May 25, 2016, by educationguestblog

Celebrating Teaching – PGCE alumnus

Having graduated from Hull University with a BA Hons in International Management in 2005, I worked in Recruitment for a few years but was always keen to look for a career that would offer me more; ideally a sense of satisfaction and achievement – enter teaching!

I interviewed for the Mathematics PGCE course at The University of Nottingham and received a conditional place on the basis that I complete a Mathematics Enhancement Course (given that my degree was not in Mathematics). One 6 month booster course, and two seasons of working as a ‘group leader’ later, I began my Initial Teacher Training course (ITT).

I am now in my sixth year of teaching Mathematics at a comprehensive school in Hertfordshire and enjoy going to work every day. At the end of my NQT year I accepted the role of ‘Head of House System’, an excellent opportunity to drive forward whole school projects and one which helped me to step into my current role as Head of Year. I have recently been elected as a Teacher Governor and continue to demonstrate a commitment to professional development by attending externally led courses and sharing best practice with fellow teachers. I marked as a GCSE Associate Examiner for Edexcel to further develop my subject knowledge and completed two further modules towards my Masters in Education via The University of Nottingham in my NQT year (the dissertation will be done when the time is right!).

It is undeniable that I have been able to use the PGCE course as the perfect spring board to jump start my career into teaching. The course structure, ethos of being committed to creating ‘well-rounded’ teachers, superb course facilitators, excellent facilities and strong connections with maths educators nationally and internationally all contribute to the PGCE course at Nottingham being a fantastic and well-respected route into teaching.

The emphasis placed on acknowledging and applying academic research theory to a classroom setting, coupled with the practical strategies for behaviour and assessment for learning, prioritising and organising that are taught ensures that the course is both credible and pertinent. The PGCE course, and the course leaders in particular, shaped the way that I teach today – I aim to foster a sense of community within the classroom, encourage collaborative learning and recognise that each learner has individual needs that require a personalised approach. This very much reflects the pedagogy that is adopted by The University of Nottingham.

The course leaders were adept at identifying potential in their students; the course was flexible enough to allow for some students to be developed via a supportive, coaching methodology and others were given the freedom to develop their skills more independently. Passing the course was far from a ‘tick box’ exercise and, instead of spending valuable time on building a portfolio of evidence that suggested we had ‘met the teaching standards’, we were able to focus on actually meeting the standards through our practice whilst being encouraged to become reflective practitioners.

I feel privileged to have studied at The University of Nottingham and can’t praise the course highly enough. Teaching is an exceptionally challenging profession (and increasingly so it seems) and is one which requires teachers to be academic, practical, flexible, confident, creative, intuitive, dedicated – in addition to having excellent communication skills and a genuine desire to want to make a difference (to name but a few). Being in the classroom faced with 30 or more students certainly forces you to ‘roll your sleeves up’ and ‘just get on with it’ and I can understand the theory behind solely school based ITT schemes but what cannot be underestimated, is the power of preparation – the PGCE course is dedicated to exactly that, it is vital that trainee teachers are given the time and space to become the professionals that they are required to be. It is often said that ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’; failing to prepare our future teachers effectively with the right ITT courses will undoubtedly fail our future students.

Gemma Flint
PGCE maths 2009-10


Posted in Celebrating Teaching