Emma Hollis

Emma is originally from Australia and, after her first degree, spent two years teaching English in Okinawa, Japan.

She started her PGCE Secondary History this year and discusses her experience so far.

On choosing my PGCE at Manchester

Emma Hollis

I’ve always been academic so I wanted to go through a university-based PGCE, which I felt would help me get used to the education system in Britain and also give me credits if I chose to go onto a master's later.

I chose History because I felt I had the most to learn and the most to give in that subject – history is always relevant, and gives students the critical thinking and analysis skills they’ll need in life.

I’d travelled to England before but had never been to Manchester.

After applying for a few different universities and getting offers in all of them, I eventually chose Manchester.

I felt that, as a big city with an incredible cultural scene, as well as a fantastic university, it had the most to offer - and, aside from the rain, it has been perfect.

What really sold me on Manchester, though, was my interview with the course tutor, Tom.

I felt that this was someone I could learn a lot from, and who had so much passion for the subject, for teaching, and for ensuring that I had the best experience.

He interviewed me while I was in Japan and it was a pleasure to finally meet him in Manchester.

On my PGCE experience so far

Despite the issues caused by COVID-19, I don’t feel I’m missing out on a quality course.

A big highlight that drew me to the course was the work on inclusive curriculum building, particularly what we covered when looking at LGBT+ and BAME histories.

Working with archives was wonderful, and I’ve signed up to work more closely with the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Archive in future.

Again, despite Covid-19, my school placement has been a dream.

I feel very lucky to be here, as both my mentors are great and I’m also supported by the entire staff body – other teachers love coming by to chat and give advice, which gives me a real breadth of experience to draw from.

It’s busy, but in just three weeks I feel I’ve made miles of progress.

On living in Manchester        

I was right about Manchester being the right place for me.

I moved into the Northern Quarter, as I didn’t want to go to university halls, and it’s my favourite place with beautiful buildings, quirky shops, and nice walks in an easy distance - plus, my rent is so much cheaper than my friend’s who lives in London.

Manchester is easy to get around and I’ve had no issues.

I haven’t gotten a chance to travel much due to Covid-19, but I’m impressed with everything I can see.

On my future plans     

I would love to get a job at my placement school.

After years of moving around, this city is a pretty wonderful place to settle.

On my advice to future PGCE students

In the application process, don’t worry too much about your subject knowledge.

I panicked over that for days and in the end, it was my qualities as a teacher that got me my place, not whether I knew when the Battle of Hastings was.

As a trainee and a teacher, I’d recommend pacing yourself - know what needs to be done now, and what you can schedule for later, or you’ll go mad.

Also, focus on your class control first, and the perfection of your lesson plans second.