On-the-job teacher training for TAs in Wales

Written by: Greg Lewis | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Teaching assistants now have an on-the-job training route into teaching for the first time in Wales.

Support staff or teaching assistants with the right qualifications will be able to apply to complete a PGCE through the Open University and train in schools while being paid, under a new scheme supported by the Welsh government.

The two-year course which will be rolled out from April has both a salaried option and a part-time option for people not working in education but who wish to complete a PGCE while working.

Anyone working in a school, both teaching assistants or those in a non-teaching role who are graduates, can apply for their school to sponsor their study and their course fees will be fully funded. They will study in a school setting across the two years around their existing school duties while completing academic studies.

There is also a new part-time route for those who do not already work in a school but would like to retrain as a teacher. This route is self-funded but will allow the flexibility within the first year to stay in their current job. In the second year they will be expected to complete two 30-day practical placements.

Developed in partnership with the Welsh government, Regional Consortia and schools across Wales, the new two-year programme will give students qualified teacher status (QTS) in either primary or secondary school level and can be studied in English or Welsh. The secondary science PGCE is expected to launch in April and a larger programme of primary and secondary options are confirmed for October.

Dr Hazel Hagger, chair of the Initial Teacher Education Accreditation Board, said: “Prospective teachers, for whom conventional courses are not practical, will now have the opportunity to follow a course in preparation for becoming a teacher.”

Sarah Stewart, director of the PGCE at the Open University in Wales, added: “This PGCE will offer teaching as an option to those who may want to change career but are unable to stop working as they learn.”

Q&A: Further details from the Open University in Wales about the new PGCE

The Open University says schools can sponsor TAs or other support staff to complete the two-year qualification. Is the school able to claim that money back through the Welsh Assembly Government or do the fees have to come directly from the school budget?

Financial support is available to schools from the Welsh Government to help towards the student’s salary. How much will depend on each school’s individual circumstances. Our advice is for headteachers to call us on 029 2047 1170 or email wales-PGCE@open.ac.uk so that we can discuss the support available.

What are the benefits for schools sponsoring a placement?

Within a new model of Initial Teacher Education, schools and the Open University work closely together to design and lead the PGCE programmes. Lead Partner Schools are equal decision makers within the partnership, with a strong voice in shaping the future of student teachers' experiences. As partner schools, staff have the opportunity to engage in a programme of professional learning and to gain recognition for their work as teacher educators. For schools who support a salaried student, they are able to benefit from nurturing and supporting the career progression of an existing member of staff. Alternatively, we provide the opportunities for schools to be 'matched' to prospective students, allowing them to plan effectively to meet areas of need in shortage subject areas. We work closely with schools to design a timetable which supports the student teacher to transition to their new teaching selves, whilst also working full time to support the learning of the pupils in their care.

If a TA is working in one school and wants to apply for the salaried route, is the placement in a second school organised for them through the OU?

As a partnership we work closely with Lead Partner Schools and the Regional Consortia to support students to undertake a meaningful experience in a second school setting. This usually takes place in the summer term of the first year.

How much will the new PGCE cost?

The course fee is £2,625 per year (£5,250 in total) for part-time route students. Salaried route students have their fees covered.

When do you expect applications to open both for the April launch and the October launch?

We can now receive applications for Primary and Secondary Science, Maths and Welsh for 2020.


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