Join other citizenship teachers in the TES Citizenship group. Find lesson ideas and inspiration, share best practice and get your questions answered by your peers. This is also the place to go to debate the latest issues in citizenship teaching.
I have just finished the second year of my law degree and am in the process of applying for a PGCE. The dilemma is – I don’t know whether to do a PGCE in Citizenship or RE. I have spent two weeks observing both subjects at a high school and both do appeal to me. Its just a matter of which one to choose for the PGCE.
I am aware that RE is a shortage subject thus better funding is offered (£5500 more than Citizenship, including the Golden Hello), which somewhat draws me more to RE. During my time at the high school the Head of RE, who is the Principal Assessor of an AQA RE module, informed me that there Is a PGCE conversion course in RE at Cumbria Uni and advised me to spend the first year learning RE and in the second year ask to teach Citizenship as well as RE on placement.
I have been informed that Citizenship is an up and coming subject and will be important in the future, plus promotion is much quicker if I was to go for Citizenship, which draws me to a PGCE in Citizenship.
Exeter Uni (330 miles from where I live) offers a PGCE in Citizenship with Humanities which would obviously kill two birds with one stone. If I did choose to do this course, would I be disadvantaged? - because I do not want to stay in Exeter on completion – I want to go back to my home town.
Sorry for blabbering on – but I would appreciate any advice as to which PGCE to go for?
You identify the situation pretty accurately. The immediate financial benefits of RE are clear. In the long run either subject will give you good prospects of employment. There is certainly good evidence of rapid promotion for good Citizenship teachers, precisely because it is a new and growing subject. In the end, you need to decide, and only you can make that decision.
I have some advice though.
Think it through carefully, and make a clear decision before you start applying. PGCE Course Leaders like to see a clear commitment from applicants for their subject. DO NOT hedge your bets and apply for a couple of RE places and a couple of Citizenship. That will look like indecision (which it is) and lack of commitment. It also makes writing your personal statement (where you have to sell yourself and your devotion to your chosen subject) a nightmare. It will lead to both subjects rejecting you! Law is a good background for a Citizenship place
You do need to recognise that admission to both Citizenship and RE is very competitive (despite the so called shortage of RE teachers, there's no problem recruiting students to the RE PGCE), so don't 'bank' on Exeter accepting you. You can identify 4 institutions (in your order of preference) on your application form - make sure you use all 4.
You don't have to do PGCE in the area in which you subsequently wish to work. However, there's no obvious benefit in moving away. If you're 330 miles from Exeter you must be in the North somewhere; Cumbria, Sheffield Hallam, and Bradford all have successful and highly regarded Citizenship PGCE courses, and MMU has a Social Sciences and Citizenship (though I'm not sure whether Law is one of the subjects they will consider). All of those courses are likely to offer you the opportunity to get some experience teaching a second subject during the PGCE (possibly RE, possibly Law, or possibly one of your 'A' level subjects) which will aid your subsequent 'marketability'.
Thank you for your detailed response – much appreciated. As I am 19 it is still early for me to decide what to do in the future, but I am almost certain that I do not want to become a solicitor thus it would be pointless for me to fork out £10000 for the LPC. Despite this I would relish the opportunity to teach Law may it be GCSE, A-Level, or undergraduate level, but aren’t law jobs somewhat limited?
The secondary school which I had observed entrusted a Business Studies graduate who has a PGCE in ICT to teach and was the head of Guidance (PSHE, Enterprise and Citizenship), which makes me feel that if I was to do a PGCE in RE, I would be able to apply for Citizenship posts as I have been informed that for an ‘RS teacher to move into citizenship is relatively easy - there are lots of overlaps in the topic areas, which fire up our enthusiasm. However I would be very suspicious of a citizenship teacher who moves to RS - they would not have adequate grounding in the subject.’
In your experience/opinion, would it be possible for a law graduate with a PGCE in RE to apply for citizenship posts?
You have been informed of one teacher's opinion scooby. Its not gospel. The fact that citizenship was entrusted to a teacher with an ICT PGCE may simply be because that teacher wanted to teach some citizenship or that the school did not have a citizenship trained teacher. I note the teacher was a business studies graduate not an ICT graduate - so does that not show to you that there is flexibility in what you can teach?
There are not yet enough citizenship trained teachers to go around! One of the schools I observed in the HOD of Citizenship was originally a science teacher but he chose to change from science to citizenship. Just flicking the jobs pages in TES you will come across posts for a teacher of citizenship/RE or humanities. With either PGCE you could apply for either.
