PGCE Secondary Science (specialising in Biology)

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After getting a first in maths, UEA graduate, duathlete and ex-army cadet Tom Cook is now completing his PGCE with us.

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“I could not have asked for more; time in placement schools and at university were perfectly balanced and the support throughout was superb.”

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David Martin-Richmond, PGCE Secondary Graduate

Key facts

National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL)

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Key facts

join one of the best teacher training programmes and reach your full potential

The PGCE (M) Secondary programme will get you ready to teach pupils aged 11–16 with post-16 enhancement in secondary schools. You will be teaching pupils as they mature from early adolescence into adulthood. The PGCE Science programme is in two parts, core science and an additional course in a science specialism. You'll graduate ready to teach all three sciences up to at least the end of Key Stage 3 (Year 9) and a specialist subject to post-16 level.

The programme runs for 38 weeks and you will be based in schools two thirds (120 days) of the time. This is followed by two extensive placements in our partnership schools, where you'll get a broad range of practical teaching experience and to put ideas and theory into practice as you work in different schools.

Overview

UCAS course code: C1X1

The PGCE Secondary Science (specialising in Biology) programme will get you ready to teach pupils aged 11-16 with post-16 enhancement in secondary schools. 

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), one-year, full-time course leads to a PGCE (Qualified Teacher Status) with 90 Masters level credits.

The PGCE Science programme is in two parts, core science and an additional course in a science specialism. You’ll graduate ready to teach all three sciences up to at least the end of Key Stage 3 (Year 9) and a specialist subject to post-16 level. If you choose biology as your specialist subject, you will get to explore some exciting and innovative practical activities for use in the classroom. These include molecular biology techniques, DNA fingerprinting and plant science. You will be given time to focus on teaching post-16 biology and the biological elements of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 4. You’ll take a hands-on approach with a strong emphasis on student-centred activities. You will learn how to organise field work, and take a field course on the North Norfolk coast.

When considering your application, we look for good subject knowledge from your degree and from other relevant experience beyond a degree. A first degree or a higher degree in biology or a closely related subject is recommended. Other qualifications may be appropriate, but at least half of your degree should have involved learning biology relevant to that found in the National Curriculum, and in GCSE and A-level syllabuses. If you are unsure please contact us.

The programme runs for 38 weeks and includes at least 120 days on placement in schools and 60 days spent at the University. We work in partnership with secondary schools across Norfolk and Suffolk and the course is available through both UEA or with our School Direct partners.

This is an interesting, often very demanding but tremendously rewarding age group to work with as pupils mature from early adolescence to adulthood. The course is designed to equip you to teach your main subject (Science - specialising in Biology) and to make an effective contribution to the work of schools beyond your subject.

The UEA partnership scheme has attracted national and international attention for its successful close inter-weaving of school and university-based work. It provides you with the opportunity to engage in the systematic study of theory and current good practice both in schools and in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at UEA.

In University League Tables, UEA has been consistently ranked as one of the top universities for student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2016), and we are ranked in the Top 15 in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (2017).

Programme structure

Work based in schools is spread across extensive placements in two of our partnership schools, which are located across the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. This emphasis on practical teaching provides you with a broad range of teaching experience in different schools.

University-based sessions will be held in Norwich, a location which is widely regarded as one of the most attractive and friendly cities in Britain. The campus at the University of East Anglia is set in extensive parkland and the distinctive architecture is nationally acclaimed. 

At university sessions you will discuss experiences with others on the course and learn more about the theory and practice of teaching. Expect to be involved in a range of teaching methods, including lectures, seminars and practical workshops.

Career opportunities

Our trainees achieve a very high success in gaining employment, with many opting to stay in Norfolk and Suffolk. Career opportunities within secondary teaching are now far wider and more diverse than ever before. Within a few years of beginning teaching many are able to gain promotion to leadership positions, either within their subject or with pastoral responsibilities. There may also be opportunities to become a Leading Practitioner, taking a leadership role in developing, implementing and evaluating policies and practice in the workplace - contributing to school improvement. After experience of middle management successful teachers can progress into senior leadership roles - Assistant Head Teacher, Deputy Head or Head.

Open days and events

Throughout the year, we will be hosting Teacher Training open days and events about how you can train to teach, and we will also be attending different events organised by the National College for Teaching and Learning which are held around the country.

