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Promoting Inclusion in the Early Years Classroom: A Reflective Account (Submitted as PGCE Assignment)

Profile image of Rebecca Wilson

In the current global situation of a Covid-19 pandemic, EAL learners are facing repercussions of the first lockdown, as it is thought to have widened the gap in English language proficiency between them and their monolingual peers (Richardson, 2020). In light of schools being under pressure more than ever to ensure pupils get the support needed to catch up and progress in their learning, it is particularly important that teachers have the skills, knowledge, confidence and support to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom. Through a reflective account of supporting an individual with EAL needs in the Early Years Classroom, this paper highlights how we may all learn something as teachers by reflecting on our practice.

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It is widely accepted that the needs of EAL learners are as diverse as the population as a whole, reflecting a wide range of educational and linguistic needs. The quest of EAL learners to attain proficiency in English has been a phenomenon that needs to be explored, particularly in relation to changes in UK national educational policy and funding that has defused the needs of EAL learners within a more general emphasis on inclusion and raising the achievement of ethnic minority children. Qualitative methods are used to allow thirteen children from Libya (newcomers) along with their parents and teachers to talk about their experiences of classroom support available for EAL learners within UK mainstream schools. Data are analysed using thematic analysis. The results showed that there is a lack of provision to enable teachers meet the specific language needs of EAL children. In fact, Libyan children found themselves immersed in a new classroom without EAL support or clear instructions ...

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The Postgraduate Certificate in Education, commonly known as the PGCE, is one of the most popular academic qualifications for teaching

Offered in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, PGCEs are designed to enhance and increase academic training, preparing students for life as a teacher. Usually taking one academic year to complete full time, and two years part time, securing a place can be competitive.

You only need a training course to offer Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to teach as a qualified teacher in England. However, a PGCE will increase your academic knowledge and provide you with the flexibility to teach internationally. The Scottish equivalent to a PGCE is the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE).

What is a PGCE?

A PGCE combines substantial school placements with studying the theory behind teaching and learning. Most courses run from early September to July and take nine months to complete if studied full time. Some longer part-time and distance learning options are available.

PGCE courses can either be university or school-led and the majority of programmes lead to QTS, making you eligible to teach in a variety of countries. Scottish PGDE courses, and Welsh and Northern Irish PGCEs, are similar in structure to university-based programmes.

There is a shortage of teachers in some subjects, such as maths and physics, while other programmes are more competitive, such as physical education. You should research this with the provider you're interested in and be prepared to look in other areas of the UK for places.

If your undergraduate degree doesn't link closely to the subject you intend to teach you may be offered a  subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course  as part of your application. This is taken before the PGCE so you'd be studying for a little longer.

Do I need a PGCE to teach?

You only need QTS to teach in England. The PGCE is an additional qualification offered by some providers, which you can gain alongside QTS.

However, it's advisable to gain a PGCE if you want to teach in Scotland and other countries such as the USA, as the PGCE is an internationally recognised qualification. It's possible to gain a qualification such as a PGCert with PGCE, if you have QTS and want to gain Masters credits and a university qualification. Find out more about the  routes into teaching .

Be aware that not all courses award QTS - the further education PGCE, for example. Speak to your training provider if you are unsure about whether your programme awards QTS.

Types of PGCEs

In England a PGCE may be led by a:

  • higher education institution (HEI)
  • school/charity/multi-academy trust (MAT)
  • consortium of schools in partnership with the HEI, such as Teach First

Different types of PGCE include:

  • Primary  - prepares you to teach children aged 5-11. Programmes focus on the core curriculum, although some may allow you to specialise in a certain subject. This is the most popular PGCE and demand for places is high.
  • Secondary  - focuses on a particular subject and prepares you to teach children between the ages of 11-18.
  • Further/Adult education  - if you want to teach in  further education  colleges or conduct  adult education  classes, completing one of these PGCEs means you can apply for Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status rather than QTS.

All types include placements for a minimum of 24 weeks in at least two key stages and schools.

To see what's available,  search for a PGCE .

What does a PGCE involve?

It can be a challenging nine months, balancing lesson planning, teaching, marking and your own assignment deadlines.

