College or school training

14th January 2005 at 00:00
Today there are so many ways to train for the classroom, it is difficult to choose the best route for you. Dawn Cox weighs up the two basic paths

I am a co-ordinator for PGCE students and graduate teacher programme trainees in my secondary school, and a mentor to newly qualified teachers, so I see a variety of training schemes. I wanted to know who chooses which scheme, and why.

Does money make a difference? And does the way you train make your induction year more or less effective? I asked newly qualified teachers on The TES website what they chose and why. Here's what they told me.

Theorybackround readingand essay writing In school: Depends on the designated recommending body which administers the graduate teacher programme. You might get some basics but in-depth reading is up to you.

In college: You might have some excellent professors to deliver the educational theory, and many courses have leading practitioners in the educational field. Lots of written assignments at the same time as lesson planning and increasing subject knowledge, though. works well "I had to do some theory, including assignments. The advantage was that I could turn theory into practice quickly." GTP "The SCITT offers a good balance of theory and practice. As a mature student I don't really want to have to go back to uni to be able to get the theory side." SCITT "I'm a mature student: I don't really want to have to go back to uni."

SCITT "I had many inspiring lectures from all sorts of different people about teaching."

"I wanted to know the theory behind the practice. I also wanted to gain lots of experience in several different schools." PGCE "I can't imagine only having done a year's training and then being a 'proper' teacher.I would have been so scared!!! I needed the four years - they gave me a great mix of theory and practice." BEd "I thought all the college stuff was a bit dull, but it's been amazing how much of it I've used since!" PGCE not so good "I feel reasonably prepared, but I do feel I'm lacking in some theory." GTP "The theory is all very well, but you gain so much more from being in school and watching others doing the job, as well as doing it yourself."

PGCE Learning at the chalkface In school: You're in the classroom from day one, which is great if you've got significant experience of working with children. In theory, you can do a GTP over one to three terms, though one term is rare. You're considered a member of staff by other teachers; good for your ego, but difficult if they expect you to be as experienced as they are.

In college: The amount of time spent on teaching practice varies significantly from one college course to another. Most PGCEs allow you to have at least two schools to gain classroom experience in. You don't get to know a school so well, but you can make your mistakes in your first placement and make a fresh start on your next one. If you're on a four year course, you get a wide range of experience over a long period of time, so you can really develop your teaching skills.

works well "It's common knowledge in schools that teachers who went the GTP route are better placed to cope with the day to day stuff." GTP "I've already got lesson plans for about half of my lessons, I know the school and quite a few of my students and I am already used to writing reports, doing parents' evening." GTP "Experience of playground duty, staff meetings, training days and parents evenings was invaluable." SCITT "On the GTP you're just in one school. It hardly gives you any breadth of experience." PGCE not so good "I do think I would be better prepared if I'd done more teaching last year but the PGCE involves so much more like standards and writing essays that I don't think it would be possible to fit in more teaching!" PGCE Financial benefits In school: On average a trainee can be paid pound;13k (taxed) but it is possible to negotiate more. Because of this, other financial incentives don't apply.

In college: pound;6000 bursary (as long as your tuition fees are being paid by your LEA) and you might qualify for an extra Golden Hello payment after your induction year if you teach a priority subject. These are taxed.

You might even be eligible for the secondary shortage subject scheme (SSSS).

works well "B.Ed must be the best preparation of all, but it was out of the question for a career-changer with family and mortgage." GTP "You don't get a golden hello, or your loan payed off. major debt, so might go back to normal well paid job again." GTP "I did a distance learning PGCE, working and teaching at a school on a GTP timetable and doing my P.G.C.E at the same time. It was a lot of work but I was paid really well from the school and I received all of the training money and the golden hello on top of that. It's quite a good route to take.

Open University PGCE."

"Although GTP salary is pound;13k - it is taxable and subject to NI. The PGCE bursery is pound;6k tax free and if you take out a student loan of pound;3k the net difference per month is minimal." PGCE not so good "You don't get a golden hello, or your loan payed off. Major debt, so might go back to normal well paid job again." GTP "It was GTP without the tax, and I was used as a free cover teacher most of the last two terms." SCITT Are you better qualified?

In school: Your school might decide to keep you on after you train. But the GTP is not recognised internationally as a teaching qualification so if you want to teach outside the European Union at some point, you'll need a college-based training. Many GTPs have addressed not only the QTS standards but many of the NQT standards too, so the NQT year should be a doddle.

In college: You've been in a variety of schools, so you can compare experiences. And you can work abroad. The NQT year is likely to be tough, though.

Dawn Cox is head of RE and mentor for NQTs, GTPs and student teachers at the Sir Charles Lucas Arts college in Colchester, Essex


You could be forgiven for thinking that someone at the DfES is employed especially to think up new confusing acronyms. Here are some training ones: SCITT School-centred initial teacher training

GTP Graduate teacher programme

PGCE postgraduate certificate in education

BEdBABSc Bachelor in Education Artsof Science with QTS

DRB Designated recommending body, the organisation that manages your training course

NQT Newly qualified teacher, Golden Hello Money paid to new teachers in certain subjects

TTA Teacher Training Agency

ITT Initial teacher training

SSSS Secondary shortage subject scheme

QTS Qualified teacher status

Other training routes

RTP registered teacher programme, for people without a degree

Fast-track Accelerated school-based course for "high-flyers". Six weeks' training and you earn pound;10k for the year

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