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.