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May 20, 2019

PGCE international April 2019 induction reflections – Nick McKie

April 2019 PGCEi cohort photo

After a year and a half of planning and preparation, it was wonderful to finally meet our April 2019 Postgraduate Certificate in Education international (PGCEi) cohort in Bangkok (see above photo). With the PGCEi programme now fully operational in Asia, I wanted to reflect on the first five day face-to-face induction in Bangkok, to help identify areas for potential development going forward. The reflections below draw on PGCEi team debriefs as well as trainee feedback from the induction review.

Ensuring we connect theory with practice

Throughout the planning, a key tenet of the PGCEi programme has been to keep material as lean, sharp and relevant as possible, tying themes to assessments throughout all modules and marrying theory with practice. Overall, this is something that as a PGCEi team we thought went well. As one trainee commented:

‘What I learnt in the course so far I have witnessed this being applied by my colleagues in the school I'm working at. Linking the theory to the application of teaching’.

One piece of trainee feedback from the induction review centred on having more ‘in class’ activities. Going forward we can perhaps look to create more opportunities for trainees to further engage with practice by teaching small activities in the induction, without relying on a show-and-tell approach. Show-and-tell teaching by teacher educators cannot help prospective teachers to think in more complex ways about their practice (Myers, 2002).

The induction programme

On reflection, the PGCEi team felt that the course overview and assessment session on day three could have been moved forward to day two in order to provide further clarity on the course as a whole. As one trainee commented:

‘Having programme information on the 'first day' of induction would make me feel more at ease with what lies ahead. The majority of us had many questions regarding the course but this was not addressed until day three’.

At the end of the induction programme we felt there was enough time built into the schedule for 1-to-1 questions and to revisit key themes on an individual basis. The feedback on the whole organisation and content of the induction programme was very positive. As one trainee stated:

‘The course was well laid out, well organized, and absolutely full of information. We've been given plenty of access to information about the course, the facilities and services available to us, as well as the tutors (teaching fellows). The sessions were all very relevant to teacher training, and they were engaging and informative’.

Accommodating a range of trainees with differing settings

We found that trainees were at very different stages of their teaching careers. Some were ‘in service’ teachers currently engaged in teaching full time, whilst some were ‘pre service’ teachers just coming into the profession. This variety of teaching experience necessitated flexibility of approach. Going forward we could look at providing options in regard to specific sessions. As one trainee reflected:

‘Provide choice for certain sessions, for example, primary having a phonics session while secondary going into behaviour in depth - have a choice for that for situations where a primary person may be well versed in phonics and may want to dwell deeper into behaviour’.

Perhaps as a PGCEi team, we need to further encourage ‘pre-service’ trainees coming into the programme to more fully reflect on their experiences from outside of the teaching profession in order to utilise skills sets and accelerate learning. ‘One frequently cited benefit of reflective teaching for example; is that students grow in their ability to think and talk critically about teaching and learning’ (Zeichner 1987:572).

Overall, as a PGCEi team, we feel privileged to have met such an engaging and supportive group of trainees and very much look forward to working with them throughout the course of the next year.


Zeichner, K.M., (1987) Preparing reflective teachers: An overview of instructional strategies which have been employed in preservice teacher education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Myers, C.B., (2002) in Russel, T. and Loughran, J., (2007) Enacting a pedagogy of teacher education, Routledge, London.

October 29, 2018

Running ABC workshops – Abigail Ball

In March 2018 I attended a JISC workshop on data-informed blended learning design and was introduced to the ABC Model of Curriculum Development by Natasa Perovic and Clive Young from UCL. The event was timely for me as I was wrestling with how to effect transformative change on established face-to-face programmes with respect to Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) as opposed to reactive and incremental change which seemed the increasing norm.

The workshop demonstrated how a facilitator could encourage participants to evaluate their current teaching practice and through making relatively simple changes, develop a more blended approach supported by the appropriate use of technology. I was conscious that I did not want to tell staff that they needed to make changes; instead I wanted the recognition of the need for change to come from them; for them to take ownership of the change process.

In June 2018 I was asked to run a curriculum development session on a planning day for the team developing our online PGCE International programme (PGCEi). The original plan was for me to have a 90 minute slot (the same length of time as the original JISC ABC workshop) and to facilitate participants through the process of identifying how the current PGCE was delivered and what they might want to reuse, repurpose or develop afresh for the new PGCEi.

