"I wanted the ability to look back in 50 years and be proud of my career, its accomplishments and the difference I have made. I know now that I have made the right decision."

 

1. Why did you choose to go into teaching?

Teaching was always something that I thought about going into, although it was more of a niggle in the back of my mind than the innate calling some people speak about. I don’t think that makes me any less dedicated to the profession than anybody else, but I think I needed a few years after completing my undergraduate degree to reflect and evaluate what I wanted out of my career. People had always told me that I would make a great teacher and when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to take the plunge and finally give it a go. I haven’t looked back since.

2. Why did you decide to retrain?

After completing my undergraduate degree, I worked as a civil servant for two of DEFRA’s executive agencies. My role was to complete complex case working and processing in order to support British farmers with their funding applications. I was also a site processing mentor, helping other processors to complete their day-to-day tasks and providing support when necessary.

I enjoyed my time in the Civil Service but quickly understood that it wasn’t going to be my lifelong career. There was little room to grow within the role, there wasn’t an opportunity to be creative and there was no autonomy either. I wanted the ability to look back in 50 years and be proud of my career, its accomplishments and the difference I have made. I wasn’t going to get that sat in a dull office, working 7hrs and 24 minutes a day! I know now that I have made the right decision.

3. As a career changer, how did you manage to balance study, family and work?

Working full-time and contemplating starting my PGCE was a little daunting, especially when I thought of how I would manage financially. But I’ve made it work.

I decided that I wouldn’t work during my PGCE year as I wanted to focus solely on the course. I knew that it was going to be a demanding year and I didn’t want to set myself up to struggle balancing the workload. Reflecting back, I probably could have managed to work part-time as it hasn’t been as demanding as I imagined but I don’t regret my decision to focus on my degree.

4. Why did you choose the University of Cumbria?

I applied and received offers from University of Cumbria, Edge Hill University and a local teaching course. Although when the time came to finalise my decision, University of Cumbria was the obvious choice. Being from West Cumbria, the University was a commutable distance away from home, my stepfather is a Senior Lecturer at the University and I know many people have successfully completed their ITT (Initial Teacher Training) here. I knew that the lecture sizes would be smaller than at Edge Hill and so I wouldn’t just be a number in a large crowd. I also got the feeling that we would be able to create fantastic working relationships with the lecturers and I couldn’t have been more right. 

5. Why did you choose to study on campus above the other routes into teacher training?

I wanted the University experience again! It is a familiar institution even though I didn’t do my undergraduate degree at University of Cumbria. I liked the idea of having that proper instruction and taught provision, in a setting like the University. I also wanted to complete an MEd, to further develop my pedagogical knowledge and I felt that I would benefit most by having my level 7 modules taught in a lecture hall.

 

I couldn’t have felt more supported by the staff at the university and I truly believe that they quickly equipped with me the skills necessary to find my feet in the classroom. I count myself lucky that I have had the opportunity to be taught by them.

6. What did you love the most about your course?

I would say the lecturers are probably the best thing about the PGCE course. They have an abundant wealth of knowledge as they have been teaching practitioners for several years.

My undergraduate degree isn’t anything to do with teaching, nor is it even something found on the National Curriculum and so I didn’t come to the course with very much teaching knowledge. I couldn’t have felt more supported by the staff at the university and I truly believe that they quickly equipped with me the skills necessary to find my feet in the classroom. Their passion and enthusiasm for the profession and for training us ITT students is been pretty inspiring. I count myself lucky that I have had the opportunity to be taught by them.

7. What are the 3 things you wish you knew before you started your placements in a school?

I hadn’t had any classroom experience before starting the course (thanks to the pandemic) but I quickly found my feet in the classroom.

I have surprisingly not really found anything on any placement which I wasn’t expecting already. The first few weeks on the course really prepares you for your first placement. So, I don’t think there was anything that I found to be a shock.

8. What top tips would you give to career changers looking to do the same course as you?

 

  • Don’t stress or panic. We are all on a huge learning journey and the course tries its hardest to equip you with the tools, skills and knowledge necessary to teach. They cram three years of undergraduate learning into a one-year whistle-stop express tour of teaching. Not everything is going to be perfect, every lesson won’t go according to plan. Reflect, learn from it and move on. People say that the PGCE year is incredibly hard work and difficult, but I haven’t found it to be the mammoth challenge that it’s made out to be. Take it easy.
  • Enjoy every second. Each placement will go so quickly, and you will have had the opportunity to influence potentially 100+ students during the year. The time you spend with each class is relatively short so don’t waste a moment of it. It should be fun and enjoyable, so revel in it all while you can.
  • REST! Use the summer before you enrol on the course to wind down. I wouldn’t overthink anything or try to read every book going before you start. Take time for yourself during the course, take a day at the weekend to chill and use the school holidays to recharge too. Don’t burn yourself out as nobody is going to thank you for it.

9. What are your plans after graduation?

I’m wanting to complete the NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) process in a school abroad. I am waiting to hear back from a couple of schools that I have interviewed with and should find out if I have been successful in the next couple of days. My local area is really small and so teaching jobs are few and far in between around here, but I could do with a few years of nice weather. That is the beauty of a PGCE you can teach anywhere, including abroad.

10. What are you looking forward to the most in regards to your new career?

 

I think the first thing I am looking forward to is having my own classroom. I cannot wait until I can put things exactly how I want them rather than teaching in someone else’s room, where nothing is where I would put it myself.

On the back of that, I’m looking forward to my very first class that I can call my own. Seeing them right through from September to July, every good day and bad one, seeing them experience and try new things and learning myself along the way. One of the teachers at my placement school said to me “the second that you think you know everything there is to know about teaching, is the day you should leave and never return. It’s no longer right for you”. I couldn’t agree more. You are learning every day and I am looking forward to becoming the best teacher I can be.

Want to change career and become a teacher?

We've got you. Contact us today by calling 0845 606 1144 or emailing enquirycentre@cumbria.ac.uk.

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Primary Education with QTS: General Primary (5-11) years

PGCE General Primary with QTS will help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective primary school teacher, develop as an independent learner, and nurture the beliefs, values and self-motivation that you will need throughout your career.

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