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Should this American remain in UK for PGCE or teach abroad first?

Discussion in 'Career clinic' started by American-teacher, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Hello,

    I've just completed a master's degree in applied linguistics and TESOL in England. I'm American, possess more than 20 years corporate work experience, and wish to become a school teacher. However, I am lacking paid teaching experience. I can go anywhere in the world to accomplish this due to no attachments. I would be willing to return to the UK for a PGCE or even go somewhere else in the world where a decent salary can help pay off some student loans for this latest master's degree. I welcome advice regarding potential career path ideas short and long term.

    Long term, I prefer to live in an English-speaking country aside from the United States and wish to work with primary school children here. I am not opposed to teaching secondary, however. Ultimately I really wish to work in England. I was going to apply for a PGCE programme this month. However, according to this forum, it's highly unlikely I can remain in the UK once QTS is achieved since the few schools offering a Tier 2 visa probably won't wish to pay a salary for an American worker due to local competition. I don't want to pursue the PGCE if I can't remain and teach in England for at least an additional year afterwards.

    Do I have skills/experience that sets me apart from other candidates half my age? I have all the necessary credentials for a UK PGCE. However, I do not have is the right to remain or work here full time. My student visa expired & my visitor visa will expire at the end of July. Unless someone here indicates that I have a high chance of standing out amongst competition once QTS is received, the PGCE will be placed on hold. The only way to return to England would be as a student/Tier 4 visa for the duration of the PGCE or to secure employment which would provide the Tier 2 visa. I know that the latter of the two options is nearly impossible unless a PGCE is sought first.

    I am only eligible for the PGCE degree to be paid out of pocket-an extraordinary amount of money to be paid for the year of tuition, accommodation and expenses. The student visa provided by a PGCE only allows several months to find a teaching position after the programme finishes. Therefore, in July/August, I would only have a short window of time to find a job in autumn. It seems highly unlikely to find a full-time teaching job in England after the PGCE due to competition with others who wouldn't require a Tier 2 visa. Is that still the case, even if I pursue a PGCE for secondary English or Science for which teachers are in demand? I prefer to teach primary but I would go the secondary route for QTS if need be.

    I'm aware that PGCE's from other countries such as Canada, the USA, and New Zealand are valid in the UK and sometimes require additional credentials/a little additional work. I don't wish to study in the USA again but I would consider going there or elsewhere if a transferrable QTS for England could result-particularly if they have PGCE programmes that are funded for/free for foreigners like myself. Does anyone know of any programmes abroad -besides in the US-that can lead to a free to moderately-priced teacher training which can be recognized in the UK for QTS?

    I have thoughts of pursuing a PhD and believe that the transition to teaching in the UK might be the most successful if this were to take place since these are advanced credentials. But this is the least desirable route considering the amount of time, money and energy involved. Going backwards from a PhD to a teacher training might also lead to visa issues later on due to the career-progression clause. Not sure if this notion should be discarded for these reasons.

    Does anyone know if there are international schools that exist which could provide a Tier 2 visa and salary to someone like myself for employment in teaching? Or a Tier 4 to study with them in some way? Ideally it would be a teacher-training of some sort.

    The problem seems to be that I have the specialized master's degree without teaching experience. I'm debating if money should be invested in the CELTA and then to seek some sort of teaching job abroad, or to pursue a job in UAE or China for a little money and a challenging experience. My intention in doing this would be to return to the UK later on. I would consider taking a online course or two that could make me a viable candidate for future employment in the UK. I'm not sure what those courses would be though and welcome ideas on this also.

    My apologies for the length of this posting. If anyone has information that could help shed some light on these matters, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you all very much.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    You seem very confused.

    You have just completed an MA in applied linguistics and TESOL, and are considering a PGCE in secondary English or Science? SCIENCE?! Do you have any science qualifications? If you don't, you're not getting on to a science PGCE. How would you teach any science at A-level without any knowledge?! You also say that long-term you want to work with primary school children - so how would completing a secondary PGCE help you to achieve that?

    You need to sit down and think about what you actually want to do, and why. Start with your MA: Why did you decide to go to the UK in the first place to complete your masters? What was your aim? What did you envisage happening when you finished the course?

