Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Secondary Science: Biology
‘Developing outstanding teachers in an outstanding partnership’
The PGCE Secondary Science: Biology programme is the initial phase of personal and professional development which will equip you to becoming a secondary school teacher. This programme is a school-centred (School Direct) route that is delivered in partnership with Teaching School Alliances. For this school-centred route you are in school the majority of time and released for one day a week for academic study, throughout the year.
The key aim of our PGCE secondary programme is to deliver a high quality, current and relevant programme of training that equips you with the professional knowledge, understanding, skills and attributes that you need to become an outstanding teacher (and potential leader) in our local and national secondary schools.
The PGCE Secondary programme is accredited by the DfE and successful completion of the programme will result in Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
Structure of the programme
The PGCE Secondary Biology programme is structured in phases (introductory, developmental, consolidation and transition) and within each phase, you are expected to reflect upon your learning and make effective links with curriculum and pedagogy through relating theory to practice. Academic work will run alongside the school-centred programme of training, with two Masters level modules as follows:
- Professional Studies module: The Developing Professional
- Subject Studies module: Learning and Teaching in Subject Studies
In addition to the two academic modules there are three school experience modules to complete throughout the programme which largely fall into school terms as follows: SE1 (autumn term), SE2 (spring term) and SE3 (summer term).
The professional studies module is designed to ensure that student teachers are well prepared for the wider professional demands of being a teacher and have addressed issues such as emerging professional identity, pedagogical skills, knowledge and understanding. In their role as a developing professional they will be able to demonstrate the ability to provide effective learning and teaching within the context of secondary schools. Student teachers are also encouraged to reflect upon the professional attitudes and values that are expected of teachers. You are supported to develop a strong sense of personal and professional identity as subject teachers and are nurtured so you can develop your own philosophy and values about secondary education.
The subject studies module focuses on the development of subject pedagogy and strategies for learning, teaching and assessment. In this module student teachers will be required to organise and undertake a placement in a primary school setting in order to increase their awareness of the issue of progression in biology as pupils enter secondary school.
The module will also consider:
- Understanding factors that influence pupil learning – understanding pedagogical theories in subject area; principles of effective teaching learning and assessment; understanding issues related to policy, inclusion and diversity; positive behaviour management.
- Developing the skills of an effective teacher – learning about the subject curriculum; principles of planning, pedagogy and progression within the subject and related curriculum; assessment for and of learning, including the use of data.
- Importance of the learning environment - planning and managing the learning environment, including the management of other adults in the classroom; understanding of learning outside the school environment.
- Developing as reflective practitioners – refining the skills of evaluation and reflection to support professional practice.
- Building subject knowledge and understanding – engaging in continued learning to ensure confidence and competence in delivering the subject curriculum.
Teaching, Learning and Assessment
The programme encourages you to engage critically with educational issues to enable you to develop as a reflective practitioner who is able to evaluate and adapt your practice to meet the diverse needs of pupils in secondary schools. This is done through a range of learning, teaching and assessment strategies, including active learning and enquiry-based learning, which is considered essential in both modelling effective learning and teaching practice and also for equipping you with the skills that are essential for your continuing development as a newly qualified teacher.
The approach to learning and teaching will be consistent throughout modules included in the programme. Taking a largely active learning and enquiry-based approach to learning, you will develop as a reflexive and critical practitioner through investigating key issues and dilemmas inherent in secondary school teaching. You will be expected to work with a high degree of independence but also to work collaboratively with, and learn from, both peers and experienced practitioners. There is an expectation that you will be able to integrate and synthesise theory, practice and key skills in order to critically evaluate your exploration of teaching and education. This will develop greater levels of applied research skills, creativity, innovation, critical thinking and independent judgement.
The following inclusive learning and teaching strategies which feature in modules will provide opportunities for professional development through critical enquiry:
- individual research activities, through a range of resources including web-based resources and the VLE
- school based research opportunities
- individual tutorials for research support
- individual tutorials for academic tutor support
- directed reading, through a range of resources including web-based resources and the VLE
- enquiry-based learning tasks to develop subject knowledge and knowledge and understanding of wider educational issues
- key-note lectures
- school-based tasks
- supported observation analysis
Assessments include both essay and a research project as well as school experience. These are designed so that you can demonstrate the appropriate skills required of a 21st century teacher. Your school experience progress is assessed across all areas of the teaching standards throughout the placement. Throughout the programme, practice and theory is synthesised to engage you with the pedagogy of your subject, ensuring you become outstanding practitioners in your specialist field.
Whilst you will be allocated to one school for the majority of your training you will also teach in at least one other school within the Alliance as part of a second school placement. The progressive nature of school experience and immersion into the life of the school (which is a distinctive part of the School Direct approach) will enable you to progress effectively by building upon your developing skills as beginning teacher.
The programme leads to the award of a PGCE with a recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status. Successful completion of the two academic modules also count as 60 credits towards a Master’s degree.
Academic and Mentor Support
Academic and mentor support is integral to the programme You will be allocated a University Academic Tutor and link tutor, an Alliance School Subject Mentor and an Alliance School Professional Mentor at the start of the programme with whom you are required to meet regularly. Mentors will evaluate lesson plans, observe taught lessons, monitor marking and support you in meeting the requirements of the teaching standards for Qualified Teacher Status. During these meetings, progress and targets will be discussed, alongside preparation for your NQT year. This will also include aspects of your subject knowledge and the development of teaching skills and other academic progress within taught modules. You will be supported in school by Alliance staff with University staff, when appropriate. University link tutors are involved in moderation visits at your school placement.