I am currently in the first year of an Education PhD at Birmingham Uni. I also teach English 2 days a week at a local secondary school, Harborne Academy. I’m not totally sure where I will go next career-wise.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I love learning new things about the world of education and thinking about how changes could be made to make education in this country a fairer experience for everyone. My PhD allows me to meet lots of other people working in my field and given me the opportunity to learn a lot more about how effective social research should be carried out. Continuing to teach keeps me in touch with what is happening in schools in terms of new initiatives, curriculums and government policy. Most importantly, though I still get to work with young people and help them to achieve which is why I went into the job in the first place.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
I had completed my undergraduate degree (BA English) at Birmingham knew that I wanted to stay in the city. I knew that Birmingham offered a really good PGCE course and thought that this would be a really great place to experience lots of different types of schools and work with lots of different and interesting young people. I also applied to Birmingham because I knew that I was interested in the Masters element that they offered within the PGCE - I am so glad about this because completing my Masters is what made me think that I could do a PhD.
What were the best bits about your time here as a student?
During my PGCE I met some brilliant people who I am still friends with today. The course was also excellent with supportive tutors (Sheila Jackson and Kay Fuller) and really interesting teaching practice placements.
How did you grow as a person by coming to University?
It meant that I was able to pursue the career that I had wanted for a long time. Participating in the PGCE boosted my confidence and taught me more about being a reflective teacher, one who was always interested in developing and improving.
What did you think of the learning experience within the University?
It was excellent. We worked closely with our PGCE group and tutors and received excellent support both in and out of school. The course was challenging and sometimes stressful but it was also enjoyable, giving us an insight into what life as a real teacher might be like.
Did you find the degree programme at Birmingham challenging or easy?
One of the toughest things was being able to walk into a classroom of 30 children who had never met you before, and trying to build relationships with them so that you could teach them and help them to learn. Whilst being tough, this is also one of the best bits of the course, as it often felt like they were the teachers-constantly helping me to better and develop my skills.
Did you find the University or your degree helpful to you in getting your first job?
Very helpful. Not only that but the contacts that I got helped me to get my first job. My friends were on a placement at a secondary school and a job came up there. They had already got jobs and so mentioned it to me because they thought the school was great. I went to have a look and was successful in getting a job there. That is where I worked for 4 years, eventually becoming second in department, before deciding to start my PhD.
Any advice would for current students?
I would advise them to really throw themselves in to everything that they do this year as so much of the work they do and the resources they make will be useful in the future. I would also advise them to make the most of every day in schools as that is where you really get to try out new ideas and see what works and what doesn’t.