Most university students are desperate to get back into the classroom and see their fellow students again. For many students however, learning online isn’t anything new. The Open University was founded in the UK in 1969 with the aim of widening access to higher education across the UK. The OU is the largest university in the UK by student numbers, with around 185,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The OU has a reputation for innovation, so it’s perhaps no surprise that one of their latest offerings is a postgraduate certificate in education, or PGCE for Welsh applicants.
Who needs a PGCE?
A PGCE is a qualification for someone who already has an undergraduate degree. Someone planning to be a primary school teacher can have a degree in any subject, but for secondary teaching, the degree should be related to the subject the person wishes to teach. Once qualified, the certificate gives you qualified teacher status, and the ability to apply for teaching jobs. The course usually runs over two years, with students completing a mix of academic study by watching lectures online or writing essays, and a practical element of teaching experience in a school.
As well as having an undergraduate degree – which could also be from the Open University – there are a few other requirements for acceptance on the OU degree too. English or Welsh and Maths is required at GCSE, and at least once science for students aiming for a Primary School award. Students also need an enhanced DBS check before being accepted onto the course. This isn’t a standard requirement for postgraduate courses, but as the course involves going into school and having face to face contact with pupils, students require a police check first. The Open University will assist students through the process, but they will have to pay for the certificate themselves.
This doesn’t mean that people who have a criminal record will be blocked from applying for the PGCE course and working with children. The police will go through a filtering process, looking at the information they have on file, and assessing it against the work the candidate is planning to do. Any criminal disclosures will be treated in confidence by the OU, and should they decide that a student should be accepted onto the course, these won’t be disclosed to schools.
Fees and Funding
The fees for the PGCE in Wales are currently £5,520. Some organisations might have funding available for employees to help with costs, and postgraduate students on any course are eligible to apply for maintenance loans too. The Open University also has its own loan scheme to help cover the cost of fees. Compare the cost of studying with the OU with going through the more traditional route of study. Most of the benefit of studying with the OU is the flexibility and being able to combine study with work, but on teacher training courses this isn’t really an option.