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Help - Hurdles on the Road to Becoming a Teacher

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by JCNewman, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. I'm going to be incredibly frank here and ask for your constructive help
    & advice as I really don't know where else to go and need to get
    this off my chest - and thanks in advance for reading what is bound to
    be quite a long post...

    I have just spoken to the PGCE Admissions
    Office of one of the best/most popular English PGCE courses in the country,
    according to all the research I've done. I've been told that the
    combination of my degrees and experience isn't enough to be considered
    for the Secondary PGCE course to teach English. I'm feeling a little
    aggrieved by this and hugely despondent. This is why (in chronological
    order, just for ease):

    In 2000, I started my BA in English and
    Philosophy. Crucially, the interest Philosophy was a direct result of
    being introduced to the subject by my own A Level English teacher. I
    achieved a high 2i that could well have been a First if I'd spent a
    little less time going out - but that's another story, and one I suspect
    many share [​IMG]

    In
    2004 I completed an MA in something that I'll broadly describe as
    Philosophy of Art, where my final thesis focused explicitly on the role
    of Literature in how we acquire knowledge. No, not English per se but -
    again - it was marrying parts of both because I'd come to appreciate how
    much they helped illuminate each other [And perhaps I'm hoping to
    recycle some of this at a later stage - apologies if it's all too
    highfalutin]

    Following this, I worked as a Teaching Assistant at a
    local primary school, which I got because I'd almost consistently
    volunteered in schools and for programs working with kids since I was
    16. I loved that job and was asked if I'd like to stay at the school and
    train to become a teacher with them then. However, I wasn't convinced
    that I was old enough, experienced enough or dedicated enough to become a
    Primary school teacher right then.

    So I moved to Berlin where I
    did loads of stuff - but I still kept on working with kids, got my TEFL
    certificate and taught English to children, teenagers and adults.

    When
    I came back to the UK two years later my mind turned to teaching again,
    but I was still unconvinced I'd be happy as a Primary school teacher,
    so I set that aside to mull over while I concentrated on a different
    career (at a University).

    Then, early last year, I spent a couple
    of months out of work and got involved with a local volunteer scheme -
    this time, working with teenagers who had been excluded from their
    schools. I loved it.

    Since then, I've been working my
    (noneducational) 9-to-5 and continued to volunteer at the weekends,
    until the project lost its funding. I've also been tutoring several
    students in Years 9 - 11, from a variety of backgrounds, for over a
    year. This has been through an agency who vetted and interviewed me
    before I was accepted. I work closely with the schools, SENCOs, social
    workers and families. I follow stringent reporting procedures, write
    study plans with clear objectives, read books about becoming a better
    English teacher, and have had to find out as much as I can about the
    English curriculum and various GCSE courses.

    I am aware that I am
    NOT a teacher and do not have the formal training - but this is what I
    want to get, this is what I *know* I want to do; there is no doubt like
    there was with the Primary PGCE.

    Today I was told that this isn't
    enough: I am not committed enough to English. I have not worked in a
    Secondary school. Never mind the reasons behind why I want to do this
    and what I could actually bring (which I haven't touched on here, but
    would happily add if anyone wants to know).

    Aside from the
    in-school observation that I am aware is necessary and have been
    planning, my question is: what more can I do to be accepted and seen a
    good prospect?

    Two official suggestions I received today were:

    i) Work as a TA for a year.
    -
    It's not really feasible nor even guaranteed that I'd be able to find a
    job as a TA at a Secondary school, as I would not be able to support
    myself if the wages are anything like what they were. (Not that this
    should matter but I don't live the high life, I just don't have
    parents/partner who could support me - and quite frankly, why should I
    expect that?!)

    ii) Take *another* 100% English degree.
    - really?! At what level?

    Yours hopefully..
     
  2. I'm going to be incredibly frank here and ask for your constructive help
    & advice as I really don't know where else to go and need to get
    this off my chest - and thanks in advance for reading what is bound to
    be quite a long post...

