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Why is this process like banging your head against a brick wall?

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by DJDave1979, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. I am becoming INCREDIBLY frustrated with the whole process of applying for teacher training.
    I am a 31-year-old Oxbridge-educated professional man with a very good job who has decided to move into teaching. I really want to teach in state primary schools as I feel that this is where my skills will have the most impact. I am very much a broad-knowledge person and I would rather teach a variety of subjects rather than specialise in one.
    The TDA were absolutely no help whatsoever in helping me get a place in a local school for observation. Three times I emailed and rang them to ask what was happening and I was told that no local school were willing to allow me in.
    Funnily enough, when I by-passed the TDA, two schools in the area asked me to come in. I spent a week at one and now volunteer on my day off in the second.
    I have very much enjoyed my time in class and, as prescribed, I filled in my applications through GTTR in time. Arranged my references and everything.
    However, now the deadlines are not being met by colleges. My first choice has not yet decided whether to offer me an interview and has suggested that they won't decide before Feb 14th. If they opt not to offer me that interview, it is highly unlikely that my second choice provider will have any places left.
    I feel that if the government agencies are going to run ads and send emails they should make sure that they are fit for purpose. I feel that the TDA were actually OBSTRUCTING my application rather than assisting it and the lack of funding decision from the DfE has led to an impasse in the whole process.
    I really thought that systems would be in place to help a career-switcher like me. But perhaps this is all intended to ensure that only the most desperate or bloody-minded end up in our schools?
    I don't intend to give up just yet. I will certainly continue until I hit the next brick wall. But this will definitely be the only year I apply to do this. Whereas, had it been a better process, I might have had another go next year.
    Is anyone else as frustrated as I am?
     
  2. I am becoming INCREDIBLY frustrated with the whole process of applying for teacher training.
    I am a 31-year-old Oxbridge-educated professional man with a very good job who has decided to move into teaching. I really want to teach in state primary schools as I feel that this is where my skills will have the most impact. I am very much a broad-knowledge person and I would rather teach a variety of subjects rather than specialise in one.
    The TDA were absolutely no help whatsoever in helping me get a place in a local school for observation. Three times I emailed and rang them to ask what was happening and I was told that no local school were willing to allow me in.
    Funnily enough, when I by-passed the TDA, two schools in the area asked me to come in. I spent a week at one and now volunteer on my day off in the second.
    I have very much enjoyed my time in class and, as prescribed, I filled in my applications through GTTR in time. Arranged my references and everything.
    However, now the deadlines are not being met by colleges. My first choice has not yet decided whether to offer me an interview and has suggested that they won't decide before Feb 14th. If they opt not to offer me that interview, it is highly unlikely that my second choice provider will have any places left.
    I feel that if the government agencies are going to run ads and send emails they should make sure that they are fit for purpose. I feel that the TDA were actually OBSTRUCTING my application rather than assisting it and the lack of funding decision from the DfE has led to an impasse in the whole process.
    I really thought that systems would be in place to help a career-switcher like me. But perhaps this is all intended to ensure that only the most desperate or bloody-minded end up in our schools?
    I don't intend to give up just yet. I will certainly continue until I hit the next brick wall. But this will definitely be the only year I apply to do this. Whereas, had it been a better process, I might have had another go next year.
    Is anyone else as frustrated as I am?
     
  3. Hello Dave

    You are not the only one! It is ridiculous and very frustrating.
    I too am hoping to enter teaching from another career and I have never experienced anything like it.

    I had an interview at the start of December and am still none the wiser.

    I do feel for the Tda and for providers as no one has any answers. How on earth can they plan for courses starting in September?

    I really hope it doesn't put you off teaching as I think we need more people with real work experience in the classroom.

    Good luck!
     
  4. You are absolutely not the only one frustrated. I have to say this year seems to be the worse year to try to apply for teacher training. I don't know how many times I've been disappointed with the service that the GTTR provide- delays in the application being sent off, ignoring perfectly reasonable questions that I asked, the application fee not sending through properly because their rubbish site doesn't work... Then the government funding seems like no one knows what is happening and universities are allowed extra time to offer or decline places, causing further delays... also finding out the big increase overall in the number of applications this year...
    I am also thinking that if it doesn't work out this year, I may have to try to do something else.
     
  5. Hi
    I am also very frustrated with the situation and its Mr Gove and his knuckleheads that are to blame. The TDA can not say or do anything till Gove sorts it all out. However your totally right Dave. Why carry on promoting recruitment etc when they say there are too many teachers already not enough jobs.....
     
  6. I'm in the same boat as all of you too. I have a first class degree and a masters under my belt and have a year's experience of working as a SEN teaching assistant. I can't get a place offered and currently my application is sat at the IoE while the government decides how many spaces to allocate to teacher training. This has been the more demoralising and disillusioning process that I have experienced through my academic career. I sometimes wonder if it's worth it considering how upsetting it has all been.
     
