Victoria Baker

  • Second in Mathematics and Subject Leader of PSHE, King Edward VI Five Ways School
  • BA Archaeology & Ancient History/Mathematics (2009)

What first attracted you to study at Birmingham?

I applied to Birmingham because of the course: I was able to do something which was new and interesting to me, alongside the subject which I knew I wanted to use later in my career. I was also inspired by the atmosphere on the Open Day when I visited all those years ago! Friendly, fun and an opportunity to do more!

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

After graduating, I completed a PGCE and joined my current school as a Newly Qualified Teacher Mathematics teacher. I still teach Mathematics, and have responsibilities for curriculum development. I also lead on Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, coordinating the 'other side' of the education of our students. This involves making sure that they are aware of the choices they will have to make in their life, the opportunities available to them and how to navigate life in an often challenging world!

Although I trained as a Mathematics teacher, my passion lies with pastoral care, and I love that every day I have the opportunity to work with young people and help them to achieve their goals.

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

Obviously studying Mathematics enabled me to go on to become a Maths teacher! But studying a joint honours course taught me that there is more than just one subject and that all things link in some way. The skills I learnt in my arts-based course have enabled me in my teaching to make the subject more relevant and rounded for students.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The best feeling in the world is when you see a student who has been struggling with a concept or having a hard time inside or out of school and you can provide that help. I am able to help and inspire students to follow what they want to do. I always wanted to teach Mathematics. Yet, I completed a degree which included Archaeology and Ancient History too – because I wanted to!

Being able to work with students and get to know them and their passions, and provide opportunities to help them achieve what they want is why I went into teaching. When people ask me what I teach, I respond with 'children' because for me teaching is not just about passing exams, but becoming a well-rounded human being who can appreciate what they have and what they can do.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Birmingham? Any favourite memories of campus?

Going to University took me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to enjoy learning even more.

University of Birmingham is an inspirational place. There were so many opportunities to get involved in different things, and places to explore. My friends and I were always visiting new places around the campus! Although I lived near to Birmingham, I wanted the 'full' student experience and I built up a close group of friends - even 10 years later we still regularly see each other.

The passion which many lecturers had was also inspirational. They showed me that you can be interested in anything! You can research such a huge variety of topics which I never would have dreamed of before I went to University. The reputation of the University is wonderful, and since leaving and teaching nearby I know the outreach and inspirational work that is being done there is fantastic. It is a University for the City, not just for the students.

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

For AAH students I would recommend the more obscure options. I studied 'Weird Archaeology' in my final year and it was the most fun! Being able to pick apart and learn the facts behind the odd nuggets you hear about archaeology.

I loved Birmingham University, and 10 years after graduating I am considering returning to complete a Masters' at the institution!