Ruth Till, ITE Geography, 2011; Teaching Studies, 2013

Ruth Till

BSc Geography, 2010; PGDip Secondary Education (QTS) Geography, 2011; MEd Teaching Studies, 2013 completed both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University, and is Subject Leader of Geography at the University of Birmingham School.

What first attracted you to study at Birmingham?

I have always had a soft spot for the University of Birmingham as my mum is also an alumna and I have grown up hearing stories of her time at the University. I visited the city many times growing up but I first visited the University on an Open Day with my school. It was a glorious sunny day and I remember sitting outside the library on the grass and thinking this was the place for me. 

What were the differences between your time as an undergraduate and postgraduate student?

I completed my PGDipEd (QTS) course straight after completing my undergraduate degree. It was a natural continuation for me as many of my friends were still studying engineering (four-year course) and medicine (five-year course) so there weren’t too many differences for me. I completed my Masters of Education following my NQT year while working in Ross-on-Wye. Although I completed this while working full-time I attended weekend lectures at the University of Birmingham and it was great to return to campus and maintain the link. 

Can you tell us a little about your career progression since graduation?

I taught in a mixed comprehensive school in Ross-on-Wye for four years. During my second year at the school I completed my Master of Education. I was the school’s Uganda Link Co-ordinator and lead school trips to our link school in 2013 and 2015. I was appointed Subject Leader of Geography at the University of Birmingham School and started in this post in September 2015. 

How do you feel your studies have influenced or helped you in your career?

The opportunities that I had during my time at the University of Birmingham helped me to realise that I wanted to be a teacher. For example a careers fair I attended in the Great Hall, lead me to the Student Association Scheme; a national initiative that provided students with an opportunity to gain experience of what a career in teaching would be like. A volunteering fair in the Guild of Students gave me an opportunity to explore another interest of mine - sport. I volunteered to coach cricket at a local primary school. Through connections with this sports charity I had the opportunity to work for Changemakers, where I set-up and ran my own community project; a girls cricket club that ran during the summer holidays. I continue to coach sport, and as part of the enrichment opportunities at the University of Birmingham School I coach cricket and badminton.

I first heard about the University of Birmingham School from Old Joe, the alumni magazine. I monitored the school’s development closely and applied when the opportunity arose. 

How does it feel to be working at the new University School?

I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to be working at the University of Birmingham School and to be one of the teachers to be involved from the beginning. A personal highlight for me was from the school’s first colleague event back in October. The school did their own version of Bud’s run a few days before the University held their 5km race. Each tutor-group ran a half-marathon between them and it was great to see all of the staff and students participating and cheering each other on. The students learned about the event during tutor-time sessions and from alumna Hannah England (British middle-distance runner) who runs the running club at the UOB School.    

How does it feel coming back to campus as an alumna?

I have never really been away! It is wonderful to be working with colleagues from the University of Birmingham and there are so many exciting collaborations already underway.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Birmingham?

That is a really tough question! Without the opportunities I had I wouldn’t be doing what I am today. I have made some lifelong friends during my time at the University of Birmingham and had a brilliant time. I not only appreciate the opportunities that the University provided me, but also the city – for sport, such as spending a sunny (and often not so sunny) day at Edgbaston, and for seeing some of my favourite music artists at different venues across the city. 

What advice would you give to current or prospective University of Birmingham students?

Enjoy it! The time will go by so quickly, so make sure you take advantage of wider opportunities available beyond your academic studies - this also applies to Birmingham as a city.