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I want to be a museum education officer.... should I take my PGCE offer in Secondary History?

Discussion in 'History' started by lonelypie, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone... don't know if this is the right place to put this but I really need some professional advice.

    I have just been offered a place at Roehampton Uni to study Secondary History. I have made clear from the start that my career goal is not to be a secondary school teacher, but to teach in museums. I will obtain a BA (Hons) in History this year.

    I have absolutely no interest in marking, paperwork etc, but I think I do need the educational background in order to get a museum post in such a competitive market. Although Museum Studies courses are run across the country, they do not focus on the educational side of things, so I don't know how useful they would be to such a job. However, they appeal to me more, just because the focus is on museums themselves rather than teaching in a classroom environment.

    I have completed many placements now in education departments of museums and I know this is right for me. I have completed placements in schools and have learned this isn't for me!

    Completing a PGCE seems like a means to an end. I am the kind of person who gives something my all once its started. I just can't help feeling nervous and inadequate as I do not want to achieve the golden goal of being a secondary teacher.

    Any advice?
  2. Hi, I have looked into museum education jobs in the past. When looking at advertisments for education jobs in museums a lot of them seemed to want someone with a PGCE qualification. It might be helpful to look at some job adverts and see what employers ask for more often PGCE or Masters in museum studies.
  3. Hi, I did volunteer at a National Trust property for a while and speaking to the education officer there she suggested that the reason they ask for a PGCE is that it shows you are interested in working with children and that it gives you the ability to be able to relate activities to the national curriculum therefore making educational visits appealing to teachers as pupils would learn things related. I think with most things the more experience you can get in museums the better, and volunteering helps get your foot in the door! I decided in the end the end I would rather teach history in secondary schools and have just been accepted onto the history PGCE course at Nottingham. Hope that helped
  4. Keep up with the volunteering it shows people you are able to do the job - even an assistant is able to show their true colours. When I was teaching full time, there were teaching assistants I could rely on to walk out the room and to be honest they should have been teachers and not assistants. You could politely come up with ideas of your own and let them know you are able to think on your feet and can plan. They will see you working with kids, the PGCE route as a means to an ends might look just like that especially if you dont actually go into a school and teach. And if you dont want to, is it worth putting yourself though it? Once you get into the new place have an informal chat with them and see what they think about what you need.
    I decided I wanted to be an educational officer, I had all the qualifications for the Roman sites I wanted on Hadrians wall, plus I had my own Roman Kit - sad man that I am [​IMG] but in the end it was the cut in salary which stopped me.
    From what I rmember Es was doing an MA in Museum studies after her Archaeology degree but she applied for the job.
    I just phoned her up to check and she suggests go for a MA in heritage management and interpretation rather than the PGCE but make sure it is a one that covers education and teaching too. This is normally a one year course full time or two part time. She also says keep yup with the volunteering to get plenty of experience under your belt.
    On the side of the PGCE you can always be a teacher if you cant get into a museum, but to be honest if you really dont want to teach I wouldnt recommend going down that route just for your own sanity [​IMG]
    hope it helps
    5 hours sleep last night so feeling a bit more human today [​IMG]
  5. Thanks again for your advice! This kind of advice from people in the field my Uni career service can't really provide. I'm currently applying for a part time tour guiding role at a museum, so you never know where that may take me!

    I am aware of the low wages! Although currently I don't really mind, and just want to do a job I love, I know when its time for me to settle down I may need to be slightly more realistic! But until that time, the aim still stands.

    I see what you mean with regards to doing the PGCE and then not teaching! It probably will look both good and bad on the CV. Hmmm.

    It's such a dilemma, especially with funding to the arts cut meaning there are no relevant internships (which was another option I considered).

    As you recommended, I'm going to keep the volunteering up and see where it leads.

    Glad you got some more sleep!
  6. Let us know how you get on [​IMG]
  7. My voluntary work yesterday was great fun - Romans and Saxons with year 5s! However, the session leader added further confusion to what I should do!

