Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Roxanne Stewart

PGCE Primary

Photo of Roxanne Stewart

What subject have you chosen to teach and why?

I chose primary teaching and therefore teach all subjects. I chose primary because I enjoy the subject variety and love working with little ones and the magic they allow you to create and respond to in the classroom. Before retraining as a teacher, I worked at several summer camps and also as a personal tutor, working with children from 4-15, my experience helped me decide between primary and secondary teaching. 

What were your reasons for wanting to become a teacher?

I really value education and genuinely believe it changes lives, my mother in particular and various other family members are living proof. I wanted to be part of that, inspiring and helping to build the next generation. I also love working with children and have a keen interest in travel and felt that whilst enabling me to work with children, incorporate skills I already have, it would also allow me to experience and work in other countries. 

Can you give us an overview of the training?

My training was split between university and teaching placements. Around a third of the course was spent at university, with a variety of tutorials, lectures and seminars and then across the year there were two teaching placements at different schools, in different year groups. There were also a number of training courses throughout the year. In terms of assessment, we regularly received “homework” from seminars, had a booklet of tasks to complete in our placement schools and had to complete 4 formal masters level assignments.

What support did you receive and what did you enjoy most about the training?

I received so much support whilst training and I couldn’t be more grateful. I was allocated mentors at university and at each placement school and they were always on hand to help, from providing assignment support to giving me a pep talk. I honestly don’t think I would’ve been awarded an “outstanding” grade without them. I also relied heavily on support from my peers. Split into four groups, you have the opportunity to become close with so many people in the same position as you and it is a lifesaver. We are still in contact now and share ideas and provide emotional support on a regular basis. Even the administration team were on hand to try and make things as stress free as possible. I really enjoyed the variety of the course and the opportunities it provided, for example there were often guest speakers, training events, workshops etc. 

Did you have any concerns/worries before applying to become a teacher?

I had a number of worries before applying to become a teacher. Mainly because I was a career changer and so I had to give up a lifestyle that I had built in order to retrain. I was also worried that although I was confident I wanted to work with children, that perhaps a school setting may not be the right way forward -would I be able to have a work/life balance and financially? would I be able to complete the course? 

What would you say to someone who’s considering teaching, but has concerns/doubts?

Research, research, research and plan ahead. Volunteer in different types of schools and get as much experience as you can. Speak to teachers and ask lots of questions. 

What do you think of the teaching salaries? Is it competitive to other graduate jobs?

Yes and no. As a graduate, fresh from university, with no professional work history - I think it is a good starting salary. However, I do think that perhaps the starting salary could be higher for those with relevant work experience. 

If you had access to a bursary what are the benefits of obtaining a bursary?

I was lucky enough to be awarded a bursary and it made my life so much easier. Receiving the bursary meant that I could resign from my two part time jobs, allowing me to focus on and dedicate more time to my studies more. 

What is your main tip for managing financially during the training year?

Definitely plan ahead and research the bursaries available to see if you are eligible to apply for them. You could also set a realistic weekly budget and stick to it. I would also suggest making the most of being a student again and get an NUS card.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting into teaching?

My advice would be to get as much experience as you can. The people who struggled the most on the course were those who had done the bare minimum 2 weeks work experience. All schools work differently and so I would advise working at different schools. I volunteered at state schools, a private school, a faith school and I also worked as a Teaching Assistant for a year and as a Private Tutor for 18 months. This meant that I was 100% sure that I wanted to work with children in a school- based setting and had a good idea of what to expect whilst on placement.   

Did you use any of the services provided by ‘Get Into Teaching’ (DfE/NCTL) – if so what did use and how was this helpful?

I found the website quite useful, particularly when I first began to look at training courses. I was able to research and compare the different options available to me. I was also able to use the website to look at funding options. 

Do you think there is easy progression into leadership roles?

I think it really depends on a number of things; the school itself, the size of the school and also the area. I have several friends who are teachers and those in London seem to progress quicker than those up north. 

Any tips for writing your personal statement or whilst at the interview stage?

Be confident and sell yourself, highlight your experience and relevant transferable skills. Show that you have done your research, why do you want to work with children? Why do you want to work in a school setting? Why that particular course? Demonstrate your passion for teaching. 

What’s you main tip with the application process (i.e. start early, speak to schools)?

Start early but also take your time. Research the courses in great detail, and fully consider the different training routes available. Go to the open days or look round the school if you are considering the School Direct route.


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