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Help - PGCE English Secondary interview at Goldsmiths

Discussion in 'English' started by hamlet, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. Hi,
    I have an interview for PGCE Secondary English at Goldsmiths in 10 days time. I'm panicking because the notes I received on the interview process are very sketchy. Could anyone tell me if I have to prepare a presentation before the interview? What current educational issues are they most likely to ask me about? How will they test subject knowledge? Will I be given a maths and literacy test? If I have to do a maths test, I will definitely fail. I know this is a simple question but how do you answer "Why do you want to be a teacher?" I can't just say because I've always wanted to be a teacher or because I love working with children. Do I have to relate my answer to present issues? Should I take in a copy of my CV and testimonials from past employers?

    Thank you very much for reading this and any help will be highly appreciated.
  2. What does the letter say? I am going to be having hopefully myself an interview at Brighton Uni for a PGCE p/t English. Was your Degree in English?
    When I went for a disastrous PGCE Citizenship we had to do a 2minute presentation in a topic.My topic was about Asylum Seekers , just to give you an example . We didn't do a test in English and Maths(My maths is really bad and myself i will fail). Then they gave us a subject knowledge test which was all about Politics and I didn;t have a clue.
    Then they asked me (I have few years teaching experience and a PGCE in Post 16 but no QTS) to outline my experience ,what would i do for example if I was teaching a Politics A level class and no one was interested in the subject. Then they may ask ,ok, why you want to be a teacher. You could say that you like the interaction with the youngsters , you are familiar withe the English curriculum in k3-k4 , then outline any experience that you have gained with children or adults . You just sell yourself , you could say that as English is a core subject and now with the new Diplomas that come into place from Sept 09 the English come under functional skills.etc , also show enthusiasm about the subject.

    I need help myself in regards to the forthcoming interview at Brighton. The only thing I know about Goldsmith that is a tough Uni to get into. As long as you have a good Degree that matters.
    Sorry if I haven't been more helpful. Just tell me what the letter say ?
  3. Hi, I've got an interview there for English too in just under three weeks. I agree the info they send you isn't very helpful. I'm nervous too, but I don't think you need to worry that much about what to take etc. They won't need your CV as they have all the info you need on your application about your previous relevant experience and I doubt they need other testimonials, I'm sure they would ask. I'm assuming there is no presentation involved, and what I can gather from older threads on here, it is just a group discussion on educational issues. Look on the BBC education page for current issues, I've found it very helpful. My friend has been to a few interviews now at other places and she said its always a lot more relaxed than you think. I'm nervous as they send you home after the group interview if they don't want you, they don't even give you a chance to have an individual interview!

    Anyway good luck, hope it goes well!
  4. cirodin1

    cirodin1 New commenter

    Hi hamlet,
    I had my interview for Goldsmiths two weeks ago for secondary English and got a place. Don't worry I didn't have to do a presentation, but you do have a group discussion and they are just looking out for your interpersonal skills and how you relate your ideas to a group. I had a literacy test, but it just involved writing an answer to an essay question; they just want to check that you can write in a high standard of English in a short amount of time.
    Your performance in the morning determines if you have a second individual interview. In regards to the question, "Why do you want to be a teacher?" just be honest. Tell them about your time management skills- with examples, your passion, your interpersonal skillls. Just make sure you are able to back it up with evidence. Just be yourself and don't let your nerves get the better of you because you want to give yourself the best chance!
    Good luck and let me know how you get on!

  5. Thanks. I think trousers and cardi is very much me and I think that's what I'll go for. As you say, there is absolutely no point in being 'heinously' uncomfortable. Besides, how many teachers wear suits? Most of my teachers dressed very plainly to downright scruffy.

    Can't wait to get this over and done with.
  6. Thanks Millamant for your encouraging message. I'll bear all that in mind and will certainly not dress too smartly as that would make me feel uncomfortable.
  7. Best of luck and let us know how you get on.
  8. GeorginaH24, thanks for your advice, will look at the BBC site. That's a bit tough to go home without even having an individual interview. What happens to the really shy people who shine on a one to one basis?

