Deepening her teaching knowledge and understanding by completing a University of Cumbria distance learning course has helped an award-winning student secure a role at one of the country’s most prestigious independent schools.
Amy Bishop, who completed her PGCE (non QTS) qualification with the University of Cumbria, is working at King Edward’s School, Birmingham.
Geography teacher Amy, 24, was the recipient of the university’s Institute of Education ‘Highest Academic Achievement’ prize at her graduation. It was awarded in recognition of her consistently high gradings and impressive work.
Amy, who read geography at Oxford as an undergraduate, has been among the first cohort of successful students to complete the University of Cumbria one-year PGCE (non QTS) course.
She worked at the Eden Boys’ School in Birmingham, a free school which opened in 2015, helping to shape its geography department before choosing to start the online PGCE in autumn 2017.
Amy moved to join Birmingham’s independent King Edward’s School at the start of this academic year. It has a history stretching back to 1552.
Many of those who completed the online PGCE, including Amy, juggled studies with full-time posts.
Amy, from Harrold near Bedford, Bedfordshire, said: “I wanted to stay in my school, Eden Boys, while I did the course. I’d helped build up the geography department and I wanted to remain there to help it become embedded while doing a PGCE and Cumbria provided the answer.
“I’m an independent learner and I was able to continue to develop independently. This course had a good element of flexibility and tutors were very understanding if something came up and you needed to change arrangements.
“It meant I felt the course was student-led, allowing me more creativity. There were challenges, like the logistics of aligning with fellow students online, yet it was an environment where you had good support. Tutors were always on the end of an email. It also gave me access to expertise from around the country.”
Course programme leader Ruth Hurst said: “This online course was set up to help meet the changing demands of teacher training. We worked closely with two partners during the first year. This year our international cohort includes recruits from Australia, Romania and China to someone who teaches people how to canoe in the Lake District.”
The one-year course is delivered through a series of webinars, videos and other digital tools. Each student receives support from a personal tutor, in a similar way to those based on campus.
Students who complete the course also gain 60 masters level credits.
Those who also celebrated their PGCE qualification during graduations in November included Maarya Ahmed and Abi Shaw, who produced publications from their research.
The University of Cumbria has been helping to train teachers for over 100 years, beginning with its founding institutions, St Martin’s College in Lancaster and Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside.