This time exactly 3 years ago I was frantic with nerves. I had been preparing to apply for my PGCE for months and had finally submitted my application. I was scared in case I wasn't offered an interview anywhere, Christ, I was scared if I was! I had put so much pressure on myself, I hadn't even got a GCSE in maths yet and was currently re-sitting it, but I beat myself up telling myself no one would want to take the gamble. I was wrong!
If you find yourself in a similar position to me at this time, this post is for you. Rest assured, I understand how you are feeling. Hopefully I can be of help in some way. I will share with you the top 5 things I did that I believe helped me to gain a place on the PGCE Primary course of my choice.
Take a second to relax, grab yourself a cuppa, and take note.
Tip NO. 1:
Experience. I truly believe this is the key. I didn't have masses, but I had a variety which I made relevant. Grab as much experience as you can beforehand, on your application wring out any situations you can think of that you can add to your experience pile. Whether it be working with young children, volunteering, babysitting, showing off your management skills etc. it will all help with your application. Whilst I was at university I volunteered one evening per week at a local youth club. This was for young adults aged 13-19, not primary age, and I didn't know if it would be deemed relevant enough to add to my experience pile. On the contrary, I think it was one of the things that got me noticed the most. It allowed the Universities to see I was motivated, that I had an interest in working with young people, that I had good management and planning skills, that I had to have good communication skills with regards to young people, and a whole host of other things. I also volunteered 1 full day per week at a local junior school, and did 3 full weeks at a Primary school which I split across both Key Stage 1 and 2. During the summer I volunteered for a charity that supports young children with Autism and spent 2 weeks on an activities residential. Basically, I made time to delve in and make sure I had some experience up my belt. This will also help you decide if it's what you really want; I was actually planning to apply for a PGCE in secondary English before I gained experience in a primary school and properly loved it!
Tip NO. 2:
Sell yourself. Go BIG. Emphasize. Everyone else does. Make sure that by the time the Universities have read your application that can't possibly say no. Absolutely be honest, people can tell if you aren't, but sprinkle the honesty in holographic glitter. Emphasize all of the right parts, tailor parts which aren't the right parts to be the right parts. Can I say right parts any more? Like I was saying above, some of my experience wasn't relevant, but I tailored it to make it so. Try to come across as confident and passionate but with an eagerness to learn. Those who profess to be the finished article and know everything there is to know probably wont get a look in. They do not expect you to be the finished article, they are just looking for the right type of canvass upon which to put their teachings.
Tip NO. 3:
Take time on your personal statement. Have someone in the know to help you. Even if it's just to proof-read and perhaps shoot you some tips. I had to drag my personal statement out the other day as my little cousin is applying to university as we speak. I couldn't find the polished, finished and gleaming version, only draft 7. DRAFT 7. Seven times I had re-written that personal statement to get just the right bits in just the right places with just the right words to show them off. Seven times I had re-jiggled in an effort to squeeze all of the goodness into the allowed space, and all with the help of my boyfriend's mum. Who was previous a Head Teacher. Lucky me. Who can you get to help you with yours? Are you/have you volunteered at a Primary School? If so the teacher/head teacher will probably be willing to help. Can someone at your current University help? Does your University have a teaching department? Also, try not to include that you like children, that should be a given, or that you used to play teachers as a child.
Tip NO. 4:
Why PGCE? Explain why you thought that route would be the best for you, and what you did beforehand and how it links.. If it's because you have finished your degree and aren't sure what else to do, don't tell them that, they probably wont like it. What degree did you study before? What links can you make from this? I studied psychology and so the links were easy to make, however, I have a friend from my course who studied Garden Design (yes, that is a thing apparently) and somehow she made hers link too! I haven't always wanted to be a teacher, in fact I never did when I was growing up, and I have always planned for it to be a stepping stone, however this doesn't make me any less passionate about my job, or any less good at it. Whether I take that next step or not doesn't really matter though, I love my job most days.
Tip NO. 5:
Play it well at interview. Don't be the know-it-all that is always talking and trying to hog all the limelight. Don't be the wallflower who is scared of their own shadow. Be the quietly confident one, even if you don't feel, that doesn't sit on the fence, yet doesn't squash everyone else with their opinion either. Inside, you will be shaking like a pooing dog, you need to channel your inner swan. Flap away underneath the surface, but on the surface look calm and ready (to drop bombs - name that song).
I hope this was helpful in some way, or at least you take solace in the fact that I felt exactly like you do, and came through the other side! If I can be of any more help, leave a comment, drop me an email, and I will try my utmost to help a teacher-buddy out.
Have you just applied for a PGCE? Been through an interview? How did you find it? Can you think of any more tips?