Course Modules

PGCE Secondary Course: Teaching Science - specialising in Biology

The PGCE Science programme is in two parts, core science and an additional course in a science specialism. You’ll graduate ready to teach all three sciences up to at least the end of Key Stage 3 (Year 9) and a specialist subject to post-16 level. If you’re studying to teach physics with mathematics, you’ll become accomplished in physics and also gain some knowledge and experience of teaching mathematics.

To thrive on this course, you will be a science graduate who is committed to a career in teaching. Like us, you will be brimming with enthusiasm about science education. You will already feel capable of becoming a subject leader in either biology, chemistry or physics teaching. You should have a good background at degree level in one of these subjects or in a closely related area.

You’ll be expected to do some teaching outside your main science specialism so a wider science background is an advantage. However, we consider each application on its own merits and interview a high proportion of applicants.

You should be aware of the current context of secondary science schooling. We would expect you to have spent some time observing in a secondary school science department.

In addition, you should be getting to know the National Curriculum for Science. Learn more at: gov.uk/schools-colleges/curriculum-qualifications

Your interview is your chance to show off your communication skills, and give evidence of your commitment to teaching and your willingness to build on your existing science knowledge.

Core science

Get to grips with the aims, objectives and methods of teaching in the context of the National Curriculum for Science. You will have many opportunities to develop your skills in practical work through ‘hands-on’ activities. Learn about the production and evaluation of teaching materials, how to use demonstrations and the place of laboratory safety. Lesson planning and evaluation are covered with an emphasis on the management of practical work in the laboratory.

Together, we will develop activities that can be used to teach controversial and ethical issues in your classroom. Assessment is an important element in the PGCE programme, including assessment for learning and assessing pupil progress.

Learn how information technology can be used to enhance the teaching of science. All the work at the University is complementary to and integrated with the work undertaken in two placement schools. You will also get support for teaching outside your main science specialism. Take additional sessions on topics like teaching biology, chemistry and physics for the non-specialist. For your work in schools, you may be paired with a partner who has a different main science discipline, so you can learn from each other. If you’re studying physics with mathematics, you will attend sessions on the teaching of mathematics and you will get paired with a maths trainee for your work in schools.

Biology specialism

If you choose biology as your specialist subject, you will get to explore some exciting and innovative practical activities for use in the classroom. These include molecular biology techniques, DNA fingerprinting and plant science. You will be given time to focus on teaching post-16 biology and the biological elements of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 4. You’ll take a hands-on approach with a strong emphasis on student-centred activities. You will learn how to organise field work, and take a field course on the North Norfolk coast.

Disclaimer

Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Biology or a closely related subject.
  • Degree Classification 2:2 or above preferred.
  • Special Entry Requirements Please see below.

Entry Requirement

Degree requirements

Applicants are required to have achieved a degree or its equivalent* by the beginning of the PGCE programme in September.  A first degree or a higher degree in biology or a closely related subject is recommended, however other subjects may be appropriate.  As a general guideline, approximately 50 per cent of the degree should be relevant to the subject you will teach.

GCSE requirements

Before making your application you must have a GCSE pass at Grade C or its equivalent* in English Language and in Mathematics.

*Please note: It is up to the discretion of the individual Initial Teacher Training provider as to whether an appropriate level has been satisfactorily achieved. We therefore strongly urge candidates with equivalent qualifications to check with us that these are acceptable before making their application.

Pre-Application classroom experience

Candidates should also ensure that on their application form they are able to demonstrate that they have gained recent experience, with children of the relevant age range, in the mainstream school environment. Secondary applicants should have experience across the secondary age range, within their chosen subject.

Additional experience can also be taken into consideration, this might include experience in areas such as TEFL teaching, classroom assistant work, training of school-leavers, or private tuition. You are advised to make clear your experience on your application.

It is important for candidates to have an understanding of and reflect on how classrooms are managed and how teaching and learning takes place within the classroom prior to interview. It is recommended that you gain at least 5 days' observational experience in the classroom environment. Applicants should observe and reflect on how the teacher:

  • Starts the lesson
  • Structures the lesson
  • Makes use of different teaching strategies and styles
  • Involves pupils in the lesson
  • Manages behaviour
  • Works with pupils at different levels of ability and/or specific needs
  • Involves support staff
  • Makes use of technology and other resources
  • Closes the lesson.

There are a number of ways in which classroom experience can be achieved:

Contact Your Local School
Try contacting local schools where you live to see if you are able to arrange a time to observe some lessons. You need only to have undertaken observational experience prior to submitting your application. Please note that it is at the discretion of each school as to whether they will allow visitors into their classrooms.