    I have just spoken to the PGCE Admissions
    Office of one of the best/most popular English PGCE courses in the country,
    according to all the research I've done. I've been told that the
    combination of my degrees and experience isn't enough to be considered
    for the Secondary PGCE course to teach English. I'm feeling a little
    aggrieved by this and hugely despondent. This is why (in chronological
    order, just for ease):

    In 2000, I started my BA in English and
    Philosophy. Crucially, the interest Philosophy was a direct result of
    being introduced to the subject by my own A Level English teacher. I
    achieved a high 2i that could well have been a First if I'd spent a
    little less time going out - but that's another story, and one I suspect
    many share [​IMG]

    In
    2004 I completed an MA in something that I'll broadly describe as
    Philosophy of Art, where my final thesis focused explicitly on the role
    of Literature in how we acquire knowledge. No, not English per se but -
    again - it was marrying parts of both because I'd come to appreciate how
    much they helped illuminate each other [And perhaps I'm hoping to
    recycle some of this at a later stage - apologies if it's all too
    highfalutin]

    Following this, I worked as a Teaching Assistant at a
    local primary school, which I got because I'd almost consistently
    volunteered in schools and for programs working with kids since I was
    16. I loved that job and was asked if I'd like to stay at the school and
    train to become a teacher with them then. However, I wasn't convinced
    that I was old enough, experienced enough or dedicated enough to become a
    Primary school teacher right then.

    So I moved to Berlin where I
    did loads of stuff - but I still kept on working with kids, got my TEFL
    certificate and taught English to children, teenagers and adults.

    When
    I came back to the UK two years later my mind turned to teaching again,
    but I was still unconvinced I'd be happy as a Primary school teacher,
    so I set that aside to mull over while I concentrated on a different
    career (at a University).

    Then, early last year, I spent a couple
    of months out of work and got involved with a local volunteer scheme -
    this time, working with teenagers who had been excluded from their
    schools. I loved it.

    Since then, I've been working my
    (noneducational) 9-to-5 and continued to volunteer at the weekends,
    until the project lost its funding. I've also been tutoring several
    students in Years 9 - 11, from a variety of backgrounds, for over a
    year. This has been through an agency who vetted and interviewed me
    before I was accepted. I work closely with the schools, SENCOs, social
    workers and families. I follow stringent reporting procedures, write
    study plans with clear objectives, read books about becoming a better
    English teacher, and have had to find out as much as I can about the
    English curriculum and various GCSE courses.

    I am aware that I am
    NOT a teacher and do not have the formal training - but this is what I
    want to get, this is what I *know* I want to do; there is no doubt like
    there was with the Primary PGCE.

    Today I was told that this isn't
    enough: I am not committed enough to English. I have not worked in a
    Secondary school. Never mind the reasons behind why I want to do this
    and what I could actually bring (which I haven't touched on here, but
    would happily add if anyone wants to know).

    Aside from the
    in-school observation that I am aware is necessary and have been
    planning, my question is: what more can I do to be accepted and seen a
    good prospect?

    Two official suggestions I received today were:

    i) Work as a TA for a year.
    -
    It's not really feasible nor even guaranteed that I'd be able to find a
    job as a TA at a Secondary school, as I would not be able to support
    myself if the wages are anything like what they were. (Not that this
    should matter but I don't live the high life, I just don't have
    parents/partner who could support me - and quite frankly, why should I
    expect that?!)

    ii) Take *another* 100% English degree.
    - really?! At what level?

    Yours hopefully..
     
  3. jaimexuk

    jaimexuk New commenter

    I'm on an English PGCE now, and only had 10days of observations. There are people on my course who only have 50% of their degree in English, and a couple only have a related degree (ie theatre and drama).
    I suggest that you contact alternative universities.
     
  4. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    I did my PGCE at one of the top Universities at the time, rated highly due to the content of their course. However in practice, it was full of theoretical ********, the lecturers were incapable of teaching themselves and could offer little practical support to being in a classroom. All the trainee teachers were disappointed and felt unsupported. A friend did a PGCE at a nearby college with a lower profile, which provided excellent classroom resources and practical support.
    The result was I felt lost and it took me years to come to grips with being a classroom practitioner. I'd consider carefully the content of courses and also not worry which institution you are getting your PGCE from. You learn in the classroom, so the more practical it is the better.
     
  5. Thanks very much for you comments - this is really the conclusion I've come to as well. I've spoken to a few other institutions in the meantime and plan on going to more open days and spendingtime talking to the tutors.
    I really didn't want to appear like a snob but just was really trying to cover all bases as it's likely I'll migrate to Australia in the next few years & didn't know if applying somewhere with a reputation outside the UK would be a good idea - but the other aspects should clearly take precedence!
    Thanks again
     

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