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Help please! NQT year or PhD?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by tara-bean89, Nov 7, 2015.

  1. tara-bean89

    tara-bean89 New commenter

    Dear Theo,

    I started my PGCE in September at a great university which I love. I have just finished my second week of placement at a wonderful and outstanding nursery, and I am just getting my head around the EYFS framework and the planning side of things. I love working with the children and my first ever observation this week was rated 'Good with elements of Outstanding' and my second one was rated 'Good.' One of my targets is to manage my work-rest time because otherwise I will have burnout by Christmas. I love teaching. I spent three years in marketing after a degree in journalism and then got my first children's book published which I do in my 'spare' time. It was this that made me realise I need to be working in education, and after two years of volunteering in schools as well as working, and getting my TA qualification, I successfully got on to the PGCE.

    I am just a little worried that when it comes to the NQT year I won't be able to handle the stress of all of the paperwork. I get ill very easily when I am stressed. I was always a sickly child and I am trying to look after myself and have started taking vitamins to keep my immunity up until Christmas.

    A wonderful fully-funded 4 year PhD in education has come up for next September which would be when I should be starting my NQT year. I am wondering whether to apply for it or get my NQT year out of the way. I have already thought about my research proposal, and I want to specialise in literacy phonics and accent. I have also found a research supervisor who I would like to approach. It is not a requirement of the PhD to have been teaching, but would I be looked down upon or not taken seriously if I haven't done my NQT year?

    I am also worried about references. I have a wonderful uni tutor who has worked as a teacher and has only just started their PhD now. Would someone I asked to be a reference be able to refuse to give me a reference if they think I should do my NQT year first? I don't want my tutor to think I'm silly to go for it with only a little teaching experience, because then how can I tell others how to teach it?

    If I don't take this opportunity now I know I will never go back to it again, and I know I would be good at it as I am better at academic things.

    Please help, as I don't know how to approach my references, but it is something that I would really like to do if I could choose to.

  2. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Go for the PhD. More work, more interesting, less frustrating, better prospects.
    mysterycat likes this.
  3. tara-bean89

    tara-bean89 New commenter

    Thank you Vince! :)
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Prospects for what?

    Because rather than asking what you should do next year, you perhaps need to ask yourself what you want to be doing in 5 or 10 years' time.

    Do you actually want to teach at all? If not, why are you doing the PGCE? If you are, how can you teach without doing your induction year?

    I am just trying to tease out here what it is that you really want to do, and how to achieve it.

    Yours may have been, Vince, but mine was extremely frustrating at times! But I guess everyone is different.

    Best wishes

  5. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    The future in all directions for as far as the eye can see and then some.

    I'm not saying that our friend will necessarily find it a walk in the park but the last thing I would recommend to a bright young person with a PhD opportunity is to exhaust themselves with ITT, the meeja studies of professional qualifications.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    [Duplicate post]
  7. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    I agree with TheoGriff that a more holistic approach is perhaps needed.

    There is certainly the sense that the NQT may still be there after 4 years of PhD, but the funding for the PhD may not be there after 1 year of NQT.

    I think this is a case of taking your time as much as possible. When do you need to say "yes" to the PhD, for example. Take as long as you can and sound off on as many people as you are able to. The main thing is, where do you want to go with this?

    It's an important decision and one only you can make it.
  8. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    I regularly seem to cross swords with Vince. Most of the time I can see their point of view, but on this one I am struggling a bit.
    I am unsure about the better prospects. With ITT moving away from universities, I wonder to where? It is not the sort of PhD that is going to open a great degree of opportunities outside of teaching for me. I am by no means an expert, but that is my opinion. If you are a good teacher, well qualified and with experience of other areas, I would assume the better prospects are in teaching?

    All of these points to someone who wants to be in the classroom for me....

    It is stressful. I agree. I imagine completing a PhD will be no less stressful at times though. Hold on to the positives and don't jump to conclusions about the negatives.

