Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeSpecial FeaturesSpecial SupplementWhat is an iPGCE and why you might want one

What is an iPGCE and why you might want one

This further bit of education can open a number of doors, as Melanie Butler explains

The UK’s International Post Graduate Certificates in Education, known as iPGCE or PGCEi, is the new kid on the block when it comes to qualifications for experienced EFL teachers looking to progress their international careers.

These courses are designed to be the international equivalent of a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), which is a one-year initial teacher education course conferring Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England, Wales and Ireland (in Scotland, which has a completely different education system from the rest of the UK, the equivalent is called a PGDE).

The international version is designed for people looking to work in the estimated 6,500 British-style international schools worldwide. It is not currently accepted as bestowing QTS in the UK, although it’s likely to be accepted in many independent schools (these have never been required to recruit only state-qualified teachers).

Currently, 560,000 teachers worldwide are employed by English medium international schools, around half of them in British-style schools. To put that in context, in 2022, there were 563,831 full-time teachers working in UK state schools.

In the next 10 years, the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) estimate another 160,000 teachers will be needed in British curriculum international schools. Unless a third of the British teacher workforce quits and moves abroad, the international schools are going to have to look elsewhere for teachers who can be retrained to fill the vacancies. The main options are local teachers, third-country nationals or EFL teachers.

For those planning to teach English language in this sector there is still a bias, largely among parents, towards native-speaker teachers. This is less the case for those also teaching other academic subjects, such as maths, history or other foreign languages. It may be unjustified by any evidence, but it is all too often the case.

Why would an EFL teacher want to switch into this sector? Because only the university sector pays teachers anywhere near as well. Plus, the terms and conditions often include free housing, free healthcare and free flights home at least once a year.

So, which UK universities offer iPGCEs? Unsurprisingly, the list includes many of those that feature in our Master’s listings, including those that do well at educational research. The University of Nottingham, for example, offers the course through partners in 11 regional hubs in Europe and Asia, with an induction day and 11 months of online courses. Fees vary by centre, but most are around £4,500.

The PGCEi at the University of Bath, which also runs a well-established Master’s in International Education and a programme for IB teachers, offers blended learning with a face-to-face element both in Bath and in their study centres at their partner international schools throughout the Middle East. The price for 2022-2023 was £3,400.

Sheffield, by contrast, is entirely online and requires applicants to be teaching or to have access to classes they can work with. It is a mix of asynchronous input sessions and interactive online seminars, and costs £4,333.

A number of courses require teachers to be working in the field. The University of Buckingham, for instance, has a long-established 37-week course for £4,475 (including registration) with this requirement; and the University of Leicester’s iPGCE (£4,700) provides its own partner schools and universities to work with students.

The courses have a wide variety of focuses. Teeside (£4,500) is designed to cover all the sectors in international education, Derby (£2625) has a mandatory module in curriculum design and Buckingham (see above) focuses in on different academic subjects.

While most of the courses are run in England – the one in Northern Ireland has closed – Strathclyde in Scotland has one covering bilingual schools as well as English medium, which welcomes teaching assistants and EAL teachers as long as they are currently working at full curriculum schools.

There are a small number of these courses which cost more than £6,000, but generally they come in at around the same price as a Cambridge DELTA. For those who are globally mobile, prefer teaching children and want a classroom career, they offer much better job prospects than the private language school sector.

Their main disadvantage, at least to those teachers from the UK or with the right to work here, is that they do not currently give you Qualified Teacher Status. Both Buckingham and Derby have an existing distance QTS add-on for practising teachers, which takes a couple of years. And for the first time the Government has given permission to the University of Sunderland to a pilot an International PGCE which awards QTS at the same cost as the fees paid for by all teachers in England, which is £9,250.

Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
- Advertisment -

Latest Posts