5th March 2004 at 00:00
Your job and career questions answered

I am confused about the advantages of employment- based training routes into teaching compared with PGCE. The graduate teacher programme seems better - you are paid more and can start teaching immediately. I cannot see any real benefits for a PGCE other than another year in college, and you can apply at a younger age. Why does anyone over a certain age bother applying for PGCE? I am aware that I am focusing on one aspect of the different training routes, which is why I am asking for advice to help me make an informed decision.

The lower age limit for employment-based training has been abolished, so any graduate could now opt to enter via that route. The PGCE comes with a minimum pound;6,000 training grant, more for those in shortage subjects.

There have been other financial benefits, such as loan repayments. Unless you are on the fast-track scheme, they probably do not amount to as much as it is possible to earn under the GTP, which also allows an extra year of pension credits, a valuable benefit in the long term.

As to the non-financial case, the PGCE allows you to train with a group of similar students undergoing the same experience. You are provided with a structured learning experience that allows you to develop your teaching skills and gain access to a wide range of facilities to help you during the course. It provides you with a university qualification in addition to QTS.

But you have less day-to-day contact with schools and the ebb and flow of the school year. You will not be able to build a relationship with a school that may offer you a teaching post at the end of the programme.

In some ways, SCITT courses (school-centred initial teacher training) offer elements of both programmes. You will need to decide what is important to you, but be aware that there are many more PGCE places than there are places on the GTP. Often schools offer GTP places to people who have already been working in schools such as technicians and classroom assistants.

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