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What's the difference between a PGCE and a PGCert?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by MathMan1, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    I'm beginning to research my options as regards progressing towards teacher training (Maths, Secondary) and I'm confused over one particular set of initials, PG Cert, which is what most SCITT's I've looked at appear to offer.

    It appears that if I elect to study via University centred training to obtain QTS & assuming all goes well I should secure a PGCE, whereas most SCITT courses leading to QTS refer to a PG Cert instead.

    I've read comments that a PGCE is needed to teach out of the UK (something I'm not seriously considering) and therefore I wondered whether there are any other pros or cons or important differences between the PGCE or PGCert?

    I noticed a couple of comments regarding 'level 6' or 'level 7' study and as such it appears that a PG Cert is one notch lower in the rankings.

    It sounds, therefore, as if the training via the SCITT route has certain study elements removed, perhaps for cost or timing reasons, since they appear to suggest someone can study for the PGCE at a later stage, as if that's when we'd fill in the missing gaps, as such.

    Is that a fair assessment and if so do teachers who've secured QTS via SCITT's then elect to 'top up' their PG Cert to a PGCE, assuming that's even possible?

    Thanks all.
  2. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    I think I've now partly answered my own question.

    I've had a look at the webpage detailing the actual course and it states ...

    "Trainees will have access to Masters Credits, through accessing the PGCert qualification from the University of Hull. This will support your academic and professional reflection and the theoretical underpinning of educational practice."

    and then further down the page ...

    "An additional £1000 is payable for a PGCert (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) if you choose to take this alongside QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)"

    That appears to infer that it's possible to achieve QTS without either the PGCert or the PGCE? Is that permissible, else why would they quote the payment as 'additional'?
  3. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    These refer to credits. A UG degree includes credits at levels 4, 5 and 6. If you have enough level 6 credits you are then awarded a degree.

    If you undertake a post graduate course you achieve 60 credits at L7 which is masters level. These can be APLd to future study to save you a year off studying a masters part time (A masters is 180 credits at L7).

    Doing a L6 certificate is pointless. You already have L6 credits so there isn’t any actual award of value. They are selling you a product you already have. And then they charge you the same as the postgraduate. It’s effectively a QTS only award for £9k dressed up as equivalent to the full PGCE and QTS award which is seen as the international gold standard.

    Currently, you do not need a post graduate certificate to teach. But in education and politics over the lifetime of a career do not imagine this won’t change. Do the post grad route and future proof yourself for any future eventuality.
    Stiltskin, MathMan1 and agathamorse like this.
  4. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    MrMedia, thank you for your reply. I've read many of your previous comments in the forum & I've found them helpful in developing a better understanding (from the outside looking in as such) as to what teaching is & will entail & so I appreciate your answer here.

    If I may ask a follow-up question (to which I believe I know how you'll answer), it appears, therefore, that the best/only sensible routes for teacher training (for an outsider) are either:

    a) PGCE university-led, or, perhaps

    b) SCITT with a definite link to a PGCE rather than a PG Cert (assuming one achieves a high enough score in the required component parts).

    I'm not yet at the stage of making any applications, but I feel it's good to clarify what the current state of play is, before time, rather than jump for what appears to be a good deal that works out poor in the end.
  5. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Indeed you could do a HEI led PGCE, a HEI led PGDE, a SCITT led PGCE or a SD PGCE.

    Some SD are QTS only, some SDs buy a place on a university PGCE. This means you can get the best of both if you are smart.

    You get two qualifications - QTS and the PGCE. You want to be taught by well qualified people who are experienced for both. Sometimes the PGCE isn’t taught by people who teach L7 for their day job. Sometimes the ‘taught' time and directed time for reading and writing is quite poor. There are QAA standards for each 30 credit unit which add up to 300 hours of blended learning (taught, directed, autonomous, etc.). When run by a HEI, the quality assurance is very strict as it is sat within the university whose quality teams (internal ofsted) crawl over everything in sight. When they are badged and taught off campus that’s where we get more quality issues.

    I’d look for a course that does not use twilight, offers a day a week off school and hosts training on campus. It could be SD, SCITT or HEI led so long as it uses that set up.

    Don't worry about writing at L7. There is a huge amount of taught support to ensure you can write at this standard and we write the courses so you can exit with a cert if for whatever reason you didn’t pass at L7.
    MathMan1 likes this.
  6. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    I would add, that as secondary mathematics you are gold dust. Everyone will be fighting to get you on their course. See it like The Voice and all four chairs immediately turn on the first note sung.

    So my advice would be to take a course in the area you want to work. A partner school will offer you a job quite early on.

    I would also advise applying sooner rather than later. Here’s a trade secret. The best placements go to the earlier applicants. The later the applicant, the more schools that can’t host a trainee because they’ve already got one lined up. So put your application in before the year is out and then spend the rest of the year relaxed knowing you’ve got the best course and the best placements lined up.
    MathMan1 and agathamorse like this.
  7. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Thanks for your reply MrMedia & your comments regarding the difference between in-uni and off-site studies have been very helpful.

