Programme name: PGCE
What is the program (PGCE) and what does it cover?
PGCE, or Postgraduate Certificate in Education, is a postgraduate secondary teacher training course. Our students are divided into separate subject specialisms (e.g., Geography, Maths, English) and they spend a lot of their time during the PGCE gaining practical experience in secondary schools.
How is sustainability included in it? How did you decide what was appropriate?
Since 2015, we have run a ‘Green Apple Project’ which aims to get student incorporating global challenges into their teaching. Students from all subjects are given the opportunity to become ‘Green Apple Reps’, who meet formally three times a year to challenge each other, share teaching resources, and discuss how they are integrating sustainability in their subject teaching and work as form tutor. They are then given the opportunity to share resources and knowledge among their wider cohort, with all university tutors knowing that these reps exist and making space to discuss these issues in university classes.
Sustainability is also integrated into the PGCE in other ways, but it varies from one subject to another, due to their diverse nature. There are cohort-wide lectures delivered by academics, with sustainability related expertise from other Schools in the University; for example, looking at the science of climate change and the importance of considering questions of climate justice. Another way it is integrated is through one of the master’s level assignments on the course, with some subjects making it mandatory for students to engage with a global challenge and to incorporate it into a lesson they teach and evaluate.
If it uses any unusual/original pedagogy or assessment approaches to do this, what are these?
The changes to the teaching assignment requiring engagement with a global challenge has led to students bringing diverse topics into their teaching and developing their pupils’ problem-solving skills. As a PGCE course, we have engaged with Bristol Council, for example, Geography students joining a city-wide climate change education conference at the Town Hall, and Maths students teaching data handling skills using data collected by the council on air pollution levels in the city. There are now also opportunities for students to work across subject specialisms and to produce interdisciplinary resources to teach in their schools. In 2023, there will be an inter-disciplinary day of workshops for students, culminating in students developing their own ideas for curriculum innovation.
What sustainability-relevant ‘takeaways’ would you expect students to gain?
We hope PGCE students gain subtle skills to support critical thinking in the pupils that they’re teaching, as well as developing their own theory and knowledge about sustainability. Teachers cannot be preachers, telling their students what to think, their skills lie in developing pupils’ critical analysis, ability to engage with content, and creativity, to help them become leaders in solving these problems.
Some PGCE students have also discovered the power of inspiring their pupils through their own activism.