Monthly Archives: January 2011

Almost half of graduates ‘ill-equipped for world of work’

“Survey by recruitment website shows dissatisfaction at university education among recent graduates struggling to find jobs

Almost half of all recent graduates believe their university education did not adequately equip them for the world of work, and a quarter wouldn’t recommend higher education to those currently studying for their A-levels, a new survey suggests.

The survey, by recruitment website totaljobs.com, also revealed that more than a third (38%) of recent graduates have claimed jobseeker’s allowance since leaving university. The findings support grim figures released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this week showing that a fifth of all recent graduates are out of work.

Many of the 448 recent graduates responding to the online survey expressed a distinct lack of confidence in the value of their education, with 44% stating they did not think university had prepared them for the working world, while a similar percentage (43%) said they would not have chosen the same courses knowing what they know now. As a result, 24% of respondents said they would not recommend higher education to A-level students.

A recent report by the Association of Graduate Recruiters revealed a rise in the number of graduate vacancies for the first time since the recent recession began, although starting salaries remained stagnant at a median of about £25,000 a year.

Despite this, student wage expectations dramatically drop on graduation, with 58% of graduates believing they will earn less than £20,000 a year. This view is contrasted with those still at university, of whom 73% believe they can earn more than £20,000.”

To read the article by Graham Snowdon in full please click here

Our View:

Times have definitely changed since the time when a degree was considered to be a pass to a great job, with good salary and perks! Now graduates need to ensure that their degree grade is the best and somehow also need to gain enough ‘relevant experience’ during their studies to standout from all the other candidates.

Have you noticed a change in your profession over the last 10 years or so? What would be your ‘words of advice’ to current graduates?

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How many would-be teachers are put off before they even start?

“My partner wanted to teach – until he encountered a mountain of paperwork and a lack of support from colleagues”    

“It should have been a sign of things to come. In a gauche attempt to persuade my partner to become a teacher, the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) sent him a little cardboard box that made the sound of breaking glass when opened. “By this time of the year,” ran the motto inside, “most resolutions are broken. Do something meaningful in 2009. Turn your talent to teaching.” Spool forward to January 2011 and my partner’s resolution to turn his talents to teaching lies broken, like so much shattered glass.

It was, said my partner, as he quit the PGCE course he started in September last year, a case of “death by paperwork”. Had he persisted, he believes he would have qualified merely to become a dull bureaucrat.

Far from giving him the tools to become an inspirational educator, three months of a PGCE course and six weeks’ teaching practice in a local school reduced him to a workaholic, glorified activity organiser whose waking hours were filled with lesson plans and mealy-mouthed eduspeak. His experience of teacher training may be unique – or it may suggest wider problems with the system.”

To read the full article by Lucy Rouse click here

Our View

The article by Lucy Rouse highlights the issues that many trainee teachers face during their training. In my experience people are usually attracted to the profession by … following in the footsteps of their inspirational teachers or have a desire to ‘make a difference’ ~ some may even be attracted by what they see as ‘ long holidays’, however I have never yet met anyone who has been attracted to the profession by the long hours and tedious paperwork! The PGCE process is mainly an exercise about ‘ticking boxes’, so that a judgement can be made about the competency of the potential future teacher. The standards against which these judgements are made are necessary, and one hopes, ensure that the trainee receives a range of relevant experiences. What the process doesn’t guarantee is that inspirational, creative future teachers are motivated and enthused throughout the process to ensure they continue to contribute to education in the future.

PGCE students often have differing experiences in schools, with the support of their mentors being one of the most varied element of the entire process. In my previous life as a ITT mentor in a specialist Science College, I was often asked by the link university if I would take up to three or four students in each phase. I only ever agreed to take as many students as I could ensure I had ‘quality time’ for, which tended to be at least two and usually three. I felt I had a duty to provide the formal meetings that our ITT students needed, which was the equivalent to a scheduled hour per ITT per week but also to have an ‘open door’ policy on an informal basis to provide the emotional support when things got a bit tense in the classroom and the additional humour when times were tough.