All things are possible. The bottom line is that once you have QTS (qualified teacher status) you can teach any subject that you can persuade a head teacher that you are capable of. So yes, you may find in some schools a science teacher teaching citizenship, a history teacher teaching RE, a geography teacher teaching maths and so on. Some teachers are adaptable and willing to have a go at teaching different things where they ahve an interest. Some teachers are simply told thye must do something because there is a particular gap in the timetable that needs filling.
I qualified as a teacher of Economics and Social Sciences in 1982. Since then I have taught 'A' level Economics, Business Studies, Politics, Sociology and Law, and GCSE History, Social Studies and Humanities, and Maths and Geography to KS3.
I'm now the Course Leader for a PGCE in Citizenship!
Most of my Citizenship graduates walk into jobs primarily teaching Citizenship, often in combination with a subject they did at degree or A level, including Sociology, Law, Economics and Politics. A good proportion, however, have walked into RE jobs (in competition with RE PGCE graduates) initially and subsequently adjusted their timetable to teach more Citizenship.
I'll give you an example. One of my Citizenship graduates from 2008 made a really good impression in one of the schools in which she did a teaching placement. The school had an immediate vacancy for an RE teacher, but they were also aware that the existing Head of Citizenship was due to retire in 2010 and they would need a good replacement. they offered my graduate the RE post, with a promise that she would also be doing some Citizenship teachin in her first year, some more in her second, would become HoD for Citizenship in her third, at which point the school wold advertise for an RE NQT.
The point about all of this, and whatever stories you have heard elsewhere, is not to make any kind of generalised/sweeping statements. It is not true to say a teacher of XYZ subject has a better chance of ABC - it eventually actually comes down to YOU as an individual and what YOU are able to do (and convince a head - teacher you can do).
PGCE is a tough year, as are the first few years in teaching. Choose the subject that YOU are most INTERESTED in teaching, and can demonstrate to a Course Leader that you are committed to. People who are indecisive/half hearted abot what they are wanting to teach are usually found out at interview and rejected, and if they do slip through the net usually end up doing badly/failing PGCE and struggling to get a job.
Do thorough research (and don't depend on people on here with a very limited perspective for advice) by looking at the websites or other information provided by PGCE course providers about their courses, decide what is right for YOU, and go for it wholeheartedly.
Actually, let me put it another way.
Suppose you really do have to make a choice. You can teach RE but with no chance of teaching Citizenship, or you can teach Citizenship with no chance of teaching RE. Which would you choose?
Think about that and make your decision.
The reality is that as an RE teacher you may get to teach some Citizenship, and as a Citizenship teacher you may get to teach some RE. But if you think of those possibilities as a 'bonus' rather than the main influence on you decision; where would you be happiest?
I repeat ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE.
But it's Citizenship every time!
Thank you, once again, for your detailed response. I suppose I have to do some soul searching and think which subject is for me.
Personally, I believe that I would have far much more to offer if I was to pursue a citizenship PGCE as I have far more ‘subject knowledge’ in this area (I guess that means I’m already closer to making my decision). My passion lies with teaching law, as there is not a PGCE in Law; I was advised that a PGCE in Citizenship is the best thing which would enable me to teach law, therefore wouldn’t it make far more sense to do a PGCE in citizenship as opposed to RE.
The RE HOD who I had observed has been an examiner for 15 years and has several examining roles with AQA: Assistant Principal Examiner, Team Leader and Moderator and Coursework Adviser, informed me that she had binned 12 out of 15 recent job applications for an RE teacher as the applicants had ‘no subject knowledge’, despite the fact that they have a PGCE in RE, which I find somewhat awkward. Thus I initially felt that I should be a jack of all trades, as my degree is not in a NC subject, thus want to apply for Citizenship with Humanities at Exeter University so I can offer more than one subject.
I would relish the opportunity to study at Bradford, as I am already studying and ‘loving it’ there, and I have been told that PGCEs at Bradford are really good.
Bradford is good.
Exeter is good.
Cumbria is good.
Sheffield Hallam is good.
You need to do your research thoroughly, you have time. I gather you are entering the final year of your law degree in September. You really need to get a PGCE application in by Xmas, most courses are full be the early spring. All are likely to want to see some evidence, besides your academic qualifications, of some recent involvement/connection with schools ... maybe through the Student Associate Scheme.
I have asked many institutions which offer PGCE RE and Citizenship as to the destinations of their PGCE graduates on completion. I intend to study and familiarise myself with the framework of Citizenship prior to application.
Yes I am to enter my final year in September. Would I be at disadvantage when I apply for a PGCE due to my age?
I sought to apply for the SAS at Leeds University but after looking at the entry requirements; I decided not to as my degree does not encapsulate the NC and Citizenship was not offered.Thus independantly seeked/obtained 2 week work experience observing lessons and 'team-taught' at a high school. In addition to this I have tutored relatives and friends ranging from KS2 to KS5, plus whilst I was in Pakistan on holiday I spent a week teaching English to Pakistani nationals. I am to begin training to become a witness supporter (Victim Support) in September.Would these experiences suffice - or should I get more experience? I want to compensate (without sounding crude) for my lack of 'life-experiences' which mature candidates possess.
