Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)
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If you’re thinking about teacher training, the Open University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) – graded ‘outstanding’ in recent inspections – could be the perfect choice for you. Our modular PGCE leads to Qualified Teacher Status in England and Wales, and Eligibility to Teach in Northern Ireland, and offers a flexible alternative to conventional university courses.
The OU PGCE is designated as a 2-year part-time course, and you will complete it in between 12 and 24 months at a pace to suit your circumstances. You’ll study the theory of teaching and learning through supported open learning, which you’ll apply in practice during sustained periods of teaching in a partner school, local to where you live.
We offer the following PGCE subjects at secondary level:
- design and technology (with options in food; textiles; resistant materials; systems and control)
- modern foreign languages (French, German and Spanish)
- science (biology, chemistry or physics).
If you’re in Scotland, you can study for the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (V19), currently available only for secondary mathematics.
If you are a current Professional Graduate Certificate in Education student, please see the top up module Reflecting on professional learning in education (EE880) which enables you to gain a postgraduate certificate.
Planning your studies
The full PGCE training programme is a progression through three levels. Each level consists of school experience, supported by web-based, print and audio-visual study materials. You will spend up to 120 hours of study time in preparation for each school experience, and will submit an assessment portfolio at the end of the level that draws on your school experience and study.
The three levels are:
Familiarisation, including a five-week secondary school placement, focused on working in school with individuals and small groups of children, teaching sections and single lessons.
Consolidation, including seven weeks in a different partner secondary school and one week in a linked primary school. In the secondary school you will focus on closely supported teaching of whole classes and sequences of lessons.
Autonomy, including ten weeks in your original partner school, which will comprise solo, supported teaching of whole classes, in extended sequences of lessons.
You will also complete five days additional experience in an educational context (for example, a Field Study Centre; as a community musician; a sixth form college and so on).
You may be able to claim exemption from level 1 or levels 1 and 2, depending on your previous experience gained through employment in educational establishments. Thus, a Route 1 student will complete all three levels; a Route 2 student, only Levels 2 and 3; and a Route 3 student, only Level 3. Full guidance on claiming exemption can be found in the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) prospectus.
The OU PGCE will help you to challenge your own preconceptions and develop as an informed and reflective teacher. Our aim is to ensure that – by the end of the course – you can teach your subject confidently and successfully, by developing your skills as a problem solver, and by encouraging you to explore theoretical ideas and apply them to the practicalities of the classroom.
In each subject, the course is centered around the following strands:
- developing subject knowledge
- your subject, schools and the wider context
- understanding pupil learning
- planning and evaluation for teaching and learning
- classroom strategies for teaching and learning
- assessment, recording and reporting
- the wider professional role.
You will be supported throughout by an individual tutor, and by a school-based mentor during your placements. Your tutor will take the lead in training, supporting and assessing you through the open-learning dimensions of the course, and will be responsible for monitoring your progress across the course. When you are in school, your mentor will work with you to develop your professional knowledge, understanding and teaching skills in line with your individual training plan.
Initially, you will complete web-based audits, devise your plan for the course and spend a day in school. Then you will follow the study pattern indicated in the plan.
School experience can only be undertaken during school term times, for obvious reasons. We strongly recommend that the final placement is completed during the autumn or spring terms when there are fewer timetable constraints. Some of your time in school may be completed flexibly at times convenient to you and your partner school. You can take this time as whole days and spread it out in order to meet the requirement for the level.
During the course there will be 2 day schools, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet and work with other students in your subject area.
Please be aware that there are a number of entry requirements. These may change as a result of government decisions, but at present you must:
- be resident in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
- be able to attend school placements in the appropriate nation
- have a degree from a UK university or an equivalent qualification that is clearly and substantially relevant to one of the six secondary PGCE subjects. This means that at least half and preferably two-thirds of your degree (at least 180 credits) should comprise studies relevant to the subject you intend to teach.
- have a GCSE grade A–C (or equivalent), in English language and in mathematics.
- show evidence in your application and at interview that you can communicate clearly and grammatically in written and spoken standard English.
- demonstrate at interview specific knowledge or skills related to the teaching of the subject.
If you are applying for a place in modern foreign languages, please note that we will accept applications from those who can only offer French, but those offering Spanish or German as their main language must also be able to offer French (at a lower level).
Career relevance and employability
The Postgraduate Certificate in Education is a programme of initial teacher education (ITE) that complies with relevant nation-state requirements. It leads directly to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) conferred by the Department of Education in England, or by the GTCW in Wales; and Eligibility to Teach (EtT) conferred by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. The Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (S16) also leads to QTS or EtT.
This PGCE course equips you with the skills, knowledge and understanding to become an effective secondary school teacher. It fosters a reflective approach to classroom teaching – bringing together learning from academic study with the practice learning that takes place during school placements; enabling you to establish links and relationships between them; and encouraging you to reflect on how they shape your learning and professional development.
If you live in England, and are considering whether a career in teaching is for you, the Department of Education’s School Experience Programme (SEP) offers 1 to 10 days’ classroom experience in a secondary school. For details, please check: http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/school-experience.aspx
If you’re a student in higher education in Wales and would like guidance on whether secondary school teaching suits you before applying for a PGCE, we offer a taster course called Prepare to Teach. For details contact Clare Schroder on +44(0) 29 2047 1019 or by email).
There’s more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publications Becoming a Teacher and OU study and your career or you can look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.
The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.
Credit for previous study elsewhere
For this qualification, we do not allow you to count credit for study you have already done elsewhere.
Most students will complete the PGCE with 60 credits at masters-level, awarded as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (K20). It is also possible for students to complete the PGCE with 120 credits at undergraduate level, awarded as the Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (S16).
In either case, you will also be recommended for the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) conferred by the Department of Education in England or the GTCW in Wales; or Eligibility to Teach conferred by the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. You will also be entitled to use the letters PGCE (Open) after your name.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:
These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.
How to register
You need to complete and return the application form and the ‘My School’ and Criminal Declaration forms. You will find these in the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) prospectus, which also contains full information about the course, the application and selection process, and fees, bursaries and financial support.
There are six start dates each year: January, March, May, July, September and November. Successful candidates will be allocated to the first available start date. You can apply at any time, but you should bear in mind that places are subject to quotas for each academic year. The application process takes around three to four months, so you’re advised to apply early. It includes the following elements:
- A requirement for a DBS check, and an occupational health check
- A requirement that you do what you can to identify a suitable school to support your first and third school placements
- Checks of your academic qualifications
- A face-to-face interview
Download or order our PGCE prospectus.
We are also offering places through School Direct, a new route to a PGCE and QTS. Our School Direct students follow the same course as other OU PGCE students. The differences are that:
- You apply for a School Direct place via the Teaching Agency website rather than our own application form.
- Places are already linked with a school so you will not need to find schools to support your placements.
- You will be able to begin your PGCE in the autumn term of 2013 and complete the course in a year.
- There is an expectation that the school will employ you on graduation.
For 2013-2014 we are offering the following School Direct places:
- Batley Girls’ High School, Batley (geography, MFL)
- Blessed Thomas Holford School, Altrincham (chemistry, geography)
- Comberton Village College, Comberton, Cambridge (biology, mathematics, MFL)
- Hillview School for Girls, Tonbridge (chemistry)
- Piggott School, Wargrave, Reading (geography)
- Skipton Girls’ High School, Skipton (chemistry, mathematics).
For more information about our School Direct route, email us or call 01908 652564. You will also find more information about School Direct on the Department of Education website.