I was working in a school in inner city Manchester that was for children with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties, who had been excluded from all their other schools. It was specifically for Key Stage 4 students, so between the ages of 14 and 16, just to get them through their GCSEs. I was a teaching assistant, I was also in charge of running literacy intervention sessions and I organised all the exam access arrangements, so getting students assessed if they needed extra time or a reader or a scribe. It really was that, that inspired me to come and do a PGCE, because before that job I wanted to go into social work. But that changed my mind because I just really enjoyed working with children, teaching them history and being involved in the education side. Also, I think there is a lot you can do from the education side that goes into pastoral care and helping students outside of school as well which really appealed to me.
I really enjoyed my placements. I really enjoyed being in schools and learning how to be a teacher properly, because you have ideas, especially having worked in school about how it’s going to be and it’s good to actually learn how to do it properly. The first school I was placed in was in the centre of Bristol and it was a really big school, really diverse and I really enjoyed that because there was so much variety there and there was a really big team and they were all quite young and forward thinking. It was really good me to start and enter into my career in that environment. The second school I was in was quite a contrast to that. It was in North Somerset, it was a really small school in quite a small place and the department was only two people. But that was really good because it helped me to grow as a teacher and I could contribute quite a lot to the department and they obviously gave me loads of things as well.
You always have to adapt your teaching to the class that you are teaching anyway. It doesn’t necessarily matter where you learnt to do that, you just adapt that lesson and that content to the class that you are teaching. So both schools have given me a wealth of resources and things that I can use.
In terms of pedagogical practise, we have had loads of seminars and really interesting lectures on how to approach the National Curriculum and how best to teach different skills within History to equip students with the kind of skills they will need outside of their academic career. Also, just general classroom activities, ways to engage students, ways to make lessons exciting and interesting. They definitely encourage you to look around and use all the new writing and teaching history articles and journals. There is loads of stuff in the teaching world, like TeachMeet, which I was involved with. TeachMeet was different teachers from different schools in the South West area came to the University and some of them chose to be members of the audience and others gave short presentations on their ideas on teaching different parts of the curriculum or teaching different skills or concepts within the curriculum. Also there was best practise of different activities you could use to engage children. All the ideas that I got and the debates that we had, particularly about Mr Gove’s new curricula, were all really useful. It was really nice to hear what other teachers in different schools and different settings thought about things like that and ideas they had about how to engage students.