SarcAndSpark
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So, it’s that time of year again when lots of people are starting their PGCE applications. I was in this position two years ago, and it’s a pretty confusing process, so I thought I’d try to put together an FAQ for applicants.

I only applied for PGCE courses, so this may be a bit PGCE specific, but some advice should also apply to SCITT/Schools Direct courses. Teach First is a bit different!



If you’ve been through the process and have tips of your own, please feel free to add them to the thread!



Before you apply:

How do I choose which route is right for me?

All the routes have different pros and cons.

PGCEs tend to suit people who want the academic side, maybe who are interested in doing a masters in the future. You do get the advantages of being in a uni environment, and access to support through the uni as well, should you need it. They do have disadvantages, in that you can be placed anywhere, and you can feel like just one of a large number of students. There’s often not much flexibility available.

SCITTs are at the opposite end of the spectrum- very school focused and some can be a bit lacking in academic support (although every SCITT is different). SCITTs can be more flexible- often they are available in areas of the country without large teacher training unis, and some are available part time. You don’t always get a choice about exactly where you are placed, but you should know the rough geographic area. SCITTs are often small and can lack the infrastructure to support you that unis have.

Schools Direct is somewhere in the middle and can be the best of both worlds. You get all the support of the partner uni but know where you are going to be placed for most of the year, and your training is more school focused. However, often there are only a few places available per placement school, so this route can be competitive, even for a shortage subject. You are also stuck with your home school for most of the year, whereas PGCE/SCITT students can sometimes move schools if there is a serious problem.

Teach First is a more controversial route- I know some people who love it, and some people who have hated it. You are very much thrown in the deep end and expected to cope. Personally, I have heard too many horror stories to be comfortable recommending it, even though I do know some people have a great experience!

How do I choose where to apply?

Unless you have a good reason not to, I’d suggest applying to courses in the area you want to work. Networking is important, and so is having a support network around you.

Some people say the course/uni you apply to doesn’t matter, although I have heard a few teachers say that they feel training at a traditional uni with a well-respected teaching program helped their careers. In general, though, where you train doesn’t have a huge impact on employability.

What qualifications do I need?

You need passes at English and Maths GCSE, as well as Science GCSE if you are looking to teach at primary level. There is an equivalency qualification for science, but for English and maths you will need the actual GCSEs.

You’re usually expected to have 3 good A-levels or equivalent. It helps if these are in national curriculum subjects, but this is not essential.

You need a bachelors/undergraduate degree to train to teach in the UK. At the moment, there’s no route for those who don’t have a degree. Most unis will strongly prefer people with 2.2 degree or higher, but it can be possible to train to teach with a third.

Can I train to teach X subject with Y degree?

The best thing to do here is to contact unis. Most unis say at least 50% of your degree modules need to be relevant to the national curriculum of your subject, but they will stretch this for a shortage subject. If you don’t quite meet the 50%, you may be offered a place if you do an SKE (more info on SKEs here: https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=5499798).

If you’re at all unsure, it’s best to contact unis/providers before applying and they will let you know if your degree is suitable or not.

What funding is available for ITT courses?

In England and Wales, for all non-salaried ITT courses, you are entitled to a student loan and tuition fees loan.

If you’re in England and training in a shortage subject, there can be large bursaries available (see here for more details: https://getintoteaching.education.go...acher-training

There are also salaried routes available via schools direct and teach first. Initially, you’re paid an unqualified teacher salary of £17,500 outside London. Don’t forget that you will have to pay tax/national insurance though!



Applying for ITT courses

How do I apply for ITT courses?

For all courses other than Teach First, you apply via UCAS.

Like an undergrad application, you’ll need to list your qualifications and write a personal statement.

Unlike an undergrad application, you’ll need two references. There are some rules about who these references should be from. If you got your degree within the last 5 years, one of these must be from your university. If you’re applying for schools direct, at least one reference should be from an employer. If your reference is from a school that’s employed you, it should come from the head teacher. There are more details about how references work here: https://getintoteaching.education.go...acher-training

When do I apply for ITT courses?

UCAS applications are open now. Applications are done on a rolling basis, so you can apply any time up until the summer (bear in mind you will need to allow time for a DBS to be done before starting the course). Courses close when they are full, so if you are applying for a small SCITT, or schools direct option, it may be best to apply early.

What does a good teaching personal statement look like?

