Choosing Your Provider - Things to Think About...
I remember feeling completely overwhelmed trying to find a teacher training provider - I didn't really know what I was looking for, so found the whole process an information overload. In this blog, I've (attempted to) put together a step-by-step of how to chose your provider.
Step 1: Know what you want at the end of it.
The aim of the year is to get Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), that's the bare minimum you'll need to teach in the UK, so every programme should provide this. Most, but not all, providers will also offer a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) which counts as a third of Masters. A PGCE is an internationally recognised qualification - i.e. you can teach in any country you want - but if you haven't got any intentions to live abroad, studying for a PGCE means you'll get to know a lot more pedagogy which will ultimately stand you in stronger stead for the classroom.
Step 2: Know how you want to get it.
There are two basic routes to get QTS, (and maybe that PGCE as well), School-based routes and University-based routes. It's important to note that in general, both will lead to the same thing, so it's about picking the route that will suit you best. At University you will spend week blocks just studying, and then week blocks at school, School-centred routes tend to have you in your placement school from day 1; most counties have websites that explain this in more detail, so have a search online.
Step 3: Find some possible providers
Most local authorities will give a list of providers, or you can use UCAS to search for providers near you. Once you have their name, find their websites for me details about the type of training they provide.
Step 4: Location, location, location
Avoid a long commute - remember that although the school day may finish at 3:30 pm, you still have planning, marking, essay writing and who knows what else to get done. That said, I have applied for a job that's not so close to home, but because I know the department and know the school well, I knew it was worth it.
Step 5: Your final choice
Once you've got your provider options it can be quite hard to choose between them, especially if they both provide a course in a location suited to you. Some key points to consider are:
i) Does the provider work with schools near me that I will be happy to work at? You don't always get a choice in your placement school, so consider all possibilities.
ii) What is the providers Ofsted report like? Just like schools, teacher training providers get inspected by Ofsted, and full details should be on their website, so have a read.
iii) Can I talk to anyone who has completed/is completing the course? This will give you a realistic idea of what day to day life is like on the course.
iv) (Once you've got this far) Reflect on your interview for each provider. One of my interviews involved being with roughly 20 other candidates for the vast majority of the day; the other provider interviewed me alone, spoke to me all day about the course, and once I had accepted my offer, invited me in for a meeting to discuss how I could prepare for September. It was a no brainer really - take all the support you can get.
v) Ask for statistics with caution - if half of the cohort is dropping out by Christmas, the provider probably is doing something wrong. However, remember some drop outs will be out of the providers control - people realising the profession isn't for them, health or family circumstances, wanting a gap year to travel the world etc.
vi) If you've got any more uncertainties, just ask! In my experience, all teaching providers and their staff want to make the process as easy as possible for you, so if there's anything you're not sure of, just send them an email.