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Need advice on career path (PGCE applicant)

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by always_exploring, May 31, 2020.

  1. always_exploring

    always_exploring New commenter

    Hello everyone!

    I am graduating this June with MEng degree and thinking about applying to a PGCE course. I had to completely change my plans due to the pandemic, so I am feeling a bit rushed and need advice/confirmation on whether I am doing the right things.

    So, my objectives are:
    1. teach abroad in different countries (I want to experience living in the Middle East and South-East Asia);
    2. teach Mathematics at a high school level (A levels / IB).

    My plan:
    1. Apply and hopefully be accepted onto PGCE Secondary course;
    2. Obtain QTS;
    3. Do NQT in the UK;
    4. Start teaching abroad straight after the NQT year.

    I am not sure about the following:
    1. I am interested in teaching (only) A levels (and equivalent) Maths as the topics are much more interesting and challenging plus students, in general, are at least a bit more motivated to study.
    So initially, I thought about applying to PGCE Post-compulsory but was told that it would limit job opportunities as many top international schools require PGCE Secondary and that there might even be problems with visa. Furthermore, PGCE Secondary has a wider age range and thus during training I will be able to understand the knowledge students have prior to A levels. However, during the PGCE many students do not get placement in KS5 so during their NQT they are not given A level classes and thus do not have much experience in this area. But my plan is to leave after NQT year and get a teaching job abroad in high school. Do you think I should still apply for PGCE Secondary and when applying for NQT jobs ask for A level classes?

    2. I have read many times that it is better to complete NQT year straight after PGCE and do it in the UK. Plus good international schools require at least a year of experience. But is it a good idea to leave the UK after NQT year or is better to have more experience in the UK? And if the latter, what is the minimum number of years I should teach in the UK before applying for jobs abroad?

    3. I am a non-UK/EU citizen and English is not my first language (but I did A levels and degree in the UK). Do you think this might be an obstacle when applying for jobs abroad, e.g. schools will not be willing to offer a job or my salary will be lower compared to someone with the UK passport?

    Please, could you help me with these questions and tell me in general if this all is possible?

    lau_bellagamba likes this.
  2. 576

    576 Established commenter

    I've never (in 20+ yrs) know a school that gives a maths teacher only A level.
    If that's really what you want, you want to work in a UK 6th form college, not an international school.

    Time to decide what you really want.
  3. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    You’ve chosen the correct route, but note the NQT year will be two years when you graduate. If I’m honest, all you do with saying you don’t want to teach 11-16 and only 16-18 is limit your employability and opportunities. You’ve never taught these age groups but you’ve written them off. Teaching is about joining a community of people who work with a cohort of pupils and take them through their educational years. By repositioning yourself to fit that perspective you would ensure you could have a successful and enjoyable career abroad.
    Stiltskin and agbak like this.
  4. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    By restricting yourself to 16-18, I would argue it's highly unlikely you'd find something easily in a decent school (and the ones which did agree to it might well then change it when you get there.) You could potentially get something in an IB school, but it would need to be an IB World School which follows PYP and MYP as well as Diploma. I'd also argue that it would make you less 'rounded' as a teacher, and also much less able to demonstrate your creativity - while IGCSE might be followed rigorously, the KS3 courses are usually devised by the school and you can often have free reign in creating what you want to do.

    Good international schools will look for two years post qualifying experience - indeed, this is a requirement of many countries for visa purposes. That doesn't always include your NQT year - although if you do the Scottish PGDE and then the probation year after that, it does include it.

    Your nationality won't normally be a problem - I teach in a British curriculum school and have colleagues whose first language is French, Flemish, Spanish, German and Hebrew!
  5. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I'm pretty certain that Secondary PGCE courses MUST include KS5 experience (certainly the course for which I was an AT bent over backwards to ensure this happened).

    Also, don't assume that's what you'll like the most. When I first started I also thought it would be A level teaching I most enjoyed. But actually, it's Years 7 & 8 where I have the most fun.
    Stiltskin likes this.
  6. lc547186

    lc547186 New commenter

    I agree with all the above that you are limiting your opportunities by just teaching A Level/IB Maths. Whilst you may just want to teach Math at this level, Advanced Maths may also be something to consider at iGCSE, and also a lot of Maths teachers I know have also taught some aspects of Physics and Computer Science. In addition, many of them are involved in other aspects of the school through CCA's, mainly in Robotics but also some engage in sports, arts etc. Most international schools will expect you to contribute to all aspects of school life. This means you will have a form/homeroom which may not be a KS5 class, you will have after school activities (some may even be on weekends) and you will normally be required to teach across KS3-5.

    I myself did the PGCE Lifelong Learning as I was also unsure if I wanted to teach the lower years. I worked in a college for 2 years, and in doing so realised that I enjoyed the 14-16 programme we also had. So, I undertook QTLS which basically allows me to teach in UK schools.

    When moving overseas, I have not had a problem as of yet. I worked in Kenya for 6 years (moved after 3 years of experience post qualification) and now I am in Hong Kong. Both accepted my qualifications and i am a registered teacher in both locations. However, if you do decide on the 16+ route, just make sure you do enough teaching hours in the college and try to get a college that has a 14+ programme. I think this helped me quite a bit, as on both occasions my university had to send in a letter stating the hours, subject and age groups I worked with.

    However, if you 100% know you want to teach, just do the PGCE in Secondary and specialise in Maths, with maybe Physics as a second subject if possible. You might then be able to get just IB/A Level teaching but across 2 subjects. Who know's really until you start applying, get the job and then they give you a timetable (which by the way will not really be negotiable until you have been in the school for a few years, I doubt they would let you select your classes straight away). I may be wrong, and it could just be my experience, but most new teachers to a school or NQT's get given the classes others teachers prefer not to teach.