You're doing the right kind of things. Not much credibility is gained from "teaching relatives and friends" and I would not use that on an application - it looks naive. The more school experience you have, in UK schools - and of Citizenship teaching in those schools, the better. You are clearly Leeds/Bradford based. There is a school in Bradford, Bradford Academy, that has 'Citizenship' specialist status. There is a school in Keighley, Greenhead High, that has a very good Citizenship department. You might profitably look to those institutions to visit/spend some time in. Most PGCE Citizenship courses recruit a range of ages and experiences. On my course successful candidates have ranged from 22 to 58 years old on entry.
Thank you ever so much for your help. I am from Burnley and study at Bradford. I'm going to write an email/letter to both schools and am keeping my fingers crossed that they would offer me some work experience before I'm back at university.
I would go for the RE.
I trained as a Cit. teacher but I have ended up teaching more RE which is no bad thing at all.
Citizenship is a fab subject But not all that many schools offer it at GCSE or AS level.
You could quite easily ( I would think ) do your PGCE in RE but Male Sure you also observe and teach other subjects as well.
RE and Cit fit like a hand into a glove.
Its just a shame that so many schools have not seen the wisdom of enabling pupils to become much more politically literate.
Hope this helps you.
By the way you could teach basic law in Citizenship!
Hey. Out of interest, where did you do your citizenship PGCE and which area are you working in? I was advised that it I would be more 'marketable' if I offer RE as my main subject and citizenship as my second. I would love to teach law but I am aware that not much schools offer it as a subject - but I wouldn't introducing it. I have bucket-loads of passion so I'm optimistic that I would get on a RE PGCE.
Forgive me for the grammatical errors. What I meant to say was:-
* I would not mind to offer GCSE Law to a school's/sixth form's curriculum.
hi, Bradford PGCE Citizenship is a fantastic course, I did this in 2004-5, I gained a teaching post teaching mainly RE and some Citizenship, i let my school know i wanted to teach more Citizenship in my 2nd year and this was sorted out for me, most schools will welcome teachers who want to teach Citizenship/PSHE. We also have 2 RE trained teachers who also teach a mixed timetable of Citizenship and RE, they would rather teach RE than Citizenship and this is arranged when timetabling is done.
It is true a lot of schools don't offer GCSE Citizenship but you can change that, my school didn't but i went in and implemented it, we are now in our 3rd year of doing the GCSE, we also teach A level Citizenship, only because I implemented it. I was promoted in my 2nd year to Citizenship coordinator and again in my 3rd year to HOD, a lot of the teachers i trained with now also hold management positions such as coordinators and HODs.
I think it's right what Bobdog says, which subject would you prefer to teach and would you be happier teaching and then that's your decision made, only you know which subject you prefer.
Good luck, get some experience in schools and see how it's taught in different schools.
Hi vicx - its good to hear from someone's own experience. I would not hesitate to implement GCSE/A-Level Citizenship or Law. Yes, I have heard that oftenly; citizenship teachers get promotions rather quickly. After thinking about it, I am almost certain that I am going to go for Citizenship over RE. I have wrote letters to a few places for more experience in Citizenship - hope they get back to me before I go back to uni.
I was promoted in my second year of teaching Citizenship, but that is not necessarily a good thing. You might be in a school which values Citizenship, if so great. Or, more likely you are in a school which doesn't value it and have to coordinate a team of teachers who don't want to teach it and blame you for it being on their timetables. You will have to work very hard on your own and be prepared to get no thanks for what you do, you have to be extremely hard-skinned. I was head of dept for two years and received an extra 4000. It simply was not worth it and now I have lost my tlr and I am Head of a small dept, teaching A level at a different school, but don't receive a TLR. The best thing I did was to get out of teaching Citizenship. I am still enthusiastic about the subject, but when the govt halfheartedly bring in a subject and don't enforce it in schools properly you end up with a situation where SLT may resent it, other teachers resent it (many have the odd lesson on the timetable) and Ofsted don't really take notice if it is not implemented. Just a word of warning before you rush into it because you want an early promotion.
Thanks for sharing your experiences freddos. I see where you are coming from - the humanities department which I shadowed were very bemused and sneered at the fact that I may pursue a citizenship PGCE over RE. I have noticed that criticisms are given far more often than compliments. I have taken my rose-coloured glasses off and appreciated the fact that teaching does entail a 'dark side' and that it isn't as easy as the majority assume. Did you do your PGCE in Citizenship, if so, where?
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