Applying for teacher training this year?

Are you looking to apply for a PGCE or other Initial Teacher Education (ITE) provider this October? Here are some key things to tick off over the summer to make your application process as easy as possible!

1. Do your research

Don’t know your SCITT from your Schools Direct?  Knowing where you want to apply is the most important part of the process as you will be spending a, rather intense, year in this environment if you are successful.  There are 2 broad options to choose from:

1- University based.  This is the traditional PGCE route where you will start out in a University alongside other subject/ age group specific students on the same course as you.  Generally you have an induction period of around a month before you go out to placement schools.  There will be a minimum of 2 placements of different lengths.

2- School based.  This is an employment based route where you will be based in a school for the year.  You will generally have a day or afternoon a week where you meet with other trainees for taught sessions and will visit a second school for a short amount of time, usually after Christmas. If you are lucky enough to be training to teach a shortage subject there may be the option of getting paid via this route. 

If you are considering a school based route ensure that you check if you are able to get a PGCE alongside your teaching qualification.  A PGCE will allow you to teach abroad whereas Qualified Teacher Status does not (although you will have to do fewer essays on this route).  Some PGCE programmes will also offer you the opportunity to gain credits towards your Masters.  If you have aspirations of working in senior management when you get into schools this is a good option to take as it will save you money (and time) further down the line.

For all of the options, visit Get into Teaching where you can search for training providers near you as well as getting details of open days and visits to learn more about the courses on offer.  Remember that if you are a University of Gloucestershire graduate you could receive 20% off your fees if you choose to study here!

2. Complete an audit

This isn’t as boring as it sounds!  Whatever subject or age range you are applying for you will need to consider what your existing knowledge and experience is in that area.  Completing a subject knowledge audit is something which training providers will often ask those invited to interview to do to determine what experiences they already have and how they may need to adapt the course to suit the coming intake.  If you are looking to study PE, contact for a Secondary PE audit, or if you would like an example of one you may be asked to fill in (you may want to adapt it to suit other subjects or age groups).

Identifying your areas of strength and areas to develop will allow you to spend your summer filling in some of the gaps, or plan placements or courses in the Autumn term which will help you to improve.  This will look even better when it comes to application and interview if you have already assessed your strengths and areas for improvement and have started doing something about them!

Another great way to audit your experience is to use the Teacher’s Standards. This is a list of the skills and qualities you need to develop and evidence to achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).  Using colours to RAG rate these will show you additional areas you may wish to focus on during your placement in final year as well as showing potential interviewers that you are aware of the standards expected and that you are already looking to make progress towards achieving them.

3. Put together your portfolio

Over the past decade in education you will have had many achievements and experiences.  Many of these are going to be useful examples to draw on within your personal statement and interview so it is important you can remember all that you have done. 

Pull together all of your placement reports, thank you emails, schemes of work, lesson plans, qualification certificates and other relevant documents into an A4 folder.  try to make sure you group the evidence appropriately (a title page is even better) and only include really great bits of evidence. 

This portfolio will help you when writing your personal statement (see point 4, below) as well as being a good thing to bring to interviews.  This allows the person interviewing you to flick through and see all of your best achievements at a glance as well as acting as a reminder to you before you go in of some examples you might want to draw on in your answers to questions.

4. Draft your personal statement

As you did when you applied to university, you will need to complete a personal statement alongside your teaching application.  Having completed your audit and portfolio you should have a good idea about your strengths and areas for improvement and the experiences which have shaped your knowledge and understanding of teaching as a whole.  Make sure to include this information, alongside how you will aim to improve any weaknesses (identification of courses or experiences you have already booked in to do this is even better!) and what you hope to learn and develop as a result of the course.

If you are applying for a specific route (school/ university based) identify why that route is for you as well as a clear message about why you want to teach.  Avoid listing experiences and qualifications- ensure that you say what you have learned from experiences or how you will apply any knowledge you have gained when teaching young people in future. Identification of key skills and qualities you possess which will make you a good teacher is also good (have a look again at the Teacher’s Standards for some ideas).

Give your statement to a friend or family member to proof read, then ask a lecturer or someone who has worked in schools or in university admissions to have a second look.  Be prepared to make changes- personal statements often require many changes and amendments before they are ready so make sure you leave enough time.

5. Fill in the gaps

As part of this process you will have identified some aspects of teaching you need to gain more experience in.  Schools don’t break up until mid July so from now until then is a great time to ask if you can visit and help out to get more experience and understanding of teaching.  If you can visit a school which you are looking to apply for even better, as this will help you to know if it is the place for you as well as to get yourself known amongst staff- it could effectively be a week-long interview.

If you are looking to teach PE interviews for NQTS (Newly Qualified Teachers- those who have just finished their training) usually take place during the summer term when you will have had limited experience in teaching Summer sports.  Getting some experience this summer will put you ahead of other applicants and show a commitment to teaching to university and schools with training places. 

6. Practice your skills tests

In order to gain a place onto an ITE course you need to have met the entry requirements  as well as successfully completing your skills tests. 

These are digital tests in literacy and numeracy which all prospective teachers must pass in order to attain QTS.  Indeed, most ITE providers will now not accept you into a training programme if you have not passed them.   You may have up to 3 attempts at the tests free of charge.  However if you need more than 3 attempts at either test you will be charged (and often you have to travel some distance to a venue to take the test so its best to do them as few times as possible).

Practice materials are available online  and many providers will offer support sessions for successful applicants, giving you tutoring for the test before you take them.  If you are worried about the tests, try out the practice materials online and ask any prospective training provider what support they give in preparing for these tests.

7. Consider your references

You will need to find 2 people who are willing to act as references for your application.  These would ideally be a lecturer, your university PT or a teacher in a placement school.  If you have a suitable employer they can also act as a reference but you want to make sure you have chosen people who can comment on your suitability to work with young people in an educational environment. 

It is important that you speak to those whom you would like to ask as soon as possible so that they know to look for your application- it will not be submitted without both references being completed and this can delay an application if a referee is on holiday or unable to complete the reference in good time.  Remember that lecturers will have a lot of students asking them to be a reference to organisation is important. 

Looking for more advice? visit the Get into Teaching website for more advice and guidance, or speak to your personal tutor.  For information on the courses available at University of Gloucestershire click here 

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