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Pregnant and starting PGCE - fees and training provider advice

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by natpt, Jun 15, 2020.

  1. natpt

    natpt New commenter


    I have just received acceptance from my preferred 2 teacher training providers and the very same day found out that I am completely unexpectedly, but very happily, pregnant.

    I am hopefully due mid-February and would ideally like to start my ITT year this September, take time out from the Christmas break and then complete the second placement the following January.
    Has anybody else experienced this and if so, do you know if you would need to pay additional tuition/course fees, or can you just take an unpaid maternity leave/break from the course?

    It would also be great to get any advice or feedback on whether a SCITT or University led training provider would be better positioned to support in this situation? Pre-pregnancy discovery I would have been very happy with both placements. The SCITT is outstanding and I know the schools will be local to me which will be a huge plus whilst pregnant, however I feel bad potentially taking up a place for 2 years when there are limited placements with the SCITT. I also worry that I may be penalised by not creating the best first impression with news of a pregnancy. The University on the other hand has lots more placements however I worry it may be harder to pick up where I left off in a less personal environment.

    I want to be as transparent with the providers and let them know as possible however I have had a miscarriage before and would prefer to wait until at least 10-12 weeks before advising them, which would still be before the course starts.
    Ideally I would like to call the providers for anonymous advice to start with and however their phone lines are all closed due to covid and email is the only opportunity for initial correspondence.

    If anyone has been or knows someone who has been in the same position and could offer any suggestions that would be hugely appreciated!
  2. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    Congratulations on your pregnancy news.

    I don't know anyone who has done this personally, but I know that some training providers are more flexible than others when it comes to re-doing placements etc. A girl on our course left one of her first teaching placements last year due to problems with the school but was allowed to continue on the course and take that placement again this year.

    What I will say however, (and please don't take this the wrong way) but I think doing a PGCE or school direct course would be seriously challenging when pregnant. You'll have to take time out for midwife visits, scans, feeling poorly etc. Schools and training providers may really look down on those things, and as a trainee you are expected to have good attendance when on placement. The stress of this type of training is no joke either. It can be a lot of late nights, long days in Uni and on placement. I personally wouldn't advise it. I've got two weeks left now on my training course and I've witnessed the toll it's taken on my myself and others on the course. I am beyond exhausted!!

    I'm not saying it's impossible, but I think having gone through a PGCE myself I would think very carefully about it. The health of yourself and your unborn baby is what is most important.
    Gsr25 likes this.
  3. natpt

    natpt New commenter

    Thanks for your comment.

    Do you know if the training provider be able to refuse me the option of taking time out in between if it fitted in with the term dates though?

    I know it's going to be tough but I feel that with the way term time falls, this option would allow me to take leave several months before my due date and return for the second placement with a 10 month old which would be preferential to leaving a year and then starting the course with a 6 month old.

    I also ideally don't want to defer before my 12 week scan for obvious reasons.

    Such a tricky position as I have been wanting to start this course for years and this has thrown such a curve ball!
  4. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    I think it would completely depend on the training provider, and how flexible they are. As I said, some are more flexible than others. But I highly doubt you'd be able to leave your teaching practice half way through, so you'd have to have to complete your first teaching placement up until Christmas.

    I think you need to sit down and talk things through with your partner and family. Are they supportive? Will your partner understand that you may have to work late nights and not be able to see him? (I hardly saw much of my daughter during my PGCE. It was horrible).

    Being on placement is tough. Your school life will depend heavily on what school you are placed at too. Some schools may expect (demand!) a lot of you.

    You'd also have to think about how you would fit in midwife and scan appointments. You really don't have much time on placement to do anything other than focus on getting through, so think carefully how you'd be able to fit these things in.
  5. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    I think too depending on your subject you may have to travel quite a way to a placement. As a mentor and a mother! I would advise against it. It is incredibly challenging and you will be surprised at how tired you will get. Are you working at the moment? Could you defer?
  6. Chesters8

    Chesters8 New commenter

    I would definitely not advise doing a PGCE in these circumstances. I have mentored many trainee teachers and found that most trainees that come to the course with more complicated circumstances (including pregnancy) are often not successful and mostly drop out.
    The course and teaching in general are extremely demanding in terms of time, energy and resilience and many new parents often resent the fact that they have so little time for their own child. From a practical point of view time off for appointments etc could also be tricky.

    I can see it's a difficult decision and you don't want to tell the provider too soon. I think you would be best to wait as long as you can and then defer and you would have a very good reason for doing so.

    Also if you start and then effectively do the course over 2 years this might need some explaining in future job hunting as the assumption might be that you had experienced difficulties with the course.
    VickyCat likes this.
  7. natpt

    natpt New commenter

    If I take the SCITT option I can guarantee local placements as the partner schools are all within half hour of my home. Unfortunately I handed in my resignation at work last week when I was accepted on my placements (as I said, this pregnancy was very unexpected!) and I am unlikely to find a new job whilst sporting a baby bump so a full year deferral isn't the ideal choice unfortunately.
    I was hoping that completing the first term/placement whilst in my second trimester and then returning with a 10 month old rather would be less tiring than trying to start the course with a 6 month old.

    Would you say it is of course not ideal, but not impossible?
  8. natpt

    natpt New commenter

    Do you know if your friend had to pay for an extra term of tuition when they redid the placement? I ideally want to understand the financial implications before I speak to the training provider but am having difficulty finding this anywhere!

