What to expect in your PGCE year by Holly Naismith

As I excitedly started my new role at the University of Buckingham in leading the Physical Education PGCE course last week, I have been drawn to the numerous tweets on twitter by trainee teachers seeking advice for their upcoming PGCE year. So, what better position as a new Head of cohort to offer some guidance to our budding young teachers ahead of September.

As cited by Ofsted in May 2022, the faculty of Education at the University of Buckingham offers an “ambitious and well-organised ITE curriculum, underpinned by educational theory and academic research”. With the academic rigour associated with PGCE courses it is important you start to read. Learn about the key educational theorists, sign up to websites such as Schools week, the Chartered College of Teaching and TES to keep up to date what is happening in education. Engage with the free materials on offer and read the Core Content Framework alongside the Teaching Standards. This outlines what you will be covering during your PGCE year and makes useful links to research that will support your academic work.

Organisation is key! Have a diary or teacher planner ready for the start of term and diarise key dates- essay deadlines, residentials, second school placement details and key document deadlines. Plan for the pinch points in your teaching year when you have a heavy PGCE workload alongside observations, reports and parent’s evenings! The year is busy but extremely rewarding and you will develop fundamental time management skills that will provide a foundation for managing your teaching career. It is important to find that work/ life balance early. Don’t make working a chore and have that intrinsic motivation in wanting to develop and grow as a teacher. Alongside that however make time to see friends and family and be active.

Ask for help! Develop a good and open relationship with your mentor and members of the department who can assist with lesson planning and developing your classroom craft. Have regular meetings with your mentor to monitor progress and use their expertise to develop your areas of improvement in teaching. Observing these more experienced colleagues is useful in taking bitesize elements of good practice and will help to build your own teaching style and identity.

Finally, enjoy being in the classroom and always relate back to those early motivations and desires in wanting to become a teacher. Ensure your lessons are well planned and innovative and are learner centred. There is no better feeling than finishing an excellent lesson in which pupils have learnt and shown progress and you have enjoyed teaching. Ensure you are professional in your approach- be early to lessons and dress professionally. My final comment would be to take all opportunities in school presented to you. Ensure you keep up to data with advancements in your subject area, attend CPD courses and observe other teachers. Good luck!

By Holly Naismith

Head of PE, Faculty of Education at the University of Buckingham

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