Case study

PGCE student — Sophie Dottie

Following a BA in Drama and MA in English, Sophie completed her third qualification at Edge Hill University by undertaking a PGCE in Primary Education

What inspired you to complete a PGCE?

Having studied an undergraduate degree in drama and a Masters in English, I felt the best way for me to apply and share my subject knowledge was to teach. I had developed a long relationship with Edge Hill and loved it there, so combined with the knowledge that the university has a great reputation for training teachers made it an easy choice for me.

How different was PGCE study compared to your Bachelors or Masters?

I was already familiar with the campus and the support systems in place, so this really helped the transition and actually made it much easier to get started.

In my experience, postgraduate life has a much higher expectation for self-directed study, so time management comes into play a lot more.

I've built on those skills throughout my undergraduate and MA studies, so that helped a lot with managing how jam-packed the PGCE course was.

How did you find the application process?

It was really straightforward. I applied through the UCAS teacher training applicant portal, which is well signposted from the UCAS website. You can easily contact someone for help or read through the FAQs when applying, which helped answer any questions I had.

The application process involved writing a personal statement, so I wrote about my education and life experience as well as my passion for teaching primary education. I used my personal statement as a basis to form talking points for my PGCE interview too, so this was really useful.

I funded my course through Student Finance, which I also found to be an easy process to complete.

Tell us a bit about the course and what it involves.

My PGCE course involves theory-based learning, covering topics such as how children learn.

I've been given plenty of opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD), and all my theory work is put into context either with real-life examples from my tutors, or when I see it first-hand out on professional practice.

Each student on the course is assigned personal academic tutors, who offer advice and guidance throughout the course. I'm finding this support system to be extremely helpful.

What are your professional practice placements like?

Professional practice placements out in schools are the best opportunity to put my theoretical learning into practice. My tutors at Edge Hill offer lots of support and regular contact throughout my time on placement, so I always feel supported and like I have guidance if needed.

I've met so many inspirational teachers on my placements who've supported me in planning and delivering lessons. Building this support system and learning from experienced colleagues has really helped my confidence grow as a teacher.

What are the top three skills you're developing through your PGCE?

There are so many, but the main ones are:

  • managing classroom behaviour
  • learning when to seek advice from more experienced colleagues
  • how to transfer theory into practice.

These are skills I've been thinking and writing about from day one of the course but putting them into practice out on placement is what has really made them stick.

What are your plans for when you graduate?

Once I finish my PGCE, I'm hoping to secure my first teaching position. I'm also looking forward to making use of the alumni services offered at Edge Hill, such as the careers support and the free CPD sessions the Faculty of Education offer to graduates.

If I could offer any advice to someone considering a PGCE course, I'd say that organisation really is your key to success. I'd also recommend finding out about all the opportunities available at your university and make use of the support services - they're there to help you get the best out of your experience.

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