Dragon24
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I have been thinking about doing a PGCE in English. I know the studying part of the course can be intense.

What is involved in the placement part? I can't seem to find anything online about what is involved in planning, teaching and marking. How many hours a day will this take up? Will you still have to do assignments too? I don't want to ask the uni as they will sugarcoat this.

Will there be time to see family and friends and do hobbies?

I really need to make the right decision.

Thanks.
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bluebeetle
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(Original post by Dragon24)
I have been thinking about doing a PGCE in English. I know the studying part of the course can be intense.

What is involved in the placement part? I can't seem to find anything online about what is involved in planning, teaching and marking. How many hours a day will this take up? Will you still have to do assignments too? I don't want to ask the uni as they will sugarcoat this.

Will there be time to see family and friends and do hobbies?

I really need to make the right decision.

Thanks.
Usually, the amount of work you do on placement will increase placement upon placement, and the expectation does differ a little based on the provider. I did a SCITT course, so maybe it was a bit different, but I still had 1 - 2 days a week off placement for learning about pedagogy / going into university (2 days during placement one, but usually only 1 day or half a day during placements two and three).

For my first placement, I was expected to lead 6 lessons a week (so plan and teach) and then support in 4 lessons a week. The remaining time was split up between free periods and observations. For those classes I was leading lessons for, I also had to set and mark homework. I would say at this stage, planning one lesson (and then adjusting it based on my mentor's comments on the plan) did take about a full hour at least. A bit less towards the end of the placement.

Then, in my second placement, they expected us to teach 10 lessons a week and support in 2 lessons a week. I would say this was the most difficult period workload-wise as it was a different school with new expectations and it did take a long time to plan. Also because my placement school did a lot of assessments around this time of the year, so I did also end up doing a lot of marking, which took me ages because I hadn't gotten quick at it yet. During this time, the placement work alone had me working in school from about 7:30am to about 5pm, plus a couple of hours on weekends. It was very intense.

In the final placement, we had to teach up to 15 lessons a week, and support in 2 lessons a week (though when Y11s started their exams, we no longer had to do this). Even though it was more, I had streamlined planning a lot by that point, so I would say at the start of this placement I worked basically equal hours to at my first placement, and by the end I was doing less hours on planning / marking.
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hotpud
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In a nutshell you will be teaching. Most courses use gradualism so to start off with, you'll be observing, then doing the odd starter, then building up to teach a whole lesson until by Xmas you are teaching around 9-10 hours a week. This then continues to build until by Easter you will be teaching 14-1y hours a week.

And inbetween all of this you will be attending the odd university session and doing your PGCE assignments. There is very little actual study involved. At least of the sort you enjoyed as an undergrad.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Dragon24)
I have been thinking about doing a PGCE in English. I know the studying part of the course can be intense.

What is involved in the placement part? I can't seem to find anything online about what is involved in planning, teaching and marking. How many hours a day will this take up? Will you still have to do assignments too? I don't want to ask the uni as they will sugarcoat this.

Will there be time to see family and friends and do hobbies?

I really need to make the right decision.

Thanks.
During placement, you will be in school full time. Most schools will request you are onsite from about 8-4, unless there is a good reason you can't do this. You'll usually attend department meetings and briefings as standard, and these may run later than 4pm.

You'll work up to teaching a certain percentage of a full timetable on each placement- I believe this is set by your uni. Initially, you will be observing lessons, and then you'll start to take more responsibility, eventually, potentially taking full responsibility for some classes. Often, trainees find they need an equivalent amount of prep time to the time they spend teaching. So, say you are spending 7 hours a week teaching, you will probably spend at least 7 more hours planning. Marking will depend a lot on your school's marking policy, but as a trainee, you are often slower at marking, so let's say you spend another 3.5 hours marking. (And by the end of the PGCE, you will be spending a lot more than 7 hours a week teaching).

You will usually also have one hour a week spent doing professional studies in school, and an hour a week meeting with your mentor. You will also spend time talking through your lessons with class teachers you work with. You'll also be encouraged to observe other teachers, in order to gain experience with a wide variety of teaching styles. At the start of placement, you're often encouraged/told to spend a day shadowing a pupil. You might also spend time with the SEN team.

Your school will probably expect you to attend parents evenings and get involved with report writing for classes you have taken on responsibility for.

You may also be encouraged to have a go at doing break duties or to get involved with an extra curricular club. Overall, I think it's normal to spend 40 hours during the PGCE purely on school related things, if not more.

On top of that, you will have various things to do for uni- your assignments will often require evidence to be collected in school, and some assignments may need you to work on them whilst you are in school. You will also need to collect evidence for QTS and fill in any paperwork your uni requires (there will be a lot of paperwork).

On top of that, it's very common to have a difficult or awkward commute during your PGCE.

Once you get to the spring term, you'll also be applying for jobs, and teaching applications are pretty time consuming!

I would say it's not uncommon to spend 60 hours a week on PGCE related things- this wouldn't be every week, but it would probably be a relatively regular occurrence.

Learning to teach is also just exhausting!

You will have some time for family/friends/hobbies- and you do have the holidays during most of the year. But it is tough. There is a reason that drop out rates are so high!
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Dragon24
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Thanks for all of your replies. The detail has been very helpful. What is NQT year like?
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Dragon24)
Thanks for all of your replies. The detail has been very helpful. What is NQT year like?
For me, the NQT year was easier than the PGCE, as you can just focus on teaching, and there is less pressure on each individual lesson.

I was lucky to be in a school with lots of shared resources though, so I didn't have to make everything from scratch. I was also in a school that did shared detentions, so I didn't have to run my own, which again helped a lot!

I also had way less of a commute, so that helped a lot.

That said I still worked a LOT of hours during my NQT year- it was normal for me to work at least one half day at the weekend. I was usually on the school site from 7.30-5/5.30, but then I wasn't usually working when I got home.

Things that were tough on my NQT year- I taught every year from 7-12, so had to do every single parents evening. Fitting in things like reports around my workload. The expectation that if I was around after school, I'd let students work/revise in my classroom- which is fine in theory, but often delayed me getting my own work done.

I had a meeting after school once a fortnight with my mentor, and after school professional studies to attend once a week as well.

I know some people who found the NQT year a lot harder in terms of workload- I think a lot depends on your school and what the uni ask of you during the PGCE. But the extra 10% (I think this has now increased to 20%?) on your timetable makes a huge difference.

I've actually found this year (NQT+1) harder in some ways, but I think that's mainly covid related.
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bluebeetle
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(Original post by Dragon24)
Thanks for all of your replies. The detail has been very helpful. What is NQT year like?
Good answer above, I had a similar experience in a lot of ways.

I found that the first 1 - 2 months of the NQT year were just as heavy workload-wise as my training year. I think this was primarily because the scheme of work at my school now is very different to the scheme of work in the places where I trained, so it took me a while to adjust the way I planned lessons to accommodate for this. However, once I settled in, the workload very quickly reduced to be much less than what I was doing in my training year - mainly because I didn't have to write up lesson plans in a certain format.

I think I mostly found the NQT year easier. I was more settled, kids just naturally respect you more when you've been there since day one (even more true in NQT + 1 because I was no longer 'the new teacher') so behaviour management got easier. The only thing I struggled with that I hadn't so much in my training year was that added sense of accountability - I was super conscious that now there wasn't the 'safety net' of a host teacher who was actually responsible for that class and could step in if things got too much for whatever reason - but I've gotten used to that now and don't stress over it so much.
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