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Advice for PGCE Students

Instagram handle: @emilieejane

Trainee (PCET PGCE)

Birmingham City University


Best bits:

Placement has definitely been a highlight for me, I have been working with an amazing team at a college in Solihull. They instantly made me feel part of the team - especially when starting during the January lockdown - and I feel like a valued member of the college, rather than just a trainee.

I also think that the content that has been delivered to me by the PCET PGCE team has helped me in developing my teaching and learning strategies. I recently had two job interviews, both asking me questions about my teaching and I ended up being offered both jobs! I know that I couldn’t have got them if I hadn’t completed the PCET course.


I think the workload is one of the biggest challenges when completing a PGCE. The assignments, constant admin, teaching preparation, teaching and university hours often make me feel like I am constantly scrambling to keep up over the weekend. I have said throughout the course that I am glad I am completing my PGCE during national lockdowns; there was nothing else to do but work so it could have my full attention. If I had attended in a normal year, I don’t think I would have been able to comfortably keep up or produce work to the standards I have.

I have also found the teaching preparation very time consuming; since I teach further education, the level of knowledge and content means that preparation needs to be done thoroughly. Although my degree is in criminology, unfortunately I am not the fountain of all knowledge, so I spend a lot of my preparation time revisiting the topics, or in some cases re-learning topics. Further, I am sometimes not told what topics I will be covering until the week before or even a couple of days before the lesson; as someone who likes to have a plan and be prepared this has been really challenging for me.

Overcoming challenges:

Managing my time is something that I am quite good at, of course covid meant that there wasn’t much else to do, but I’d say I have a good work ethic. I use any spare minute I have to do work, I always look at what’s next and what needs priority.

I try to prepare as much as I can do for lessons, sometimes it takes me hours to prepare for an hour and a half lesson. Therefore, I am going to make sure that over summer I have as many resources prepared for next year, so that I only have to tweak them before the lesson to suit learner needs. This will help to remove the constant anxiety of having to prepare lessons on the weekend to deliver the following week.


I think you need to be prepared for the amount of time and commitment a PGCE involves, I was warned about it by the lecturers before joining the course and still underestimated it. Organisation is also key, make sure that you are keeping your PDP folder organised and up-to-date to save having a giant mess to sort out at the end of the year.

Get ahead of the game! As soon as you are put on placement, juggling Uni assignments can get really difficult. Do little and often, manage your time well and expect to have one of the busiest years of your life!

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