PGDE vs PGCE– Difference Between Qualifications (Explained)

With a plethora of options to qualify in UK as a school teacher you may be thinking which training course should I choose?

Undergraduate degree holders can potentially shorten teacher qualifying time studying a postgraduate certificate or diploma in education with a Wales or English university or other training provider.

PGCE & PGDE are recognised school teacher training qualifications in UK and internationally for teaching 3-18 year old students.

What is a PGDE

In England PGDE means Postgraduate Diploma in Education school teaching vocational training qualification awarding 120 cat credits at master’s level.

Other countries including New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong have the same PGDE qualification with similar course requirements & study time length.

What is a PGCE

England’s PGCE is Postgraduate Certificate in Education vocational school teacher training qualification at level 7 giving 60 cat credits toward a master’s.

Difference between PGDE v PGCE

Is a PGDE the same as a PGCE qualification? England’s teaching PGDE is similar to PGCE, although difference is PGDE is 120 credits with extra assignments where PGCE 60 credits at master’s level.

A PGCE is a certificate where PGDE is a diploma qualification at a higher level by completing additional university assessed study.

PGDE study & written academic assignments make up for the extra master’s level 60 cat credits you receive than completing a PGCE.

School employers are much more aware of PGCE, longer established with more training providers than PGDE in England for university led, school direct or other organisations at primary and secondary age.

Can I teach with a PGCE or PGDE in UK?

Early years, primary & secondary schools in England & Wales fully recognise PGDE & PGCE teaching qualifications for employment as a class teacher. You can teach in UK combining QTS with PGDE or PGCE qualifications & GTC qualified teacher registration.

For secondary & primary school teaching a PGCE is more recognised & established and for early year 3-7 year old teachers in England & Wales at present.

Study courses for PGCE or PGCE

Both PGCE/PGDE are level 7 qualifications taken over F/T 1 year or P/T 2/3 years and can have similar 2 school classroom teacher placement requirements. A few course providers offer PGDE with QTS by conducting 900-1500 hours of teaching you’re subject & being formally assessed  the same a PGCE.

“LJMU is one of a small number of universities offering the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). Like the traditional Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), the PGDE leads to Qualified Teacher Status, however, it also incorporates 120 credits at masters-level, based on assessments closely linked to classroom practice”.

Liverpool John Moores University

The majority of Postgraduate Diploma in Education in England & Wales are university academic study only, with no school teaching class time placements or contact with any school pupils.  These PGdip academic only education courses are offered by universities FT/PT or distance learning to top up from a PGCE or you can start at the beginning.

Course duration

I year, certificate or diploma is 36 weeks course length for either award with 22-24 weeks spent on 2 school training placements. The remaining time at university is in tutorials, lectures & independent study, if training in schools with QTS.

Assessment: PGCE or PGDE courses are continuous assessment with a pass or fail grade.

Entry requirements are very similar for both certificate and diploma courses. Universities & other teacher training have varying academic requirements including from 2.2 or 2.1 undergraduate degree & maths/English schools grades, C & above.

See Completing a master’s after a PGCE course

Are PGCE awards a master in education degree

Training & study providers

University led teacher training courses are more formal with lectures, tutorials than school direct where you’ll have an experienced mentor.

As well as universities, other course study route providers for either PGCE & PGDE are available including:

School direct route: In England you apply as a university graduate to a training provider or school offering training as a teacher.  Teaching you’re subject, while training with a mentors help you’re paid an unqualified teacher pay scale rate.  All school direct route training courses lead to QTS (Qualified teacher status) while many include a PGCE at the successful completion of you’re training.

PGDE teacher training provider: There’s one or more organisations offering graduates training as a teacher in England, as well as being paid. Teach First recruits & places graduate teacher trainees in schools to teach they’re specialist subject, pays a salary and they become qualified teacher with QTS & PGDE (Postgraduate Diploma in Education) qualification.

School teacher training subjects to choice

As well a primary there are secondary subjects to teach for PGDE or PGCE, although not all will be offered by each course provider.

EnglishGeographyHistory or REMathematics
Business & EconomicsArt and DesignComputer ScienceFood technology
Design TechnologyModern LanguagesPerforming ArtsPhysical Education

Appropriate postgraduate teacher training course

The right postgraduate course to qualify as a teacher is for you to decide depending on you’re requirements & goals in school education. 

PGCE & QTS is easily sufficient for class and middle management school positions combined with continued professional development (CPD) all school teachers are required to conduct each year.

Study and training goals you many have could be obtaining a masters level qualification. Firstly, you could save a lot of time taking a diploma instead of a certificate as PGDE & PGCE, full or part time are the same course time length.

Also, PGDE is beneficial if you’re intentions are additional academic assignments and complete a masters in education as you only require a further 60 masters cat credits top up for a masters qualification.

Education Tay
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