    Good international schools actually normally require 2 years of experience and this is also normally a visa requirement as well.

    I would not have thought your nationality would be a problem either. I have friends from Asia, Africa and Europe working in my current school and the same could be said for my previous school.
  7. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    As already mentioned don't write of KS3 or 4 before you experience it. I know a number of trainee teachers who, like @tb9605, set out only wanting to teach KS5 and discovered they enjoyed the lower KS more.

    I would suggest you contact some of the university providers you would be interesting in applying to and tell them what you want to do. Also look at universities linked to UTC colleges as a placement in these will mean a substantial amount of KS5 teaching.
  8. TeacherMan19

    TeacherMan19 Occasional commenter

    When I first wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to teach the oldest kids because of the possibility of depth of knowledge.
    I now teach early years and I definitely prefer it.

    Don't write it off before trying.
  9. always_exploring

    always_exploring New commenter

    @tb9605 please, could you pm me with the course provider name? I have been contacting universities and some of them explicitly say that their placements are mainly focused on KS3 and 4 with almost no (1-week observation) KS5 training.
  10. djcassels

    djcassels New commenter

    You have been given a lot of sound advice already in this thread.

    The PGCE (and follow up NQT) are definitely powerful tools that will help you on your plan to moving abroad. There are some countries that try to only employ people with BEd qualifications, but this is often only for primary. Since you will essentially have a Masters in a subject that is heavily Maths based, you should find employment in the Middle East quite readily.

    However... (I have three years teaching Science in a leading school in Abu Dhabi)

    Most positions in decent schools will require you to have a minimum of two years post PGCE experience (sometimes even three). This includes your NQT year. I would tell anybody that, really, it is essential that you complete your NQT as soon as you have done your PGCE. Once it's done, it's done. Also, in this year or two you will start building up pension (never overlook the importance of this in the long run).

    Regarding your KS5 preference, I know it is a nice thought, but I would tell you that if you want to be a teacher, you must be prepared to teach at least KS4 also, and KS3 along the way. I am now coming to the end of my 7th year of teaching and have taught Science to Years 5 - 13 at different times. I have loved and loathed each experience in so many different ways. Yes, the younger pupils can be needy and the work might seem simpler, but it can be far far more rewarding (and often much more fun) to teach. I do enjoy the challenge and rigour of KS5 Biology, but often lessons can feel quite robotic and like a tick box exercise. On balance, I definitely have a preference for KS4 teaching, especially when I can teach to the 'top end', but I can only say this with the experience I have built up. As TeacherMan19 said, don't write off anything before you've tried it.

    Someone's mentioned the UTC schools - for your persuasion towards maths and engineering for these are definitely somethings you should take a look at, if there is one in your area. I believe that they only teach years 9 - 13 (KS 4 - 5). Sadly, the Covid crisis will have closed a lot of them temporarily. If times were different I would definitely have suggested enquiring about a tour with some lesson observation.

    Regarding your non-native English status - there are qualifications that you might need to gain before you can be accepted on to a PGCE. I believe that you would find this straightforward enough, but do some research with PGCE providers first.

    Hope this helps! Good luck with your endeavours!

    EDIT: I've just read that you have A levels, do any of these include English? Do you have an English GCSE?
  11. 4019775

    4019775 New commenter

    Wow quite a post.

    You don't actually have, or are going to obtain, a maths degree but only want to teach A level or equivalent maths.

    Made me laugh.

    Yep just apply for jobs as a NQT and tell them you will only consider A level or HL IB maths. See how far you get. If you think top schools in UK or abroad are going to welcome you in with two years experience and give you HL IB straight away you are delusional.

  12. always_exploring

    always_exploring New commenter

    Thank you for your response! I have neither A level nor GCSE in English.
  13. always_exploring

    always_exploring New commenter

    Thank you for your response.
    Yes, I might be having faulty judgement regarding teaching but that's why I am asking for help.
    So, what do you think is the minimum and the optimum number of years of experience one should have before the top school will be willing to give them A level classes? Also, do these schools prefer someone with a Maths degree and not Maths-related?
  14. always_exploring

    always_exploring New commenter

    Thank you for your response.
    I have seen teaching abroad job ads saying something like "Mathematics Teacher (IGCSE/AS and A Level)" or "Mathematics Teacher in (e.g.) International High School...", so assumed that teaching only high school students was possible.
    Or did you mean that in the UK schools never give a teacher only A levels?
  15. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    You will need a GCSE in English or equivalency test pass to get on the PGCE.

    When you see an advert advertising A level and IB what they are saying is that in addition to 11-16 you have the added inducement of post 16. That is because some people like to teach post 16 in addition to 11-16. It doesn’t mean solely 16-18 unless the college or school is solely 16-18.
    T0nyGT likes this.
  16. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    No - it can mean that. There are some schools where the teachers who teach at the 16-18 level only teach there. This is more common in IB World schools where there are sometimes people who only teach at MYP and not DP, but it can also happen in some schools which follow the UK pre-prep, prep, seniors model. If it's not clear, then a quick check of the school's website should show you this.

    It's fair to say though that most schools don't and most would prefer flexibility. However, it can be difficult if you get stuck in KS3/4 to move up to IBDP / A level, whilst it's considered easier (wrongly, in my view) to move in the other direction.
  17. always_exploring

    always_exploring New commenter

    Thank you all for your help! Really appreciate all the information given!

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