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PGCE Alumni Story: All-round competency development that opened a door to my career progressionPGCE校友分享:全方位的能力培养,为我打开职业进阶的大门

PGCE Alumni Story: All-round competency development that opened a door to my career progression

The Postgraduate Certificate in Education, commonly known as the PGCE, is one of the most popular academic qualifications for teaching,also is the most popular way for teachers to enter teaching. With over 1,300 teachers and school leaders studying there in any one year, the School of Education at the University of Buckingham has become one of Britain’s leading providers of teacher training and professional development. In 2020, through partnering with Buckingham International Education School(BISE),  the University started to provide PGCE programmes specifically designed for teachers working in China at international and bilingual schools.

Recently, we had an interview with Mr. Chuck Zhang, Headmaster's Assistant of Tianjin HIKSVS International School, an alumnus of the University of Buckingham's PGCE programme. Let us hear his unique views about this programme, and how taking the PGCE teacher training course has taken his career path to the next level!


Recognised worldwide, designed for China:the PGCE programme for the post-pandemic era

BISE: "Could you please introduce yourself to us, your career so far, and why you chose to study the PGCE course at the University of Buckingham?"

Chuck: "Nice to meet with the BISE  team. It is my pleasure to share my journey so far. My name is Shikun Zhang (Chuck). I am currently working at the Tianjin HIKSVS International School as a headmaster's assistant. This is the fourth year I have worked at an international school. 

First of all, I would like to thank the School of Education of the University of Buckingham for offering such an excellent course for China-based teachers like myself, as well as the school where I work for their academic guidance and support. 

I first learned about the University of Buckingham's PGCE course last year when my school leaders and colleagues introduced this course to me and told me how important and beneficial the PGCE qualification would be for teachers working within an international school environment, and how highly recognised it is worldwide. Also, I believe the online learning approach is the safest and most convenient way to further my studies in the post-epidemic global environment.

I was aware of the unprecedented challenges of taking the course in English as a Chinese teacher who is not a native English speaker. However, luckily, I managed to meet the admission requirements and enrolled in the programme successfully.



The biggest challenge and achievement:the abilities of teaching, English academic writing, and critical thinking

BISE: "What has been the biggest challenge you faced and the biggest achievement you had during this programme ?"

Chuck: "I have just completed the PGCE programme. Looking back on the learning process in this academic year, the biggest challenge for me, which also became my biggest achievement, was tackling the assignment of English academic writing. Although, this was not the first time I had written an academic paper in English, the need to use critical thinking to address the different academic views and perspectives can really be a challenge for new teachers like me without previous experience! 

I did not pass my first written assignment, but fortunately, with the expert guidance of my tutors at the University of Buckingham, Mr Mansfield and Mr. Cook, I was able to resubmit the assignment and pass my subsequent assignments with flying colours. Developing the abilities of English writing and critical thinking has been the most important achievements for me, in addition to improving my teaching skills."


Dual tutorial system and all-rounded development: the most scientific,practical and advanced education concepts 

BISE: "What was your favourite part about the course?"

Chuck: "In this course, I came into contact with the British pedagogy and teaching methods, and many of these valuable learning contents are the most scientific, practical and even advanced educational concepts of today.

For me, the most attractive part of the course was the unparalleled expertise and the excellent mentoring. During the 37 weeks of learning, what I enjoyed the most was my weekly meetings with my school mentor Mr Hurst, when we discussed the weekly academic readings and related subjects. I also learned tremendously from those class evaluations after each lesson observation, which also took place once a week. 

While studying the PGCE, through in-school classroom practice, I was required to continually try to meet the UK Teaching Standards under the guidance of Mr. Mansfield, my university tutor, as well as, set new goals for my next week's learning. In my opinion, this experience has been very different from the Chinese teacher qualification, which only assesses teachers through written tests, interviews and lectures. The PGCE programme at the University of Buckingham focused more on cultivating the bilingual teacher's overall abilities."



Confidence in myself and direction in my career: like opening a door to my life

BISE: "How has your study at the University of Buckingham's PGCE course helped your career, and what is your plan after graduation?"

Chuck: "The University of Buckingham's PGCE program has given me direction and confidence in my work as I continue to work in an international school.

After graduation, I intend to become a full-time bilingual teacher at the school where I currently work. At the same time, I would apply for the Master's of Education (fully online) program at the University of Buckingham. Since obtaining the Buckingham PGCE can actually waive some credits for the enrollment of Master's in Education, I think this has helped to meet my expectations of self-improvement through the master's program, and I am keen to navigate a whole new set of responsibilities and challenges.

Learning this course is like opening a door to my life, giving me the opportunity to maintain lifelong learning in the field of education and adding critical opportunities to my personal career planning."


Professional knowledge and practical experience: a great learning opportunity to break through the status quo

BISE: "Do you have any suggestions for teachers who are still exploring the training opportunities? And who else do you think should participate in this teacher training course?"

Chuck: "I would advise the Chinese teachers who are looking for training opportunities to learn more about the PGCE course at the University of Buckingham when planning their careers, regardless of what subject they are currently teaching. It could be a great opportunity for them to advance their career. I think both college graduates and teachers who are already working at a school should take this course.

If you are bilingual and want to become a bilingual teacher in an international school, this course will provide you with the professional knowledge and practical experience to help you achieve your dream. I would highly recommend PGCE courses to all bilingual teachers, however, the focus and style of these courses vary greatly among universities. With the impact of the pandemic, the PGCE China programme provided jointly by the University of Buckingham and Buckingham International School of Education gives an excellent opportunity for those who are living and working in China and aspire to be bilingual teachers."






BISE: "请介绍一下您自己、您迄今为止的职业生涯,以及您选择学习白金汉大学PGCE课程的原因?"








BISE: "请问在参加PGCE课程过程中,您认为自己遇到的最大挑战和取得的最大的成就是什么?"





BISE: "请问白金汉大学PGCE课程中您最喜欢哪个部分?"

张老师: "在这门课程中我接触到了英国的教育理念与方式,并且这些宝贵的学习内容中很多都是当下最科学、实用甚至是超前的教育理念。





BISE: "您认为课程的学习对您的事业有什么帮助,毕业后有哪些新的规划吗?”







BISE: 对于还在探索培训机会的教师,您有什么建议吗?您认为还有谁应该参加这个课程的培训?



Alumni Story

Alumni Story

  • PGCE Alumni Story: All-round competency development that opened a door to my career progression

    PGCE Alumni Story: All-round competency development that opened a door to my career progressionPGCE校友分享:全方位的能力培养,为我打开职业进阶的大门

    An interview with Mr. Chuck Zhang, Headmaster's Assistant of Tianjin HIKSVS International School, an alumnus of the University of Buckingham's PGCE pr...

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