Gareth joined the University of Cumbria as part of our PGCE (Non-QTS) Online Programme. He describes how the University of Cumbria helped him develop his existing 20 years of experience as a university lecturer.

What brought you to the University of Cumbria?

I have been a university lecturer for twenty years. I currently teach sociology, and I previously taught Psychology and English as an Additional Language. As an educator, I have always had interests in teaching, learning and current educational issues.  I wanted to build on this with a formal programme of study, the PGCE at the University of Cumbria.

Why did you choose to pursue Higher Education at the University of Cumbria?

I chose the PGCE at the University of Cumbria for very good reasons. Its flexibility is a particular strength. A range of PGCE programmes and learning options are available at the university, I opted for the online route because I am working overseas. I chose the Non-QTS route as I am not seeking a career in school teaching, although the programme is ideal for teachers who already have QTS or are currently obtaining it.

I have benefited from studying alongside students with diverse backgrounds, for example, academics, school teachers, headteachers in primary and secondary schools, and even trainers in the armed forces. We are all working in different countries across the world, enriching the classes with different perspectives and experiences which I have found fascinating.

What has been the most difficult obstacle you’ve overcome in your education journey so far?

I knew before I enrolled on the PGCE that it would not be a walk in the park. My main concern was time. However, the flexibility of the PGCE has enabled me to comfortably fit the high-quality programme into a full-time academic position. Also, staff at the University of Cumbria are already very familiar with the challenges facing student teachers, many of whom complete the programme whilst in full-time positions. They have already designed the programme in a way that addresses many of these concerns. The teaching team at the University of Cumbria are fantastic, and they are always available to answer queries and to offer feedback. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Cumbria.

What was the breakthrough moment for you when things began to fall into place?

A breakthrough moment for me was at the end of the first semester when I had just submitted my first assignment and I was reflecting on the journey so far. As a psychology lecturer, I am familiar with cognitive psychology, but it is only after studying the PGCE that I have been able to fully apply this knowledge to my own teaching practice. The University of Cumbria has enabled me to be the best teacher I can be – I just wish I had done the PGCE earlier! I am very pleased with my decision to enrol on the course. I definitely made the right choice.

The University of Cumbria has enabled me to be the best teacher I can be – I just wish I had done the PGCE earlier! I am very pleased with my decision to enrol on the course. I definitely made the right choice.

What are your top tips for anyone thinking of taking this course?

My advice to anyone considering a PGCE programme at the University of Cumbria is to take advantage of ample opportunities available to find out more. The PGCE staff are very approachable. They are also honest about the suitability of their programmes for each individual student. Although the PGCE programmes at the university are very popular, I have always felt that the students are not a name and not a number at the University of Cumbria. This has really impressed me.

What have you gained whilst studying at the University of Cumbria?

My favourite part of the programme has been developing my reflective writing skills which I will continue to use in the future. Also, the assignments at the University of Cumbria are written in a format that can be adapted for publication; I have already submitted my first assignment for consideration by an academic journal! The PGCE contains 60 credits at Master degree level, so it’s a great stepping stone for anyone who would like to develop their academic skills in preparation for postgraduate study.  

… Any final thoughts?

The learning experience has been excellent. I have studied several distance learning programmes in the past, and the PGCE at the University of Cumbria has been the best. A notable feature of the PGCE is the high level of engagement with students even though it is a distance learning programme. Also, the lecturers at the University of Cumbria really enjoy high-quality teaching, and they do their best to inspire their students to follow in their footsteps. They are outstanding role models for teacher education.  

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