University Career Schemes
Candidates who are currently studying at university may be able to participate in Teaching Schemes organised by the Careers Service. For example, UEA offers Student Mentoring through the Student Ambassador Scheme, which aims to contribute towards raising the aspirations of year 9 school students, particularly those from backgrounds with no family history of further or higher education. Mentors provide students with academic and personal development support through mentoring sessions, educational activities and visits to UEA. Please contact outreach@uea.ac.uk for further information.

Knowledge of the National Curriculum, key contacts and useful links

Applications are considered on an individual basis and being able to demonstrate a strong level of knowledge about the National Curriculum and current issues affecting teaching is advantageous. These educational links will provide you with some useful points of contact to help to get you started.

Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS)

Disclosure of Criminal Background for Those with Access to Children
All applicants for the PGCE course will be required to obtain an EnhancedCriminal Records check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The enhanced disclosure will be used to assess suitability for the programme and information provided may be discussed with the external members of the School's Safeguarding Sub-Committees. Candidates are responsible for payment of the DBS fee. General information about this process can be obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service Website.

Satisfactory Health Check

You will need to demonstrate your fitness to teach by completing an Occupational Health Questionnaire Form.  You will need to return it to the Occupational Health Service at UEA. This will give us information about any special needs you may have, and enable us to assess whether the University and placement areas will be able to provide support. It is therefore, in your interest to provide full answers to the questions.

Students for whom English is a Foreign Language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.0 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 62 (minimum 55 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date. Other tests such as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English are also accepted by the university. Please check with the Admissions Office for further details including the scores or grades required.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

PGCE Admissions Team
Email: edu.pgce.admiss@uea.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1603 592855

Skills tests

All candidates starting the PGCE are required to pass the numeracy and literacy skills tests as part of the application process before starting the course.

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees

Fees for the PGCE programme will be £9,250 for Home/EU students for entry in September 2017.

Maintenance grants (UK Students Only)

If you are normally resident in England you may be entitled to receive a Maintenance Grant. All candidates from the UK should contact Student Finance England or tel: 0845 300 5090 for full information on Maintenance Grants.

Department for Education Training Bursaries (UK/EU Students) 2017/18

UEA PGCE course

Degree classification

Bursary

Biology

1st class/PhD

£15,000

 

2.1/Master's

£12,000

  2:2 £10,000

Training incentives

Please contact the Department of Education website for further details.

Further information on bursaries, including terms and conditions, are available from The Department for Education.

Living expenses

Approximately £9,135 living expenses will be needed to adequately support yourself.

How to Apply

Making your application

Candidates are required to apply via the UCAS Teacher Training (UCAS). This is the central "clearing house" which deals with all applications for PGCE courses across the country. There is no specified deadline for any of our teacher training courses. However, all candidates are advised to apply as early as possible in the application cycle.

Referees

You are advised to ensure that your referees are available to submit their references immediately upon request (usually electronically via UCAS Teacher Training). Your chosen institution will not receive your application until both referees has submitted their references. Please see the UCAS Teacher Training Referee Guidance for information on selection. NB: Candidates are required to supply an academic referee as their first reference if they have completed their studies in the last 5 years.

Preparing your application

Candidates are encouraged to prepare thoroughly. Application forms should be able to demonstrate not only your depth of subject knowledge but also your enthusiasm and commitment to a career in teaching. We recommend that you familiarise yourself with our PGCE Teacher Training Prospectus and the information available from the Department for Education and related educational establishments. These sources will help you to gain knowledge of the current issues facing teaching, specifically in the subject area for which you are applying. During interview you will be expected to be able to answer questions about these issues, and what has prompted your desire to choose teaching as a career.

Candidates are normally chosen on the basis of their application form, references and an interview.

Equal opportunities

The University of East Anglia operates an equal opportunities admissions policy. We aim to ensure that no applicant receives less favourable consideration on the grounds of gender, marital status, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin or religious belief. More on equal opportunities...

See also: UEA PGCE Equal Opportunities Document

Students with a Disability (including Dyslexia)
The University welcomes students with disabilities and is working towards the provision of an inclusive environment for all its students, staff and visitors. More on disability support.

Further information

To request further information and to be kept up to date with news and events please use our online enquiry form.

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

PGCE Admissions Office
Email: edu.pgce.admiss@uea.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1603 592855

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries:
    admissions@uea.ac.uk or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515