Category Archives: finance

Pre-Course Information!

What a day! So after an impromtue evening out for Mother’s Day on Sunday I came home to an email sitting in my inbox.

PGCE Secondary Pre-Course Information – NOW AVAILABLE‏!

Being a glass or two glasses of wine down I only skimmed the email to get a gist of the contents and duly forwarded it to my work email for printing this morning. I got to work early and printed all the documents, I even managed to read and highlight them all in and amongst work, students and classes.

The first thing to do was fill out some forms and email them to my course tutor which I’ve done this evening. I then found out the timetable of what’s to come.

  • Friday 2nd September – Enrolment
  • Monday 5th September – Programme commences (8.30 for 9.00 am start)
  •  26th September – 30th September – Induction week
  • 26th September – 13th October – Professional Practice 1
  • 3rd October – 8th December (Monday-Thursday) – Phase 1A Placement (a gradual move from observation to planning and teaching)
  • 3rd January – 23rd February  (Monday-Thursday) –Phase 1B Placement (developing competence in planning, teaching and assessment)
  • 13th March and 31st March – Professional Practice 2
  • 13th March – 17th March – Induction and Preparation
  • 20th March – 23rd June – Practice 2 Placement (consolidating competence and addressing areas in which to excel)
  • 26th June – 7th July – NQT preparation period
  • 7th July – End of Programme

So that’s what you’ve got to look forward to! :p

Now, here’s a list of the things I either need to do or have done. Having written it, I now realise that I need to prioritise it. I’m not convinced that even between now and September, with having a full time job and moving house that I’ll be able to have it all done so I’ve colour coded it Green – must do, Amber – do if possible and Red – do if I’ve done everything else because either I’ve already done it once, it won’t take too long or I can do it ‘on the job’.

  • Professional Skills Tests DONE!!! 😀
  • Visit a local Secondary School – I work there.
  • Conduct an audit and draw up an action plan to address an area of weakness. If you remember I was concerned about starting because I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to do in ‘en-course’ but it sounds like they want me to make a start so after I’ve finished ‘Teaching English: Developing as a Reflective Secondary Teacher’ I’ll make a start on that.
  • Begin to address subject specific work suggestions, now, when I received my interview feedback, the only thing they specified that I needed to work on was “Candidate is continuing to develop her Language Subject Knowledge. We would recommend that you also spend time looking at how teachers break down aspects of grammar for teaching at KS3 in preparation for your own teaching.” So that’s something I need to begin to address. My dyslexia is always going to be there which puts me at a disadvantage when it comes to spelling, punctuation and grammar and there can be no excuses for that but it’s certainly something that I will always have to  work at improving. I think that this will tie in nicely to the Audit and the action plan to address an area of weakness  though (see above) which makes me feel like it’s a bit more manageable: addressing four jobs on one.
  • General course reading, which I feel like I’ve made a good start on with ‘Teaching English …’, the revision guides and the exam syllabus that I researched for my interview but I’ll revisit them if I have time and also read some more general children’s literature and literature on the curriculum including Shakespeare. Having done an English Literature degree I feel that I’m pretty well up on Shakespeare and literature in general. I also took a British Children’s Literature module so some of the texts they suggested I’ve already read some of which I haven’t.
  • Familiarise myself with the Teaching Standards and the National Curriculum I learnt these for interview.
  • Sign up for ‘useful websites’ such as: Sec ed; Ofsted; The Times Educational Supplement (I even looked into subscribing but I couldn’t believe how much it was going to cost!) and The Guardian. They’ve asked me to keep abreast of current developments which I certainly did for my interview but I really don’t have the time or money to be buying these every week so I’m hoping that with all the other prep I’m doing and working in a school will keep me as up to date as is needed.

I have a lot to do. First things first. I’ll finish reading ‘Teaching English: Developing as a Reflective Secondary Teacher’ because I only have two chapters left and then I’ll make a start on my skills audit. Let’s see how that goes for now.

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Student Finance & DSA.

So, I’ve wasted no time getting this underway. As soon as I knew I’d met all the criteria of my offer and Student Finance opened, which has actually happened within days of each other, I made a start.

I went to the  Student Finance website and started a new application for the year I wanted (2016/17). It was a pretty self explanatory question and answer session and all I needed was my National Insurance number and passport.

Things were a little more complicated for me because I also have to apply for DSA (Disabled Students’ Allowance).  Once I’d applied for Student Finance there were a couple of other documents that they asked me to print, fill in and attach a copy of my previous assessment of needs to … I’ve done this and sent it off. It was all fairly easy and to be honest it seems a little too good to be true right now. I haven’t had to fill out any details of what I earn etc yet so I can only assume that more complicated forms are yet to come. I know that, for sure, I will probably have to attend a further up to date Assessment of Needs and then I will have to get this confirmed by the university and then the funding body before I can arrange delivery of my equipment and support …

Still I’m pleased that I’ve got the ball rolling and it’s an exciting prospect. The sooner I can get things started the sooner I can get things in place and maybe I can miss the rush!

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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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