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Not enjoying PGCE and don't want to teach

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by spacegirl99, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. spacegirl99

    spacegirl99 New commenter

    Hi, I'm new to the forum but was advised to join by a friend who thought I might find an answer here.
    I started my PGCE last year but deferred a few days into my final placement. I really struggled with the whole course and don't know how I managed to get through my other block placement to be honest. I absolutely love working with children but I don't think I'm cut out for teaching and I would rather be a great TA (and have a work-life balance!) than be a mediocre teacher and be stressed all the time, which is less than what the children deserve. I've just restarted my final placement and have 11 weeks to go until I'm done. I really, really want to finish the course if I possibly can, but I'm aware that it might be too much for me (I've already noticed a significant dip in my mental health since having my placement start date confirmed and having been in a few days now).
    So my question is, if I do quit, can I work as a teaching assistant without that qualification, or would I need to do another TA-specific qualification? I have passed the PGCE element already so at this point it's whether I graduate with QTS or not. I've been working as a TA through a few agencies while my placement was deferred so I do have paid experience.
    That said though, I know you only get one go at a PGCE - so if I can't manage to finish it, is that me out of teaching forever? I think it's unlikely that I'd change my mind but if in a few years I did feel I wanted to teach, is there any way I could get into it?
  2. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I don't definitely know the answers to your questions, as things are most likely quite different to when I was training. However, I don't think it is correct that you only get one go at a PGCE. It is/was true that, if you failed to meet the teaching standards, you would be barred from ever teaching in a state school, but that's not the case here; you wouldn't be failing anything, you just wouldn't be completing the course.

    As you say, it would really be worth your while finishing the placement if you can, because you are just 11 weeks away from gaining an extra qualification. Teaching isn't easy and it's great that you have given it a go and are honest enough to admit it's not for you. Do you think you can get through the next less-than-three-months by giving it your best shot but remembering that the children have a teacher who is looking out for them, and you are there to gain some experience and help them learn a few new things?
    VickyCat likes this.
  3. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    As you note the PGCE is seperate from QTS, however it is worth checking with your university that you have passed the PGCE as sometimes requirements to show you should get QTS are embedded in the PGCE assessment.

    To be a TA you don't need any specific qualification, which is reflected in the pay.

    Once you have a PGCE there is little point doing another. It is an academic qualification. If you leave with just the PGCE though you can gain QTS through an assessment only route. QTS is required by most schools, but not all, to teach.

    I doubt your university would have sent you back into school if they thought your would fail your placement though. In the long run, sticking it out for 11 weeks should be worth the temporary stress. You don't have to go on to be a teacher straight away. QTS now will still be valid in 10 years time unless you do something silly. Talk to your university though if you are worried about anything.
    VickyCat and agathamorse like this.
  4. colacao17

    colacao17 Senior commenter

    Don't be too critical of yourself, this is no reflection on you. This is the dilemma of many teachers today. Dragged down by the system, many are too commited / too perfectionist to be happy with being less than perfect.

    You may feel you are 'mediocre' but in fact the most many children can hope for in the current climate is 'mediocre' teaching from teachers too stressed and exhausted to manage any more.

    I am currently (more than 20 years in) having that 'mediocrity' conversation with myself but am thinking of changing school rather than getting out altogether,

    It's easy for me to say, but I'd recommend hanging on and seeing it through. (Way back when I finished my PGCE I found the real job less stressful and less exhausting although I know things have changed and there is now way more pressure on teachers than there was back then)

    Maybe all you need is time out. I think trying life as a TA is a good idea, you stay in touch with the system, you will get to see teachers at work every day and one day, when the time is right for you, you might find yourself wanting to be in their place.

    Good luck whatever you decide. Teeaching can, all too often, become a treadmill on which you feel your time is being wasted on pointless stuff while children lose out. But at its best, teaching is a wonderful, enjoyable and fulfilling way to spend the working day.
  5. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    The thing is, the PGCE course is a massive roller-coaster. One day you're having a great time and the next, you wish you had never applied for the course. I remember our pgce leader telling us this on the first day. I think it turned out to be the most accurate thing we were told.

    I think that you should see it through to the end. Tick off each week as it passes.

    If I was in your position, I would :
    1) finish pgce to obtain qts. Just get through it by ticking off the weeks.
    2) look for a TA position
    3) whilst working as a ta, pick up as many tips and tricks from teachers as possible, get loads of experience under my belt
    4) after a year or so of TA work, apply for nqt role safe in the knowledge that I appreciate the work of TAs and have learnt from teachers about the job and gave supported SEN children, for example.
    VickyCat, steely1 and Gsr25 like this.
  6. richardspencer1186

    richardspencer1186 New commenter

    Completely agree with Celago22.

    I gained QTS in 2018. From the very first day of my final placement, I knew the school wasn’t for me. I spent the entire placement either moaning to my parents or my course mates how much I was struggling and couldn’t cope at the school. I even got to the point where I sat in the PPA room one lunchtime considering whether just to take myself home and tell uni I quit.
    I genuinely counted down every single day I had left of the placement.
    However, I - somehow - got through it and although I’ve not found a permanent school yet, as a supply teacher I have been lucky enough to work in a lot of great schools that, should the opportunity arise, it would be a pleasure to work in. I’d also like to think, in some small way, I’ve positively influenced young lives which is what I signed up for!
    You’ve got this, you CAN do it!
    steely1 and celago22 like this.
  7. greasychipbuttie

    greasychipbuttie New commenter

    I’m having a rough time. Feel very isolated, confidence gone.

    No great relationships with mentor or other staff (maybe this is my issue??)

    I try to be friendly and helpful but just feel “in the way” in the class when being a TA and then when teaching i don’t feel comfortable.

    Not long left of this first block placement but my god, I could go sick for the next couple of weeks!
    VickyCat likes this.
  8. richardspencer1186

    richardspencer1186 New commenter

    That’s exactly where I was, in the situation described in my post above.

    I was treated the same, mainly by the teacher whose class I was in. She even took, on occasion, criticising me in front of the TAs and/or kids.

    I had to dig incredibly deep to survive, bite my tongue and realise that when I have a student teacher or whoever in my class, to treat them with respect, even when they make - what I might perceive as - mistakes.

    Stick with it, you’ve got this!
    celago22 and VickyCat like this.

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