Where do I start?

4th April 2003 at 01:00
Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

I'm a history graduate, with 10 years' experience teaching English as a foreign language abroad. I'd like to become a secondary teacher (of history or English). I have heard I can do my PGCE while teaching in a school. This appeals to me as I don't want to delay by taking time out to do a college-based PGCE. Will I find it difficult to get a job on this basis?

I think you are asking my views on the pros and cons of doing a PGCE at college or school centred initial teacher training (Scitt). The latter is run by groups of schools, often with input from higher education institutions and local education authorities. There are a fair number of Scitts, but each has only a small number of places. Visit the TTA website (www.canteach. gov.uk) to find one near you.

You seem to think Scitt is about being in school and PGCE is spent in college. This isn't true. Secondary PGCE courses last about 38 weeks and are based at a university but involve 24 weeks in a school. Scitt is based in school but has an element of study. The significant differences between them are size and how long they've been running. Scitt courses are small, and some are new and untested. PGCE courses are larger, more established, set within a university and take advantage of economies of scale to ensure a high-quality experience.

The PGCE is the most popular postgraduate route, and probably the safest in terms of status in future employers' eyes. Scitt courses are variable - some people have had great experiences, others have felt neglected. Many people get their first job in a school within their Scitt consortium.

You need to find out more about courses that are geographically accessible.

The initial teacher training performance profiles on the TTA website are worth looking at to help you choose a successful course. Look at the inspection grades and drop-out rates carefully.

You apply for a place on a postgraduate course through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR), and applications can be made from the start of October. Complete one form and state your training course preferences, so you can apply for Scitt and PGCEs. Your form gets sent to your first-choice institution and, if it rejects you, the form is sent to your second choice, and so on. Despite teacher shortages, it is not easy to get places on popular courses, so you may not get on a course for this September. Contact the GTTR at www.gttr.ac.uk to find out the position.

Are you a student or NQT? Email your questions to susan.young@newsint.co.uk.

Sara Bubb's A Newly Qualified Teacher's Manual: how to meet the induction standards is published by David Fulton, pound;16

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