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I want to be a secondary school teacher - Teach First or University PGCE? watch

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    (Original post by TraineeLynsey)
    As a School Direct-trained teacher, I use my PGCE knowledge as much as someone who did a traditional university based course. I just had the added benefit at the start of my NQT year of having spent all but 12 days of my training year in the classroom.

    You clearly have a very fixed view on this issue, so I'll end my part in the discussion here.
    Maybe you should actually read and understand my point. I said teaching practice.

    When you start, the very first day of teaching, obviously a PGCE candidate will be better prepared than a School Direct or Teach First candidate.
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    I dont think that's a fair statement to make - in my opinion, PGCE students on university routes often have misconceptions at the start of teaching which are a result of the early focus on theory in the university PGCE; School Direct/SCITT/Teach First students don't have such misconceptions because they are in the classroom from day one. This means, essentially, that the PGCE student is no better equipped for the first day of teaching than a School Direct/Teach First/SCITT student. Teaching is, above all, practical so to assume a greater knowledge of academic theory = a better teacher from day one is wrong.
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    Also, to answer the question; avoid Teach First and stick to a PGCE programme (if your subject is a shortage subject, the bursary could be equivalent to the TF salary); the PGCE will be infinitely more valuable in the future....
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    I thought I wanted a long and fruitful career in teaching so joined via the TF programme for 2 reasons mainly; it was paid from the beginning and the immediate exposure to the life of a teacher. Ultimately, I realised that a teacher has a hell of a lot more to do than 'teach'. Lesson planning and engaging with children formed less than 30% of my workload. Having a 'love of kids' or doing it 'to make a difference' is not enough. Make sure you are fully aware that a teacher's life is bloody difficult. It was probably my fault for not being totally aware of what I was getting myself into- but then who really knows what every job enatils?- but I am mightily glad that I could redirect my life away from teaching without having wasted thousands on a PGCE etc.
    When I told my co-workers that I was leaving teaching, most were envious and embarrassed- They were envious because they only continued teaching because they were older and had mortgages and couldn't afford to change jobs.They were embarrassed because they saw I entered teaching for the same reasons they did (to work with and work for children!) but the job had changed to prevent the love and ambition being enough.

    Take my 2 cents with a pinch of salt. I am one of a small section of disillusioned ex-teachers who believe that teaching in this country is not what it should be. That being said, I have experience with TF.

    Best of luck in your pursuits!
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    I would also suggest the PGCE route.

    My reasons for this are:

    -You can choose the area you train in, whereas Teach First can send you to different parts of the country (though you do get to express preferences). As the training year is really tough (whichever route you go down) it's good to be in an area where you already have an existing support network of family/friends rather than having the hassle of moving house.

    -Your teaching practice builds up more gradually, giving time to reflect and improve. On my first PGCE placement I taught 10 lessons per week, on my second I taught 17 lessons per week, and as an NQT I taught 24 lessons per week, so it's a steady growth which I feel prepared me well.

    -Time in university between placements gives you the opportunity to discuss and develop ideas with people from other school so you're less fixed in one idea of what teaching is like.

    -You have tutors who are slightly outside the mad world of schools (with all the Ofsted box-ticking that goes on) and I think that can help give you some perspective and they can back you up if necessary.

    That said, I think there are a lot of false dichotomies made between the two systems and I'm sure Teach First does offer support in ways I'm not aware of because I didn't follow that route.

    Some people make out that the PGCE is all about theory and writing essays, which in my experience it was not. I only had to do a couple of essays and found them very light on academic/theoretical content.
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    A few years down the line, your route into teaching becomes totally irrelevant. You can't tell a Teach Firster from a PGCE from a SCITT trainee from a BEd from a CertED (potted history of teacher training right there, if you don't know any of those look them up). If you're advertising for a new post-NQT teacher, you want to know if they can teach, not what their initial qualification was. So as your career progresses, it becomes less important.

