Life after PGCE

Adrian Copping of the University of Cumbria, didn’t get his first job until the October half term after graduation. “Like other PGCE students who don’t get jobs straight away, I did experience a lot of angst,” he recalls. 

For the job seekers….

However, even a wait of a couple of months can seem like a sprint to others who struggle to find jobs because of their location or subject. For Amy Cridland, job seeking challenges were compounded by the fact that the University of the West of England changed its B.Ed course from four to three years and so there was a double graduation in her year.

“I hate to think how many applications I made. I was ahead of my year group because I’d done a joint honours Early Years education degree that included a year as a teaching assistant. It really got me down.” Cridland did a spell of supply teaching but the hours and the emergency tax code meant she didn’t earn enough.

Amy applied and Bookstart job, a teaching role within libraries. It’s a unique post with just one position in each county. She still hopes to do her NQT year, however.

Chelsea Phipps, a teacher of food technology and design graduated from the University of East London and found the online networking group that his cohort year set up to really useful. “By staying in touch with other graduates who are going to many different interviews, you get tip offs about jobs that come onto the market.”

For the employed…

Dr Christine Szwed, director of studies for Initial Teacher Education at the University of Birmingham, recommends getting to know your new school before the next year starts.  “Out of our class of 35 students, 30 have jobs and will be working with their new schools for two to three weeks before the summer terms breaks up,” she explains.  

Some teachers are lucky enough to be paid for this work, if budgets allow, whereas others are invited in for a couple of days on a mini induction. Birmingham is fortunate in this respect because the local authorities are well funded. Primary schools in particular like to do this because of their focus on the whole child and bringing teachers in gives them an opportunity to start building relationships straight away.

Even if you’re not offered the money, Christine recommends it as a way getting to know the lie of the land. “It can be a very useful for teachers to get an early grasp of the routines work in a school. “One of the most difficult things about starting in September is getting a handle on procedures, such as where children line up at assemblies.”

Job seeking tips for PGCE graduates

  • Ensure the letter of application is spot on. Show it to the head teacher at the school where you’ve done your placement. I discovered that the way some of my answers were formulated was giving the wrong message.
  • Develop tactics to overcome crises of confidence. Reread any placement files and all the positive comments and feedback that you’ve received. You can think: ‘It’s not me that’s failing, I’ve just not found the right job yet.”
  • Join online networking groups with your fellow graduates, or start one on Yahoo.  It’s a great way of staying in touch, getting about tips about jobs and generally keeping up your morale.

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