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Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by tmarren20, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. Hi guys, I have an interview in Brunel University for the PGCE Course and I am slightly panicked at the thought of the interview. I have always wanted to be a teacher so I am desperate to secure a place on the course. Any past/current student out there with any advice? Thanks.
  2. Beebs98

    Beebs98 New commenter

    I realise this was posted almost six years ago but recently underwent the interview process at Brunel for PGCE Secondary English placements for 2020/2021. Just wanted to give a summary of the day for any future applicants.
    To begin with, they email you an overview of the day and also ask you to prepare a five minute lesson to deliver to other candidates:

    "1. The actual interview process will last approximately 3 - 4 hours and will include:
    Welcome and introduction to the course by PGCE Secondary Education Programme Tutor (20 minutes)
    Teaching a mini-lesson (5 mins for each candidate)
    Written/subject knowledge tasks (about 1 hour)
    Individual Interview (20 minutes) "
    For English, Mathematics and Science applicants:
     Prepare to teach a small group of fellow applicants as if they are KS4 pupils, in the area
    specified below. The ‘mini lesson’ should be planned to last no longer than five minutes.
     You may use supporting materials as appropriate. If you have materials electronically, you
    need to bring these on a USB stick.
    The title of the ‘mini-lesson’ for each subject is as follows:
     English: An Introduction to ‘Writing to persuade’ at KS4
     Mathematics: An Introduction to trigonometry at KS4
     Sciences: A topic of your choice within your subject specialism at KS4
     Sciences with Physics with Mathematics: A topic of your choice within your subject
    specialism at KS4"

    I arrived about 20 minutes early, along with most other candidates and waited to be taken up to one of the seminar rooms in the Eastern Gateway building with about 5 other candidates for core Secondary subject programmes. We were seated at a large oval table and sat through a brief introduction to the course from one of two very friendly and charismatic course leaders. The leader who led the day was a secondary teacher until very recently so it was reassuring to know that actual teachers are involved in the organisation of the course; one big fear as a PGCE student is that you will be unable to express any concerns to your uni tutor because they're so far removed from the school environment.

    Each candidate had to present their five minute lesson, which was timed using the leader's iPhone. We were allowed to plug in USBs to use PowerPoint presentations or use a whiteboard (they provided a marker, although I recommend bringing one if you are planning to use the board, purely because you will demonstrate traits of a good teacher in doing so (organisation)). I was the only one who did not use PowerPoint at all and I was also the only one who had brought printed handout resources. This was essentially an A4 worksheet with three activities for the English mini-lesson. I took a lesson plan sheet for my eyes only and just talked the group through the activities. I was wary of relying too heavily on slides or getting too engrossed in whatever I was doing on the board, which is why I went old school and just did handouts. The interviewers appeared pleased with this and took part in the activities so I would recommend including them in your lesson ('them' as in the interviewers!) and also having activities to fall back on if you get stuck or don't know what to say. I noticed another candidate finished their lesson within about one minute and did not prepare any activities or recall games as the rest of us had. Avoid talking for two minutes and then tapping out; the best lessons in that session were the ones where the candidate engaged with the group and asked questions of their 'class'. It is not a reflection on your teaching if other candidates don't know what an alkaline is, for example; you are being assessed on your ability to engage and relate to the group because teachers need to be able to engage and relate to students.

    The mini lessons were followed by a Maths and English assessment; I recognised some of the Maths questions were adaptations of the Professional Skills Tests from the DfE and the English assessment was an essay. The essay brief featured an extract from a DfE report on the value of homework and we were asked to weigh up the pros and cons. We were not allowed to use calculators and had about one hour for these tests. During this time, the interviewers were taking candidates out of the room one by one for one-to-one interviews. We had also been given a third assessment sheet for our subject area, so mine was a GCSE English Language style question where I had to evaluate an extract and comment on the writer's intention and use of structural devices.

    I was one of the last to go for the interview and it was a panel of the two interviewers from before. They asked questions such as "what makes a great teacher?", "what experience have you had in schools?", "what is an issue facing education today?". For this last question, I talked about #LoseTheBooths because it had been trending on Teacher Twitter the weekend prior, as well as the issue of teacher's lacking PPA time due to it being taken up by pastoral issues such as calling home for behaviour issues and attending TAC/ dept. meetings. I drew on my experiences as a SEN teaching assistant as it is a role that has greatly informed my understanding of teaching. If you don't have a lot of school experience or aren't very clear on issues affecting education today, I would recommend making a 'Teacher' account on Twitter or Instagram where you follow teachers and education leaders from the UK. I have accounts on both platforms and have enjoyed reading about different experiences of various levels of teaching staff, from Headteachers to assistants. It is also a great opportunity to be inspired by good practice and great resources which are shared daily.

    This is the longest post ever and I apologise for that, but I was frantically searching for advice/ a recount of what actually happens in a PGCE interview ahead of mine so I hope this helps anyone worried about what the day entails. I was successful in my application for the Brunel PGCE Secondary English and will begin September 2020. As my degree is not in English, my offer is conditional; I have to undertake a 16 week Subject Knowledge Enhancement course.

    Best of luck to any future applicants; remember to be yourself and not be hard on yourself if your lesson isn't perfect because you are applying to become a STUDENT teacher - the interviewers are looking for someone who is enthusiastic, passionate and prepared to learn how to become a great teacher on their course. :)
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
    yrduohc likes this.

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