Often starting with an academic focus, PGCE courses usually cover teaching and learning theory,  managing classroom behaviour  and  current educational issues . After the first few weeks you'll spend up to two-thirds of your time on placement in schools, teaching in two different key stages. Your placements will help you to explore theory in practice. You'll be immersed into school life gradually, with an emphasis on research-informed and evidence-based teaching.

You will also work towards meeting the professional standards, which determine recommendation for QTS. Assessment is ongoing and progressive, developing the academic standards required for the Masters-level PGCE and QTS. At the same time, you will work through personalised development plans to ensure that you're able to target individual strengths and improvements.

In this way, your academic performance and teacher development are closely linked. You will reflect, get feedback from others and be assessed against teaching standards as you progress through the PGCE.

What will I learn?

You will study modules such as the:

  • Professional teacher  - Looking at key issues in teaching and learning, tailored to the context in which you're working. Sessions will often be a lecture and seminar, or workshops.
  • Subject specialist  - Building on your knowledge of the subject range, this would be led by a specialist tutor with expertise in your subject/s, both in university and in your placement, and supported by a mentor. You may study and evaluate key theories and policies, analyse and model best practice, and develop the skills required for teaching the subject. This will be further developed in your placement with your school mentor.
  • Reflective teacher  - Looking at what you're teaching in the classroom, thinking about why you do it, and reflecting on what works. This would include tutorials, group work and peer support to develop your experience in practice.
  • Research informed teacher  - Learning from and participating in research linked to your specialism and teaching.

What's the difference between school-led and university-led PGCEs?

As a university-led PGCE/PGDE trainee you will have more opportunity for studying and reflecting on your progress, as well as spending valuable time with other trainee teachers. You will need to pay fees but bursaries are available. You'll be able to move from a placement if it's not suited to you.

If you'd like to be placed in a school from day one, school-led training may be the route for you. Trainees are often paid as trainee teachers and may have to pay fees. School-led trainees can be chosen by the school, participating as a team member from the beginning. Discover how you can build your experience by  volunteering in schools .

Both routes lead to QTS, where you can apply for a teaching position in primary and secondary schools.

What are the entry requirements?

Some course providers may have specific eligibility criteria, but in general you must have:

  • An undergraduate degree or equivalent. For primary teaching a degree in a national curriculum subject is useful. For secondary, you must have a degree or related degree in the subject you're applying to teach.
  • GCSE grade C/4 or above in English and maths (a B in Wales).
  • GCSE grade C/4 or above in a science subject to teach pupils aged 5-11 (primary).
  • An IELTS with an average score of 6.0 if English is not your first language and you don't have a GCSE grade C/4 in English.

Plus, non-academic requirements of:

  • a declaration of convictions through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

There are some variations and exceptions to these entry criteria so you should check with the admissions department of each individual institution you're applying to.

Applicants with a degree in a subject not included in the national curriculum, such as marketing or education, are able to apply for early years, primary and post-compulsory teaching.

If you have A-levels in a shortage secondary subject, such as maths, and your degree included a large mathematical element, you may be able to do an SKE course and go on to train as a maths teacher.

Some courses are very competitive, so applying early and getting school experience is advantageous. If you aren't sure whether you meet the criteria, or if you gained your degree overseas, you should contact the admissions department of the institution you're considering, or attend an open day.

How much does it cost?

The standard tuition fee in 2023/24 for UK students is £9,250 and approximately between £9,250 and £32,000 for international students, although overseas fees vary widely.

Universities may offer special reductions for alumni, so check with individual providers.

You will also need to consider living costs. You're likely to have additional costs for travelling to school placements. Some providers may offer support towards travel expenses - contact them to find out more.

The majority of trainees find that they have limited time for part-time work, especially while on placement. International students are advised to check their visa restrictions on working.

There are three main ways to fund teacher training and depending on your circumstances you could receive them all. Tax-free bursaries and scholarships are available - the amount of which differs depending on the subject studied, postgraduate tuition fee and maintenance loans are available to help pay tuition fees for unsalaried teacher training routes, and additional financial support is available if you have children or a disability. See  funding teacher training  for more information.

Will a PGCE/PGDE guarantee me a teaching job?

