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Case Study: James

Personal details
Degree:Maths Profile picture
School(s): School of Mathematics and Statistics
Year of Graduation:Jul-2009
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: n/a
Job title: Primary School PGCE student (maths specialist)
Occupational Sector: Teaching
What has been your route to getting your current position?

In my final year I applied to do a Primary PGCE, and after a couple of interviews I am now down at Exeter University, learning how to teach. As I had wanted to do a PGCE for a number of years, getting my degree was the first step.

What does your job involve ?

Lots of thinking! You need to be able to understand something to the point that you can break it down simply in any number of ways a child might understand. Also, you need to be resilient to the paperwork and planning that is increasingly important. Teachers need to be flexible in order to do their job and to deal with the ever changing theories and strategies imposed on them! A couple of years after I graduate, the National Curriculum is going to change again. Above all, you need to love kids, and really care about their growing up in every way.

What are the best bits of your job ?

The other day I helped a Year 5 understand division for the first time. Somehow he had got through to that point never knowing what to do when he met the line with two dots. Having a mini breakthrough with him was brilliant! Also, working with kids in an exciting, colourful environment alongside other teachers is great fun and rewarding hard work.

Why were you successful?
I prayed! Alongside that, I've been getting lots of experience helping at schools and camps for a good few years. I didn't give up when applying got tough, either.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Most children under the age of 11 need to know what I know about maths and statistics, but going to university in itself has given me plenty of opportunity to talk to a lot of good teachers, and people interested in how people learn. Having worked with maths so extensively takes a lot of the fear many teachers have away though. Saying that, I wish I could grammar better.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
My biggest piece of advice (do as I say, not as I do) is to apply early, and use spare time during the summer to get experience. Also, talk to teachers, and learn about the National Curriculum (don't read it, more learn about the idea behind it) and where it comes into education. If you want to study in England, make sure that you have experience there, and that you know what the situation is in schools there.

Don't get discouraged if you don't get accepted into a course straight away. Lots of other great people apply! I was rejected on interview at two other places before being accepted into Exeter, and I count myself very lucky to be there! The PGCE course is very tough work, and is very academic as well as vocational. Regardless, there is a great deal of support, and it is all worth it in the end. There are a wide variety of courses in a wide variety of places. Socialising is great, as there are many like-minded, friendly people in the same boat as you on the course.