ITT courses are vocational, so your personal statement needs to be a bit different to your undergrad personal statement. Admissions tutors explicitly want to hear about why you want to teach. You should explain why you have chosen the stage of education you have chosen (early years/primary/secondary/further ed) and why you’ve chosen your subject (secondary/further ed).

Your PS should refer back to any work experience you have, especially if it’s with children or young people. It’s no longer required that you get experience in a UK state school before you apply, but if you don’t have lots of work experience, this might be a good idea, as it gives you more to talk about in the PS.

Teachers need good written communication skills, so make sure your PS shows this!



Interviews

What is an ITT interview like?

Normally, you are given a mini-teach task, a discussion task, a written task and you have an individual interview with a university tutor. If the uni wants you to prepare anything in advance, details will be sent with the email inviting you to interview.

What do I wear to interview?

People usually wear what they’d wear to a job interview, or at the very least, something they’d wear that would be suitable to teach. All the men I saw wore at least a shirt and tie with smart trousers and footwear, and most women dressed to a similar level of smartness.

How do I do a good mini teach?

Usually, your mini teach will be for about 5-10 minutes to an audience of other prospective students. If you’re applying to Schools Direct, you may be asked to teach actual school students. You’re usually told whether to treat your audience as pretend students or adults.

I would say the subject of your mini teach is less important than how you present it- although the subject should always be pitched appropriately. You shouldn’t be trying to teach the finer details of protein structure if you’re asked to pitch to KS3 level, for example. Admissions tutors are looking for someone they can imagine standing in front of the class, engaging the kids and getting the attention of the room.

You’ll usually be asked questions after the mini teach, so choose a subject you’re confident in and be prepared to justify your choices.

How do I do well during the discussion task?

Discussion tasks can vary a lot between unis, and not every uni/ITT provider will make you do one. Those who do them say that they are looking for people who actively listen as well as talk. Try to avoid dominating the conversation and try to bring in others who haven’t had much of a chance to speak. Actively respond to the points others are making- even if you disagree, it’s important to show you are being collaborative rather than antagonistic.

What are the written tasks like?

Written tasks also vary from provider to provider. Some are very subject specific and IMO definitely testing your subject knowledge. Others are more open, looking at general issues in education/teaching. These are looking at your standard of writing and might be used to judge whether the uni thinks you will cope with the master’s level element of the course.

What is the individual interview like?

All my individual interviews were quite different- some were definitely going through a list of questions and didn’t want to deviate much. Others felt more like an informal chat. Some asked subject knowledge questions, others didn’t. Some focused very much on “tell me about a time when” type questions.

To prepare I would say:

-Be familiar with the curriculum for your subject/stage.

-Be aware of any current issues/changes in teaching that might affect you.

-Have some examples ready to talk about that cover things like organisation/time management/resilience/leadership/working with young people.

-Know at least the basics of safeguarding (i.e. always pass on a concern, don’t ask leading questions, don’t keep things secret).

-Be able to reflect on your mini teach and written task.

Are there any red flags for interviewers?

Obviously, I don’t interview for ITT courses, so I don’t know all the red flags. However, last year, my tutor did mention a few red flags that might come up in interview.

-Perfectionism. This is something people often mention as a “weakness but not a weakness” in interviews, but for ITT courses, perfectionism can be a real problem. You can’t do everything 100% perfectly all the time, and perfectionism can cause people to burn out.

-A lack of passion for wanting to work with young people. This is the thing that gets a lot of teachers through. If you don’t come across as really wanting to work with your age group, this may be a worry for some admissions tutors.

-Not having much idea of the reality for teachers in the UK at the moment. Teaching is a profession that people are leaving in large numbers. If you don’t come across as being realistic about the demands of the job, ITT tutors may worry about letting you through.

-Lack of resilience/neediness. This might just be my tutor, but resilience is really key for teachers.



Getting an offer

How will I know I have an offer?

It will appear on UCAS, or sometimes the uni will let you know.

When will I get an offer?

Training providers have 40 days from when they first receive your application to make a decision. The 40 days doesn’t include periods when UCAS is closed.

What sort of offers will I get?

Unconditional offer: you’ve got a firm offer of a place on this programme. You’ll only get this if you have met at least all the academic requirements in full. You may still have to meet some non-academic requirements, like a Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Conditional offer: you have an offer of a place on this programme, as long as you meet some conditions. The conditions could include completing an SKE course or passing English or Maths GCSE.

Unsuccessful: your application has been unsuccessful.

How do I reply to an offer?