  7. Not a bad trait - being bloody-minded. If you believe in something passionately (like wanting to make a difference to someone's life) then you'll keep going, as you have been doing so far anyway. It'll be sorted out eventually. Good luck.
     
  8. You are, of course, correct. Being bloody-minded is not a bad character trait for someone going into a stressful environment like a classroom.
    Glad to see I'm not the only one getting into a terribly bad mood about all this though.
    I've pretty much decided that I will go through this process with 100% effort and, if that is not good enough, I'll close the door and move on. I've got quite a lot from the process (if not a new career) and I will definitely become a governor at some point even if as a lay member.
    However, considering the number of people involved, this has been the most shambolic recruitment process I have endured. The DfE really need to take a long hard look at itself.

     
  9. I agree. I have never been through such a shambolic process!
    I am determined to do this. Even if it does mean that it takes a few more years than expected and I'm on minimum wage in a TA position until then!
    Good luck to you all with your applications.
     
  10. Hi DJ Dave,
    I have jut read your post and feel compelled to reply! I too am (hopefully) a career switcher like you, and share your pain in the frustrating mess that is the PGCE application process.
    Whilst I understand your frustration over the delays in funding announcements and interviews etc, I think we have to accept that this year is a bit of an anomaly with the new Government, and in other years things on that front aren’t quite so bad.
    However, one point you made which I would like to add to is the apparent lack of support for career changers like us. The Government has made it clear that it wants to attract high calibre graduates into teaching, but so far I see little evidence of this filtering down to the university admissions processes.
    I graduated 4 years ago with a first class honours degree in a NC subject from a red brick uni, speak 3 languages, and have done lots of voluntary work with children both before and during university, although crucially this was not in a ‘formal’ education context. Since university I have built a successful career path in sales management, and already earn more than some headteachers. Despite this success, I have decided that teaching is where my heart lies, and that I want to build a long term career in education.
    Surely on paper, I am exactly the kind of candidate Mr Gove and his pals want to attract into teaching? Apparently not, since I didn’t even get an interview at my first choice of PGCE provider.
    My feedback has been that I do not have enough experience (1 week recently in a UK primary school, aside from a LOT of voluntary work beforehand). To me this is a complete slap in the face. Whilst I understand that experience is important for a candidate to be sure teaching is right for them, it is not easy to get and should not be the be all and end all of a decision.
    There seems to be a misunderstanding by public sector workers of how the private sector works. I cannot simply explain to my employers that I am thinking of a career change and would like to work flexi-time to enable me to volunteer in a school. I equally do not have the required annual leave flexibility to take three weeks off for this purpose. Even if I did it would require some major lies back at the office (and possible sunbed sessions after classes!) to explain what a great time I had on holiday! I also cannot leave and take up a TA position as I simply cannot pay my mortgage on TA wages.
    Classroom experience is the one thing that I am guaranteed to get during my training, and afterwards in employment. What the training and subsequent teaching job will not give me is the intelligence to gain a first class degree, invaluable experience of the world outisde teaching, commercials skills such as budgeting and negotiation (increasingly important in the face of cuts), and 4 years’ experience of doing something so different that I can say with absolute conviction that teaching is what I want to do.
    As the system stands, a freshly graduated 21-year-old with a 2:2 who has volunteered for a day a week in a primary school for the past year (as she has no lectures on a Wednesday) will be looked upon more favourably than me in the application process. This is ludicrous.
    Sorry for what has turned into a very long rant, but I think there is a major flaw in the system if it is making it difficult for quality graduates with invaluable industry experience to get into teaching. If I had a child I know who I’d rather they be taught by…
    Rant over!

     
  11. Hi junebob

    Completely understand your frustration. Maybe a GTP might be a more appropriate training course for you?

    I don't think the fact that you have a 1st class degree will necessarily make you a good teacher.
    Providers need to see that you can share that knowlege and experience well and I think they see career changers as a risky choice. I think all teachers should have work experience in another sector as it really is invaluable.

    Don't loose hope!

    Jem
     
  12. I can understand why you are frustrated that you can't take the time off to work in a school. Although, a good teacher may not necessarily have a first class degree. Also teaching isn't the only application process that asks for specific work experience within the sector.
     
  13. Hi all,

    I agree with the point that the whole process has been a total shambles. It feels like nobody is thinking about us applicants as people who are trying to plan our futures! It is incredibly frustrating; I am in the same position in that I applied almost three months ago and have had no more than an acknowledgement since then. I contacted my first choice (IOE) and was told I will hear something 'in due course'. I don't think this is acceptable but clearly can't be helped right now.

    However, what I don't agree with is that it's 'ludicrous' that a fresh graduate with a moderate amount of classroom experience may be looked on more favourably than someone who has built a career in management. I don't think it's fair to assume that one person will be a better teacher because of 'life experience' or having a first class degree rather than a 2.2. I personally graduated last year, with a 2.1 in the subject I want to teach (NC) and I have been working as a TA since. However, I don't think my application ought to be more (or less!) valuable than anybody else's.

