Teach in the UK• read

30th September 2019

UAE to UK: How 3 teachers got their iPGCE in the UK

Here we have 3 stories of teachers who worked in the UAE and who have completed PGCEi with a great University in the UK – namely the University of Sunderland and the University of Nottingham. Each story is a little different, so read on to hear more about Sophie, Annette’s and Ciara’s experience with Engage Education.

Sophie B, Primary teacher

PGCEi University of Nottingham, graduated 2017

For anyone teaching as an unqualified teacher who wants to do their PGCE and QTS while working full-time, here’s how I did it with Engage Education’s help:

After studying Arts in Galway University, I moved to the UAE to work for an International School as a class teacher. Fast forward three years later, I wanted to gain a PGCE so that my career options would open up in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. 

Initially, I thought getting my PGCE would mean heading back to Ireland or moving to the UK to study full time. Thankfully my friends who were in the same position had found that both Sunderland and Nottingham universities offer a part-time International PGCE (PGCEi) which you can enroll on from the UAE (and many other countries) if you already have a teaching position.

The PGCEi from Sunderland is more biased towards practical study, and requires observations of your teaching, whereas Nottingham is more theory-based with no observations. Ultimately, however, you will receive the same qualification for submitting graded coursework online, while you work full time. 

The down-side to an PGCEi is that neither of these include QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) which officially qualifies you as a teacher in the UK. QTS assessment usually comes as part of a full time PGCE course if you study in the UK and take part in school placement observations.

That’s where Engage Education came to my rescue; I decided that moving to the UK to gain QTS was the next step for me and began applying for jobs online while still in the UAE. I got in touch with some agencies that could refer me to schools based in London and the video interviews Engage Education set me up with were free of charge.

The Engage team was fantastic and made the search for a job so much easier. I signed a contract with Engage for a Primary Teaching position in London with a great school. The agency offered a higher salary than the others and the schools they work with have better OFSTED ratings, which makes a huge difference to the support you receive from Senior Leadership when being assessed for QTS throughout the year. Engage offered free optional courses to improve my teaching, hosted get-togethers for teachers to socialize in London, and informed me about a EURES grant available to teachers moving to the UK.

Getting QTS certified was a big challenge, which involved enrolling with a University for 6-12 weeks of intensive observations from a mentor in school as well as multiple observations from a member of the university. I was also required to make a folder of evidence to demonstrate how I had met the teaching standards in Key stage 1 and 2 lessons. Some of the evidence I used was from teaching Year 1 in the UAE – I used three children’s progress across a topic in Maths/English for the material, so if you are looking to take this route, it is useful to keep pictures or copybooks when you move. This is known as the AO Route (Assessment Only) to qualifying as a teacher in the UK. 

Throughout the year, Engage were always there to advise me about areas to live, how to travel to work cost effectively and even offered to try and source second hand appliances to furnish my apartment. Engage were really quick at replying to any of my questions and I was really lucky to have their support while in London. I was not charged for their services, and they made sure that the school agreed to support me through QTS while being paid full time.

Sophie worked in the UK for 18 months and then relocated to the UAE again! 

Annette M, Primary teacher

PGCEi University of Sunderland graduated 2017

I graduated from Galway with a Degree in Biochemistry at the age of 23. I decided I needed a change of scenery and career, so I completed a TEFL course and accepted a job in Bangkok. Having completed a years contract, I then opted for a job in South Korea for a year. I still felt the travel bug, so I decided to accept a job in Oman. After completing a year there, I then went on to apply for the Sunderland PGCEi and stayed another year in Oman to complete it.

After completing the PGCEi, I researched teaching agencies in the UK to get Qualified Teacher Status in the UK and found Engage Education. I had an Overseas Engage Education consultant who put me in touch with their UK office. I was offered the choice to attend their iday (interview) event in London but unfortunately I was unable to attend. I was given the opportunity to interview with multiple schools over the phone and eventually I accepted a job in an outstanding school in Slough

From the beginning to the end of my contract the Engage Education team was in contact with me. They made sure to find me schools to interview that were suited to me, taking into account my skills and experiences.

I found completing the Assessment Only route to QTS uncomplicated. An initial observation is done from an Independent Assessor, which is the deciding factor on whether you are suitable for it or not. I was accepted and completed the AO in 6 short weeks (though it can take up to 12 weeks).  During the 6 weeks I was observed once a week from my mentor within the school and then once from the Independent Assessor. I also had to put together three different teaching folders on Science, Maths, and Literacy. The folders were all based around students’ work as evidence that I was meeting all the teaching standards. Once I completed the 6 weeks, I was awarded QTS. I then went on to complete my NQT year with the school that Engage had placed me in.

I had the choice to stay with Engage Education or be employed directly by the school. I opted for Engage as I felt that their support was what I needed during my time in the UK. Once I completed the year, I decided I would like another change, so I began to apply for jobs in the UAE and got many interviews with British schools in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. I accepted a job in the British School in Abu Dhabi and in January 2019 I started this new step on my journey.

As I mentioned, I found working with Engage Education great, because they offered me support and encouragement at all stages of my career with them!

Ciara W

PGCEi University of Sunderland, graduated 2013

When I left University in 2008, things weren’t looking good on the job front in Ireland, the crash was just happening and Ireland was in a recession. So, I decided to look further afield and found a teaching job in Abu Dhabi. My degree is in Event Management, but I figured I could teach for a couple of years, travel while I was there and see what happened.

Well, it turned out that I actually really liked teaching! I tried my hand in an event management company in the UAE but discovered it wasn’t for me. It was then that I decided to do my PGCEi through the University of Sunderland. While I was in the UAE I managed to secure my QTS through the Assessment Only route, so all that was left was for me to get complete my NQT.  Having been in Abu Dhabi for 9 years by this point, I decided it was time to come back to Ireland and get registered there.

When I went to the Teaching Council in Ireland, I was told that I had to complete my NQT in the country where I graduated. Devastated, I felt I was back to square one, and had to go to the UK to finish everything off. This is when I found Rachel at Engage. Rachel went through the whole process of helping me find a job from start to finish. Within two weeks, I was in London for my iday week.

It’s now two years on, and I am still working at the same school in Cambridge. I completed my NQT in 12 weeks as I was already an experienced teacher. I started teaching Year 4 and then moved into Year 6. I am now the English Lead across the school, responsible for teaching and learning from EYFS to Year 6. I am also completing my NPQSL, which my school has funded, with the view of being part of the Senior Leadership Team in the near future. 

I never thought two years ago when I moved home that I would end up teaching in the UK, but it is definitely a decision I’m very happy I made.  I’m registered with the Teaching Council in Ireland, but the lack of job security and progression within teaching there has cemented my decision to stay in the UK for at least a while.  

I would recommend Engage Education to any teachers looking for full time, long term and permanent jobs! 

iday is our intensive week-long interview experience. We fly teachers to London, for free, to take part, and the vast majority of attendees find a UK teaching job within the week.

You can find out more about getting a PGCEi and QTS here.

If you are an Overseas Trained teacher and would like to view some of our current vacancies here.

Return to teaching in Europe

When you register with Engage, we’ll work with you to ensure your teaching route to the UK gives you all the necessary experience and qualifications to meet your goals and ambitions – wherever they take you next!

To receive more information on our services, you can subscribe to receive updates from The Reading Corner.

Recommended for you

Sign up to the Engage newsletter for education insights.
United Arabic EmiratesEnglishUSAIrelandCanadaAustraliaSouth Africa