The PGCE (Early Years) course that is offered by Stranmillis University College is a one-year postgraduate course that recognizes the importance of early years education and the need for professionals who are highly committed to working with young children. Successful completion of the PGCE (Early Years) will lead to 'Eligibility to Teach' status which is granted by the Department of Education (DE).
The course is offered on a full-time basis. It is of approximately thirty-six weeks' duration, beginning in early September and lasting until late June of the following year. At least eighteen weeks are spent obtaining practical teaching experience. The initial placement is spent in a nursery setting towards the end of October, lasting for a period of five weeks. An additional five weeks in January/February is spent in a Foundation Stage classroom (i.e. Year 1 or 2 in a primary school) and a further 5 weeks spent in a Key Stage 1 classroom (i.e. Year 3 or 4 of a primary school) in April/May. Students will then get the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in an additional educational setting of their choice in a Northern Ireland and a small number of students will be selected to complete their final placement in a European context e.g. Norway at the beginning of June. Students will spend most Mondays in schools for observation purposes.
During the eighteen weeks on campus, students will experience a variety of teaching and learning methods such as seminars, work-shops, peer group discussions and debates, presentations and individual consultation opportunities. In addition, students will explore the role of media enhanced learning in education (e.g. podcasting for pedagogical purposes).
There will also be a number of off-site visits, including visits to a Nursery setting, a Foundation Stage classroom and a visit to an outdoor education centre.