Amy Vickerman, PGCE Early Years, 2007

Amy VickermanI was first attracted to the University of Birmingham’s PGCE as it was more ‘hands on’ and offered more time in school than other courses I had considered. I liked that the preparatory visits were spread over a longer period of time and that the time back at University between prep days gave us time to reflect, resolve queries, discuss issues and find comfort in the fact that we were all worrying about the same things! I was keen to specialise in early years and therefore the course content and structure was appealing to me; being grouped by our specialism meant that we shared a common interest and the course was tailored appropriately. In addition, I wanted to access a course without moving away from home as the PGCE is only 10 months long however, my local courses were not comparable to the University of Birmingham’s. Fortunately, Birmingham is very accessible and the commute from Leicester was manageable!

The PGCE course was intense, there is no denying that but it was also well supported and well taught by friendly and approachable staff. I enjoyed all of the modules but loved the non-core subject inset days such as History, learnt some fun new skills, and laughed a lot during the PE sessions! The best parts of the course were the placements as we were placed within a variety of schools that would both support and challenge us. The program of work allowed us to develop an appreciation for all the roles of a teacher, while the assignments enabled us to extend our thinking about both teaching and learning.

I am currently working as a full time teacher within a Birmingham nursery school, where I successfully completed my NQT year last September. I have many roles; first and foremost, I am teacher to Green group and have responsibility for their learning, and monitor and assess their progress. I also oversee the records, targets and assessments of another group. I am also a member of the senior management team with the Head and Deputy, and I am involved in writing policies, overseeing staff duties, staff training and observations.

In addition, I am the school ICT and Eco Schools coordinator and have recently taken on the role of PGCE student mentor and Comenius coordinator. Comenius is a European school linking project through which schools are funded by the British Council to complete projects and travel between their European partnerships settings. This opportunity increases children’s global awareness and provides fabulous learning opportunities for the whole school community. I have already been lucky enough to travel to Greece in order to complete the enormous application form with our partner schools and now eagerly await our acceptance. I also run regular ‘Share’ groups that encourage parents to get involved with their children’s learning; tasks are undertaken together at home and then feedback is given to the group in order to inspire each other and spark off new ideas and connections.

With regards to the future, the Comenius Project has only built on the amazing professional development opportunities that I am currently experiencing in my role and therefore, I plan to stay in my school for the foreseeable future. In addition, our school Eco Council will be pushing towards achieving Eco Schools Green Flag status, by continuing to involve children, parents and the local community to build upon last year’s Silver award. My other big project is part of an ‘AcE’ (Accounting Early for lifelong learning) pilot scheme for CREC. The Deputy Head and I will implement a new assessment system that will include parents and child observations to provide a holistic view of children’s learning. We look forward to the challenge and I have the opportunity to submit my research about the process for masters’ accreditation.