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PGCE alumni story: It was a journey that made me proud, far exceeded my expectations and was incredibly rewardingPGCE校友分享:这是让我自豪、收获惊人且远超预期的旅程

PGCE alumni story: It was a journey that made me proud, far exceeded my expectations and was incredibly rewarding

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education, commonly known as the PGCE, is one of the most popular academic qualifications for teaching, and also is the most popular way for teachers to enter teaching. With over 1,300 teachers and school leaders studying there in any one year, the School of Education at the University of Buckingham has become one of Britain’s leading providers of teacher training and professional development. In 2020, through partnering with Buckingham International School of Education(BISE), the University started to provide PGCE programmes specifically designed for teachers working in China at international and bilingual schools.

Recently, we had an interview with Mr Ezzat Ali, PE teacher at Beijing Royal School’s Middle School, who graduated from the University of Buckingham's PGCE programme last year and is studying for his MA degree in Education (Leading Sports in School) also at the University of Buckingham. Let us hear his unique views about this programme, and how taking the PGCE teacher training course has brought his career to the next level!


PGCE was my dream and goal from the very beginning

BISE: Could you introduce yourself, your career so far and why you wanted to study a PGCE programme? 

Ezzat: About myself, I am from Egypt, North Africa. I spend my whole life there in Egypt with my family and went to the University of Helwan, one of the reputable universities in Cairo, Egypt. I studied for my bachelor's degree in physical education for four years and managed to graduate with a very good grade, an overall around 80% and I was in top class rank while graduating. Then I started my career teaching in Egypt for five years. My first school was a British school where I spent two years learning about key stage one and key stage two and I had my first teaching experience there. And then I moved to another International School, taught for another three years and successfully completed my contract. After five years, I moved abroad, and my first overseas experience was in Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia and near China and Kazakhstan. I worked there for one year as a PE teacher and Athletics Director, which was my first leadership position. Then I moved to Beijing and started with Beijing Royal School’s Middle School. 

Throughout my life as especially since I started my career as a teacher I have always been seeking career development opportunities. To be honest, I didn’t have enough money to support myself with this and to be provided with courses such as PGCE or doing a Master's. Having the opportunity of teaching abroad and getting a better salary helped me a lot to keep improving myself and my teaching style. Back to my first experience, I learned about the British curriculum. And then I kept searching and I was emailing some of the British mainstream schools in the UK and they were so kind to answer me that “you need to get PGCE and QTS in order to teach in the UK or just to learn to teach”. And when I searched about PGCE and QTS, I found many things and many information. So it was my dream and my goal from the very beginning with the first year of experience. And then I kept waiting until I got the money and it was the right time. 



A school-based and practice-oriented real PGCE programme

BISE: What made you choose to study the programme at the University of Buckingham?

Ezzat: during my second year in Beijing, I started the PGCE course at the University of Buckingham, which was a big step for me. There are other universities like Sunderland or Nottingham offering a similar programme. But the most remarkable thing is that the University of Buckingham makes it a real PGCE while some of the other PGCE programmes are more about theory, and are completely online. The practical side is really weak, almost nothing. 

Also, I was looking for University close to me here in China and the University of Buckingham already got an office, via BISE. They provided everything to be honest, when I just started to email them asking in general about the course and they provided me with all the details and everything. And all the information was really helpful from the team at the beginning, and they guided me on how to do many things. It was during COVID and I had many problems with getting my IELTS exam, which was one of the requirements. I tried my best but also the people at the University of Buckingham provided me with an alternative test, called the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE). It is an Equivalent Test for IELTS but can be taken online. After I passed it, I got all the materials needed for my application. 

And I kept inquiring about the programme itself. And I was told that this is a real PGCE, not an IPGCE or merely an online PGCE. While the main part of the course is online, you still have to practice and you have mentors and tutors to come and visit you. The staff members shared the overview of the programme and I really liked it. 


A journey that I am proud of and a deeper transformation than expected

BISE: What's been the biggest challenge in the programme so far? 

Ezzat: For PGCE, the biggest challenge was to get my knowledge from theory into practice and implement what I have read and learned theoretically into my teaching. So if I'm reading about growth mindset if I'm reading about special needs or students of learning needs or different topics or any points related to teaching or students' life, my biggest challenge was how to implement this and how to get my interpretation right and use it while teaching. I'm reading well and understand everything but the biggest challenge was how to implement the information and knowledge in my class.