    May I ask (another!) follow-up question; living in Peterborough, which is classified as a "high need" area, would suggest that I stand a reasonably good chance of securing a maths position to follow on from my QTS / PGCE and I wondered therefore, whether it might be more beneficial for me to look to secure a place on a university-led PGCE that I can commute to, rather than an SCITT in a local school?

    I wondered, therefore, whether based upon your experience and knowledge of PGCE courses if there are any university-based PGCE providers you'd suggest, especially since there are quite a few places I can get to from Pboro, by road or rail?

    Perhaps there are particular University PGCE's that are seen to be stronger in maths than others?

    My wife (ex-teacher from +20 years ago) suggested the Inst of Ed where she trained but there's also Cambridge or Lincoln but undoubtedly others exist that I've not even considered yet.

  8. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Yes, most providers will put you back into a Peterborough or local to Peterborough school. There will be some local SD providers who have bought places on a uni course as well. I've just had a look on the get into teaching site and it is harder than I thought. If you go by geography then you’d think just Bishops Grosseteste and Bedfordshire are in your region and then both are uni PG courses bought in by SD. But you are right, Cambridge, UEA and other universities like Bishops and Bedfordshire will happily use a local school if you are prepared to travel down for the one day a week.

    This is most certainly a tricky search site to navigate. You can't exclude SCITTs, HEIs or any other type. You have to wade through them one by one.
    agathamorse and MathMan1 like this.
  9. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Thank you MrMedia, that's helpful.

    I've already had a brief look around for local SCITT QTS maths courses but the ones I'd identified state PGCert on their websites and in their literature so I'll need to check further.

    Assuming that securing a place on a uni-PGCE course could mean there's a strong possibility of placements in Pboro does tend to suggest that could be the way to go, especially as I'm quite ok with travelling to the uni as & when required.

    One further follow-up question; you'd suggested applying sooner rather than later & that being so, and mindful that my OU degree timetable means my earliest PGCE start date would be around Sept 2022, is now too soon to explore places with course providers or should I hold off until later?

  10. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Yes, you have no rush with that. Apply in October 2022. I know the OU - a quality institution. It’s a shame they folded their PGCE course. I would advise getting some experience in the type of school you are interested in working within and in the area you want to work. There is more to it than experience. People in school will tell you which providers to avoid and which are good. They’ll be biased naturally, but if you hear several negative or several positive stories then that is a good indication. You’ll also hear about which schools have high turnover or reduced autonomy and should be avoided. Local knowledge is very powerful.
    agathamorse and MathMan1 like this.
  11. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Thanks for the suggestions MrMedia.

    Yes, I'm going to contact my local secondary schools, academies, etc to see whether there are any voluntary vacancies within their maths departments in some capacity.

    I'd also be interested in seeing whether I could develop that into an actual teaching assistant role since I'm in able to transition out from what I'm doing now so as to allow me to spend more time in a school in preparation for later studies.

    Your suggestion about getting to know the pros and cons of the various schools and providers is worth remembering & so I'll see if I can secure some days in a few different places rather than focus upon just one.

    Another question (they keep coming, apologies!); do many secondary schools use teaching assistants in their maths departments? I ask because it appears that every vacancy I see advertised is for primary school TA's?
  12. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Some schools embed a TA in the department. Most schools hire TAs and the SENDCO allocates them to pupils.

    If you contact schools they will try to convert you into an unqualified maths teacher or at least a cover supervisor. You will have to be strong to stay as a TA. Becoming an unqualified teacher is a baptism of fire and they often try to then give you an AO route or in house SDSF route. Neither are good routes into teaching though those who came through those routes will disagree.

    It’s tricky I would say. Get some volunteer work first, then resit the overtures, then take a TA role. After that, you’ll be able to chose the very best routes into teaching to suit you.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Thanks for the reply MrMedia.

    I've contacted the secondary school that our two girls attend to ask about the possibility of some voluntary work experience iro maths / TA activities & that looks promising.

    I'm also going to attend a local 'thinking of teaching' event so as to hear from some of the SCITT-style providers in my area.

    Yes, I note your comments iro SDSF and AO (at present I feel I'd prefer the uni-led route) but until I'm at the stage of either employed as a TA or am in my final degree year it's all still up in the air.

    Will no doubt be back on here in again in a week or two with some other questions for you. Speak later.
    MrMedia likes this.
  14. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Always welcome. Best of luck.
    MathMan1 likes this.
  15. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Mr Media, may I ask a follow-up question re your comment about not going down the unqualified maths teacher or Cover Supervisor route if a TA role could not be secured.

    Since I've still got at least two years until my OU degree is complete, if either of those options were to become available, might they be worth considering, since, at the end of my degree I could still look to apply for a place on a Uni-led PGCE course at the end, since that might address any shortfalls in my in-school training?

    I'm not saying there would definitely be any shortfall, but that it's something to consider.

    I'm just thinking that for the next two or so years any / all practical experience in schools and a maths department specifically would be beneficial for me.

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