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Career advice

Q I am 39, a mature student with a 2:1 degree in psychology and have just failed the teaching part of a PGCE in primary teaching.

I admit I wasn't a model student, often handing work in late, although getting high marks. For me the course was too intensive. I prefer to put in 100 per cent quality work, rather than any quality just to get it done.

Is there any possibility I can get qualified teacher status by some other route so that the money invested in my training won't be wasted?

A Although you say you submitted written work late, you also say you received high marks for it. I assume, therefore, you passed that part of the course and failed the practical classroom experience by failing to meet the standards laid down.

There may, however, be a link between the two parts of the course. Teaching involves making judgments about how best to meet demanding deadlines. Children are always clamouring for your attention and there are always other pressures that intrude on the classroom scene. If you believe in setting yourself high standards, come what may, did you find this tension too difficult to deal with?

As to your next moves, you should seek a detailed and frank debrief about why you failed. Ask whether there is the possibility of a resit. If not, then unless you can find a modular course that will give you credit for the parts of the course you passed, you have little option but to seek a new career.

You might also consider seeking professional careers advice.

Q I have worked for 15 years in the primary sector, mostly as a classroom teacher. However, I have taught in Africa and Germany as a teacher of English. I have an English degree and a PGCE (primarymiddle).

I have become interested in geography and environmental science and have an Advanced Certificate in Environmental Science from Birkbeck College.

Can I switch to teaching in secondary schools? As I only work four days a week at present, I could use the spare day for more studying.

A You should start applying for teaching posts in secondary schools now. You might find one that values both your experiences in the primary sector and your willingness to develop your own career through further study. Although you might not be offered A-level teaching straight away, this should be possible after further study.

You could check the Teacher Training Agency website (www.tta. gov.uk) about conversion courses, but you probably don't need one.

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