We chat to Dean Roberts of Swan Education about the new PGCE (Professional Graduate Certificate of Education) in conjunction with the University of London.
Hi Dean. What can you tell us about the new teacher qualification from the University of London?
It’s a professional teacher development program that started in 2019, and we expect more cohorts of teachers to join the program in 2020. It’s a global course and is already being taken by teachers in some countries.
Is this a postgraduate qualification?
This is a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education; it is not a postgraduate qualification. It comprises 60 credits, and is equivalent to the final year of an honours undergraduate degree. It will help students who may not have had the opportunity to get an honours-level undergraduate degree when completing earlier study, and may also help qualify you for master’s level study.
What is your role, the Swan Education role?
In Thailand and South East Asia, We have the authority to support University of London and the online teaching team. We have a good relationship with the University of London Director of Global Engagement and the Course Leader at UCL. We have been working with the University of London to establish and manage the course since September 2018. Swan Education will help ensure the quality standards and add traction as this new course develops in the region.
But how will you support teachers in their own schools? How does that work?
Our qualified local staff will support teachers in schools as the teachers navigate through the online segment with the UCL team. We help with mentoring, observations and feedback, and we are a consistent point of contact. We provide a Thailand-based service, and we will visit each teacher on the course twice in his/her school during their studies. The University of London is fully supportive of our value-added package.
Is anybody else helping the University of London in Thailand?
No, only Swan Education are working with the University of London. Also, the University of London would like Swan to manage school-based cohorts in Thailand. So if a school has about 5-10 teachers who want to do the course, Swan will come to the school and do the induction in the school at a convenient time.
So how does it work? How do teachers sign up?
Schools who are interested in putting several teachers on the course can contact me directly. Individual teachers will also need to contact me first so that I can do some initial screening as there are entrance requirements. I can also answer any questions and explain the next steps.
What about payment?
There are two payments to be made. £1450 needs to be paid direct to University of London for the online program. Swan’s local support service is a fixed cost of 55,000 Thai Baht. Swan Education is a registered company with the DBD in Bangkok (Department of Business Development). Swan Education has a range of payment options from within Thailand and for overseas bank payments. We can accept payment in the United Kingdom also.
And what about benefits for teachers interested in further study?
Teachers completing this program can put the credits towards an honours-level undergraduate degree; and completion may also help qualify you for master’s level study - including at University of London’s 17 member institutions. Graduates of the program become lifelong members of University of London's vast multinational alumni network.”
When does the course start?
The online segment starts in September when teachers will begin working with UCL: Institute of Education. Inductions with the Swan Education team are planned for the week before in Bangkok. Swan Education will work with Thailand-based teachers prior to the start of the online segment of course, to help with registrations, payment and other preparations.
Who do you think the course most appeals to?
Teachers working in schools who wish to develop their professional knowledge, and skills, to be more up to date as practitioners. This is a generic program which draws upon accepted international standards of pedagogy. It can be tailored to suit a professional context (e.g. Primary, STEM, Humanities, English language teaching) such that the practical work and the new professional learning is rooted in a teacher’s own practice. It is likely to appeal to teachers in Thailand who do not have a formal teaching qualification or have a lower level qualification and they wish to upskill.
Why do you think the program is needed?
There is a gap between those teachers who have a degree (but no formal recognised teaching qualification) and those who have a degree and a full, one-year post-graduate teaching qualification. The Level 6 qualification can fill that gap, work as a stepping stone, while in many cases satisfying all that a teacher might need in his/her circumstances. Swan Education is happy to advise on this.
What got you personally involved in Thai education?
That’s a long time ago and there’s a lot to say! I taught at two international schools in Thailand for a total of 7 years back in the 1990s. I started teaching in Chiang Mai. After that I spent a long period in England, teaching ESL at a college and working for Cambridge University on a wide range of ESL projects. I gained my own PGCE in 2001. I returned to Thailand as Director of Thai EP and IEP schools in 2016 – in Bangkok and Phuket. Since then, I have set up Swan Education with our partner who owns several Thai schools. The other partner is my Thai wife! I have also been a recent consultant to the Ministry of Education on English Language projects. I am Executive Director of Swan Accreditation, registered in the UK, and we have approved status in Thailand from the Ministry of Education. I am engaged in education in Thailand extensively.
What most appealed to you about being part of this course in SE Asia?
The hands-on element. I have worked on teacher development programs for 20 years. I have trained teachers in over 40 countries now. This is a chance for me to apply those skills and that experience to Thailand, and other SE Asian countries. It will be great to visit more Thai schools and support teachers. I know pretty much all of the Thai education landscape, international and local, but to get inside the schools and work with teachers appeals to me most.
Would you describe the course as challenging?
I think it depends on each teacher, and his/her circumstances and career pathway. Swan Education will ensure that a teacher is suitable for success on the course, but sure, we’d like it to be challenging. It’s based on reflective practice so each teacher absolutely needs to challenge himself/herself.
How can teachers find out more about this program in Thailand?
For more information, please check out Swaned.com