The PGCE is a well-established and internationally recognised qualification undertaken by graduates to prepare them for a career in teaching in England and Wales. Over time, several PGCE models have been developed to meet the different needs of learners and the profession. However, the essential characteristics of the PGCE have remained constant - a higher education programme providing both professional training leading to Qualified teacher status (QTS) and a course of academic study leading to an academic qualification.
The qualification acronym ‘PGCE’ has traditionally been understood to stand for ‘Post-Graduate Certificate in Education’. However, some providers also offer Professional Graduate Certificates in Education (PgCE or ProfGCE). The academic level of these courses varies depending on the title. Some institutions run PgCE courses which aim for the academic equivalent of the final year of an undergraduate honours degree, with QTS. PGCEs, however, are pitched beyond honours level, incorporate subject or specialist work in greater detail, and include consideration of research methods. Such courses may form a progression route within a framework which ultimately leads to a Master’s degree.
There are also PGCEs/PgCEs in Post Compulsory Education and Training (PcET) which qualify individuals to teach in the further, adult and vocational education sector but do not lead to QTS.
In line with the principles underpinning the Frameworks for HE Qualifications of UK Degree Awarding Bodies, the full qualification title for ‘PGCE’ courses should represent accurately the expected level of achievement, and should be aligned with the most appropriate qualification descriptor. It will be a matter for HEIs to determine the appropriate level of their qualifications and to assign the appropriate title, in line with the following guidance:
- Professional Graduate Certificate in Education for those PgCE qualifications which are pitched at Honours level, and align with the FHEQ qualification descriptor at Level 6
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education titles for those PGCE qualifications which are pitched at Master’s level and align with the FHEQ qualification descriptor at Level 7.
Institutions should continue to ensure that the level of their qualification(s) is clear and transparent to all applicants, students and other stakeholders. References to the level and full title of the PGCE should be made in course publications, admissions materials, programme specifications, transcripts and certificates.