My desire was borne out of the fact that my own PGCE mentor in a placement school rarely met with me at all during my time at the school and somehow managed to attribute my extra-curricular contributions to various trips, plays and clubs to another PGCE student also on placement at the same time! My experience of my first placement meant that I was extremely disillusioned with the entire PGCE process and considered giving up on the course, however my husband convinced me to stick it out until I had had my second placement.

My next placement was the opposite of my first in terms of location and type of school – whereas the first had been a rural secondary school, the second was a tough inner-city comprehensive with limited resources and challenging students. The main difference I noted straightway was my mentor, in the second school it was a fairly young teacher who had been teaching 5 years but was full of enthusiasm and support, we spent hours discussing creative ideas to engage students in the classroom. He made time for me to bounce ideas and management strategies – often sharing experiences to guide me along. If it hadn’t have been for this second experience I would never have become a teacher at all, which would have meant that I would have missed out on so much.

Because of my personal experiences I decided that, if given the chance, I would ‘pay it forward‘ and ensure that all ITTs in ‘my care’ would have the mentor experience they deserved. I tried hard and think I did ok, a few of my Science mentees are now my closest friends (you know who you are) ~ I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be involved in their first teaching experiences.

What have been your experience of the PGCE process? Good, bad or indifferent why not share them with us using the comments box below?

Guess the Image …

This week’s image ~ the answer will be posted next Friday. Good Luck!

The answer is ‘fimbriae (fringed tissue) of a Fallopian tube’

Guess the Image …

Please use the ‘comments box’ to post your suggestions – the answer will be revealed next Friday. Enjoy!

The Benefits of Twitter to ME

I asked my Twitter PLN (Personal Learning Network) to comment on the benefits that Twitter has had on their professional life. Within 10 mins people had started to post their comments. Check it out http://www.stixy.com/guest/98537It was fantastic to read all of the comments people had posted and I have since used the notice board to demonstrate to colleagues the benefits of Twitter!

State schools left behind in iPad revolution

“Funding cuts in state schools mean pupils will miss out on the best IT equipment.

At an age when most children are learning how to hold a pencil, a class of five-year-olds at a school in Scotland are practising writing the numbers one to 10 on their iPads. The Cedar school of excellence in Greenock, an independent school, is thought to be the first in the world where all lessons are taught using iPads.

It is one of a growing number of independent schools and academies that are spending many thousands of pounds kitting their pupils out with mobile technology such as iPads and iPod Touches.

But as teachers eye up all the latest gadgets at the Bett technology show at Olympia in London this week, those in state schools may feel like the poor relations. Technology, one of the most expensive areas in schools, has been among the first affected by coalition austerity. One of Michael Gove’s first acts as education secretary was to abolish Becta, the government’s IT advisory body, and cut by £100m the Harnessing Technology grant, designed to help schools to pay for broadband connectivity and computer hardware.”

By Sue Learner

To read the full article click here

Our View:

In a time when staff are trying to harness new technologies to engage and stimulate students’ learning, funding cuts are making it more and more difficult. Before there had been the recent cuts to funding, schools often didn’t have the money ‘lying around’ to buy a whole class set of iPods, iPads, etc – so teachers were asked to be creative and set up pilot groups to trial projects. The idea being that if the idea had enough ‘merit’ then further resources could be purchased during the next academic year.

I have been involved in such trials – for example using Nintendo DS handsets to improve basic literacy and numeracy skills in low achieving boys. The trials themselves often have amazing results but the initial costs of the handsets and future upgrades means that projects can be disadvantaged from the start – when money is tight an upgrade of the girls’ toilets is often prioritised over a class set of iPods!

Will this mean teachers won’t bother? I believe the answer to that is ‘NO’, mainly because the kind of teacher who sets up a subject blog and wants to trial iPods with their classes, is generally enthusiastic, dedicated and rises to the challenge of such funding constraints (even to the point of securing sponsorship and outside funding to make projects viable). It is because of this determination that our students will benefit through the use of new technologies in the classroom despite of the funding cuts and that fact needs to be recognised!

What are your thoughts? Is your school facing similar dilemmas? How are your staff overcoming the funding issues? We’re interested in hearing your experiences… please respond using the comments box below.