The Careers Adviser: Can I use my Btec to become a teacher? And my daughter wants to be a speech therapist

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The Independent Online

Q. I am 21 and have recently completed a Btec National in construction (equivalent to two A-levels), in which I was awarded a Pass and a Merit. I am working as an architectural technician but would like to train as a primary teacher. I have good GCSE grades - A in English language and literature, A in French, B in maths, C in science - but I have no other qualifications. What do I need to do?

A. The road to teaching is littered with acronyms. It's a graduate profession and to teach in state-maintained schools in England you either need a degree with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) included (such as a BEd or BA/BSc), which takes three or four years, or a three-year degree, then a one-year postgraduate qualification (PGCE) leading to a QTS. You would have to take one of these routes.

Universities will take into account your Btec qualifications, along with any practical experience in schools, in assessing your application as a mature student. Talk to them individually as requirements vary, and ask if you can be given any credits for the learning you have already done. If it is easier for you to study part-time you can ring the Open University Student Response Service on 0115-962 5475. The question about credits for prior learning also applies here. You might be able to take an OU degree (for primary level the content is less important than at secondary). You could then go on to do your PGCE year elsewhere. Ask around, as flexible and part-time options for this study year are becoming more popular. Your GCSEs will help, as to teach at primary level you need maths and English GCSE (or equivalent) and also - if you were born after 1 September 1979 - science. The Teaching Information Line (0845 600 0991) is another useful source of advice.

Linguistics therapy

Q. My daughter has just earned a BA degree in linguistics with psychology. She is interested in becoming a speech therapist. Can you offer any advice about how she would go about this?

A. As for teachers, so for speech and language therapists there are two routes to professional qualification. Your daughter will need either a three- to four-year undergraduate degree (offered at 16 universities), or a two-year masters (offered at five universities - Reading, Sheffield, Newcastle, University College London and City University London). All speech and language therapy qualifying courses must be approved by the Health Professions Council. There is a lot of competition for postgraduate places. She should start by contacting admissions tutors for the courses she is interested in, as entry requirements can vary. They can then advise on the breadth and depth of work that will be required on their particular programmes. Her degree subjects are appropriate here. Many applicants have related degrees such as linguistics and psychology, others come from a wide variety of backgrounds. She should realise that the key is relevant work experience (voluntary or paid). Some sort of experience is really now expected, but plan ahead to get it as many others are competing for the same opportunity. Contact local speech and language therapy departments through the NHS trust nearest to you. Funding is not a problem - university courses are funded by the NHS, and eligible students are entitled to have tuition fees paid in full, and to apply for a means-tested bursary (see More career advice, and links to qualifying courses, are available on the website of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists at www.rcslt. org. Other useful links are uk and www.nhscareers.

Send your queries to Caroline Haydon at 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax 020-7005 2143; or e-mail to