    Then, consider your motivation for being a teacher in the UK: Have you actually spent any time in a UK school? If you want to be a teacher in the UK, you need to do this. You need to spend time in BOTH primary and secondary schools, so you can make an informed decision as to which phase you want to teach AND understand the realities of teaching in a UK school / teaching the British curriculum. If you were to train to teach primary, you would have to teach every subject, and you could end up in any year group in KS1 or 2 - you need to spend time in schools so you know what that means.

    Regarding your question 'Do I have skills/experience that sets me apart from other candidates half my age?' I'm sure that you could get a place on a PGCE teaching primary, or secondary English. But you have nothing that would make you attractive in terms of visa sponsorship for employment. Schools are more interested in your ability to teach, as gained on the PGCE, than your work experience prior to the PGCE. They don't care about pre-PGCE teaching (you seem to think they do, as you say 'I am lacking paid teaching experience.') Also, having a PhD will not help you to become a school teacher - the knowledge and skills are completely different, and you'd find it a massive step down.

    You also say 'The problem seems to be that I have the specialized master's degree without teaching experience.' The problem for who? Having 'teaching' experience without a PGCE means nothing - it won't help you get a job, or a visa.
    mothorchid and CWadd like this.
  3. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    You can't train in Primary and then decide to teach Secondary. They are completely different systems.

    Also, as @blueskydreaming points out, you want to train in either science or English. You're a linguist. You're better off focusing on English.

    Also, standing put from the competition...only way you'll do that is by having exceptional references and skills picked up on the PGCE. And it's not competition - they are new teachers, who like you, are looking for a job. Not sure why you reference their ages - start a new career in mid life, and you're in the same position as all the new teachers who started straight out of University.
    agathamorse and blueskydreaming like this.
  4. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    That's a very British way of looking at things. It's quite common in the states to train to teach in a subject you don't have a degree in. They take exams called "Praxis" (I think) which is basically an exam that makes sure they have the subject knowledge for what they are teaching. Given that academic standards in most US High schools are extremely low, it doesn't really matter.
  5. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    o_O I am British, and the OP wants to train in Britain, so I will of course look at things from a British point of view.

    I understand that in the US the education system is completely different to the UK, both at school and uni, hence the advice that the OP needs to experience UK schools.
    agathamorse and CWadd like this.
  6. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    My tongue was firmly in my cheek for much of that post. I'm sorry it didn't come across :oops:
    CWadd and blueskydreaming like this.
  7. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Wow, this is complicated. I am going to try and respond in a very straightforward manner, so I apologise if it seems abrupt.

    1. You did a masters in applied linguistics with TESOL. Why? Did you hope this would provide a route into education? I have some colleagues currently doing this course: it's the sort of thing you do if you're an experienced EFL teacher.

    2. With that in mind, EFL teaching seems to be the strength you currently present. I suspect you could get an entry-level job as an EFL teacher in a foreign country: it wouldn't pay well, but it would get you in a classroom of sorts for a bit.

    3. However, you state you want to teach primary in the UK. This might be possible outside the state system (Academies, Private Schools) but you still come up against a major issue: visa. Schools in the UK don't do visa sponsorship in my experience: it's expensive, it's a pain and they can find someone locally instead.

    I'm not saying it's impossible. A colleague of mine studied and worked in Scotland as a teacher: their system is a little different to England, so you might want to look into that.

    In conclusion:

    Easy(ish) option 1: teach English abroad. See where it gets you (you'll be surprised). Won't pay well but it's a start.

    Tricky option 2: seek a job at an international school. You won't get into a fantastic school as your qualifications/experience are lacking, but some are willing to train. Some are willing to take on people and throw them in the classroom (sink or swim time!). Better pay than EFL.

    Possible option 3: train in Scotland and do the probationary year. This might open doors for you. Or it might not (but then you can return to Option 2 with a stronger CV and get into a better school).

    I know that this isn't what you want to hear, as you really want to work in the UK. But basically, you need to sort out your paperwork: UK schools are unlikely to do it for you. This is why I am suggesting working abroad, because international schools support paperwork as standard.
    mothorchid and agathamorse like this.

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