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Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)


Course Description

The PGCE is aligned with the Northern Ireland Curriculum, training graduates to teach across the 11-18 year age range. You will gain a postgraduate qualification and qualified teacher status (QTS).

The PGCE combines university-based tuition, consisting of taught sessions and directed independent study, with professional placements in schools. The programme of study is organised around three interdependent strands:
• Professional School-based Experience - focuses on developing practical teaching competence particularly through working closely with experienced teachers during periods of school placement.
• Subject Studies (eg English, Mathematics) - how to teach your subject.
• Educational Studies - common aspects of teaching and the professional role of the teacher, including pastoral care, promotion of inclusion, theories of learning, educational disadvantage, assessment and management.

Subjects

The PGCE trains students to teach the following school subjects up to Advanced-level GCE:
English
Mathematics
Information Technology/Computing
Modern Languages (applicants, including native speakers of languages other than English or Irish, should normally offer at least one of French, Irish or Spanish. German and Italian might also be considered as second languages offered. Native speakers will be assessed during interview in a curricular language other than their native language. Modern Languages students should state specific language(s) on the supplementary application form. Note that German alone is not considered).
Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
Sociology
Politics
Religious Education
IME (Irish Medium Education) - Extra places are reserved to prepare those who are interested in teaching a subject through the medium of Irish in Irish medium schools. These students do a number of elements, including a Gaeltacht residentual in the August preceding the course, which is delivered by St Mary's University College, Belfast. They receive an additional certificate in IME and applications are welcomed from students wishing to do such courses in one of the subjects listed above.

The PGCE combines university-based tuition, consisting of taught sessions and directed independent study, with
professional placements in schools. The programme of study is organised around three interdependent strands:
• Professional School-based Experience - focuses on developing practical teaching competence particularly
through working closely with experienced teachers during periods of school placement.
• Subject Studies (eg English, Mathematics) - how to teach your subject.
• Educational Studies - common aspects of teaching and the professional role of the teacher, including pastoral
care, promotion of inclusion, theories of learning, educational disadvantage, assessment and management.

Students are assessed on these three strands of practical, professional and acedemic competences. Coursework comprises subject studies assignments, practical teaching and core tasks arising from lectures, workshops and tutorials addressing key educational issues.

Students are also offered optional, non-assessed workshops on a variety of topics including special educational needs, classroom management, pastoral care, diversity and inclusion, children’s rights and digital storytelling.

Course Structure

After enrolment and registration in early September, you will complete a two week block experience in a primary school. The next block of the course is devoted to university-based tuition (an induction week, taught sessions and directed independent study). This is followed by your first 10 week period of professional placement based in a school (which we arrange).This block practice straddles the Christmas vacation, so you will only be free to take the same holiday as that of the school in which you are placed. At the beginning of February, you return to university-based tuition in preparation for your second 10 week professional period in a school different from that of your first placement. This second placement straddles the Easter period and again the vacation is determined by the school in which you are placed.A final week of university-based tuition completes the course at the beginning of June.

Successful completion of the PGCE depends on achieving satisfactory standards in both practical teaching and in course work. The extended placements are in two different schools, normally one spent in a school catering for 11 – 16 age range and the other in an 11 – 18 age range. This ensures a varied experience of teaching in different schools and working with pupils from the whole ability range. In the two post-primary schools
you will work closely with members of each school’s staff. Your subject methods lecturer from Queen’s will also maintain close co-operative links with these teachers during your school placements.

Visit the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) page on the Queen’s University Belfast website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Jenna

263.jpg For as long as I can remember, my main passion in education has been Mathematics and I have always known that my interest in it would guide my career choice to a large extent. I felt the best way to pass on my passion for the subject and enthuse others about it was to become a Mathematics teacher. I spent four years studying Mathematics at Queen’s University and during this time I worked a few hours each week as a classroom assistant in a primary school. I was also working as a tutor for GCSE and A-Level candidates. The next logical step was to continue my studies by enrolling in the PGCE course at the School of Education.
Whilst a very demanding and challenging course, the PGCE was also most fulfilling and gave me many opportunities to develop the skills needed in a classroom environment. The teaching practice placements at Edmund Rice College and Victoria College, Belfast, provided great insight on how different school systems work. The teachers I worked with in both schools passed on valuable advice which will help me enormously, both personally and professionally.