What quickly became apparent was that the original time slot was simply too short; we ended up working on this for four hours. We developed a comprehensive timeline for the programme (see Figure one below) which helped to frame our discussions. We then went through the teaching activities the team had provisionally identified and mapped them onto the different learning types using Laurillard’s Conversational Framework. This showed clear clusters of learning type (e.g. acquisition) which enabled staff to discuss how they might adapt their teaching activities to use some of the less well-used learning types (e.g. investigation).

Figure one

Term one timeline Term two timeline Term three timeline

At no point did I suggest that an over-reliance on one particular learning type was poor academic practice or that staff should reduce the amount of acquisition they used with the students. The staff came to this conclusion themselves. The visual nature of the storyboard activity worked really well and made it easy for staff to see the impact of their changes. Each of the learning activities was explicitly related to the assessment points to ensure relevance for the students. When these were spread over the length of the programme it became clear where potential stress points might be and how we could mitigate them by adjusting the learning type (where appropriate) or by reducing the learning activities generally to gain more of an even flow across the programme.

We have subsequently met to discuss specific learning activities in more detail and each time the timelines have been used to frame the discussion. Lessons learned from the workshops include:

  • Allow plenty of time for the programme (90 minutes is not really long enough; I would allocate at least half a day)
  • Use an appropriate room which gives plenty of space for spreading out and sticking things up on the walls (for a process looking at TEL it is remarkably practical and low-tech!)
  • Provide refreshments as this helps the flow of discussion
  • Use the ABC icebreaker activities (e.g. creating the Twitter summary); they get staff into the right frame of mind for considering the programme as a whole before getting into the nitty-gritty of the learning activities

August 13, 2018

International teacher training – Nick McKie

The international schools market is growing rapidly. International Schools research has predicted that the market will continue to develop at a healthy pace, forecasting that within five years (2021), the number of students attending international schools will have reached 6.3 million.

The biggest challenge for the market is professional capital; maintaining high skills and qualified teachers. With the number of teachers working in international schools expected to increase from 426,200 in Dec 2016 to 581,000 in 2021, the need to attract more teachers of the calibre demanded by schools is becoming a concern (ISC, International Schools Statistics, 2017).

Extensive research has been carried out by the University of Warwick which has engaged international head teachers, Post Graduate Certificate in Education international (PGCEi) alumni as well as international school federations to ascertain the current teacher training landscape. There are a number of other UK universities offering international PGCEs, however, nobody currently offers a blend of face-to-face contact, ‘live’ online sessions and an assessed Teaching Practice. By working with international schools to affirm acceptance of a higher quality programme, more in line with the rigor of a local UK PGCE, is maybe where the gap in the market is.

The Post Graduate Certificate in Education (international) is a one year course designed to prepare trainees for teaching in international settings. In terms of the Warwick offering, we are proposing to design a robust programme which is very much in line with the existing local course, comprising of three distinct modules: Subject Studies, Reflective Practice and Professional Practice. Initially, this PGCEi programme will be delivered jointly with an international education provider whose responsibilities will include admissions as well as recruitment of trainees in the particular locale.

We are aiming to equip our trainees to be effective, competent and professionally aware international educators through a unique blended learning programme that includes:

  • A face to face induction week in the cohort country.
  • ‘Live’ on-line sessions in Subject Studies and Reflective Practice delivered from the University of Warwick throughout the academic year.
  • ‘Off-line’ tasks that supplement the ‘live’ lectures.
  • Completion of an e-portfolio, with its enhanced evidence of reflection and final assessment against UK Teacher Standards.
  • The completion of two Master’s assignments across the year, one based on a subject-related issue and one on a comparative international theme.
  • A minimum of 90 days teaching practice throughout the year with assessment points and a summative observation from a Warwick link tutor.
  • Three personal tutorials from Teaching Fellows at the University of Warwick and on-going mentor support provided by schools throughout the year.

The main challenges around this policy initiative relate to establishing brand equity, costings and delivery of the course. The University of Warwick will be a new player in a congested teacher training market hence the institutions ability to become recognised whilst remaining agile enough to sustain competitive advantage will be key. Due to the robust nature of the proposed PGCEi programme, the price point will be high in relation to competitors, however, as previously discussed, research suggests that there is a demand for a high quality teaching training alternative from a top UK University. In terms of delivery, intensive training on how to design and teach an online course as well as ongoing review will be crucial in ensuring the high quality and effectiveness of the course.

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