The Teacher Induction Scheme in Scotland offers a guaranteed one-year training post to every eligible student graduating with a teaching qualification from one of Scotland's universities. This is not the case across all of the UK.

A PGCE is a well-recognised and valued qualification and normally includes QTS (although not all courses do), but this doesn't mean that you will automatically be employed when you graduate.

Traditionally, graduates quickly find their first teaching job. The placements completed as part of their course and any additional school experience stands them in good stead. If your school placements go well and the school has a vacancy when you graduate, you may well be offered a job.

Pupil numbers are rising and this increases the demand for teachers. If you've completed a PGCE in a shortage subject, such as physics, maths, chemistry, computing, languages, biology, geography or design and technology, your knowledge and skills are particularly sought after.

To learn more, see  how to get a teaching job .

How do I find a PGCE?

You should attend open days and meet course tutors to make sure you get answers to all your questions. Consider asking:

  • How much does the course cost?
  • Does the course include a PGCE, as for many overseas teaching roles you will need a university or college teaching qualification (BEd or PGCE)?
  • Does the qualification lead to QTS?
  • How much school experience do you get?
  • Are there grants/loans/bursaries available?
  • What is the school's Ofsted rating?
  • What is the employment record after graduation?
  • What is the institution's reputation and department ranking?
  • How much access do students have to tutors?
  • How many lectures and tutorials are there per week? How many days a week do you need to be on campus?

To find out what's on offer and which institutions match your requirements,  search PGCEs .

When do applications open?

PGCE applications in England are normally made through the DfE's  Apply for teacher training  service. Courses in Wales and Scottish PGDE applications are made through the UCAS undergraduate system in the autumn for courses starting in September the following year.

Applications can be made throughout the academic year. However, providers are able to close the applications after a minimum of two weeks if they have enough quality applicants. They may open again later in the year but it is strongly recommended to apply early for the more popular courses.

In Northern Ireland, applications for PGCEs are made directly to the institution.

For more information, see  applying for teacher training .

Where can I get more advice?

  • Alumni  - ask them what it was like to study at a particular university.
  • Careers service  - advisers can explore your options, help you decide which course is best for you and assist your application.
  • Current students  - they'll tell you how much work is involved, and recommend books and other resources.
  • Open days and fairs  - you can meet representatives from numerous universities, meet tutors and take a look at the campus. Take a look at upcoming  open days and events .     
  • Tutors  - find out more about the course content and how your career goals match up.

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

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Postgraduate taught

pgce reflective assignment

PGCE Primary

Learn to be an effective teacher, and gain an insight into the key skills your students will need across the primary curriculum.

Year of entry: 2024 (September)

10 months full-time

Department of Education

September 2024 ( semester dates )

Apply for this course

Masters Taster Day

Join us on 13 March to get a taste of why so many people love living and learning at the University of York.

Get to grips with up-to-date thinking and the latest research in teaching and learning for infant and junior school pupils.

Our PGCE Primary course will prepare you to teach National Curriculum at KS1 and KS2, specialising in Primary education.  You will be equipped you to meet the Department of Education’s National Teaching Standards and therefore achieve Early Career Qualified Teacher Status.


On successfully completing this course you will be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), which is awarded by the Department for Education (DfE).

pgce reflective assignment

Rated good by Ofsted

In its most recent evaluation, the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) awarded our PGCE programme a Grade 2: Good.

UK top 10 department

We're ranked 9th in the UK and World Top 50 for Education (QS World Rankings by Subject, 2023)

Experienced Tutors

You'll be taught by experienced practitioners, with recent or current experience of working in classrooms.

Course content

This course provides you with a stimulating, cross-curricular, highly-collaborative learning environment. A major strength of this are the teaching placements in partnership schools which are fully integrated into the programme structure. 

As a result you will not only be trained to create a safe and positive climate for learning, you will also have the opportunity to develop a strong sense of subject-specific pedagogy. You will be taught the knowledge and skills needed to engage in relevant educational research, all in line with the mandatory national Core Content Framework for Initial Teacher Training.

Over the course of your two teaching placements you’ll have the opportunity to work with different age groups with different abilities. You’ll experience a variety of schools and subject departments.