Once you have all your offers, you have 10 working days to reply to your offers. You must reply to your offers via UCAS track. You can only accept one offer.

What if I don’t get any offers?

It’s pretty rare to be rejected from all your choices when applying to ITT courses, so the first thing to do would be to get feedback from your choices about why they rejected you. If the feedback is something you feel you can fix, and you still want to train to teach, you can apply to other providers one at a time via UCAS. This is known as “apply 2”.
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Reality Check
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SarcAndSpark

This is a great resource: comprehensive, accurate and not over-written, which so many of these things are on TSR. Thanks for doing it
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Reality Check
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I also agree about Teach First. I wouldn't recommend it, and I have grave misgivings about its overall usefulness to schools in the first place. Schools need skilled, dedicated teachers who are in it for more than a couple of terms before they swan off to EY.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Reality Check)
SarcAndSpark

This is a great resource: comprehensive, accurate and not over-written, which so many of these things are on TSR. Thanks for doing it
I'm glad you approve
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Reality Check)
I also agree about Teach First. I wouldn't recommend it, and I have grave misgivings about its overall usefulness to schools in the first place. Schools need skilled, dedicated teachers who are in it for more than a couple of terms before they swan off to EY.
Yeah, I don't think the ethos of Teach First is great. I do know a couple of good teachers who came through the system and are in teaching for the long haul, though. I also know people who had a really **** time with it- and a couple who dropped out before qualifying- which isn't great for them or the kids.

TBH, I think the whole ITT system needs a bit of an overhaul, but that's probably a conversation for another thread!
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I'm glad you approve
I really hope that you're going to develop what you do on TSR in your career. You have a great talent for it. Will you be mentoring an NQT soon? I think you'd be a smashing mentor - and having a decent one, particularly for your first placement, is so important.

You might also get a TLR for it :laugh: if they're feeling generous.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Reality Check)
I really hope that you're going to develop what you do on TSR in your career. You have a great talent for it. Will you be mentoring an NQT soon? I think you'd be a smashing mentor - and having a decent one, particularly for your first placement, is so important.

You might also get a TLR for it :laugh: if they're feeling generous.
I totally agree with you about having good mentors, it makes such a difference. At my current school, I definitely wouldn't get a TLR or time to mentor though, and there's some great, more experienced mentors in my department. It's definitely something I'd like to do in the future, though.
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I totally agree with you about having good mentors, it makes such a difference. At my current school, I definitely wouldn't get a TLR or time to mentor though, and there's some great, more experienced mentors in my department. It's definitely something I'd like to do in the future, though.
That's good to hear
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(Original post by Reality Check)
That's good to hear
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babyjustice
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What are some universities you would recommend? I might just be able to get a 2:2, I'm studying abroad so the GPA should be about 3.3. Would the bare minimum be sufficient for PGCE Primary at UCL and Durham?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by babyjustice)
What are some universities you would recommend? I might just be able to get a 2:2, I'm studying abroad so the GPA should be about 3.3. Would the bare minimum be sufficient for PGCE Primary at UCL and Durham?
UCL/IOE is one of the most competitive training programs in the country, so possibly not.

Personally, I would recommend training in the area of the country you want to teach, or at least get your first NQT job. Uni prestige doesn't matter that much (if at all) in terms of getting a job, but networking and knowing the schools in an area can really help. If you aren't sure where you want to live, look for a program with a reputation for being supportive and a decent (Recent) Ofsted.

Definitely try as hard as you can to get a 2.2 equivalent- not having that will potentially hurt you in terms of getting on a PGCE and later in your career.
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
UCL/IOE is one of the most competitive training programs in the country, so possibly not.

Personally, I would recommend training in the area of the country you want to teach, or at least get your first NQT job. Uni prestige doesn't matter that much (if at all) in terms of getting a job, but networking and knowing the schools in an area can really help. If you aren't sure where you want to live, look for a program with a reputation for being supportive and a decent (Recent) Ofsted.

Definitely try as hard as you can to get a 2.2 equivalent- not having that will potentially hurt you in terms of getting on a PGCE and later in your career.
Thanks! Where did you apply for your PGCE?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by babyjustice)
Thanks! Where did you apply for your PGCE?
I did my PGCE at Bristol, but they don't offer primary, so that's not much use to you!
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harrysbar
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
I did my PGCE at Bristol, but they don't offer primary, so that's not much use to you!
Would you recommend Bristol? Asking for a friend who is thinking about doing a PGCE there
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Would you recommend Bristol? Asking for a friend who is thinking about doing a PGCE there
Which subject are they applying for? I did sciences, and so I'm not sure how my experience would translate to other subjects.