    To be honest it is your call. It depends on where you see your career going. Of course I see the benefit of the PhD. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity with it being funded. To do this though you may have to sacrifice the NQT. After 4 years education will have moved on. You will have one year to complete the NQT in state education. You, even with a PhD, may not get back. If you are saying that you have a career plan in mind with the PhD, go for it. Similarly, if you can afford to not have to work for 4 years in a financial sense then this is a decent possibility. It really depends on what you want. If you want to teach, and maybe have to be able to earn a solid salary at some point, you may have to forego the PhD

    On the experience issue, all i would say is that if you turned up running some inset in my school, even with a PhD in hand, I would be dubious as you haven't actually taught. I don't know your educational background, but in applying a PhD in education I think your lack of teaching experience will be a big problem.
    midnight_angel likes this.
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Pigtails & inkwells.
  10. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I'd say to you that teaching is very full on and I'd advise you to go instead for the wonderful fully-funded 4 year PHD because it will give you more spare time to write your stories, that you are clearly very good at if you have already had one published.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  11. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Are you on the same planet as the rest of us?

    You may wish to sit down for this: Delivering INSET is not the height of ambition for most PhDs.
    sabrinakat likes this.
  12. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I have always valued learning for its own sake; however, I'm wondering where you think a PhD will lead you, given that it's going to take another 4 years of full-time work and you're currently doing a PGCE.

    As others have indicated, in four years, you may well struggle to find a head willing to offer you a teaching post (and if you're not thinking of ever teaching, why are you doing the PGCE?), because your PGCE will be a distant memory and what heads like is recent experience.

    Moreover, higher degrees don't get you higher up the selection pecking list. I've got 3 higher degrees, by the way, so it's not that I'm prejudiced against those who have them - I'm just a former head who knew that higher degrees don't make a good teacher - teaching experience does.

    You need to make the decision with a view to what you intend to do thereafter. I can see the appeal of being funded for a glorious 4 years of learning, but is it your best, long-term plan?
    midnight_angel and DYNAMO67 like this.
  13. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    And that could quite easily be up the garden path, I fear.
  14. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    1) I was thinking management.

    2) the op made reference to 'telling people how to teach' so it is a fair assumption
    midnight_angel likes this.
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Succeed in PhD and spend the rest of a career as SLT as an alternative to delivering freelance INSET at the behest of SLT? Wow, the sky's the limit with you.

    No, that comment was working on a different model, relative to an ITT tutor. I am sure that the OP knows that ITT lecturing is no more the destiny of a successful PhD than a first degree destines someone for PGCE.
  16. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Imagine yourself at 80 and ask yourself 'what do I regret NOT doing'. Is it writing children's books? Having a PhD? Being a teacher? Or none of the above?

    Break it down further - are you doing a PhD as a stepping stone onto a career path in education? Are you considering it because it's fully funded, seems an amazing topic or as an alternative to teaching?

    Do you actually want to be a teacher or is doing a PGCE more what you think you should do not what you really want to do?

    I applied to do the Irish equivalent of a PGCE back in 2002 and was offered a place; I also applied to complete my PhD and also offered a place - the PGCE was practical, but the PhD won because I love my subject (Classics) and I still had unfinished questions/research - for me, at 80, I would have regretted not doing a PhD. It was hard, particularly the 3-6 months just before the submission deadline (think writing straight for 15 hours, collapsing in bed with your mind still racing and trying to remember which day it is and teaching several tutorial groups)

    I have been able to teach in the UK secondary system without a PGCE (currently awaiting QTS through AO) because one or two heads took a chance on me - I had extensive university experience (4+ years) and TEFL (6+ years) but my situation is very unique.

    I posted here more in relation to the PGCE/NQT versus PhD debate. You could very well be snapped up by a school to do your NQT after a PhD or not. You might hate the PhD after a year, etc. Write down pro and con for each, then you might have your answer!
    DYNAMO67 and Vince_Ulam like this.
  17. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Don't do a Ph.D in this country unless you want to be a lecturer. It will not help your prospects as a teacher one little bit and it will cost you three years.
  18. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I wonder when Ms bean will return to tell us what she thinks of all our suggestions.
  19. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Very hard these days to get a job as a lecturer - I found it difficult (even with conference papers and publications), was short-listed for university jobs in OZ and USA (home) but ultimately needed to stay here (Mr SK has elderly parents);, we compromised; we moved from Ireland to the UK and I was able to secure work in my subject but at secondary.....however, the OP may find there are other opportunities post-PhD and should do some research on that aspect to hopefully give them as much information to make a decision.

    I also look forward to the OP's response!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  20. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I think we could possibly have a Captain Oates scenario.

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