Languages quandary

10th February 2006 at 00:00
I want to do a PGCE in modern languages at a London university. After reading posts on The TESonline staffroom, I'm worried about job prospects.

People say it will be difficult because secondary schools don't give importance to the teaching of modern languages. Is this true? I want to teach in London. Would I have a better chance in a private school? I have a degree from Oxford University; I heard they look for Oxbridge graduates.

Will employers prefer some PGCEs over others? Would a qualification from a former polytechnic look good on my CV?

You pose two different questions. First, it is true that despite the increasingly global nature of our world the status of modern languages in secondary schools has been downgraded so that not all pupils must learn it.

This has had an impact on the number of teachers needed. Last term there were around 160 posts compared with more than 400 each for English and mathematics teachers. As most languages PGCE courses have under-recruited in recent years there may not be as much over-supply as it seems. Second, you ask if there is still snobbery. There must be, as that is human nature, but since all courses follow the same blueprint and are vetted by Ofsted, schools know that what matters is how you fared, not where you studied. As most teachers work close to where they studied, ask your potential training provider what their employment record is for PGCE students. Ask the careers' service for their experience in finding teaching posts. Whether you'd have a better chance in a private school, until you have completed your PGCE, it is impossible to say.

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