Monthly Archives: November 2015

Skills Support, New Interviews, Planning & Preparation.

This weekend has been a bit of a blur. I left work on Friday and it took two and a half hours to get to my boyfriend’s house. We were sleeping in the spare room as his room was packed ready for the move on Saturday so I didn’t bother unpacking. We had a lovely ‘Sunday roast’ with his parents and I went upstairs to chill out for a little while.

I was checking my emails when I saw two more emails saying that I’d been invited to interview. Unfortunately the UCAS track page was down for maintenance so I’ve been unable to confirm or find out any more information about it. But I think one is on the same day as the one I already have, so that’ll need rearranging … Something to be done on Monday.

The other thing that was troubling me was something really lovely. My boss was in a meeting with her boss and I was called in. They were congratulating me on my application and asking where I’d applied and why. They asked me to be sure that I request a placement at the school I currently work at and that they would like me back once I qualify … It’s a really lovely offer but part of me also really wants to see other schools and other departments and see what’s on offer and how they work. It would be really easy to get really comfortable and it may also mean a delay on moving. There’s a lot to consider.

After a brief chat with my Mum to calm me I caught an ‘early night’ in that we went to bed early but ended up staying up watching a film. Normally I fall asleep half way through (standard girlfriend practice) but on Friday, just when I wanted to, I couldn’t.

I got up early on Saturday and got ready, packed my car (so that it was one less thing for my boyfriend to have to take into his house) and went off to my skills test support sessions. It was a really hard day and by the last hour my brain was no longer working but I think it was reasonably useful. We talked about what was on the test and what we needed to do to be successful. It’s just a case of practice and doing it. I have another booked in December but it’s likely to be the same material over again … I’ll see how I feel about going nearer the time. I was planning on taking my skills test in January but given that it’s nearly December already and I’m staring down the barrel of three interviews I might give myself some extra time. I was on the verge of booking them this evening but then I had to choose which one to take first and I realised I haven’t actually practiced a full test yet so I don’t know which one I would be better at … I will wait till these interviews are out of the way and then crack on with the skills tests.

I went back to my boyfriend’s new house afterwards and all was unpacked and looked gorgeous! It was a really wonderful feeling. We went to the pub to celebrate and then got a takeaway and watched a film. He even let me bring the duvet downstairs onto the sofa as a special treat! Then we went to bed and I slept really well. I just wish it could have been for longer.

On Sunday I got up and started reading and planning my interview prep. I could have done some of it on Friday but I was just so tired from lack of sleep the previous week I knew I wouldn’t have done a good job. In the end I’m glad I saved it. I read through everything and made post-it-note lists of everything I had to do and made a plan. Then my boyfriend and I managed to spend some time together over breakfast and into the afternoon before I had to drive home before the light got too low.

Since I’ve got home I’ve read some more and done some research but really I needed to get some ironing done so that I’ve got fresh clothes for work tomorrow and also ready for the interview next Monday! That being said, I’ve managed to dispense with two of the post it note lists already so that’s made me feel good and I feel so much better for just having a plan! I don’t know if I’ll get everything on my ‘to do list’ done but all I can do now is work through it methodically and do my best …

My Mum is coming for dinner tomorrow night and it’ll be really lovely to see her and catch up on everything and get her perspective and opinion on what I’m doing. I should be able to get some prep done before she arrives and then again on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Will keep you updated about the other interviews too but until then, have a lovely week.


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First Interview. My Reactions.

Let me first start with a caveat; this blog post may be somewhat incoherent.

I got home today from a meeting early. “Great!” I thought, “I can get home, get sorted do my admin, maybe do some skills test revision make tea and have a nice relaxing, if productive, evening.”

I sat down, got myself sorted with my usual pile of ‘to do’ items: planner, pencil case, home planner, documents to read, skills test book and assorted revision stationary, book from boss to read, recipes for student. My laptop is warming up and so am I. I open my usual tabs and work my way through the notifications, what the weather is doing this weekend, my bank account, work emails, BOOM!!!

