28 July 2012

Ever-moving goalposts.

In 2004, I signed up for a degree with the Open University, Modern Language Studies.  As the OU issues degrees in line with the English 3-year system, and as I was studying part-time, it was alwayd going to take me at least 6 years to complete it.  At the time, I was planning on becoming a high school language teacher, so I had a look at the guidelines for teaching in Scotland, which said you had to live and work in a country where your languages were spoken for a year (your second language could be 6 months, but you'd have to make it up to a year to gain full registration.

This means that from the time I started, I really had at least 8 years until I could hope to enter teacher training.  In that time, I reckon the rules have changed significantly 4 times, meaning that they would have changed at least once for anyone in a standard Scottish 4-year degree.  For someone trying to plan out a career, this is pretty disappointing.

As I recall it, the rules when I started mandated a full year's worth of learning in your given subject (120 scotcat points), with at least half of that being at degree level (Scottish 3rd and 4th year, English 2nd and 3rd).  Quite soon after I started, the requirements were reduced to two-thirds of a year (80 points) with at least half of it being Scottish 2nd year or above.  The next change was halving the foreign residency requirements for language teachers.

These changes were all made to increase the number of applicants for teacher training, as the Scottish Government was worried about a crisis when a large number of current teachers retired.

But the numbers are up, and there's been a surplus of teachers in many subjects (the older guys are holding off retiring to build a bigger pension pot) so they've changed the rules again.

Before entering a PGDE, you now need to have 120 points again.  At least 40 of them should be 3rd year undergrad or above, and another 40 should be 2nd year undergrad or above.  80 of those points must be in the subject and 40 can be on a "related" subject, whatever that means.


I just spent a year at the Sabhal Mòr on Skye, doing the second year of the Gaelic-medium degree scheme so that I would be able to go into Gaelic teaching, and now, all of a sudden, it's no longer valid.  If there'd been some kind of advance warning, I could have studied a mixture of second and third year courses, and brought myself up to the required standard in the same timeframe (and I would have probably enjoyed it more than the course I did, to boot!)

I've still got to get the French residency requirement covered (which my forthcoming year in Corsica will deal with) before I can go back and do a PGDE.  But the plan was to do a PGDE in Modern Foreign Languages (French) and Gaelic, and as it stands, I'm not going to be eligible.  Even if I switch to just MFL (French and Spanish), I still need to spend an additional 3 months working in a Spanish-speaking country in order to get teacher registration for Spanish.

Would it be too much to ask for changes to be announced a year or two in advance so that people like myself could attempt to plan their careers?  As it stands, I'm left wondering whether to abandon the Gaelic or to start taking distance modules in order to make up the shortfall in degree-level credits.

But I really wanted to be finished with study.  Since I started primary school, there's only been three-and-a-half days of my life where I haven't been in formal education.  Any time I like, I can claim my third degree.

It's a bit of a disappointment.

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