Case study

PGCE General Primary student — Andrew Esdaile

Andrew Esdaile is studying PGCE General Primary with QTS at the University of Cumbria

Why did you choose this institution and course?

I studied performing arts at Bachelors level, as I originally wanted to be an actor. However, I fell out of love with the idea during my third year of undergraduate study, and instead looked into becoming a primary school teacher.

I applied to Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) programmes at several universities, but chose the University of Cumbria because it was closest to my Liverpool home and offered the greatest opportunities - such as ‘creative week' and a focus on phonics.

As I had limited experience of volunteering in schools, I didn’t feel immediately ready to undertake a PGCE. I therefore deferred my application for one year, and took up a job teaching English and drama at the primary school attached to Hunan University in China.

What does the programme involve?

I've been on three placements in Years 1, 3 and 4 (a mixed-year class), and 6, with my experiences becoming increasingly positive. I’ve had regular contact with the university through my personal and placement tutors; they've been incredibly supportive throughout, offering their advice and guidance whenever I’ve needed it.

Postgraduate study has been a huge step for me, but I've received plenty of advice from my personal tutor - the brilliant Chris Barlow - and the university's learning support services. Both have really helped me to write two 4,000-word essays.

How are you funding postgraduate study?

I’ve been relying mostly on a student loan and a bursary every month, the latter of which I receive thanks to achieving a 2:1 at Bachelors level.

However, I made the costly mistake of renting accommodation in Lancaster when my placements ended up being closer to my Liverpool home. Had I known this in advance, I wouldn’t have used my loan on student accommodation.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I loved every second of my time in China, so I reapplied to the same school – and have been lucky enough to receive an offer for a more senior position there.

Unfortunately, it won’t allow me to begin my newly qualified teacher (NQT) year, but I’ll definitely be looking for future opportunities to complete this either in China or elsewhere.

What advice would you give to those considering the programme?

The PGCE has ensured that this year has been the toughest of my life – but also the most fulfilling. If you work hard you’ll reap the benefits. Also, be sure to invest in lots of colourful stationary, notepads and stickers.