First encounters

21st September 2001 at 01:00
David Ogle takes a sober look at his new career

When I was an undergraduate, I'd occasionally have a little snigger over my student union bar lager at postgrad students. They were so serious and studious. At university for the first time, alcohol and the opposite sex do a pretty good job of kicking academic good intentions into touch.

But now I'm one of those serious, studious, non-boozing postgrads, one week into a primary PGCE. Maybe it's the fact that you're training to be a teacher, to be trusted with the nation's young, that also makes you feel like you have to be better behaved. Or maybe it's because, this time round, lectures can't be skipped the morning after the night before.

Lectures on the first day, assignment dates given on the second. Planning for the first school experience on the fourth, followed by that actual experience on day five. Crikey, this is real work. And, yes, day three was pretty full too.

But, returning to education after a 12-year career in journalism, it's not really a shock to the system at all. As an undergraduate, studying for a degree was a shock. The fact that some lectures don't finish until 6pm is no hardship. It was a rare day when I'd get away from work before then.

Doing "homework" in the evening might be a change for some other mature students, but many of us often took work home anyway. Teachers aren't the only ones with a heavy workload.

And what of the course itself?So far I've been most impressed with the balance between accepting the importance of a national curriculum and still encouraging teachers to be creative.

Experienced teachers may snort cynically at that. But us lucky new lot haven't had to go through years of upheaval. We're inheriting a fait (almost) accompli. And we get paid six grand into the bargain. How sick does that make you feel?

Maybe I'll have the stuffing knocked out of me when I experience my first inner-city school, and I know there's lots of very intensive work ahead. For now, I think I will have that drink after all.

David Ogle started his PGCE at Bath Spa University College this month

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