The other challenge for me was how to balance my life as a father of a four-year-old, a husband, a foreign teacher not working in my home country, studying PGCE or master's degree, and at the same time working full time in school. It's not easy at all. I'm not saying that I'm the hero, but it was really tough to find my own time. The pandemic has been a tough time for me and my family, we appreciate everything that has been provided to us. And we're feeling thankful for all opportunities, whether it's learning or working, so we're trying to do our best.

BISE: What was your favourite part or the highlight experience of the programme? 

Ezzat:  For PGCE, I didn't expect that my school mentor David Mandell, and the university’s tutors David Mansfield and Stephen Cook, really expected high from me.  To be honest, they expected higher than I expect for myself. That ended up with me meeting the outstanding standards for the teacher standards, according to the Department for Education in the UK. I hit all the A standards, and the final one was outstanding, and I was so happy and so proud of that. And this is one of the biggest achievements maybe in my whole teaching experience, being an outstanding teacher to hit the standards of outstanding. 

The thing that I most enjoyed in the PGCE programme was this routine of reading, and following up with my mentor session on a weekly basis. Every week, I have a lesson observation from my mentor and a meeting with him for reflection and everything else. I had to read different topics and answer different questions during these sessions and I really enjoyed this. That was my favourite because that was already continuous learning. It's not like squeezing myself up during the week to finish a few evidences or to write my assignments. No, it was like every weekend I needed to do that. In the beginning. It was really hard because it was so quick and I couldn't manage many things. But later on, especially during Christmas time, it was amazing. It felt like I was learning every week, by the end of the week, there was always something new, and I'm adding new knowledge to myself. 

This was wonderful! I told Steve that this was not what I expected. I thought it was going to be just a course and a certificate that I will need to have for my career, but it ended up with like, a bigger knowledge, something deeper than I expected and I'm so happy that I was on this journey. 


The programme brought beautiful changes to the entire school

BISE: How has your study helped your career? and what is your plan after graduation? 

Ezzat: Before the programme, with eight years of experience, I thought of myself as a really strong teacher? After joining the programme, I'm doing my best, but I'm still not aware of almost 80% of the programme. For example, I wasn't aware of all of those topics that we discussed about behaviours. I thought I had good classroom management, but I now realised that no way, I don't have that yet and I need to improve a lot. The best thing about this programme was its reflective teaching. Now I got this habit of seeing myself from outside me. It's like a kind of recording to myself, seeing what I've done, my strengths, my weaknesses, and how to work on things that I need to do. And if I need help I can always ask for help from my mentor and tutor. So my whole teaching style changed, especially working with different students. I managed to differentiate my lesson plan and my teaching, and also adapt everything like the equipment as a PE teacher. I got the chance to change almost 70-80% of my teaching style, and I feel much better afterwards. My experience is getting better, and my teaching is getting smoother. This is how I can describe it. It was really tough at the beginning, but now with the knowledge, we can set the expectations and objectives for myself and my students. So everything looks clear, obvious, and that was a big achievement.

My main target was to be a good teacher, and now I want to be a good leader too. By the end of this contract with my school here in 2023, I'll be 10 years of experience, finishing my master's degree, and then I will be looking for a leadership opportunity. So with the master's degree, plus PGCE and hopefully QTS, I am looking for a British School that I can fit in and a more senior role that matches my expectations. 

BISE: What tips would you give to teachers who are also exploring training opportunities? Who else do you think should take either of the programmes? 

Ezzat: In my reviews, I mentioned that teachers at different levels need this kind of course because I had eight years and I thought I knew everything about teaching, after experiencing many situations with students at different schools, in different languages. This is not at all the case. It was more than professional development. With the concentration of this course, I think most of the teachers, at any level, need this kind of programme, even if they have 20 years of experience, they still need to study the basics. Because whatever I studied at my university was very different from what I studied in PGCE. And what I felt while I'm studying the PGCE is that it's I don't know how to describe it, but it's touching the real life of being a teacher. It's getting into all the details that I'm facing every day as a teacher in school, or even outside of school. So it's highly recommended, not only for newly graduated teachers but also for teachers with experience who want to enhance their teaching skills and abilities. 

While I'm studying the PGCE programme, it was really good to see that programme didn’t just affect my teaching style, it also has a big impact on the whole school afterwards. Because I was reaching out for this programme, my mentor also learned a lot by being my mentor and discussing all different topics throughout our meetings. And also my department was much better after this course. Soon, other departments started to do the same and there were many, many things changed in the school, so the programme not only affected me but also affected almost the whole school at the end of the year. And this is the beautiful thing that happened to our school.

























BISE: 你的学习对你的职业有什么帮助?你毕业后有什么计划?



BISE: 你会给那些正在探索培训机会的教师什么建议?你认为还有谁应该参加这两个项目中的任何一个?



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