Having worked for PwC in Audit and as their Head of Wellbeing for over three years, Jonny chose to change career into teaching and is now studying PGCE Secondary Mathematics with Economics.
On choosing my PGCE at Manchester
Manchester had an excellent reputation for the Maths PGCE, and, although I was leaning more towards Economics, being able to study to teach both simultaneously was too good an opportunity to miss out on.
On my placements
I completed the first placement (October 4th – December 15th) at Trafford College, where my teaching was all maths and predominantly GCSE resit classes, with one A-level class also included. While this placement went almost entirely smoothly, there were a number of obstacles, including some of a personal nature, some conflict with staff at the placement, and an illness that took a great deal out of me. Through these obstacles, it was clear that I could reach out to my mentor (which I did), and the support, both in terms of lending a sympathetic ear as well as providing pragmatic advice, was invaluable. As regards general progress through the course and in training as a teacher, some of what the PGCE staff have offered has included incredibly useful technical practice, as well as clear and integral instruction.
I am currently on placement at Great Sankey High School in Northwest Warrington where I feel much more a part of the “school community”. I have an Economics class and two maths classes; I am attached to a class form; I am (it seems) about to take over running afterschool badminton; I have been welcomed into the Maths department, where I have both my subject mentor as well as an “adopted mentor”; I have taken part in staff 5-a-side; and there is a wonderful group of Manchester PGCE trainees with whom I can share thoughts, experiences, or lesson plans, as well as just relax and enjoy being around.
On my highlights so far
It’s practically impossible to isolate a single occasion: there was a lesson recently where the feedback after was “I have no improvement points for you today”; there was a lesson at my last placement at the end of which I received a standing ovation from my pupils (I have a feeling it was a tad tongue-in-cheek, but have decided to take it at face value…); there was the moment I was gifted a box of homemade brownies from a pupil; there was a pupil tracking me down to thank me once she’d got her university place for all the help I gave her on her personal statement; and then there are the little moments like a cheeky comment from a pupil, or a moment of realisation in a pupil’s eyes, or anything else that just brings a smile to your face.
On my extracurricular activities
Currently, I’m helping with (although it seems its transitioning into other staff helping me!) running the afterschool badminton; I’ve dabbled in the school production, although I will be involved more heavily with the school choir once that recommences; and I’m assisting with the Trading Club where students operate an eToro account with fake funds. There are myriad reasons why a trainee might want to get involved in extracurricular activities, but I shall provide you with four: 1) it is an opportunity to get to know more of the staff; 2) it is an opportunity to get to know more of the pupils, and, in doing so, you will immediately have certain pupils in your classes onside; 3) combining 1 and 2, you will be able to integrate into the school community more effectively; and 4) you can do something you enjoy and have fun!
On my plans for the future
I’ve accepted a job working as a Maths Teacher at a comprehensive back down South near Newbury. I plan to spend my two NQT years at that school. After that, I’m not sure yet; there are various potential routes I’d be keen to investigate, but top of the pile currently seems to be working in a boarding school.
On my tips for prospective trainees
Having arrived in Manchester as a “mature student”, I can’t say that my experience will be universally helpful for the typical prospective student; however, for any prospective students who feel confident about the direction of travel their lives are taking, I can assure them that Manchester won’t fall short or disappoint, only impress as expected.
As for making the most of student life, there are so many places worth visiting to grab a beer or a cocktail (including Hatch, Kro Bar, The Whiskey Jar, Double Down Manchester, Northern Quarter in general), places worth going for food (Rudy’s, Dishoom, the rest of the Curry Mile, China Town), and places worth going for sports (Old Trafford, Old Trafford Cricket, The Etihad, The National Speedway Stadium, and all other facilities you might want to play your own sport!).
If you have the “calling”, that inherent drive to be in the classroom, that natural ease with children, that near-on narcissistic need to impart to others what it is you know, you’ll not just make it through the year, you’ll thrive along the way. If you don’t know if you have the “calling”, well, you’ll certainly find out along the way!