan's really got me thinking - should we talk more about staffroom politics, bullying, incompetent management? I'm thinking particularly in the careers sessions we run on interviewing for NQT posts etc.

    *This will change with Nick Gibb's idiotic instruction to remove the requirement for school experience from the entry criteria.

    What would it have been helpful for you to have been told by your Uni and how might they have done it?
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
    sarahduffy0810 and ATfan like this.
  4. LongTailedTit

    LongTailedTit New commenter

    Really interesting discussion. I'm currently a PGCE student but worked in education for years before starting my course. The last school I worked in (not as a student) was a 'dark side school', and it was something I didn't even realise until I started my own first placement - I assumed that the experiences of students there were normal, and only recently realised that not every mentor will leave your lessons during observations so they can find random members of staff to ***** to about you, or make personal comments about.your appearance, hygiene, dress sense, religion etc (none of them particularly warranted as far as I could tell). Similar things were aimed at other staff members too, but it was the students' experiences that I was the most aware of at the time.

    I feel like a big part of my development during my current placement has been undoing some of the insecurities that were planted in that school, and even though I'm doing well and enjoying the course (as much as it's possible to in mid-December!) I still have a very deep fear of going to my next placement and applying for jobs in case my experience there turns out to be the rule rather than the exception.

    The problem for both students and providers, I think, is getting across the fact that you need to have a thick skin to survive in education - which you do - while also making it clear that no-one should have to put up with workplace bullying. When you're in that sort of environment it's very easy to become convinced that it's the norm in education and that not being 'strong enough' to take it is something to be ashamed of or means you're not cut out for the job, especially as a student in your first placement, where you have no baseline to compare against.

    The single best thing that universities can do, IMO, is to make it clear that complaints about a student's school/department/mentor will be taken seriously and that we'll be supported where necessary. Of course, there are limitations - you'll always get some students who'll complain at the slightest bit of criticism, and I know lots of providers are struggling to place students anyway, never mind letting them change schools whenever there's an issue. But speaking to other students/former students who have resolved similar issues (and in some cases ended up changing schools because of it) has been very reassuring for me.

    None of that helps much when students get beyond their PGCE year, but hopefully if you make it clear that there are some things people shouldn't have to put up during that period, some of that advice will stick with them later into their careers.
    agathamorse, ATfan and PGCE_tutor like this.
  5. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    Hi! Only just saw this post! Thank you! :)
  6. ATfan

    ATfan Star commenter

    Yes, it would. :) The Uni did get some old students in and one of them did briefly mention that he/she had had a bad time but that the Uni fixed it. I would have liked the Uni to say even just once, this is the reality, FE is underfunded and colleges vary in how good they are. Don't be surprised if you walk into your first job and find out that x will happen or that you will be expected to do y. To be honest, the tes fora have helped me more in learning about and dealing with the dark side of teaching. In hindsight, I think my Sociology Teacher was right when he commented (when I did a Fast track A-level course in 2008) that my teacher training uni was promoting idealistic views of education. Again, I am not saying this 'in a my Uni didn't do enough for me. It's the uni's fault that I had a bad time way'. On the contrary! What I mean is that I would have liked to have been prepared for some of the realities of teaching because I did the pre service PGCE (post-compulsory) course so had no idea what I was letting myself in for beyond the 2 years I spent as an Academic Tutor at the University where I graduated and from the 2 weeks that I spent shadowing teachers in my local secondary school. Both contexts were very different to the ones that I experienced in my placement and early teaching workplaces.

    Hope that I don't sound arrogant in this post!
    PGCE_tutor and saluki like this.
  7. khyber45

    khyber45 New commenter

    What happens if you want to quit your pgce. What does the school and uni say about it. Do they just cut you off the course or provide you a different school to continue your placement in. If you've passed your Ap1 and Ap2, would you have to continue elsewhere or wait until September to complete the rest of it. I am just unsure about the process of what will happen if you tell the school and uni you really want to quit.

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