On Thursday my friend and I attended a post-grad fare, which was being hosted by university of Manchester. There were up to 90 universities there from the UK and abroad. It started at 10am, but we got there about 10.30am, registered ourselves, and then started taking a look around the stands of all the different uni’s. Both of us want to go into secondary school teaching, so we were both interested particularly in universities that offered the 11-16, or 11-18, PGCE (Post-graduate certificate in Education).
We first went to the Liverpool John Moores University, and the convenor of the PGCE course there was actually at the the stand, and he was really helpful. He told us about the two ways that people can now get into teaching, which is either through the PGCE, or through a scheme called Schools Direct. He took a lot of time explaining the differences between them. Okay, so on a PGCE course you have to attend uni, such as lectures, and seminars, and also do placements at schools, whereas with the Schools Direct scheme you don’t have to attend uni, and you go straight into doing placements, however you still have to do assignments ect. Also, for Schools Direct you need to have quite a lot of experience in schools, whereas if you apply for PGCE you perhaps only need a few days. Moreover, with the School Direct scheme you get paid whilst on placement, whereas on the PGCE you don’t get paid on placements. He said that the Schools Direct scheme is great for people who are looking for a change in career, and a certificate in teaching, and it’s not always suited to people that have just left uni because they generally don’t have a years worth of experience in school, but some graduates do still go for that scheme. To be honest the Schools Direct scheme doesn’t really appeal to me, or my friend, because we love uni life and going in for lectures, and seminars, and I wouldn’t feel like I could do the assignments without any teaching hours. He also told us about the way the application works for PGCE, and that there are two “cycles” of application. In the first cycle you can apply for three universities, and then in the second cycle you can apply for another three, if your first cycle was unsuccessful. We were also told about the skills test that we would have to do, if we got offers, which test that your ability in English and Maths is at least GCSE grade C . I feel like his thorough explanation of the whole process really set us up for the rest of the post-grad fare because when we went to other stands we knew what they were talking about, without them having to explain it.
It’s really nice when the people representing the course are really welcoming, and know their subject, or course, inside out. We spoke to the course leader of the PGCE course at the Edge Hill university (in Liverpool) , and she was really nice asking us about our course, and how the placements run, and the different topics that are on the course. She also told us about how the PGCE credits go towards a Masters in Education, if you ever wanted to top that off. Edge Hill has a really good reputation for it’s PGCE course, so it’s one of my top three choices. She also was shocked that my friend, and I actually were old enough to do the PGCE course because we looked “so young”, and are “so small”, which strangers always seem to say to us!
Two of the universities that disappointed me were the university of Manchester, and the university of Birmingham. When we went to the university of Manchester stand the PGCE course convener really had no clue how the the course was run. All she kept doing was referring back to the university courses page, which lists everything. I mean if I wanted to know that simple information I would’ve just gone on the website myself, which I have done in the past, but I went to the stand because I wanted more in-depth answers, and a clear idea of how they run the course. She didn’t even offer us a prospectus, and the conversation just abruptly came to an end when she said “Is there anything else?” after not being able to answer how the placements were structured. It was awkward, and kind of shocking for such an “established” institution, and made me think that some “top” universities only want to recruit post-grads with first class degrees so they look the best, and stay on at the top of league tables. My experience with the University of Birmingham was that she just went on about what how “prestigious” the university was, and every question I asked seemed to come back to that. However, she did give me a prospectus, and told me I could email the actual lecturer that teaches the Secondary English PGCE, and that they’d me “more than happy to help”.
I also realised getting on to a PGCE is pretty much an award itself. Most universities only have 20-40 seats on these courses, – Liverpool Hope University only has 8-12 seats (ridiculous!) -, and you’ll only be offered one of those after you go to a group interview with other candidates, then they want you to do an short presentation, AND/or undertake a written task, and then a formal one to one interview. Seriously that scares me because these courses are so oversubscribed too that you can only expect rejection.
So, yeah. We also went to the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) stand, and the guy told us “Oh, we also have a post-grad fare at our university today starting at 2pm, so you should head over there for all the information on our teaching courses”. Talk about taking university of Manchester’s thunder! But, anyway my friend, and I decided we’d go.
So, we left the post-grad at university of Manchester around 12-ish, and decided we’d go for a wander around the Deansgate area.
So all this means that I have to get started on my personal statement as applications for the first cycle opened two days ago! I’ve arranged a meeting with a careers adviser at my uni next Friday to help me with that! I’m also still in the process of sorting out my work experience at a school soon but the headteacher is taking her sweet time, which is frustrating.
I’m first three choices are going to be Edge Hill, University of Southampton, and University of Portsmouth, and then if I don’t get any offers from them I’ll apply for Liverpool John Moores, University of Chester, and MMU or Staffordshire university.
Anyone else applying for a post-grad course, or going into teaching?