I think there's lots to like about Bristol. I like the way the year is set up, with a good mix of uni and placement. They have links with lots of great schools and don't put students in schools rated below "good" by Ofsted (which is not the be all and end all but I think it's a good aim to have). I felt really well prepared for going into the classroom, especially in terms of subject knowledge. I also thought the career support we were given was good (and I've heard from people at other unis that theirs was less good).

I also liked the fact that they explicitly taught us how to teach about environmental issues and gave us some great ideas about how to include diversity in science teaching.

In general, they're pretty supportive of people who have issues during the course and I know some people with MH issues who felt really well supported during their PGCE.

However, I would say there are also some downsides. Traffic in Bristol is a nightmare, and a lot of people (including me) ended up with long commutes- which when you're knackered from the PGCE is honestly not great. There was one incident (happy to PM details) which was handled really badly with a fellow trainee. They also really aren't keen on letting you ditch the PGCE element and getting only QTS if you are struggling, which I know some people see as a negative. I'm sure you're aware but Bristol is a pretty expensive city, which could be a downside if they're not doing a course that gets a large bursary.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter that much which uni you train to teach at. A lot of your experience is shaped by your school mentor and school ITT program anyway. In terms of getting a job, I think it really helps to train in the area where you want to work- both in terms of networking and in terms of knowing which schools are good/to be avoided.

I hope this helps and please feel free to ask any more specific questions.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by SarcAndSpark)
Which subject are they applying for? I did sciences, and so I'm not sure how my experience would translate to other subjects.

I think there's lots to like about Bristol. I like the way the year is set up, with a good mix of uni and placement. They have links with lots of great schools and don't put students in schools rated below "good" by Ofsted (which is not the be all and end all but I think it's a good aim to have). I felt really well prepared for going into the classroom, especially in terms of subject knowledge. I also thought the career support we were given was good (and I've heard from people at other unis that theirs was less good).

I also liked the fact that they explicitly taught us how to teach about environmental issues and gave us some great ideas about how to include diversity in science teaching.

In general, they're pretty supportive of people who have issues during the course and I know some people with MH issues who felt really well supported during their PGCE.

However, I would say there are also some downsides. Traffic in Bristol is a nightmare, and a lot of people (including me) ended up with long commutes- which when you're knackered from the PGCE is honestly not great. There was one incident (happy to PM details) which was handled really badly with a fellow trainee. They also really aren't keen on letting you ditch the PGCE element and getting only QTS if you are struggling, which I know some people see as a negative. I'm sure you're aware but Bristol is a pretty expensive city, which could be a downside if they're not doing a course that gets a large bursary.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter that much which uni you train to teach at. A lot of your experience is shaped by your school mentor and school ITT program anyway. In terms of getting a job, I think it really helps to train in the area where you want to work- both in terms of networking and in terms of knowing which schools are good/to be avoided.

I hope this helps and please feel free to ask any more specific questions.
Thank you, they are applying for humanities not science but a lot of your points will still be useful for them to know so I will pass them on
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remussjhj01
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I'm thinking of doing a masters in music education and performance after my undergrad (looking to be a secondary music teacher). Do you think this would be useful or would it just being putting myself in more debt when it's not really necessary? Thanks for this post btw, super informative!
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by remussjhj01)
I'm thinking of doing a masters in music education and performance after my undergrad (looking to be a secondary music teacher). Do you think this would be useful or would it just being putting myself in more debt when it's not really necessary? Thanks for this post btw, super informative!
Glad you found the post useful.

Personally, I don't think doing a Masters before your PGCE brings any career benefits, and if you wanted to do it after your PGCE, you might be able to transfer some of your PGCE Masters credits across- you can do this for 5 years after your PGCE.

If you want to do the Masters for its own sake, then go for it, but I don't think it would be that helpful or useful as a teacher, and I would definitely investigate doing it after the PGCE, not before.
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Arianax
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This post was really helpful, thank you

I'm looking to take the PGCE route, I want to study Primary (5-11) so need to start applying in October when applications open!
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Arianax)
This post was really helpful, thank you

I'm looking to take the PGCE route, I want to study Primary (5-11) so need to start applying in October when applications open!
Glad you found it useful- good luck with your application.

Do remember that it's better to have a strong application later in the cycle than a weak one right at the start, so make sure you have enough school experience etc before applying.
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