Sunday, 27 February 2011

PGCE - by Theo

"Phew! Doing the Madrid run is always a work out," muttered one of the Easyjet hostesses, having just hauled another over-stuffed, overweight suitcase into the overhead locker. Having got cover for my last two classes I'd breezed through Barajas airport with my minimal luggage, in quiet contrast to the majority of the young, 20-something Spaniards with whom I was sharing the flight to Bristol. While they were jabbering away excitedly - including through the safety announcements, which earned them a few death-stares from the staff - I was focused more on likely questions I might get in my PGCE interview the next day, the reason for my whistle-stop visit back to Bristol while Kate had the "single parent experience" for 36 hours.

Friday found me nervously hanging around the lobby of the Bristol University School of Education in Berkeley Square. I'd spent the night at my sister's, just around the corner in Priory Road, but had slept terribly. My sister and her husband were, annoyingly, on holiday that weekend in Norway and seemed to have taken their alarm clock with them. Forced to rely on my ancient English mobile held together by several layers of sellotape, my paranoid dreams woke me up 6 times during the night, frantic that I'd overslept and had missed the interview. Obviously I didn't.

Usually they don't do interviews on a Friday, but given my circumstances they'd made an exception. As a result there was only one other interviewee (also a Berry) whereas usually there would be six at a time. I guess this was to our benefit as part of the interview was a general conversation, discussing questions between us. Easier to manage the conversation and stand out when there are only two of you! In fact the interviewer seemed to be quite interested in what we had to say, even deviating from the script to ask our opinions about contemporary (educational) events. We also had to collaborate on a feedback task, which was fine, and furthermore there was a written assessment (something I hadn't done for about 7 years!) and a brief one-to-one interview.

All in all I left feeling pretty positive, which was great as it meant I could actually relax and enjoy myself that evening, with wine, good company and delicious homemade food round at Sam and Stu's. No too late a night of course, for while I had to get up early to make my flight back, Stu was off to Uganda on an even earlier flight - 4am!

When applying for a PGCE you do so through a website called GTTR - the teaching equivalent of UCAS if you will. So when the following Tuesday I received a notification that something had changed on my application status I logged in slightly nervously to check. "Unconditional offer". Just two words; I clicked accept. All in all a bit of an anticlimax I thought, after all the effort! Not quite willing to trust in two words on an unassuming website I emailed the department on a pretext (sending them my A level certificates which my parents had been searching for) just to check before I announced it to the world at large. Or, rather, Facebook.

So, there we go. Next September I'll be a student again, and, in all likelihood, rather poor: if I had done the PGCE this year I would have a got a £6,000 bursary. Next year, those studying to be English teachers won't. Bum!

As I type it's a beautiful, warm, if slightly windy day here in Madrid, as it has been for the past week. The blossom is out, and the park (Los Molinos) down the road smells beautiful. Food is fairly cheap, my work is fun, people are friendly, I get to spend lots of time with Kate and Rosie, and, most of all, we'll miss the friends we've made here when we head off. Next year is going to be tough - I've seen my reading list! - but in the end, I reckon it will be more than worth it.

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