A PGCE wasn’t always the way that I had intended to complete my ITT. For the 2014/15 academic year, I had applied for one PGCE course, and two School Direct (salaried) programmes. Unfortunately, all of my applications were unsuccessful – I didn’t even get as far as an interview for the PGCE at this stage. I was very nervous about the whole process and the interviews were really tough – one had a panel of six head teachers interviewing! The feedback from the interviews was that I needed more experience in a school – due to working full-time, I’d only really done the two weeks minimum experience required for application.
I had five years’ working experience in a private nursery, moving from a student to a nursery nurse, to assistant manager, to nursery manager, but this obviously wasn’t enough. I’d worked full-time whilst studying part-time (one night per week) for my degree, moving from a foundation degree to a BA (Hons) Top-up, where I finished with First Class Honours!
I had a good working knowledge of a curriculum, but not the right one! It may have been a sensible option to go for an Early Years teaching programme, but going into Early Years had never been my intention, it just sort of ‘happened’. I wanted to spread my wings, have a broader experience of teaching, which was why I was determined to do primary initial teacher training, and not be limited to Early Years for the rest of my career. As much as I loved working in the Early Years, I needed something a bit more and I needed a challenge.
If at first…
So, from the feedback given at the interviews, I approached a number of local primary schools to see if I could volunteer in their school, and after liaising with my employer, she agreed to let me have one day off per week (during term time) to go and volunteer in a school. I spent the year working with a lovely year 4 class in a one-form entry school, and working with three different teachers for that one class. The support I received there was amazing and it was a really fantastic experience. I even got to visit the children during their residential trip!
Then October came, I rewrote my personal statement from the previous year, and made it my own – I really tried to make my personality shine through and let them see who I am. After careful consideration, I used the year to save up some money and decided that I would bite the bullet, leave work for a year and embark on a PGCE (with the hope that I would soon be employed again for the following September!!). I applied to three local training providers who offered the Primary PGCE.
The interviews were within a couple of weeks of each other. I went to Durham University, liked it but wasn’t too sure that it was for me. I then went to the second which was Newcastle University, and knew as soon as I walked through the doors to the university that this was where I wanted to study. I left the interview and within three hours, they let me know that I had a place to study for my Primary PGCE for September 2015. I did go to the third interview, which was at Northumbria University, just in case I liked that one even more, but for me, I just knew when I walked through the doors of the second university that I wanted to study there.
In terms of choosing the providers in the first place, location was a big factor. I knew that I wanted to relocate to the area from Staffordshire, which left me with four choices. One of which hadn’t even offered me an interview the previous year! Next came the reputation. My first choice was Durham University, probably the most prestigious university out of the three, but it turns out I went with my second choice which was Newcastle University. I spent hours trawling the internet, looking at student satisfaction surveys and online reviews of the universities, but I just knew when I visited university number 2 that it was right for me.