Teaching is a challenging yet very rewarding profession and there are various routes in at postgraduate level. As a recent graduate and newly qualified teacher, I know applying for teacher training can be daunting. If you’re not sure which route is right for you, or need some tips on applying, here are five things to consider.
What routes are there?
- PGCE, the most traditional route, consists of periods of time in University and placements in schools.
- School Direct involves four days in school and one day at university per week with occasional weeks at university.
- SCITT is full-time at school with one afternoon a week for professional studies and a two-hour meeting per week with a Subject Knowledge tutor.
- Teach First involves a five-week intensive university course over the summer before starting at a school as an unqualified teacher.
I chose SCITT as this enabled me to be in school full-time throughout my training year and was bespoke to me. I still had valuable support and input from the University as well throughout the year.
How do I write a successful personal statement?
Writing personal statements used to fill me with dread, but writing my PGCE personal statement was different as it was the start of the career I’d wanted since I was 16. It still took me six drafts though! There are already some great guides on how to prepare for your personal statement and how to perfect it, but here’s what to consider including for a Teacher Training specific one:
- Why do you want to be a teacher?
- Why do you want to teach that subject? (They are looking for passion!)
- Why is that age group right for you?
- What experience do you have? (Make sure you include what you have learned about teaching from this experience.)
- How are you going to enhance your experience between now and the start of the course?
- What other hobbies do you have and what else could you offer within school life?
Remember: the last two sentences are the most important; this is the last thing that any prospective course leader will read about you so make it punchy and sell yourself!
How do I make the most of my experience?
Use any experience where you have worked with young people or been in a teaching environment. Highlight what you’ve learned about teaching and about yourself as a teacher. Reflection is core to teaching so by demonstrating you can do that already you are one step ahead! I had taught in Spain on my year abroad and used what I had learned from this experience to make me stand out.
What if I don’t have enough school experience?
Most programmes will ask for a certain amount of experience in schools before you begin the course which can seem quite daunting! Fear not. I didn’t have enough experience in schools so I did some research discovered the School Experience Programme on the Get Into Teaching website. I gained more school experience and through this found the school I would go on to train at too! Emailing local schools and asking them if they can offer you any experience is another great way to top up that teaching experience quota!
Where do I go to for advice and information?
There are many good sources of advice and information about getting into teaching. Go to university PGCE open evenings; there is so much information on offer and usually a chance to speak to a lecturer. I went to a University of Derby open evening and spoke to a lecturer who offered me some great advice on how to apply and how to make the most of the experience I had.
The Get Into Teaching website is another valuable source of information and they also run Train to Teach events. I attended one of these during the final year of my undergraduate degree and got the opportunity to explore different programmes and talk to head teachers who told me what they were looking for in a trainee teacher. I was also able to discuss which was the right route for me.
Get into teaching and give yourself a chance to inspire and influence our future generations. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”