    She had only done history up to GCSE, and was a trained actress who kind of just fell into the job after working in the admin department a few months ago!
  8. I thought i would just throw my few cents in.
    I work as an ALO in a regional museum, it's quite a large venue. I am in charge of running and creating history sessions.
    My background is an archaeology degree and then an MA in Museum Studies (Newcastle uni has a focus on education for one of the optional modules). I also have done a massive amount of voluntary work and other paid museum based work (FoH, educations assistant).
    My collegues both come back from a teaching background, a SCITT and PGCE.
    I think it doesnt matter what you do. As long as you have a lot of experience, and a bit of knowledge of museums and galleries. Casual jobs are always good ones to look out for, either FoH or educational. These give you access to internal vacancies, which seem to be the first port of advertisements for posts, which as you may have noticed are in decline at the moment.
  9. Excellent, glad it went well .
    maybe take up amateur dramatics in your spare time[​IMG]
  10. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    I think you should just apply for the jobs you want without worrying so much if you have dotted every i and stroked every T. You have worked hard for an MA, gone out and got placements, have a passion for working at a museum. You will almost certainly get interviews, and at interviews it is the person that counts. Also, having worked at PGCE, the patronising level of a PGCE is likely to be a bore.
  11. StarbabyCat

    StarbabyCat New commenter

    It pains me to say it but I can't help but be a little sad that you're taking a coveted history PGCE place (especially in London) when you're not passionate about school history teaching :-( I have my place at the IOE for September but I worked so hard (3 years applying, 2 interviews) to get it. Maybe I'm just jealous! Good luck whatever. I have a friend that has been trying to get into the museum sector, she has a masters and lots of volunteering experience, but no joy.
  12. I graduated 5 years ago with a 2.1 BA Archaeology. I was then lucky to get a year full time part paid/part voluntary with the National Trust. After that, I had ZILCH. I had worked in education/interpretation during the year and had worked with young people during my degree. I thought I had enough to get an entry-level museum education position but it seemed like every job spec asked for a PGCE/teaching experience. Some people have said it isn;t needed - well I'd beg to differ. It will give an edge to an extremely competitive sector - why wouldn't it? As a course, it has honestly given me a plethora of skills, experience and attributes I didn't have before - all are strongly transferable - so it's not just valuable for it's 'teaching' and curriculum content - take a look at the QTS standards and think of the stuff you can stick on a job application : ) Having no job and no prospects doing what I love I thought a funded PGCE Primary would be my own personal version of Continued Professional Development so I did it! It cost me very little financially. As you, I had no interest in becoming a teacher and working in a classroom all day but although it was TOUGH I love learning and a challenge and now have QTS to my name.

    I have luckily just inherited enough to do a MA (which I had no hope of doing before) to reinforce all of the above - it's like a barrage of ammunition to attack with in order to get into that damn interview room! That's what it feels like. I feel like I need to be fully prepared before I start museum-job-hunting again. But the certificates need to be fully followed through with experience once you're in that interview room. Have to say, I'm too chicken to go for a specialised 'Museum Education' MA as from 5 years experience of painful job-hunting in the sector I want to cover more bases in order to widen my prospects of getting a job - so MA Heritage Management is for me! : )
  13. Hi there,
    I'm an education officer in a museum and know about the confusion as to what route to pursue. I went for an MA in museum studies, but did find that when applying for jobs, my lack of teaching experience was a problem. I however got over this by volunteering extensively, and through that started teaching in various museums which landed me my job in the end. Volunteering is so so key, as are internships. It's a small world and getting to know people is one of the main challenges.

  14. Hi there,
    This may be a bit late for you but I hope my comments are of help.
    I'm currently an education officer for the Royal Mint Museum. I did my first degree in Archaeology and Religious Studies, then my PGCE in RE and then my PGDip in Heritage Management.
    From my own experience I would recommend the PGCE or some form of teacher training (GTP can be a good option- you are still a Qualified teacher at the end) not only because many job advertisements ask for one these days, but because it really helps to have learnt how to teach. The skills I learnt doing a PGCE- lesson planning and structure, language and interaction skills, behaviour management skills- all help when you're working with children in any setting. I knew I wanted to teach but also knew that the school environment wasn't for me, luckily I had a very understanding tutor.
    You must gain experience working as a volunteer with learning departments in museums (I did this whilst working part time as a supply teacher and doing my PGDip part time) then that will stand you in good stead. It is a very small world and you need to get to know people and show your commitment.
    Good luck!

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