Dear Applicant, thank you for your application for a place on the above PGCE programme. I have pleasure in inviting you for an interview …

*Freeze* “Woah! Before I read this I must do the things that I must do tonight.” Immediately skills test revision goes out the window as do any extraneous books that I might get around to reading (that one goes straight on the coffee table for when I have less on my plate; at the moment that looks like it might be somewhere in the new year!)

I rang my boyfriend to settle myself before making myself an ’emergency cup of tea’ and settling down to it. I find it difficult to read through the documents because I prefer to annotate and make notes – old habits die hard – but I make three pages of notes and seven post it notes …

I then ring my family to fill them in on the situation, make impromptu Christmas decisions, and arranged with my Dad to come round to deliver my undergrad and postgrad degree certificates so I can get them photocopied …

Suffice it to say I managed to make tea, but only just and I have yet to have a shower. I have also not made much progress towards understanding what I have to do for my interview yet but I have started the process.

Tomorrow I will print some sheets in my admin at work and perhaps start to make some notes. This weekend, after the skills test day and after I have helped my boyfriend move house, I will sit down on Sunday and try to make some more sense of it. Maybe by the end of this week I might even have a plan!

I realised today that it’s not even five weeks since I sat in that coffee shop with my dear friend Becky and she asked why I couldn’t just do a straight PGCE. Three weeks later I’d completed my application. Three days ago I submitted my references and in ten days I’ll have my first interview … After a year of allowing myself to stand still, things have started moving at break neck speed. In that time my boyfriend’s asked me to move in with him, we’ve packed him up, decorated his house and this weekend we’ll be moving him in. I think it’s safe to say, I’m a little overwhelmed.

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Application Sent.

So, when I got home from work I was considering writing a post about how I hate relying on other people when it comes to important things, I hate the waiting game and the worry that they won’t come through to support you. I dismissed writing it because I thought I wouldn’t have enough to talk about other than winging on about the fact that I’m still waiting on my reference and then … miracle of miracles it comes through!

It’s now less than half an hour later and I’ve paid my £23 and sent it.

I rang my boyfriend and had the standard “Am I doing the right thing, am I applying to the right places, is my personal statement ok?” wobble before I pressed the ‘Pay’ button.

I then frantically tried to log into track before I’d been sent my ‘welcome email.’ Anyway, I finally got into that and seeing my choices there in black and white sent another shock through my heart. I just want to hear back right now really. I don’t deal well with all this antisi ………………… pation!

Now I don’t know what to do with myself. Revise for my skills test? Research for interview? Scary stuff. But first I think I just need to chill for a few minutes. The rest of all this is down to me, which is just the way I like it. I have already today found and downloaded the current teaching standards which seem pretty straight forward and found the current curriculum as well as a few other bits and bobs which I need to print tomorrow and begin the interview preparation.

At least I know this. Within the next 40 days I am likely to have between one and three interviews, I will likely attend at least two skills test support sessions and may take my skills tests themselves (depending on how the support sessions go) and by the end of January/beginning of February I should have some answers as to how I’m going to spend the next year of my life!

I feel a bit sick.

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My Application Process.

So just a few months ago the biggest thing putting me off teacher training was the application process. I had absolutely no idea where to start. I thought about writing a step by step guide (and if I hear in the comments it might be useful I still might) but I thought to start with I should just write about my application process.

I started researching SCITTs, in particular the salaried version as I didn’t think I could afford to do a PGCE. After much tooing and froing, phone calls, emails, web-searches etc I didn’t find one salaried SCITT. I was bemoaning this fact to my best friend over lunch one day and she said,

“Why don’t you just do a PGCE?”
“Well,” I said “I’d be doubling my loan and I would have to have some income to be able to live.”
And she said “Yes, but you’re your own household now. It won’t be dependent on your parent’s income anymore.”