    Good luck with your interview. I'm sure you will make it past the 'group interview'.
  9. I had an interview for the English Secondary PGCE at Goldsmiths in February and got in. I would say the most important part of the day is the group task: we were given statements about Standard English, which we had to talk about on our own for one minute, then discuss with the group for 5. In my group there were some really week candidates, e.g. two didn't know what SE was. Those who performed badly in the group task were the ones who misunderstood the objective of the task and used it as an opportunity to big up their experience as TAs etc. This stunted the flow of conversation and sounded like boasting. The time to discuss your experience is in the one-to-one interview; in the group task you should be showing you can think on your feet and responding to the questions raised, as well as showing your knowledge of educational issues (although this is examined in more depth in the written task). I personally was worried about talking too much due too nerves, and dominating the conversation, so I kept an eye on that. The other person who really had problems was a guy who just clammed up when it was his turn, so he just started waffling. If that were me, I'd have asked if someone else could go next while I composed myself.
    Don't worry about the written task - you won't have time to plan your answer so just relax and focus on quality rather than quantity. Ours asked about assessment methods but it might be worth researching other current hot topics in education. You will not have to take a numeracy test unless you get on the course and then legally you will have to (and literacy and ICT tests) , but don't worry, you can take them an unlimited number of times!
    As for what you wear, as long as you look presentable, that's fine. I myself wouldn't wear jeans, but why wear a suit if you're not going to be wearing one on the job? You won't need a CV or references.
    I recommed you read up on behaviour management techniques as in the one-to-one interview I was asked a question about a behaviour-related scenario. I was armed with strategies I learned from this site so it was fine! You will probably be asked about what you're reading at the moment, why you want to teach a) secondary and b) English, so you might want to prepare answers to these types of questions. I was in the same boat as you - couldn't say why I wanted to be a teacher, I just did! The way I was asked (see above) meant that I didn't have to answer such a vague question, but think about WHY you love working with children - what have you got from specific jobs? Also bring in your love of your subject. I know it's a tough question but be honest and you'll be fine - there's nothing wrong with saying you find it hard to answer!
    Finally, the two English tutors at Goldsmiths are really friendly and will put you at ease.
    I wish you the best of luck and hope to see you in September!

  10. Thanks alot Susanna, that's really helpful. I have been reading up on all the current educational issues, but none of the things you mentioned!
  11. I trained at Goldsmiths and completed recently, so here's my rather lengthy advice.
    Dress as you would if you were a teacher in school. Many do wear suits as they are aiming to appear professional to pupils. I tend to mix and match this. Sometimes I wear one (and I did for interview), other times it may be trousers with a jacket, or cardigan. Never jeans, trainers or t-shirts with slogans. Don't worry about standing out amongst the arty Goldsmiths students. They will not think you strange for wearing something smart. Again I'd go with the advice to wear something comfortable. The classrooms in the education building at Goldsmiths are notorious for being very warm, so wearing layers with an appropriate blouse/shirt with short sleeves underneath is a good idea.
    Try and get hold of a copy of TES and read it before your interview. This will give you an idea about current educational debates. However the group task isn't designed to catch you out and will be about issues that you should be aware of wanting to be an English teacher, such as boys tending to not want to read, and how to combat this. My advice (which I recieved from someone else I knew who had got in the year before) is to make yourself heard in the group task, by always having something to say to everyone's different ideas (from the cue cards you get). Don't dominate the conversation with your own ideas, or as someone pointed out, with your previous experience (although if you can't help mentioning it don't worry). Listen carefuly to what others have to say, and QUESTION what they say. There are never usually absolutes in these discussions and getting someone to think differently about their opinion is always good. Questioning is a key skill in teaching and is something that you can utilise in a group task. Ask open questions, i.e. those requiring more than a one word answer. Then follow it with further questions if you can, but do let others get a word in edgeways!
    I can't emphasise enough that you must speak and have as much confidence as possible, in this admittedly nervy situation. The interviewers will be listening, and will not notice you if you don't speak! Be the shining star of the conversation by facilitating, not controlling it.
    The written test will look for your spelling, grammar and punctuation as well as the content. However if you have a good degree, which I am sure you do, this should be a breeze. No numeracy test on this interview day. If you do get a place you will need to do the TDA numeracy test (you can have a look online if you google it, have a practice!) and will not be able to qualify if this is not done within your PGCE training. However, you can take it as many times as you need to, and only you will know how many this is!
    The invitation to second interview is rather X-factor I'm afraid. If you get through you go to another room, and if you don't you are told once the sucessful ones have left the room. But if you don't, please don't let it put you off applying elsewhere. And ask for feedback from the course tutors, at a later stage. They will be happy to give it.
    If you do get to the 2nd stage, one on one interview, you will be asked why you want to teach. Other people have already given good advice. Be honest and be sure to explain those reasons. You will be asked a hypothetical situation about a behaviour issue. The major answer here is to always seek help from other staff, whether it be straight away (for a serious one) or afterward (for less serious). Other things you may do will depend on the situation. You may also be asked what you are currently reading and what books you might decide to teach if you had the choice. They will also ask for some ways of teaching these texts.

    Hope you aren't too bored reading this by now. Good luck!
  12. Hi Susanna,

    Thank you for such a detailed description of your interview. How very generous of you. You won't believe how helpful your reply is and how it has helped me to relax a little knowing that the process is something I can prepare for.

    At the moment I am madly rushing through my project and have decided that I will give myself two whole days to prepare for the interview nearer the date. I will definitely look at all the issues you mention. I will also definitely let you know how I fare and see you there if I make it.
  13. Hi Pepper,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a lengthy description of the interview process. I was certainly not bored. I will remember all the advice. As I said to Susanna, at present I am writing my dissertation which, as you can imagine is so stressful. I will have to stop writing soon and give myself enough time, at least two days, to prepare for the interview. A million thanks.
  14. Hi Hamlet, Was just wondering how your interview went? Mine is getting closer and I'm getting a little more nervous now!

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