BSc (Hons) Clinical Sciences (2016) Trainee Secondary Science Teacher (School Direct PGCE) at Trinity Teaching School Alliance, Halifax
Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city, and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?
I applied to study BSc (Hons) Clinical Sciences as an alternative course to medical school. I am from the city itself and the locality of the university was really beneficial. I saved a lot of money and maintained my family support network being able to live at home, whilst still being able to enjoy the student experience.
I was so impressed with the calibre of the university and the research that goes on here, as well as the facilities that were available to me during my studies. Having not attended any “Open Days”, I didn’t really know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised! I have made amazing friends during my time at university, and travelled the world with them during my summer holidays.
Working on campus has also allowed me to network with other departments and faculties, as well as support my studies through part time work. My fondest memories during my time at University of Bradford have definitely been (in order of third to first): Varsity 2014, “Party on the Amp” or POTA (all of them!), and “Braduation”.
Why did you choose that particular course? What did you like and enjoy most about your course?
The clinical nature of the course really appealed to me. I have always loved studying science and was initially interested in the idea of medical school. Changing my career prospects during my first year of study didn’t really impact my love for the course as the modules appealed to my scientific nature and have allowed me to have a greater appreciation of the human body and the wider community. The opportunity to engage in full body human dissection was also an exciting prospect at the time of application, and was something I really enjoyed during my studies – an experience that few people are able to have during their lifetime.
The most enjoyable aspect of my course was the opportunity to complete my own research project (dissertation) during third year; I flourished in the opportunity of independent study and research and did incredibly well. I am excited to say that my dissertation is currently being considered for publication.
What tips would you give to prospective students about the course at University of Bradford and the university itself?
I would advise students to explore the city, the friendly nature of Team Bradford and the plethora of opportunities within the city centre as well as its surrounding areas provide the ideal opportunity to create memories and make friends that will last a life time. I particularly recommend the northern quarter in the city centre, visiting Ilkley (a short train ride away) and trying a famous Bradford curry.
In terms of academia the best way to reach your potential is to be organised and to network; plan your time, organise your materials and know what is expected of you. There are so many support networks within the university from the library staff and resources, to Career Development Services and your faculty staff as well as the massive network of students who are either experiencing the same as you or who have been through it themselves.
How did Career Development Services support you during your time at University?
Career Development Services helped me to find part time work on campus; I have worked in the University retail outlets as a casual staff member and then progressing to a Team Leader, and as a Student Ambassador for the majority of my time at university. Career Development Services not only made me aware of these opportunities, but also provided me with helpful interview tips and CV help.
In addition to this, they helped me to understand my career options (as part of the Personal, Career and Professional Development Module within our course) as well as develop an understanding of what I needed to do to reach my goals. Along every step of the way, I was provided with support; organising work experience, gaining insight into the teaching world through the mentoring scheme, and finally assisting me with my UCAS application.
Tell us about your current job (brief responsibilities of what you will be doing).
I start a 'School Direct PGCE' on 1st September 2016. The course involves university teaching twice a week regarding subject knowledge, curriculum enhancement and training to the Department for Education standards. The other three days of the week, I am in a local school observing, planning and teaching with my contact time gradually increasing to an 80% timetable by May 2017. My role is as a Science Trainee with specialism in Biology; I have also been given the opportunity to co-tutor a year 10 form which is something I am also excited about as it is an opportunity for me to develop pastoral skills as part of my professional training.
During the next academic year, I will be working within two very different secondary schools, as well as doing a week placement in a specialist school and an additional week within a primary school. Assessment consists of coursework based skills evidence, as well as a large scale report on my subject within the curriculum with 90 of my credits at masters level; this will allow me to further my studies after achieving my QTS and PGCE (graduation summer 2017) as I will continue to work towards a Master’s in Education.
What action did you take to improve your employability whilst at University?
I worked part time on campus in the retail outlets and as a Student Ambassador, as well as volunteering with Girl Guide UK and completing school based work experience to gain good employability skills such as communication, time management and organisational skills.
I also attended workshops regarding the PGCE application process and was part of the Mentoring Scheme run by Career Development Services – all of which allowed me to create a strong application for both UCAS and TeachFirst. Following a successful interview for TeachFirst, I consulted with Careers Advisers and decided that I wanted to work more locally and have a broader focus on teaching as a career; I thus declined the role and continued with my UCAS application.
What advice would you give to current students wishing to enter this type of career?
Explore your options – I completed work experience in a primary school first as this is the sector I thought I wanted to enter but really didn’t enjoy it. However, after observing in a secondary school, I realised that I still wanted to teach but I just wanted to work with the older pupils. There are also options to train as a post-16 teacher at some institutions. Know what you want and explore that field to make sure. The more work experience the better, as this will help you to feel more comfortable when you first arrive in school.
Be prepared – the UCAS application opens in October (normally) which is right in the middle of the first semester. Ideally you don’t want the application to affect your studies and take up too much of your time. I would suggest beginning your personal statement and collating your work experience at the end of second year so that you are prepared when the application goes live.
Places are on a first-come-first-serve basis! If you haven’t managed to do so don’t worry, there is loads of support available – UCAS, “Get in to Teaching” by the Department for Education, and Career Development Services. The universities and teaching alliances (school direct courses and SCITT) also have “Open Days” and are happy to help if you drop them an email so that you have an idea of where you want to apply (all subjects may not be available for all institutions and this won’t be available until the UCAS application opens, unless you make and enquiry to the provider.) There is also loads of information online as to what routes are available to you as it can get very complicated!