I decided to do a PGCE at the University of Nottingham for many reasons. Firstly, the University is a highly regarded institution for both geography at undergraduate level, and teaching and education.
I preferred the course structure of a PGCE to any other route into teaching because it combined teaching with university-based time which didn't seem as daunting as other route like Teach First or School Direct; PGCE also offered the academic support and gave me the chance to continue my studies with masters credits.
The School of Education is very supportive for all needs whilst at university and on placement. Placements are allocated fairly allowing for transport and travel time, having no problems. The time in university was really valuable; it offers many workshops about all aspects of teaching with very knowledgeable tutors and speakers.
The university time is also valuable to meet fellow teachers, share experiences and learn from each other, which is a massive bonus because teaching can be demanding and a steep learning curve, so you are all in the same boat and it provides a very good support network.
Another benefit to the geography course at Nottingham is that it is not all classroom based. In true geographer style we are encouraged to go and explore the area around us to see how we can bring the outside world into the classroom. We had the opportunity to visit a local college to understand post-16 education and learn ways to engage them.
We also have a field course to Lea Green Residential Centre built into the course. This part is assessed in groups and we had to plan and deliver a field course day to year seven in the summer term. We also visited twice beforehand to orientate ourselves and plan our trip. This was one of the highlights as it gave us a few days at the end of the first term to get together, share experiences of our first few weeks and bond as a group.
We also had guest speakers and key workshops to help us refresh our geography skills and learn how to adapt what we learnt at university for secondary school teaching, these included: The Royal Meteorological society (looking at weather and weather experiments), GIS (using Google maps and earth), a local head teacher (job application and interview advice), Dr Ian Cook (global connections in the classroom), stop frame animation workshop, and a drama workshop.
PGCE at Nottingham is well connected to wider geographical fields offering opportunities beyond the classroom. Mary Biddulph is currently Senior Vice-President of the Geographical Association (GA) and so you know you are getting the latest in geographical teaching and education. I would encourage you to join the GA and attend the annual conference as you can go for free as a student.
I had the opportunity to display my work from my 'Fantastic Geography' assignment at the conference and from this was asked to write for the GA journal and later to present my own teacher-to-teacher session at the GA conference. I would not have had this opportunity had it not been for the support and guidance offered by the tutors on the Nottingham PGCE course.
Nottingham PGCE isn't just about getting you into the classroom, it is about making you a well-rounded teacher, open to experiences beyond the classroom as well as in and offers amazing support if you wish to carry on your masters to full term with discounted rates for NQT year.
As you are still part of the University through studying the PGCE course you also have access to wide range of facilities and events on and off campus. During my PGCE I was elected course rep for geography and appointed social security for PGCE course. It was great to get involved and help make a difference to develop the PGCE course.
I chose Nottingham because the PGCE course offered the opportunity to combine teaching with a masters in education, completing two modules in my PGCE year.
I have now continued in NQT with part-time masters at Nottingham. The modules on offer are varied and the tutorial support is fantastic. I opted for the face-to-face module and summer school, but they also offer online course so it is really flexible if you want to carry on with studies post PGCE.