The Student Room Group

PGCE: primary or secondary?

Hello everyone,

I originally was planning to apply for a secondary English PGCE programme because I love literature and want to share my passion. I also thought that I hated kids.

I am currently in Korea working at a small academy teaching English/lit to primary and secondary students to see how everything is before I embark on my PGCE journey.

To my utmost surprise, I am actually enjoying teaching little kids as much as I enjoy my bigger ones.

I appreciate the intellectual discussion I have with my senior lit students, but I also love the creative and innocent energy I can share with my primary students.

In terms of class preparation, I love preparing for my senior lit classes, but I do not enjoy preparing for my primary classes.

When it comes to student bonding, I don't feel much for my senior kids but have so much affection for my little ones. I value how the little ones rely on me, tease me and like to draw me on the board etc. The seniors seem more serious, but the little ones get excited about small things which also excites me. I get affected by the people I am around with and the little ones' sweet and bright energy lighten me up.

Of course the class itself, I get much more exhausted with my little kids because it involves a lot of running around, paying closer attention and raising my voice. The classes also do not feel like much teaching but more like playing and interacting. When the kids are not listening, it really brings me down, but when they give me something they made or show some kind of affection, everything is worth it by the end of the day.

The classes I am teaching right now are small groups (5-6 max), and I'm only doing English as the subject. I am wondering whether teaching other subjects as well to a much larger audience would be a totally different experience to the point that it would change my mind on primary students.

Would you advise me to try TAing for primary before making my final decision for PGCE? I do want to quickly have my own class, but I do not want to make the wrong decision between primary and secondary. I am truly confused because before I used to hate it when kids would run around and scream; however, when it comes to my kids, it is suddenly completely tolerable and understandable.

I am a very patient and compassionate person in general. I love intellectual discussions but also the little kids' pure and creative minds.

I would really appreciate some advise from you all! Thanks :smile:
Original post by grachet1
Hello everyone,

I originally was planning to apply for a secondary English PGCE programme because I love literature and want to share my passion. I also thought that I hated kids.

I am currently in Korea working at a small academy teaching English/lit to primary and secondary students to see how everything is before I embark on my PGCE journey.

To my utmost surprise, I am actually enjoying teaching little kids as much as I enjoy my bigger ones.

I appreciate the intellectual discussion I have with my senior lit students, but I also love the creative and innocent energy I can share with my primary students.

In terms of class preparation, I love preparing for my senior lit classes, but I do not enjoy preparing for my primary classes.

When it comes to student bonding, I don't feel much for my senior kids but have so much affection for my little ones. I value how the little ones rely on me, tease me and like to draw me on the board etc. The seniors seem more serious, but the little ones get excited about small things which also excites me. I get affected by the people I am around with and the little ones' sweet and bright energy lighten me up.

Of course the class itself, I get much more exhausted with my little kids because it involves a lot of running around, paying closer attention and raising my voice. The classes also do not feel like much teaching but more like playing and interacting. When the kids are not listening, it really brings me down, but when they give me something they made or show some kind of affection, everything is worth it by the end of the day.

The classes I am teaching right now are small groups (5-6 max), and I'm only doing English as the subject. I am wondering whether teaching other subjects as well to a much larger audience would be a totally different experience to the point that it would change my mind on primary students.

Would you advise me to try TAing for primary before making my final decision for PGCE? I do want to quickly have my own class, but I do not want to make the wrong decision between primary and secondary. I am truly confused because before I used to hate it when kids would run around and scream; however, when it comes to my kids, it is suddenly completely tolerable and understandable.

I am a very patient and compassionate person in general. I love intellectual discussions but also the little kids' pure and creative minds.

I would really appreciate some advise from you all! Thanks :smile:

I don't think you necessarily have to try TAing, but I would say it would be very valuable to get some experience in a UK primary school setting to see what it's like with the mix of subjects and larger classes. It would also probably be valuable to get some experience in a UK secondary - as if you have just been teaching small groups, then you will likely find the actual classroom experience quite different.

In order to get experience, you can just email schools and ask if you can observe for a few days. You can also contact Get Into Teaching, as I understand that they can help organise school experience.

My personal view is that if you're mainly interested in teaching because you have a passion for your subject, secondary is probably the way to go. I teach secondary maths and I do think there is a fair bit of variety in the day - my year 7 students are still quite playful as they've just come from primary school, but my older students can have good intellectual discussions.
Hi @grachet1,
I agree with Blue Beetle, I do not think there is a need for you to work as a TA to make a decision. However, I think that getting school experience in the UK both in Primary and Secondary would help you decide between the two. Approaches to education hugely vary from one country to the next and in my opinion, it is only by experiencing them directly that you could make an informed decision.
There are also other things to consider, for example, the primary teacher job market is much more competitive that the secondary job market. Both primary and secondary offer different types of intellectual challenges: in primary, you have the challenge to cover a wide variety of subjects whilst in secondary, you need to cover your subject in greater depth, especially at GCSE and A-level. It might help to compare the primary national curriculum to the national curriculum for English for secondary as well as the GCSE and A-level syllabi as intellectual challenge seems to be important to you so you can decide which phase would challenge you the most intellectually.
I would also advise you to get a teaching adviser with Get into Teaching, all our advisers are experienced teachers and they would be able to support you in making a decision by helping you to gain some school experience. They would also support you through the application and interview process and it is a free service.
I hope this helps.
Laure

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