So I did some maths.

I found out that anyone is eligible for a loan to cover £9000 of tuition fees and seeing as I earned just over £11,000 a year, after tax, I would be eligible for the maximum maintenance loan of £8000 as well as a bursary of £4000 a year because I have an MA and a 2:1. That worked out at £12,000 (£1000 more than I have at the moment) AND I would be gaining the qualification that I needed to expand my future prospects. It seemed like a bit of a no-brainer.

I should mention a caveat here. I was seriously worried about adding all this extra debt to my student loan however, I was getting nowhere without this qualification, I would be better off in the short-term and the long-term and I knew that I would be able to afford the re-payments because they’re means tested. Finally, the thing that persuaded me was that they’re written off after 30 years.

This is what kick-started my application. I already had a personal statement draft and of course my work experience was covered under my day job so, all that was left to sort out was the application. I signed up to Get into Teaching which was a wonderfully useful website (I particularly liked the checklist down the side) and signed up to UCAS teacher training too.

I soon knocked off the personal details and additional information section and then filled out my education and work experience. I knuckled down and sorted out my personal statement, so much easier to type that sentence than to actually do the graft I can tell you, but I got it done.

The next challenge was to pick my choices. One choice was chosen for me. I knew the next step for me and my boyfriend was to move in together and he had just bought and renovated his first house. I discussed it with him and he agreed that ten months would be enough time for him to settle into living in his own place before I joined him, so I chose the fantastic university just down the road from him which is renowned for its beautiful campus and fantastic teacher training. One down, three to go … I decided that if I was to stay around where I live at the moment I would like to have the opportunity to work at the school I’m currently at and I could join my boyfriend after my initial year of teacher training, so I chose two schools direct choices in the county I was currently living. This would mean that I was able to stay in my cottage and work in the surrounding area if I didn’t make it to my first choice.

I then got in touch with two referees: my boss and my old lecturer. Considering my lecturer now spends a lot of time teaching in Europe I was worried that pinning him down for a reference would prove tricky but he got it done for me within five days! I am still waiting on the reference from my boss but will engage all my powers of persuasion this week and I really hope to pay and send my application soon!

This is where I find myself right now. Waiting on my references. So what’s next then? The biggest hurdle I feel that I face throughout this whole process is the skills test. As a person who lives with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Irlen’s Syndrome it seems to be a test designed to target every little thing I find difficult, even at the age of 25: metal maths under timed conditions, spelling, grammar, punctuation … they couldn’t have written a more personalised test of my weakness’ if they’d tried … still face it I will. I’ve bought a book and the revision is underway. At the moment I am still at the stage of reading through the book and establishing what I can still do and remember and what I have no idea about. I have started writing notes and flashcards in preparation for the nitty-gritty learning of it all but first I need to do the ground work.

One good thing that I have signed up for is some tuition delivered by one of the universities I am applying to. They have monthly tuition sessions on a weekend, which I can tie in with visiting my boyfriend, and in addition to this if I fail my first two attempts they offer 1:1 support before the third attempt. I’ll be honest I’m just looking forward to having it done. I feel that once I have that under my belt I can do anything that teaching throws at me! And don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that lightly, being a teaching assistant I do know how challenging teaching can be!

Before I take the skills test though I have the interview process to go through too. I have been given some information on what this might include. At the moment I plan to brush up on the teaching standards and what is going on in education in the news at the moment. I’ll also be reviewing my experiences, challenges and successes so far in my career nearer the time so that they’re fresh in my mind come the interview day.

After all that and I’ve, hopefully, been offered a place I know that I will need to confirm funding. I know that this will involve a lot of forms, scanning and printing and evidence giving and that I will no doubt get very stressed and frustrated with it all nearer the time but first, let’s concentrate on getting me an offer shall we.

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Filed under application, finance, Get into Teaching, PGCE, teacher training