Whether you’re a career changer, thinking about starting a BEd or you’re planning on taking the PGCE route you’ll find lots of advice here. Charlie Taylor will answer new topics containing "Dear Charlie" in the subject.
I would like some advice on the best way to approach schools to get some experience of classroom observation. I had applied for a PGCE in Secondary History after graduating in 2008, for which I was turned down on the grounds of not having enough classroom experience.
Since then, I have been engaged in postgraduate studies and am now in the third year of my PhD, looking to submit my thesis in September. I appreciate courses for 2012 are now closed, so am looking to gain some experience with a view to apply for 2013.
I am considering both Teach First and the PGCE route (any advice there would be helpful?), and I am sure the classroom experience would be beneficial for both and essential for the PGCE. I have been a seminar tutor at my university for the last two years, so was also wondering how that experience would be looked upon for KS3/4/5.
I have emailed a few schools in my local area, however I have not really had a response so am thinking that might not be the most appropriate method of contacting them? Also what should I actually say to them? I have read about gaining experience in schools that you have previous attended, but I live a fair (but not impossible) distance from my old school and since I left it has been put into special measures and restructuring has meant staffing changes to the extent that I doubt anyone would know me.
Thanks for your time.
All experience in the education sector is good and your tutoring in university will help strengthen your application. However, you are absolutely right in thinking that gaining classroom experience would further enhance your application as it indicates to course providers your commitment to teaching and also that you have an up-to-date knowledge of teaching practices. It is often a good idea to direct your query to the head of department and give your reasons for wishing to gain experience. You could also highlight your qualifications and offer to assist in the history lessons rather than observing.
The PGCE is the main route to achieving QTS and is a mix of university-based work and school placements. The Teach First programme is aimed at top graduates who would like to train by working in challenging schools www.teachfirst.org.uk. You may like to discuss your options with a teaching consultant at the Teaching Information Line on 0800 389 2500.
I wish you the best of luck with your teaching career.
Lin Hinnigan, Teaching Agency
I'm in the same position as you (3rd year of PhD in Env Chemistry) and looking to start PGCE in 2013. At first I was hitting a brick wall trying to even get in touch with relevant people at my former schools. However, I have emailed a lot of schools in the surrounding area (South and West Yorkshire) and have now arranged 1-3 day initial visits at three different schools.
It would have been nice to return to my former schools but in the end this doesn't really matter from the perspective of gaining experience.
My advice is:
persevere and broaden your search spatially if necessary
google your local schools (e.g. Nottingham schools) which will most likely direct you to a council website listing them all.
pick the ones you like (or all of them) and email separately - don't just blanket cc all the schools on the same email as this looks unprofessional
offer to be flexible in terms of visit dates
offer to volunteer/help in class rather than just sitting at the back with a notepad
offer to pay for your own CRB check
failing that, try ringing the schools although they will most likely just tell you to email.
Most importantly, PERSEVERE!
There's also the School Experience Programme, which will sort out a short placement for you. I have a feeling that it's only two weeks, but it's still a good 'in' at a school.
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