    For what it's worth, my advice would be that, if you want to do school-based training, do you want to get sent to a school or an area that you have little control over (Teach First), or do you want to target a particular school/groups of schools that match your ethos (SCITT)? Is your decision more driven by funding? (which will reduce your choices). What do you feel more comfortable with - the more gradual introduction to the classroom that you get from a PGCE, or the 'in at the deep end' Teach First? It's great that there are so many choices available to prospective teachers, but try to work out which will give you personally the best teacher-training experience rather than which is the most valued qualification.

    I'm personally not in favour of Teach First (it's part of the political drive to remove teacher training from universities) but I think other training providers could learn a lot from its almost evangelical approach. You just need to look at the website and analyse the language used. 'Leaders for Life' is a great slogan for teachers. 'Apply Now and help end educational inequality' is much more positive than the 'to find out how to apply click here' button that you get on university websites. Look beyond the language though - day one in a tricky school and all the rhetoric in the world isn't going to help you much. And Teach First is just about the only place in the public domain that does use positive language about the teaching profession...
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    (Original post by chester.)
    I thought I wanted a long and fruitful career in teaching so joined via the TF programme for 2 reasons mainly; it was paid from the beginning and the immediate exposure to the life of a teacher. Ultimately, I realised that a teacher has a hell of a lot more to do than 'teach'. Lesson planning and engaging with children formed less than 30% of my workload. Having a 'love of kids' or doing it 'to make a difference' is not enough. Make sure you are fully aware that a teacher's life is bloody difficult. It was probably my fault for not being totally aware of what I was getting myself into- but then who really knows what every job enatils?- but I am mightily glad that I could redirect my life away from teaching without having wasted thousands on a PGCE etc.
    When I told my co-workers that I was leaving teaching, most were envious and embarrassed- They were envious because they only continued teaching because they were older and had mortgages and couldn't afford to change jobs.They were embarrassed because they saw I entered teaching for the same reasons they did (to work with and work for children!) but the job had changed to prevent the love and ambition being enough.

    Take my 2 cents with a pinch of salt. I am one of a small section of disillusioned ex-teachers who believe that teaching in this country is not what it should be. That being said, I have experience with TF.

    Best of luck in your pursuits!
    Thanks for such a great reply - I'm hoping that I will enjoy it - they say no day is ever the same and I think that's good too. I see lots of information on teachers sometimes having tough times, but isn't it what you make of it? - that honestly doesn't phase me at the moment
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    (Original post by myrtille)
    I would also suggest the PGCE route.

    My reasons for this are:

    -You can choose the area you train in, whereas Teach First can send you to different parts of the country (though you do get to express preferences). As the training year is really tough (whichever route you go down) it's good to be in an area where you already have an existing support network of family/friends rather than having the hassle of moving house.

    -Your teaching practice builds up more gradually, giving time to reflect and improve. On my first PGCE placement I taught 10 lessons per week, on my second I taught 17 lessons per week, and as an NQT I taught 24 lessons per week, so it's a steady growth which I feel prepared me well.

    -Time in university between placements gives you the opportunity to discuss and develop ideas with people from other school so you're less fixed in one idea of what teaching is like.

    -You have tutors who are slightly outside the mad world of schools (with all the Ofsted box-ticking that goes on) and I think that can help give you some perspective and they can back you up if necessary.

    That said, I think there are a lot of false dichotomies made between the two systems and I'm sure Teach First does offer support in ways I'm not aware of because I didn't follow that route.

    Some people make out that the PGCE is all about theory and writing essays, which in my experience it was not. I only had to do a couple of essays and found them very light on academic/theoretical content.
    Hi

    That's good to hear - I like the idea of how the hours you teach builds up as you go along, and that there aren't too many essays. Where did you go for your pgce?
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    (Original post by girlygiggle)
    Hi

    That's good to hear - I like the idea of how the hours you teach builds up as you go along, and that there aren't too many essays. Where did you go for your pgce?

    I went to Leicester and would definitely recommend it. The whole course lectures (ie: all subject specialisms put together in a hall) were a bit hit and miss but most of our time was spent in subject groups and they were excellent with very supportive and realistic tutors.

    They're pretty good at sorting out placements as well - most people didn't have to travel a stupid distance unless it was for a very good reason (eg: one person was training to teach French and Italian and there are only a few schools which offer Italian). Both of my placement schools were within half an hour of where I lived.
 
 
 
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