From the moment I began my placement at Chorlton High School I felt well supported by both my Professional and Subject Mentors, as well as by colleagues in the department. The first weeks in school as a PGCE student can seem daunting, but I found that knowing there was a clear, well-structured programme in place made the experience much easier.
From the outset, my fellow trainees and I benefitted from regular training sessions in which we could work together to develop a range of teaching strategies. One of the highlights of the course has been the chance to work with fellow trainees, and it was a source of great reassurance to know that we were all going through the same experiences and could meet up to share ideas and support each other. Another highlight has been the opportunity to work alongside experienced teachers by attending and contributing to continuing professional development sessions on a weekly basis.
Once I began teaching, I received detailed and constructive feedback after every lesson. My Subject Mentor ensured that I always knew which areas of my practice I needed to improve and provided me with constant support to enable me to achieve my targets. As a trainee I had weekly mentor meetings to discuss my progress, and I always felt that I could approach colleagues for help and advice. Indeed, it was this team atmosphere which gave me the confidence to take risks and be more creative in my teaching. Another strength of the programme was the chance to take part in extracurricular activities, which in my case was an after school reading club. I would advise all trainees to do the same as it is an invaluable opportunity to interact with pupils outside of the classroom.
My Professional Mentor at Chorlton High School also ensured that I undertook my second placement at a contrasting school, which enabled me to develop areas of my practice which I did not have the opportunity to address during Placement A, such as devising and setting regular homework. As a result, I was able to move into the final phase of my training as a more confident and well-rounded teacher. The enrichment phase of the course is an excellent opportunity to address any outstanding areas of development, and through Chorlton High School I was able to use this time to work with SEN pupils, as well as arranging to visit a sixth form college and observe KS5 students.
Having secured a teaching position for my NQT year, I am looking forward to putting into practice all I have learned during my PGCE and working with my new colleagues to find different ways of challenging and engaging pupils. I am also looking forward to having classes of my own, establishing my own learning environment and seeing my pupils develop throughout the year.
The best advice I can give to trainees is to stay positive! As enjoyable as the PGCE year is, it is not easy, and there will be some challenging times. Therefore it is important to always remember that teaching is one of the most exciting and rewarding careers you could ever embark on. It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to make a difference to a young person’s life and to help them realise their full potential.