Postgraduate Certificate in Education
In addition to the PGCE qualification itself, those taking the course in England or Wales are recommended for either English or Welsh Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is required to teach in maintained schools in England and Wales. Those passing PGCEs in Northern Ireland are granted 'eligibility to teach' in Northern Ireland (equivalent to QTS). Though the QTS/eligibility to teach only applies in the Home Nation it was awarded in, applying for QTS/eligibility to teach in either of the other two Nations is a formality and is nearly always awarded to PGCE holders. Furthermore, the PGCE is also widely recognised in Scotland and the rest of world, allowing holders to easily register as teachers there.
This course includes credits towards a master's degree. In England and Wales only, a PGCE without master's credits was phased in from 2005 to 2007, which is called a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education.
The PGCE was previously also offered in Scotland, but was renamed the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) from 2005 to 2006 (the exact year depending on the university offering it). It is identical in content to the previous PGCE. Like the PGCE, the PGDE is widely recognised throughout the rest of the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.
Further and higher education lecturers are not usually required to hold QTS/eligibility to teach. However, many lecturers attend lecturer training courses to gain qualifications such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (FE), which is comparable to the regular PGCE.
Course content and structure
The PGCE is a professional qualification normally taught at a university or other higher education institution, with much of the course time spent on placements in local schools. A trainee teacher will have to meet the Standards for Qualified Teacher Status and any course specific requirements to be awarded the PGCE. In England only, a trainee teacher also has to pass the QTS Skills Tests in literacy and numeracy. As of April 1, 2012, the ICT skills test was removed as a compulsory skill necessary to gaining QTS, in accordance with changes in legislation. The training provider will then recommend the trainee teacher for QTS to the relevant body:
- General Teaching Council for England - since 31 March 2012, replaced by the Teaching Agency
- General Teaching Council for Wales
or eligibility to teach to the:
After gaining QTS, the candidate becomes a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) and embarks on an induction programme in their first post.
A recent review of the equivalence of qualifications in Scotland declared the PGCE to be equivalent to a postgraduate diploma (which in turn is equivalent to the taught element of a master's degree). This left the PGCE with a rather inappropriate name as a postgraduate certificate is a lower level than the postgraduate diploma, requiring only half the amount of work. As a result, the PGCE in Scotland were renamed to Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).
From 2005 to 2007, most universities attached credits towards a master's degree to their PGCEs. PGCEs that do not carry master's credits are now known as Professional Graduate Certificate in Education.
The PGCE sits at Level 7 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, while the Professional Certificate in Education sits a Level 6.
The PGCE is not a postgraduate degree, it is instead an advanced but non-degree qualification (as it is directly related to a career, it is considered vocational). It does not officially grant any postnominals, though this is often ignored.
For 2014/15 PGCE courses in England, a fee of £9000 will normally be charged, which can be borrowed, at interest from Student Finance England. In September 2012, the government introduced a new initiative with the aim of encouraging the best graduates into the teaching profession, particularly in Maths, Physics, Computer Science, Chemistry and Modern Foreign Languages, which have traditionally struggled to attract the required number of student teachers. Training bursaries from September 2012 are based primarily on degree classification. In these subjects, trainees with a degree in the first division are entitled to a bursary of £20,000, those with a 2.1 receive £20,000 (£15,000 for Chemistry and MFL) and those with a 2.2 are entitled to £15,000 (£12,000 for Chemistry and MFL) (rates for 2014 entry). A second band of subjects, listed as "other priority secondary specialisms" (English, history, biology, geography, music, and design and technology) attract a bursary of £9,000 for those graduates with a first, and £4,000 for those with a 2.1. Bursaries are paid each month in instalments, with graduates receiving the £15,000 and £20,000 bursaries also receiving "enhanced" payments" in the January and at the end of the course.
There is also scope for those with either relevant work experience from other professions, or those with higher degrees to receive a higher level of funding than that to which they would otherwise be entitled. For example a trainee with a 2.1 in maths but with a PhD may be entitled to the bursary of £20,000 in accordance with the government's document about the consideration of special achievements.
Teachers in independent schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not required to hold any particular qualifications, although most schools now prefer applicants to have a PGCE, especially younger people going into teaching as a first career. This flexibility does allow them to occasionally hire older people who have practical experience, such as appointing ex-engineers as mathematics or physics teachers, or appointing people with high-level postgraduate qualifications but no formal teacher-training.
The PGCE is the main postgraduate route for teacher training in England, Wales, but there are a number of other ways to gain QTS. See Qualified Teacher Status#Routes to QTS.