Education studies and teaching courses at Brighton news

Chloe wearing a dress covered in hand prints

Training to teach primary at Brighton

Chloe Rebecca has just completed our Primary 5-11 years PGCE.

Prior to graduation Chloe secured a job as a Key Stage 1 primary teacher in an international school – something she was aiming for before starting the PGCE.

We caught up with Chloe to find out more about her time at Brighton on the PGCE and her plans: 

Why did you choose Brighton to train to teach?

After completing my Undergraduate at the University of Brighton, on the course Early Years Education and Care, I knew I wanted to carry on my education journey and complete my PGCE.

I felt at home whilst studying at the university, it felt calm and comfortable and the Starbucks on site is definitely a massive bonus! I was familiar with the layout and many of the super friendly staff and lecturers who work there. I enjoyed the endless facilities available at the university’s library, along with the extensive literature available online- which proved very helpful for me as I had a daily four-hour round trip commute to the campus! 

Due to already being on an Undergraduate course at the university I was offered the opportunity to apply for the PGCE at an earlier rate to those who were not, my interview was calm, friendly, professional and very informative. After leaving the interview call, I was sure I had made the right decision to continue my studies within the university. 

What did you think of Brighton’s specialist facilities for trainee teachers?

Although I wasn’t able to use the resource library as much as I had originally intended to, due to sheer lack of time, there was a calm nurturing feel to it and provided me with endless ideas and opportunities to extend both mine and my students’ learning within a plethora of both core and foundational subjects.

When I first joined the PGCE I had never heard of the online assessment tool known as ‘Pebble Pad’, admittedly it took me a while to wrap my head round it, I could now not imagine my life without it! It provides the perfect opportunity for you to keep track of all your paperwork whilst also allowing your University Tutor to check in and make sure you are on track and working at the level you are required to do so. 

What were your Brighton fellow students like?

Everyone enrolled on my course has been lovely, and clearly wants to see others succeed and achieve their dreams of being a primary school teacher, it has been a lovely environment to learn within. 

What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about training to teach?

If you are thinking of training to teach you need to make sure your whole heart is dedicated to this profession. Everyone and anyone who has either completed the PGCE or knows someone who has will always say “it’ll be the hardest year of your life!” and I never really understood why they said it… until now.

The past nine months have been a whirlwind of emotion. Everyone always talks about how ‘hard’ and ‘tiring’ both the PGCE course and teaching is, very little talk about the sense of pride you hold for yourself the students you teach. Every single day is an opportunity to change someone’s life or enhance it is some way, and that is incredible. Truth be told I still haven’t wrapped my head around how I can feel such immense love and passion to teach the future generation, it truly is an honour.

Was the course at Brighton everything you expected?

This is a really tricky question! I personally believe in every which way possible the course was everything and more than I expected! I have always struggled with the concept of sitting down for long periods of time studying, ironic right?!, But the fact that a large percentage of this course is based on SBT (school-based training) gave me the opportunity to shine through my teaching placements.

I remember being placed in a Year 6 classroom, terrified me! My school mentor/ class teacher at the time said, “try to not get overwhelmed by all your targets, so many of them will come organically” and many of them do! When you are placed into a situation where you have to learn ‘on the job’ so many of the crucial teaching skills are naturally embedded into everything you do on a day-to-day basis. 

What was the highlight of your time at Brighton?

Being given the opportunity to persue a career I had been training for over the last 7 years! I started my journey on training to be within the education sector from the age of 16, starting with a diploma in Early Years Childcare Education and Care, then moving onto my Undergraduate and now finally obtaining my PGCE. 

How prepared did you feel for your first teaching placement?

Although I knew deep down, I was more than prepared, I felt the opposite. Your first day at school as a training teacher is daunting! It is a feeling you will never understand until you do it, although within my education journey I had in fact been a ‘trainee’ many times it is still nerve racking.

You will be anxious over learning all the new procedures, policies and all the students’ names, but when you are placed within the right setting for you, you quickly realize that everything will be okay. 

Can you describe a typical day on placement?

Does a ‘typical day’ in teaching even exist? Before enrolling onto the PGCE I had decided I needed to sort out my organisational skills, although they are still not perfect, they are better!

From my own personal choice, I chose to arrive at my placement schools at roughly 7-7:30am each day (this is not expected of you, I simply chose to). By arriving earlier, it gave me the opportunity to ‘settle into the day’ where I would ensure I had all my resources ready (the ones I remembered!), tidying the classroom from the previous day if required, changing the timetable over to the days teaching, setting up the garden and continuous provision areas, and ensuring the first lessons PowerPoint was set up ready for the first lesson I was teaching. 

Although there is a timetable nothing prepares you for the in-betweens! The laughter and tears, from both the children and you sometimes! Every day is truly different, bringing new opportunities for yourself and your students. Some days behaviour management will come easily and naturally, other days you find yourself researching new techniques on your breaks, it’s tricky and somewhat impossible to always be prepared. 

What support did you get whilst on placement from the uni and the schools?

Before you even start your first day of school you are placed with a University Mentor and a School Mentor, both of mine were lovely! I felt very blessed to have such strong, impowering people leading my success. Both of my mentors were consistent with their support during my placements, listening to me rant, cry and share my successes with me.

You find yourself becoming rather attached to them! My mentors provided me with so much more than just academic support, they helped me navigate my way through a complex thought process of always having to be ‘perfect’ and being sometimes too self-critical. If we don’t expect our students to be perfect and put immense pressure on them, why should we do it to ourselves?

How easy was it for you to find a teaching job and when did you secure it?

Before starting the course, I already knew I wanted to work in the UAE, I had tailored my essays and dissertation (partially) around this. I spent months and months endlessly looking for a job, on multiple different websites.

I applied for a job on the 20 March, this was the only job I had applied for, and received an email inviting me to a video call with a member of staff from the recruitment team.

The next stage would be to travel to London for a face-to-face interview with the CEO of the school. I then began constructing my teaching portfolio, both in physical form and on my Pebble Pad. After what felt like a lifetime of waiting, but in reality, was only six days, I received a congratulating email offering me the job of a KS1 Primary School Teacher in an International English Curriculum Private School.

Why did you choose to teach overseas?

Teaching abroad has always been a passion of mine I wished to have the opportunity to pursue within my career at some point or another, this was sparked by my three-week volunteering stint in Sri Lanka back in 2018. I fell in love with the concept of being able to leave a little part of me and my teaching pedagogy around the world. Dubai in itself has many positives for teachers, especially early career teachers.

How do you feel about the prospect of being responsible for your own class as a qualified teacher?

I am a mixture of extremely excited but also extremely nervous! I simply cannot wait to see the development and growth both myself and my new students will make together as a class. 

Any final thoughts?

Anything is achievable as long as you put your mind to it, and that is a really important ethos to impart on yourself and students too. This course may be ‘the most intense year of your life’ but IT IS manageable, and it is doable, you work for the course, but the course can also work for you when you manage it correctly. 

Find out how you can train to teach at the University of Brighton.

Kerry Burnett • July 5, 2023

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