    I'm fortunate to have a very supporting husband who is also a teacher and I was previously in a Global Director position so am familiar with extremely high workload and long hours and have experienced it whilst being pregnant before.

    I do agree about wanting to spend as much time as possible with a young child though, which is why I would prefer to enrol this year. The way due dates fall I would be able to take a longer maternity leave this way than if i deferred a year. Lots to consider...
  9. natpt

    natpt New commenter

    Were there some people that managed it though?

    Also, as a mentor, did the situation influence your assessment of pregnant trainees (even unconsciously) do you think? That is more my concern - as long as I don't have any major complications I am prepared to put in everything to make this work however am concerned that I will receive judgement from my placements.
  10. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Will your subject require any risk assessment issues? PE, science? DT? Also other things like chicken pox and measles etc?
  11. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    Yes, she had to pay an extra £600 to do her placement again. This was because she dropped out of her first placement. Some providers wouldn’t have let her continue, but our provider seemed flexible with it.

    The problem with the PGCE is, unlike your global director job is, you never know what you’re going to get. It can be a real mix bag. This year I’ve had to put up with so much BS, criticism and hoop jumping it’s unreal. There is a reason for the huge drop out rates!

    I know you want to wait until the 12 week point, but I would highly suggest speaking with your provider(s) as soon as you can and inform them of your situation. It may be a point blank ‘No’ and then you can search for something else.

    Is there any chance you could go back to your previous job? Explain the situation.

    Not trying to put you off, but I’d hate for you to be judged, and feel overwhelmed then drop out as a result. Getting some clarify is that you need right now. Speak to your provider(s) as soon as you feel you can and take it from there.

    Good luck!
  12. Chesters8

    Chesters8 New commenter

    Hello @natpt Occasionally someone did manage a PGCE in more complicated circumstances but it was rare and they found it a difficult experience. So it is not impossible.
    The PGCE criteria are very specific so this should avoid someone being discriminated against. In most cases I dealt with; the trainee chose to withdraw because they were not enjoying the course/finding it too hard in terms of work/life balance.

    However the fact that you are seeking advice here suggests you do have a realistic understanding of the PGCE and that in itself means it is more likely you will be successful; but it will be hard.

    Something to be aware of though is that in my experience in schools in general there can be resentment when staff who are parents take time off related to their children (e.g. for illness, appointments etc). I think it is much more so than in other jobs as with teaching, if you are not there, someone has to cover for you. But of course many teachers are parents so being a parent is not a reason for not being a teacher.

    You probably need to find out from the provider as soon as possible whether your plan is acceptable to them because if it is not then the decision is made for you. Otherwise you will have to carry on weighing up the options. Good luck
  13. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    The issue you will have is that training places are allocated on a yearly basis. The training provider may have a place in your subject available this year but not next year. This is especially so in a school based programme where they apply for the placements based in part on what the partner schools are able to offer.
  14. Gsr25

    Gsr25 Occasional commenter

    Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy, how very exciting! :)

    Yes, it is possible, depending on your training provider and they support they can offer but also it can be a bit of a gamble as to how much support you will get when you are on placement, and that's without any other challenges you may have in your personal life.

    Also it depends on what kind of pregnancy you have, with my first, I was working in a reception class and I was signed off from 28 weeks because I had problems with my hips and some days I could barely walk, let alone sit on a tiny chair. During my second pregnancy I was sick every day, and I have known people to suffer terribly with sickness throughout pregnancy. Something like that would impact on attendance and you probably wouldn't be able to perform your best if you aren't feeling great.

    There is no way I could have done my PGCE while pregnant. personally, I put off training until my children were older because I knew I couldn't do it otherwise and I still felt shattered.

    I would just discreetly mention it to your training provider, find out how the land lies.
    Good luck.
    VickyCat likes this.
  15. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Legally, under QAA, if you go for a HEI PGCE then you have formal rights to suspend your course and then return a year later. We’ve had people do exactly that. No extra fees and no issues. I don’t know about SCITTs. They may have different ideas. Certainly there is no issue with a university led PG because the tutors themselves have no power over the rules. The Uni’s governance under QAA regulates the rights of students and so the tutors cannot say no.
    Would I advise it? It affects your attendance for sure. It’s not easy in that first trimester. But there’s nothing stopping you.
    VickyCat likes this.
  16. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    @mr Media. I would love to know out of interest if a Uni has the right to fail someone based on their attendance?
  17. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    yes. And on a PGCE that can be very strict and non negotiatable, and not only that, also triggered by a very low incidence of non attendance
  18. ally2900

    ally2900 New commenter

    But surely if you pass everything the Uni has set out for you, and you have good attendance on placement they would have a hard time failing someone?
  19. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    no, attendance is a condition of passing, wihout the attendance, you haven't passed.
  20. Sc27994

    Sc27994 New commenter

    I would consider deferring if I were you, your result is largely attendance based.

    Also they risk assessments for pregnant women in schools is very very strict in my experience and may work against your progress. Also from my own experience of being a pregnant woman I had horrendous morning sickness 20 hours a day for 7 months (thankfully, I was a restaurant manager at the time not at a school, so I was able to take a quick trip to the bathrooms and crack on) however if this happens at a school you would be sent home for 48 hours each time, again effecting attendance.
    Also would you want to work a stressful and long working week as an NQT with a baby at home on the back of sleepless nights, it would be difficult.

    We’re all different of course but I would consider leaving it a while if you can afford to.

    Good luck with your decision!

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