As part of your first placement you will complete assignments covering the topics below.

  • Lesson Observation and Wider School Ethos
  • Evaluation of a Learning and Teaching Sequence

During your second placement you will complete an assignment covering:

  • Special Study - Reflective and Research Literate Practitioner 

You will also be assessed throughout the PGCE course around the Professional Aspects of Training. These include:

  • Meeting Teachers' Standards
  • Secondary Experience
  • Professional Enrichment Experience
  • Future Career Profile

Before starting a placement that forms part of your course, you are likely to be asked by the placement provider to sign a confidentiality agreement. This is to ensure that you do not disclose any information that is confidential to the placement provider.

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Independently and creatively plan, resource and deliver lessons by applying theory, discipline knowledge and appropriate level expectations
  • Create an inclusive, stimulating learning environment by managing classroom dynamics and adapting to learning need
  • Effectively assess learning and progression through critiquing a range of well-developed formative and summative strategies
  • Critically reflect on, and perceptively develop their own classroom practice by assessing and selecting appropriate evaluative frameworks and engaging actively with a supportive network for feedback
  • Communicate clearly, confidently and professionally with teaching colleagues, pupils, parents/guardians, support staff, external agencies and in academic contexts, using media appropriate to the situation;
  • Contribute with justifications to debates and developments in primary education by applying a research-informed approach to the analysis of their own practice and by proactively researching broader education issue

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2024/25.

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees?  The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student.  Check your fee status .

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

  • Postgraduate taught fees and expenses

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2024/25 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a  10% Masters fee discount .

Funding opportunities

  • UK government Masters loans
  • Funding for UK students
  • Funding for international students

Living costs

You can use our  living costs guide  to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. You will work with university PGCE tutors and school mentors who are experienced teachers with mentoring expertise in each of your main placements, and all of whom hold QTS (qualified teacher status).

Teaching format

Participation in the PGCE course is an active process. Although there are lectures and presentations, much of your learning will come from workshops, seminars and school and classroom activities with strategies and techniques for an effective learning environment in your placement classrooms.

Trainees come to the course with a range of qualifications, employment backgrounds and interests. Throughout the course you will be encouraged to work collaboratively, sharing your experience, knowledge and technical expertise. Activities emphasise teamwork and require you to share the responsibility for your learning.

Throughout the course, you will be guided by mentors in your placement schools and supported in school and in university by your specialist university tutors.

Teaching location

The Department of Education is located in  Derwent College , on the west part of our campus. Most of your teaching will take place nearby on Campus West.

School placements take place across the region. We take many factors into consideration when allocating placements and will work with you to ensure you can get to your placement safely and easily. 

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's  easy to get around campus  - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll complete three academic assignments: 

  • Lesson observation - You'll critically evaluate the observations you have undertaken during the serial visits to your first placement school. 
  • Evaluation of Teaching and Learning - You'll evaluate your early teaching by analysing some of the work pupils have produced in the lessons you have planned and delivered. 
  • In-depth Focus Study - This is a small-scale study based on a piece of research. This is an opportunity for you to pursue an individual professional interest by investigating a particular aspect of what it means to teach your subject effectively

The primary aim of the course is to enable you to meet, and ideally exceed, the Teachers’ Standards and be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). 

pgce reflective assignment

Related courses

  • PGCE (Secondary) English
  • PGCE (Secondary) Geography
  • PGCE (Secondary) History
  • PGCE (Secondary) Maths
  • PGCE (Secondary) Biology
  • PGCE (Secondary) Chemistry
  • PGCE (Secondary) Physics 
  • PGCE (Secondary) Modern Languages (French with German or Spanish)
  • PGCE (Secondary) Modern Languages (German with French or Spanish)
  • PGCE (Secondary) Modern Languages (Spanish with French or German)

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pgce reflective assignment

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  22. Critical Reflection of First Year of Teaching

    In this assignment I reflect upon my first year of teaching in an independent school and will explore the themes of behaviour management, subject knowledge and pedagogy, and moving into a new school. I am a Psychology specialist, who also teaches English, teaching from Key Stage 3-5.

  23. PGCE Reflections

    Emma's Showcase Website