We may have been guilty of taking our teachers for granted in the past but for many people, homeschooling has been a learning experience leaving us valuing the role of our teachers more than ever. For others, they may have discovered a new love for the role. At Newtown College (part of NPTC Group of Colleges) we offer a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) for those that are graduates from a relevant subject looking to gain a nationally recognised teaching qualification to work in further education and the broader post-compulsory sector. On the course, you will develop skills, knowledge and understanding of successful practice in Post-Compulsory Education and your confidence as a professional practitioner.
Student Linda Williams who is currently employed in the Catering department at Newtown College shares her experience of what the course has entailed so far in the current environment.
When Linda started out on the course, she admits it was somewhat daunting. She explains:
‘When you arrive on your first day you are more than likely going to be slightly nervous, but so are the other members of the group. You all have a common goal, and you will all go through the roller coaster of a journey together. You will share stresses, anxieties, aspirations, and successes; and you will become each other’s best assets, not to mention becoming lifelong friends.
“There’s lots involved; research, assignments, reading, reflections, and you will have to evidence – what feels like everything! Yes, it feels overwhelming at first, but you will certainly get there and enjoy it. It is your opening to become better teachers and the amount of evidence you provide will not only show what good teachers you are, it will give you a sense of confidence and achievement.
“The most useful outcome I have found is developing my own ICT skills so I can confidently share this knowledge with students and make the most of technology using online sessions.
“The flexibility and proactive approach of our teaching has meant switching to online delivery and whilst challenging, I believe it will also be important to invest in upskilling of teachers in the future to enable and develop this further.
“We have had numerous role models join our online meetings. Including various members of staff from different departments at the College providing presentations such as library services, enterprise and employability, safeguarding, academic writing skills, higher education skills coaching and the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) transformation programme. In addition, there have been a number of external presenters including Mark Phipps from the Education Workforce Council (EWC); Helen Humphreys – Sgiliaith – Embedding the Welsh language into teaching; Spike Blackhurst (Big Ideas Wales) – Speaking about her career and how completing the PGCE course at NPTC has enhanced her business opportunities.”
Linda declared that she had particularly enjoyed the discussions with Spike Blackhurst from Big Ideas Wales. “She was a very likeable, interesting, and a talented person,” she added.
Linda reflected on learning through the pandemic observing that ‘the pandemic has allowed some of the more introverted students to make contributions via chat, in some cases more than they might have in a classroom environment. ‘
She went on to explain some of the positives of working from home and said:
“Personally, I have benefited from some of the freedoms of working from home, i.e., less congestion, more time to exercise and more flexibility of how to organise my time, resulting in more time with my family. However, despite staying in touch with my colleagues via online platforms, I have missed the one-to-one interaction of chats in the corridor and popping into classrooms. I do not believe that this can be replaced completely by technology but hopefully, we can implement a successful blended model. In general, I have been positively impressed by the resilience of both staff and our students in response to the sudden adjustments to all our lives.”
PGCE Lecturer Sarah Welch said:
“The course is hard work but very rewarding and as well as having support from peers on the course, you will receive support from tutors and mentors. Online learning for everyone is different at the moment to the delivery we are used to, but I am sure it will play a greater role in teaching in the future.”
Sarah added: “We would like to thank all our role models who have joined us, online providing learners, with information, inspiration and extra guidance.”