    I know everyone is frustrated, fed up and angry, and so am I. But, I think that some comments can be quite offensive. We are all in the same boat, and I don't think anyone knows what the training institutions are really looking for. Sure, someone with life experience, a few years older could be a fantastic teacher, but equally someone with a less academic background may have a real spark with kids and could also do a great job.

    Anyway, good luck to you all!
     
  14. shoegal44

    shoegal44 New commenter

    Hi Jelleigh,
    Thank you for your post. I agree that the process is a shambles, but I have been shocked by some of the posts that seem to be suggesting that some people have more of a right to teach than other because of work experience etc.
    We all want to be teachers and we all have different demands in our lives. Surely the only thing that matters is that we all have a shared goal!
    I'm going to graduate this year with a 2:1 (hopefully), I volunteered at my old school for a two days a week for a few months, but I've had to stop as I am my grandmother's full-time carer. I am taking my degree with the Open University. Like you, I don't feel as if my application should be valued more or less than anyone elses!
     
  15. Totally agree Jelleigh.

    I think teaching needs a mix of experience and education and I trust that the providers will make the right decisions about appropriate candidates. I employ a number of graduate workshop deliverers and find that those who are very clever often struggle to simplify their material for the benefit of the less able students.


    I have always found maths challenging. This has made my maths teaching better as I understand the challenges and frustrations that some children face.
    Teaching needs creativity and that's something that isn't covered by a top degree!
     
  16. I meant shoe gal! Sorry
     
  17. Well said. I was thinking along the same lines as you but couldn't put it as graciously as you have.
     
  18. Hi everyone,
    Thanks for all your comments! I completely agree that having a first class degree does not miraculously make you a good teacher, but my point was more this:
    The Government have decided, rightly or wrongly, that they want to attract top graduates into teaching. By this they mean people who would often normally take their skills into graduate schemes in the private sector. They have identified that countries such as Finland (who were one of the top performers in the recent PISA study) recruit their teachers from the top 5-10 percent of graduates, and all teachers are educated to at least Master’s level. Whether you agree or disagree with this approach, it cannot be denied that the UK Government are not putting their policies where their mouth is by making it so difficult for said graduates to enter the profession.
    Secondly, shoe gal you make a good point about how your application shouldn’t be valued more or less than anyone else’s – that’s exactly what I’m saying about mine. Currently mine IS viewed as less than somebody else’s, because they are in the more flexible position of not having a full time job to work around. My point would be that the additional skills/experiences I would bring should replace any lack of experience in one specific setting (a UK state school), which I will gain anyway on the job.
    Finally, although having a good degree does not necessarily make you a good teacher, I do think the PGCE year is incredibly demanding, and having a 2:1 or a first does prove you are likely to handle the pressures of the course well. Having potential is all well and good but there’s one hell of a year we need to get through between that and becoming a teacher!
    J

     
  19. likejesus

    likejesus New commenter

    I think the issue for training providers is not that they're looking for experience, per sé, it's that they're looking for commitment. Teacher training courses have high drop-out rates because they are so full on, and providers get judged for that by Ofsted. They need to be sure that the people they accept on their course are going to complete it, and having experience in the setting in which you are ultimately going to be learning and teaching demonstrates knowledge of and commitment to the challenges you are going to face.
    It's not as simple as saying people with first-class degrees are more likely to be able to hack it because they're more likely to be used to rigorous work - it's a completely different kind of work. There is the academic side, yes, but all trainee teachers will have been to university and know the challenges of academia, first-class honours or third. The real challenge is when you get thrown in the deep end, and trainees either sink or swim, is in the practical bit of the course - ie. the teaching. Whether it's struggling to keep a class of unruly kids under control, a possible lack of support from your colleagues, inability to grasp planning or paperwork or manage the competing demands, the actual teaching seems to be where people come unstuck. No amount of experience, academic or practical, will truly prepare a trainee for it, but universities will consider that those who have already spent a fair portion of time in the setting they're going to be training in are more likely to be aware of the challenges and pitfalls, and how to deal with them.
    I should point out that I too am a first time applicant to teacher training, so all of what I've written could be a load of cobblers, but certainly this is the impression I have gotten from speaking to teachers, course leaders and my own research.
     
  20. The thing that I find slightly arrogant about the people recruiting for the teaching profession is that they really do not seem to value the experiences gained outwith the education system. Certainly not highly enough.
    But the teachers I actually meet in schools seem to understand the different skills I bring in.
    It's all very frustrating. I've just re-read the email I got last week and it says that they will let me know by 11th of Feb whether I have an interview. With their deadline for final decisions supposedly being 14th of Feb it does not take a rocket scientist (or even someone successful at gaining a place to do a PGCE :) ) to work out that any response so late will be a negative.
    Unless they plan on giving me a place without an interview, eh? Yeah, I know.
    So looks like I am sticking at what I do now.
     

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