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Teaching Assistant to English PGCE/SCITT?

Discussion in 'English' started by Istari, Aug 14, 2019.

  1. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Hi all! I'm starting as a Teaching Assistant this September (very excited!), with a view to embarking upon a teacher training course in 2020. I want to submit my application prior to Christmas 2019, however:

    1) I have an MA English Literature, but not a BA. Will I have to do a SKE course to make up for this?
    2) Will the school disapprove if I ask for references prior to Christmas? After all, I will only just have started the job! I'm leaning more towards the salaried SCITT- how soon is too soon to ask the school if they will support me with this?

    Any advice would be much appreciated!
  2. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    1. No. Crickey, I've met plenty of English teachers who don't have a BA in English (let alone an MA in anything). You'll be fine (and will most likely have to learn to teach down and not over-complicate things.... and that's just for your colleagues in the department!)

    2. a) Probably not. I was a TA in similar circumstances and all my colleagues/leadership were very supportive (I was going back to Uni to do an MSc, so a SCITT wasn't an option).
    b) Ask about doing your SCITT in school once you feel you have a reputation for competency and willingness AND you are sure the school is the one you want to be in for your SCITT & NQT year.

    Good luck!
    saluki and Istari like this.
  3. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    1) Thank you, that's so reassuring! I was really worried that it would affect my chances of getting into the English PGCE + employment later! Honestly, I feel like I'll still have some catching up to do in terms of Shakespeare and Chaucer- my MA was mostly on Victorian and Romantic stuff (*_*)

    2) Okay, based on what you've said, I think a good plan would be to request references for the PGCE prior to Christmas (English PGCE fills up quick, doesn't it?), and maybe hold off on the SCITT request for now!

    Thanks again :) - any tips for doing well as a first time TA?
  4. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    You'll be fine then - the English Lit GCSE is pretty much Victorian novels & Romantic poetry! Sure there's also Shakespeare, but probably the same ones you did at school - Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing. Your best bet is to read whatever your school teaches at KS3 and KS4, then plow into some contemporary children's and YA books so you can recommend some to your students.

    8 plus years of teaching - I've never taught Chaucer or even seen him on a scheme of work.
    Istari likes this.
  5. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Well done - you'll be fine. There should be no problem with asking for references before Christmas … assuming the school know of your plans? I think they'll be very supportive. As for doing the SCITT in school - excellent advice from @tb9605. We have a TA who has been with us for two years now who is starting a very similar course with us in September; most schools are only to happy to support staff they know and value highly. Best of luck!
    Istari likes this.
  6. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Will do- thanks for the brilliant advice! :)
  7. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Ah- they don't know of my plans just yet :D! I was reluctant to mention it at the interview, as I assumed it would dent my chances! I'll have to find a good moment to bring it up- hopefully after I've impressed them :p! Thank you for the encouragement!
    sunshineneeded likes this.
  8. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    Congratulations on your new post and starting the journey to becoming an English teacher - it's the best job in the world!

    As others have said, your MA will qualify you more than most, so don't worry about that. You won't need to take a subject knowledge enhancement.

    The best thing you can do this year to help yourself when you train is to read everything on your school's KS3 syllabus. This will be where you will really feel a gap in your knowledge - the variety of good quality contemporary children's and YA literature available these days is enormous and there isn't really a staple diet across schools in KS3 the way there is at KS4 and 5. Having a good knowledge of what's current in the children's and young adult fiction world will go a long way in helping you to resource lessons with good examples of accessible contemporary fiction, and will enable you to be more creative with your syllabi, too. I love pairing older classics with thematically linked newer fiction, for example, so I constantly keep a close eye on children's and YA new releases to see if anything interesting strikes my fancy to teach. Look up the Carnegie award shortlists for the last couple of years and pick a few to read - I do this every year and always find some great stuff to teach and to recommend to the kids. I would also recommend fully re-familiarising yourself with literary terminology and getting a book to help you if necessary. You will need to be able to analyse texts, using the appropriate terminology to describe the language features, off the top of your head, so you do need to know your stuff. The more confident you are with all this before you start a teacher training course, the better, as it will make your planning so much quicker. What makes trainees slow at planning is having to do so much research before they can put lessons together - the wider your base of knowledge to draw upon, the less time it takes.

    Regarding references, most schools would be delighted to support a new entrant to the profession. I'd leave it a couple of months or so before asking for a reference - as tb9605 said above, make sure you've made a positive impression before mentioning your future goals, as then you'll be in a better position to ask about the potential SCITT placement. You'll also know more about the school as a working environment - you may find once you've worked there for a bit that it wouldn't necessarily be the most supportive place to train, and you might prefer to look elsewhere.

    Good luck - I hope you have a smooth start to your first term!
    Istari likes this.
  9. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    1) Aha- I have really overlooked YA thus far! This is great advice from you and tb9605- I will certainly review the Carnegie award shortlists and give myself a much-needed update. I love your idea of thematically linking classic and contemporary fiction :D - it sounds like a great way of making trickier prose more engaging and intelligible! I'll have a stab at it as soon as I've familiarised myself with the latest YA fiction.

    2) Do you have any recommendations for books on literary terminology? If it will help me with planning, I'll put it at the top of my priority list!

    3) Thank you for being so positive! There's a lot of doom and gloom surrounding the profession at the moment, it's so lovely to talk to a happy teacher :)!
  10. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    You're welcome! It's a pleasure to be a voice of positivity in the wilderness!

    Most 'how to teach' books focus on pedagogy rather than actual subject knowledge content. You could buy an exam board revision guide for GCSE Literature, which would have everything you needed to know in it. You might also find Teaching Grammar Through Literature to be useful (though I must acknowledge that I am one of the authors!). It has a whole section on literary terminology and how to use it with texts, and the reason my co-author and I wrote it is because we couldn't find anything to help us with this when we were training to be teachers! You can buy it from Amazon if you're interested.
    Istari likes this.
  11. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    Just bought the Kindle edition! :D I'm looking forward to reading it!
    rachelsays likes this.
  12. Istari

    Istari New commenter

    I just wanted to let you know that your book has been a HUGE help! I had no idea about how English teaching had shifted so heavily towards grammar until I started as a TA. KS3 analysis seems to be almost entirely informed by knowledge of sentence construction and identification of lexical categories! I would have been lost without your book, it's so different to the way I was taught! o_O
  13. rachelsays

    rachelsays New commenter

    Thank you so much for coming back to tell me you've been finding it useful! I'm so glad! I hope you're enjoying your new TA job!

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