Monday, 9 February 2015

PGCE....

I'm knackered and its barely February.. I'm sitting at my desk at home, surrounded by coursework bollocks and I'm starting to forget what real life is like :) Understandably you might find it hard to believe I've booked myself in for another year of education this September to do a PGCE.

Contrary to the assumption of most people, I don't actually want to be a teacher. Not in a school. Maybe in a college or a university when I have a few years of work experience under my belt. But that will come later. It might seem odd that I'm studying teaching when I don't want to teach, but there are alot of jobs out there that require a PGCE and pay alot better than teaching. I've been looking at jobs in education for companies, galleries and museums, particularly London based which is something I want to do!
Alongside this I'll be a practicing Illustrator, which means I will probably have to get myself signed up with an agent or an agency. Technically I will have two jobs/incomes. Which brings me to one of the main reasons I want to do a PGCE - I will always have a job backup. The thought of going out there into the world as an artist is quite daunting, scary and risky. I think you need a backup plan, and the thought of supporting my art career by working in a shop or cafe for the rest of my life is depressing. I'd rather not. 
More recently I've realised that with a PGCE I can also travel abroad to work, with the potential for a long term visa. Teachers are in demand, so if I fancy a year in Japan or America (or longer) then that door is open. Even if it is teaching...
So it all seems rather straightforward, but to get to this point was challenging and alot more difficult than I had anticipated. I think if I had known how much effort was required just to get on to a PGCE course I'm not sure I'd have bothered. But what's done is done, and I'm glad I'm doing a PGCE.
Researching into it, I found out quite late down the line you had to have 'classroom observation experience'. Which in simple terms means you have to sit in a classroom and watch what the teacher does. As simple as that sounds, simple it aint. I must have emailed about 30 different schools, and they all ignored me. In the end I had to beg my old art teacher at Dartford Grammar to spare me one morning of her time to show me her teaching. She was kind enough to agree. But apart from that, the only 'teaching' experience I could get elsewhere was to do a workshop with the Sydenham Beavers. And believe it or not, I really enjoyed it. We made monsters and had a bloody good time (see photos above).
Well the teaching experience was the easy part. Possibly as late as September last year I found out that as of 2012, you had to take a Numeracy test and a Literacy test just to apply for a course. You get three tries and if you fail them all you are barred from applying for two years. And yes - these tests are in ADDITION to having Maths and English gcses. So it doesnt matter how well you did in those gcses at school, because quite frankly they count for nothing.
Now - might I add - these exams are more difficult than the gcses. I revised for both, and definitely wouldn't have passed if I hadn't. The literacy test consisted of a spelling test full of nonsense words that nobody uses in real life, a grammar test and a comprehensive test which made absolutely no sense whatsoever and seemed like an excuse to annoy people.
The numeracy test was the worst - obviously. The first half of the test consisted of 12 maths questions in which you get 20 seconds to answer per question, followed by another 16 questions of utter garbage maths that I have never had to use in my life nor will ever again. But that crap aside, I passed both first time. I think if I didnt I would've gone nuts like that time I failed my driving test 3 times.
 
So once you have tests completed and a ton of work experience, you can apply for a course. But you have to go through the longwinded process of applying through UCAS, begging university lecturers to write you references and all the rest. Then theres the wait for responses from universities.
I applied for Institute of Education, Goldsmiths and Canterbury. However there was only one university I wanted to do my PGCE at and that was Institute of Education, which is rated number 1 in the world for education and is based in London (so sort of local). My first, and only interview, took place at my first choice, so the pressure was on from the start.
The interview consisted of sitting in a room with a projector and 12 other applicants, all applying for the same thing. We had to give a presentation of our work to the group and to the head of department who sat there scribbling notes and judging us. It was awkward, but I managed somehow. I had a good chat with a guy sitting next to me who was also from Camberwell, which made the day a little less stressful! After the interview, the head of department went off to talk about her notes with her assistant. The group was left to write 200 words about why we'd be good at being teachers. This was fine and only took 10 minutes, however one of the group got all shitty with myself and my Camberwell friend John for talking whilst she was still writing. I felt like I was being told off by a teacher. Well. We were quite amused :)
Come the end of this task, we were each given ten minute interviews in private by the head of department. She asked us a ton of questions probing us about why we wanted to teach. It sounded straightforward, but after giving a presentation I was stressing like crazy. I could also see her writing notes about me and circling numbers (which I assume was a rating system of how good or bad we were).
But either way it didn't matter because I got a place on my first choice and simply withdrew my applications from Goldsmiths and Canterbury :)
So thats what I'm doing in September.

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