a centenary
of Learning

  • 30
  • by Daniel Cooper
  • graduated
  • studied PGCE Science
  • from UK

Bristol is brilliant. There’s such a big mix. There is everything you want to do.

My previous job I worked for a company that makes mass spectrometers and I was helping to develop their new technologies. I was finding it really interesting working with the technology of the future. But, I was working very closely with sales people and if I wasn’t doing that then I was in the lab. At the end of the day, I came to the conclusion that I’m just working for a company that makes things and then sells them on and I didn’t feel like I was making much of a difference.

I very nearly went into teaching at the end of my degree and decided to stay in academia to see if I wanted to stay there. Then at the end of my PhD I considered it again but decided for one reason or another to go into industry. It just felt like the right time. This was a small company, that I was working for and one of the things they did was, once or twice a year, they would do a session in a local school and talk about what it was like to be a scientist in the real world. I really enjoyed those sessions because I got to go in and chat to the kids and spend a day in a school. I had also spent some time teaching climbing to kids in various situations and just really enjoy the energy that kids bring.

Bristol is brilliant. There’s such a big mix. There is everything you want to do. I’m a big climber so there is a big climbing community. It’s just a fun city.

My first placement was in a school in Weston-super-Mare: Priory Community School Academy. I just felt really supported. All of my tutors were really good and gave me enough freedom that I required in the classroom but they were always there in case I needed any help. My second placement, which I have just finished, is at Ashton Park which is in Bristol, just down the road: a really proper inner city school. Good mix of kids and I really, really, enjoyed it there. By the end of it I felt quite sad to leave because I felt like part of the department. I feel like the combination of those two placements really set me up to move onto my job.

One of the reasons I chose Bristol as a university to do my PGCE is the fact that there is such a wide range of schools in Bristol. I was hoping that they would send me to two different, very contrasting, schools - which they did do. I wasn’t really sure which type of school I wanted to work in, every school is different, every school has its own feel and ethos. We have been really lucky that we have had experiences in many different schools. So not only in my two placements but we have been to visit a couple of other schools as well, which has been really useful. I have been able to really consider carefully which school is right for me and I think that is really important when you come to looking for jobs towards the end of your course.

It’s such a steep learning curve, the nine months that you spend training to be a teacher, you don’t really have time to think, you’re constantly so busy the whole way, but I feel like I have been really supported throughout the whole year.