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Teaching English without an English degree...

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by ManOfSteele_, May 11, 2018.

  1. ManOfSteele_

    ManOfSteele_ New commenter


    I am currently a Learning Support Assistant at a secondary school and they have offered me the chance to start as an unqualified English teacher this coming September. I am educated to postgraduate level and the plan is for me to build a portfolio and achieve QTS via the Assessment Only route. They have done this a number of times with UQ teachers and it seems as though it has been successful. However there is one issue that is nagging at me and it's making me really very nervous for my future career: both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees are in Music.

    I have very good A levels in English and have no doubts in my ability to teach it; the scheme of work is written and has very good resources to go with it. The school evidently doesn't want to train music teachers because they (or the government) don't see them as valuable. My concern is what happens when the time comes for me to leave this school and all I have is QTS and no formal English qualifications beyond A level. Are there any qualifications I could study whilst teaching or upon receipt of QTS that would help my case? As far as I understand, QTS is not subject specific, is it?

    What worries me is that I might want to leave in 10 years time, and when I go for interviews to teach English against candidates that have a degree/PGCE in English, I could be overlooked simply because my qualifications aren't English-specific.
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    You could consider completing some standalone English modules with the Open Uni or similar, in order to improve subject knowledge.

    If you were to stay a decent amount of time at your current school then you would have experience and qualifications to mention on job applications and at interviews - experience and results would allow some schools to overlook the qualification issue.

    In my experience, limited as it is (PGCE + 3 years): at one of my schools a qualified PE teacher had moved into the English department and stayed there - PE jobs in the area were rare, and he only taught English at KS3+4 - the school had major recruitment issues (it had been RI for years and later went into special measures), he needed a job, so everyone in that situation was happy; another school I worked at seemed to be trying to fill the department with people with 1st class degrees in English, as though trying to prove something (it was a 'good' school according to Ofsted, striving for 'outstanding').

    So, I would say that if you go ahead with this there will be a job for you somewhere.

    The other thing I will say is that one of the bonuses of undertaking the PGCE is that we had to do everything, including creating materials, writing long term plans, medium term plans and unit schemes of work, while on it, which I can appreciate now as being extremely useful in helping me to understand the curriculum and the students' progression through it. If everything is in place at your school, then how are you going to develop these essential skills? You cannot rely on others forever, because the curriculum will change, student needs will change, colleagues will move on, and so on. Is there something the school can do to support you on this?
    suechoccy2 likes this.
  3. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

    QTS allows you to teach period. This includes any subject and phase as long as you can get a job. It is your post qualification experience that will be important particularly passing NQT induction.As part of the training there will be a subject audit which will evaluate your current knowledge of English. Do check out the KS3, KS4 GCSE and A level requirements this can help focus on any gaps you may have.
  4. ManOfSteele_

    ManOfSteele_ New commenter

    Thanks for your reply! I have definitely considered taking the Open Uni route, I was thinking about seeing if I could transfer credits from any previous module in my Master's to see if it could count towards an Open Uni degree. I suppose the only thing that gets me with that is the course length, plus the amount of spare time that I would need that I just won't have come September. I was supposed to be doing a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course but you have to be enrolled on an ITT programme to be eligible for funding. With Assessment Only you aren't enrolled on an ITT programme until you've been teaching for 2 years, so it's a bit of a pointless exercise. I am confident in my ability to teach English anyway, it has always been one of my strongest subjects. It's not as though they're asking me to teach Maths or Biology, thank god!

    I'm glad to hear your story about the PE teacher, because I was hoping that my experience post-qualification would help me out with getting another job, and hopefully a few years proving myself to be well-suited to teaching English will be beneficial.

    What I meant when I mentioned the scheme of work was in place is that come September, I will have a multitude of resources to lean on and I won't have to create an entire scheme of work from scratch. I will have to create my own resources in line with my planning as the year progresses, and these things will have to be done in order for my portfolio to demonstrate that I meet teaching standards. The school will be assigning me a mentor from the English department to advise me on creating this portfolio. As the years progress and I qualify, I expect I will be confident enough to create my own schemes of work. As an aside, I have looked into doing a 'PGCE top-up' with the Uni of Northampton which allows anyone with QTS to study certain modules from their PGCE course in order to achieve this level. It's definitely something I'll look into.

    Thank you so much for your advice!
  5. ManOfSteele_

    ManOfSteele_ New commenter

    Thank you, I am hoping that it won't be too much of a hurdle. I am just allowing myself to get worked up over it when I should be preoccupied with preparing for September, not worrying about the distant future! I'm currently studying up on the syllabus for all year groups and in my current role as an LSA I am spending a lot of time in the English department so hopefully I'll be fine. Thanks for your reply!
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    @marcsteele95 It sounds like you have it all figured out, so I'm sure you'll be fine. Good luck!
  7. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

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