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Primary vs Secondary?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by Daniiiii, Oct 17, 2015.

  1. Daniiiii

    Daniiiii New commenter


    I will be applying for a PGCE soon, but I was wondering - can anyone give some insight into Primary vs. Secondary? For instance, if you had experience as a Year 6 teacher, is it still a big leap to Secondary?

    For example, how do placements work at Secondary? Will you specifically be working in the class of the subject you have chosen? Is the PGCE heavily focused on exams at Secondary level?

    Also, does the Secondary PGCE include up to A-Levels - and do you focus on an age range as you would at Primary?

    Thanks for your help!!!
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    In secondary, you focus on your subject across KS 3, 4 and 5. Your PGCE training is in a subject, for.instance, History - whether you taught KS3 or GCSE or A would depend on your placement schools.

    You should arrange some visits to schools so you can gauge primary and secondary schools and make an informed.decision (I think you have to as part of your application process?)

    damnant quod non intellegunt
  3. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Definitely! Be sure to do your research and make the right decision for yourself - primary and secondary teaching are very different.
  4. mikeshaw

    mikeshaw Administrator Staff Member

    A tutor I met at the Institute of Education used to get asked this question a lot. Her reply was always: "What frightens you more: wee or hormones?"
    Flere-Imsaho likes this.
  5. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    I'm applying for Secondary and I'd say it was a big leap (attitudes, atmosphere, maturity etc), although I know in many PGCE's you now have to work in an alternate "phase" during your course to see how learning changes and where your students came from/are going to.

    In secondary, placements are different depending on which course you choose. For example a few SCITT course I've looked into are 4x a week with 1 day being a learning day in uni, whereas some courses are 5x full days in schools only. University PGCEs tend to work in blocks - 6 weeks in university, then the rest of the term in school and vice versa. Timetables will be 0.5 (50%) and will raise slowly depending on how well you're getting on (it could be lower than that, this is based on one course I've read - they don't throw you straight in though!) Usually you'll have 2 placement schools during your PGCE. As for assessment content, it would vary. Some courses offer QTS only, which is a few essays at 2k words each and a few presentations, whereas the PGCE asks for a few more essays and a portfolio (this is just one course that I've seen).

    As for age range, it depends on your subject. I've chosen Psychology so my age range is KS4/5 (14-18) But I imagine if I chose Maths I'd able to teach 11-18. Obviously, it depends on your knowledge in the area and you can specialise what Key Stage you want to work in later on.

    My advice would be to ring a few colleges/SCITTS/universities and ask them all of these questions.
  6. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    In Primary, you have responsibility for a class and you teach them all the subjects on the National Curriculum. In Secondary, you have responsibility for a subject and you teach that subject to a variety of classes across different year groups. They are really quite different propositions.

    With the Primary PGCE, you tend to choose between Early Years Primary (3-7 year olds; EYFS and KS1) and General Primary (5-11 year olds; KS1 and KS2). Choosing one doesn't mean that you can only teach this age range - you will actually be qualified to teach up to KS5, even if you opt for the Early Years PGCE! - but obviously you will focus on that age range and your school placements will be in that age range, and you are more likely to get a job which matches your experience.

    It's important to know that, when you are employed to work in a school, the head can direct you to teach in any year group. In Secondary you would expect to teach a variety of year groups during one academic year, but you might not realise that it's quite common for heads in Primary schools to move teachers to a different year group once they've taught one for a few years. If you are working in a Primary school, although you can say that your preference is to work within KS2, the head could still decide that you will be the Year 1 teacher (perhaps they can't find anyone more suitable for the role). So if you opt for Primary, make sure you are comfortable with the idea of potentially working with the full age range.
  7. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    As an aside I worry you have chosen to struggle to get a job as well... I wonder whether you would be better doing either a science or maths PGCE and then looking to offer or teach some a level Psychology..... That is what all of the teachers of it I have met do...
  8. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    My degree and MA aren't relevant to maths or science, and I don't enjoy either subject. I'm aware job prospects will be low, so I'm considering applying for Social Science as a whole, then I've got a few more options available. Failing that, I'm currently a cover supervisor for a school and could resort to that or become a supply teacher until a position opens.
  9. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Maybe. I think a lot will come down to where you are, and whether or not you are prepared to move anywhere to find a job. Don't mean to be all doom and gloom here, but bear in mind that there is a 5 year rule on doing your NQT year. After that you can't get short term supply without it counting to induction.

    2) If your degree is in Psychology then it is relevant to maths and in particular science. Especially at KS3. With the greatest respect, unless you are lucky and get a job in a large sixth form college then you are going to work in a school. They will not fill a timetable of social sciences. They will have 1 (2 max) groups. I have never seen it offered as a GCSE, less chance now with the EBacc and progress 8 measures as well. You will be teaching some KS3 and 4 maths or science me thinks....

    Just go into this with open eyes. I think you could be a little naive.
  10. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Agree with Dynamo. Psychology/Sociology are niche subjects, generally taught by one practitioner, and on a part time basis.
    DYNAMO67 likes this.

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