I have been lucky to secure a teaching post at Fettes College in Edinburgh. The school offers excellent opportunities for staff development and the large number of international pupils makes the teaching environment a very stimulating place to work.
Working in education is both exciting and challenging; no two days are the same. I hope to pass on the passion I have for Mathematics to my pupils and to bring the subject to life for those who find Mathematics more of a challenge.

It is an honour to be a joint recipient of the Elizabeth M Fulton prize. Its recognition of my new skills as a teacher confirms that allowing my interest in Maths to lead me into such a satisfying profession was the right choice for me.

(Student Profile)

Deirdre

959.jpg Why did you choose to study for PGCE Biology with Science at Queen’s?
I had considered going to Liverpool but when I went over for the interview I just knew it wasn’t right for me and the only place I wanted to go to was Queen’s. I had completed my first degree at Queens and thoroughly enjoyed it and so wanted to continue my studies where I felt comfortable and knew the support would be good.

What have you found most interesting or useful about the course so far?
The most useful part of this course is the fact we spend so much of it out on placement (24 weeks). To me the best place to learn how to teach it not sitting in a lecture hall, it is out in a school trying it for yourself and Queen’s PGCE gives you the chance to do that.

Has the course enhanced your existing knowledge?
There are so many things about teaching I would have never even thought about before coming on this course, for example active learning in the classroom or incorporating numeracy and literacy within science. Also the course has reinforced for me the importance of practical work in science and why we should try to bring it into our lessons.

What is your experience of the teaching support and student facilities at Queen’s?
The teaching support at Queen’s is fantastic; whether you are at Queen’s or at home on placement the tutors will do everything they can to help you. They are very understanding and realize this can be a difficult year and so do their best at all times to be reassuring and helpful. You couldn’t get much better!

Any advice to future students?
Don’t panic! The first thing people said to me about the PGCE was that there is so much work to it and it is the hardest year of your life but you will enjoy it! It is a great experience; you will meet lots of new friends and most importantly have fun.

(Student Profile)

Catherine

2040.jpg Why did you choose to study for the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) at Queen’s School of Education?
I really enjoyed my undergraduate degree at Queen’s! I studied English and Linguistics and I loved every second of it. I had such a great experience that if I was going to study further, I knew I wanted it to be at Queen’s. I also knew that Queen’s School of Education has a great reputation throughout Northern Ireland and beyond, and I wanted to gain my qualification from a reputable institution.
Is the course what you expected?
Yes and no! I expected the course to be hard work, enjoyable and challenging - which it most certainly is! What I didn’t expect is quite how much I would enjoy the course. Despite the hard work, it is so much fun and I am so glad that I applied.
What have you found most interesting or useful about the course?
The course tutors are absolutely brilliant! They are a real source of advice, knowledge and support. Also, the way the course is structured is so varied. You are never bored!
What is your experience of the teaching support and student facilities at Queen’s?
The teaching support and student facilities are excellent at Queen’s. The library is fabulous!
What do you plan on doing after the course?
I plan to apply for as many teaching jobs as possible! The school experience I’ve had during my PGCE year has absolutely confirmed my desire to teach. The next step is to pursue teaching as a career and I hope I will be successful- and I am confident that the training I’ve had at QUB has given me the best possible start on my new career path.
Have you any advice for future students?
1. Be prepared to work hard! You need to want to teach to do this course.
2. Be disciplined- so that you can get everything done in the given time and very importantly, so that you can have some time to relax!
3. Don’t freak out- there will be lessons after which you think you are the world’s worst teacher… Everyone has those days!
4. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get everything right all of the time - remember it’s a learning process!


Scholarships

Entry Requirements

You must have graduated, or are about to graduate with an Honours degree (and/or higher degree), or equivalent acceptable qualification, relevant to one of the PGCE subjects.Degrees in cognate areas are considered if 50% or more of the modules studied are currently relevant to teaching your chosen subject. Applicants with an Honours degree, or equivalent qualification, in Accounting or Engineering disciplines who are applying for Mathematics must possess A-level Mathematics at grade B or above at the time of application.You must possess: a GCSE, at Grade C or above, or acceptable equivalent, in both English Language and Mathematics.

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