A primary school teacher and pupils in the classroom

Liberty Bourke shares her experience of applying for the PGCE Primary teacher training course at the University of Portsmouth

  • 29 June 2022
  • 9 min read

What I really want to do is teaching

Before applying to the University of Portsmouth I’d been studying Fashion Marketing at the University of Leeds, but I was going out on placements and realised I wasn’t putting all my effort into it. I realised I didn’t actually want the job – what I really want to do is teaching.

The right course – and the right city

Lots of my friends live in Portsmouth and my boyfriend studies at the University of Portsmouth. I’ve been living with him recently, which means I know the area now. I love being close to the beach and going on walks – particularly having lived in London before. It’s lovely to be able to have a break. There are lots of independent coffee shops, a great pottery place, and lots of charity shopping on Palmerston Road. I’ve also made more friends in the time here than I did in the entire time I was at Leeds.

I chose to apply for the Primary PGCE because it’s really rewarding working with this age, seeing them grow. I’m currently a tutor for Explore Learning, teaching ages 4 – 14, teaching once a week, and I see the students develop each week.

Liberty Bourke

I’m friends with a PGCE course rep from the University of Portsmouth, and she only had positive things to say about the course – that it’s really well organised, the placements are good, and you’re buddied up to help support you on your placement.

Liberty Bourke, PGCE Primary applicant

Applying for my course

I applied via the government website and received a really informative email from the University with an outline of how the interview process would go. We were asked to conduct a task, so we were given 3 options of what to present and guidance about what we should consider. They also gave us a list of interview questions to think about, and pre-warned us about the maths and English test.

I was quite stressed before the interview, but it was pretty easy going – it was more of a conversation, and they really take the time to get to know you.

You could also book your time on a google calendar, which was really useful because I could fit the interview around my work. This wasn’t something that all other universities offered.

Financial support

The University is offering £1000 bursaries for PGCE Primary and PGCE English students starting in September 2022, which is a really nice bonus that most other places don’t offer. The bursary takes off the financial stress and gives me some more disposable income. It also provides added motivation - it’s like a thank you for all your hard work.

What I’d tell someone applying for the PGCE

Don’t be shy to contact teachers you really liked, and ask them for advice. Also, get some work experience to see if you love teaching. It can be quite demanding, so you need a love of teaching to push you through.