Over 40 teachers who learned their craft in the heart of the East End of London have returned to the campus to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
East India Dock Road in Tower Hamlets is home to the University of Cumbria’s London campus and the main base for a range of teacher training courses.
There are currently 300 students studying at the university who spend time on placement in the borough and neighbouring Newham before finding jobs, often in the same schools.
“We’re very much embedded in the community and proud to be able to say that three quarters of schools in Tower Hamlets now employ a University of Cumbria graduate – in Newham 70% of schools also have a former student now working there too,” principal lecturer Don Hall explained.
While the University of Cumbria is ten years old this year, links to the area go back even further and date from the time when the former St Martin’s College provided training courses in east London.
Zainab Wadiwala is a former student who now teaches at the Lansbury Lawrence Primary School. Originally from Bolton where she was working in a clothes shop, a PGCE course led to her joining the school two years ago. Following a successful placement she was taken on full time.
“It’s been fun getting to see the different levels of teaching – from nursery to year 6,” Zainab said. “There’s a lot of problem solving, you’re on your toes all day, making quick decisions – it’s a lot more rewarding than folding clothes!”
Looking to the future she says she enjoys working with younger children and wants to continue studying to gain dance qualifications.
The gathering held on Thursday 29 July is the first reunion of former students but it’s hoped more regular events will take place.
“It’s just a great opportunity for people to come together and celebrate their success stories,” principal lecturer Farhat Ibrahim said. “Watching that journey from starting to the end point you can see the development and growth of the student – it’s wonderful to see. Often we have students that don’t come from a teaching background, or have experience of school or are career changers, they start thinking ‘I can’t do this’ but often it’s a positive experience.”