On Saturday, Mom took me to Bath so I could attend Bath University's PGCE Open Day.
It was held in a rather small room, in a hotel off've Queen Square, in the centre of Bath. It was PACKED and not very well run (no-one had signs, when a sign would definitely have been helpful!) all the various subject leaders were sitting around the room, on a seperate small table each and you kinda had to guess who represented what subject!
I stood around with some prospective teachers at the Primary and Early Learning table for a few minutes, while Mom tried to talk me into becoming a Primary Teacher. That was until a man (who I think was the head of subject for Music) came over from the back of the room asking for anyone who wanted information on Secondary teaching.
So I joined him, and a bunch of prospective teachers (only one other woman!) and he asked us if we'd like anything specific, or should he talk generally about teaching for now?
I suggested generalities for starters, so he gave us the cross-board information for student-teachers and answered some questions. Mostly, his info boiled down to:
A: research the curriculum
B: brush up on our personal learning and thinking skills
C: spend time in schools, watching our chosen subject teachers at work, helping out in classes etc
D: get a (full and intensive) CRB check done
And all of this BEFORE we attend the interview to get on the course. The most important part is the Classroom Experience - we need to be sure that this is something we want to do, and we need to be sure that we have the capabilities - so spending time in classes helps us confirm this AND shows that we really do want to be teachers (by showing the interviewers we took the initiative to find a school and take time to attend classes).
After he got al ittle too much into talking to one young man who wants to be a Music Teacher, I decided to move on to the Art teacher. She was talking to a young woman, and a younger man was waiting. So, I sat with Mom and we went over everything the Music-Head had talked about, I wrote down all my (apparently more numerous than I realised) skills and thought of and wrote down some questions to ask when it was my turn.
The girl left, and the young man had his go (and, seriously, he sounded like he was only there to make sure Art was something he DIDN'T want to do.. ugh) and when it was my turn, Art-Head (June Bianchi, I read from her tag) went for a mug of coffee to restore her voice and called over all the other people in the room her were there for Art. So I didn't get the one-on-one that I wanted >>
Anyway - there were five other women, ranging from four or five years older than me, to twenty or thirty years older than me (!) - most of them were specialists, in either Fine art, Jewelry/Fashion or Sculpture. I got my question in first - Maths GCSE?????
Turns out we need that BEFORE the interview, or they won't accept us at all. They used to do an Equivalence test, or allow us to take GCSE Math at the same time - but not anymore. Bath's PGCE is 'Gold Standard' and is one of the best in the country, they expect the best of their students and apparently churn out the best NQTs. So, we need the Math first.
After me there were a few questions asked, the answers to which you could find out be reading the damn prospectus or the Bath Uni website. Back round to me again and I asked about the range of knowledge needed for the course, explaining that while I do Fine Art in traditional media, I also work in digital media, craft and so on - but lack knowledge in 3D - so should I look into doing a refresher in something like Sculpture or Ceramics?
At this point, Art-Head's body-language went all 'INTERESTED NOW' and we spent a few minutes being told that in order to do well on the course you NEED at least some knowledge in all areas, and SPECIFICALLY the basics in drawing and that, yes, a refresher course would be a good idea and that wow, you do digital media, that's a good thing, we need that as well these days.
All in all, a damn good sitting, even though I didn't get my one-on-one that I wanted. Mom says Bianchi seemed highly interested in the fact that I had a grounding in all subjects and didn't specialise in only one thing and that, there's a good chance she'll remember me and recognise me at the interview. Which can only be a good thing XD
After that, we went over the notes I had made - June Bianchi went into detail on what we'll be doing for the year-long, full-time course:
A: the weeks are exactly that - 2 days of lectures, 2 days spent in school learning to teach and 1 day of personal study
B: 2/3s of the entire 9 - 10 months course will be spent in schools, with real classes, learning to teach and helping out classes
C: there will be 3 assignments -
1: Planning/Reflection/Resources - basically, learning how to and actually writing Lesson Plans
2: Creating/Adding to my Portfolio, to be taken to School Placement Interviews
3: Action Research - write-ups and research into my specific expertise area
And a slyly added 4th assignment:
4: Non-Art Research into the generic aspect of teaching itself - which is something like the Theory of Teaching
D: On top of all this, will be the need to refresh my wider knowledge, in both practical application and theory of art.
E: I will need to refresh myself on Art History and probably a little Art Philosophy.
F: I will need to know the Curriculum back-to-front (even if only in simple terms) for both Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 (that's an entire six years of curriculum!)
G: I will have to prove that I can Manage my Time and I will have to be Flexible.
Bianchi had also told us that, though there is not a shortage in Art teachers (and it's also not a Core Subject) Bath University has an extremely high rate of NQTs going straight into work, either as Part-Time, Full-Time or even as Supply Teachers. (Again, this'll be because Bath is a 'Gold Standard' PGCE.)
I had tried to ask Bianchi about the Bursaries or Finances available, specifically for Art PGCE, but she seemed vague and asked us to find the Financial rep, who would be able to tell us anything definitively, as she wasn't comfortably aware of what it is like now.
So - Mom and I went to find someone who could tell us about the Finaces. We managed to find a Teaching Rep (whom I think was a Math rep, actually) and he simply pointed us at the financial section in the Prospectus.
Turns out, that for my Non-Core subject choice, there is:
A: a Bursary of £6,000 from 'TDA Training'
B: a Bursary of £1,000 from 'Bath Spa'
(If it was Core, the TDA is £9,000 and there's an additional £2,500 'Golden Hello' on top of those!)
I'm thinking, that because I'm unemployed and homeless, I'll get the full amounts from both TDA and Bath Spa. I can then use the TDA one for traveling and so on expenses.
So - it's all looking good!
I've spent the day afterwards and most of today, looking up on the Curriculum and finding out about refresher courses and the Math GCSE.
Come July 2011, hopefully, I will be an NQT in Secondary Art and Design! ^^