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Why do a PGCE?

The postgraduate certificate in education – or PGCE – is one of the most popular routes into teaching. In this step, we’ll take a closer look at what it’s like to study a PGCE.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

The postgraduate certificate in education – or PGCE – is one of the most popular routes into teaching. In this step, we’ll take a closer look at what it’s like to study a PGCE.

What is a PGCE?

A PGCE combines practical teacher training with academic study. There will be some studying to do and assignments to complete such as written essays, reports or projects. You’ll also undertake school-based training, with regular mentor meetings and classroom observations.

It’s a postgraduate qualification, so you will need to have studied for an undergraduate degree first and it has higher expectations than an undergraduate degree which may be challenging for some people. For example, if you struggle with academic writing, meeting deadlines or managing your own time to complete tasks and conduct independent reading, then doing a PGCE may not be the right route for you.

However, if you understand what is expected of you and why it matters, it is very achievable.

PGCE and Your Teaching Career

Teaching is fast becoming an evidence-based profession. This means all teachers are expected to engage with academic research and this will be demanded of you if you want to progress in a career in education.

PGCE study provides training for this and gives you the academic skills to not only survive but thrive in teaching.

PGCE Provides Teaching Knowledge and Experience

We can liken learning to teach on a PGCE course to learning to drive.

Learning to drive is not just about how to handle and manage the car you are in, but about decoding what is in front of you and understanding the rules of the road.

Theoretical and practical knowledge must be demonstrated in order to pass. How safe would you feel if you were in a car with someone who handled the car like a Formula 1 professional, but did not understand the road signs?

By combining knowledge of education with practical application, PGCE study paves the way for safer and more informed learning environments for both pupils and teachers.

PGCE Helps you Become a Reflective Practitioner

Reflection and self-awareness are essential skills of professional teachers.

Reflective practice is a cycle of learning that combines learning through experience with guided study and independent research.

Completing academic assignments is part of the reflective process of becoming an expert teacher – it’s an opportunity for you to really explore just how effective what you’re doing in the classroom is.

There are three ways in which this happens:

  1. You’ll get into the habit of proving your ideas
  2. You’ll get into the habit of reading about education and questioning the validity of widely-accepted views
  3. You’ll model good academic practice

Completing a PGCE will allow you to reflect on both the teaching style of others, as well as your own teaching style, and in turn, become a better teacher.

At the National School of Education and Teaching, we encourage our trainees and graduates to carry forward the principle of continued reflective practice throughout their careers, and continually strive to learn and develop, no matter how many years of teaching they do, so that they are experts in their craft.

What do you think?

Are there particular academic skills that you think would make you a good teacher? Why do you think those skills are important?
You may like to consider skills such as evaluation, analysis, synthesis and reflection.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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Teacher Training: Choosing the Right PGCE for You

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