Sophie Zakrzewski

Sophie graduated from BA English Language for Education in 2019. She shares her experience of being a student who lived both at university and at home during her studies.

On choosing an Education degree

Sophie Zakrzewski

At the time of coming to university, I knew I wanted to become a teacher. However, I was unsure as to whether it was primary or secondary school teaching that I wanted to do.

I then came across ELE, which was a course which seemed the best way to complete a degree which informed my education and teaching knowledge, satisfying my interest into the subject area whilst not yet having to decide whether it’s the primary or secondary route I would like to go down in the future.

On choosing The University of Manchester

My family home is only an hour away from Manchester so I knew Manchester well. Not only did I love Manchester but it’s only a short train journey back home. This was important for me; I wanted to venture away from home but know I could be back in a short time if I wanted/needed to be.

In terms of the University itself, I knew about its reputation, and just from looking around on the open day I knew it had the sort of atmosphere I was looking for.

On my course

The highlight, for me, has been getting to know everybody on my course.

There are only about 30 of us on the entire course. Everybody has the same interests so the lectures have been great and full of group discussions and debate.

One of my optional modules (UCIL Leadership of Learning) involved a placement which was in a school and contributed towards a reflective piece for assignment.

Another placement I completed was part of my course; it was the research-based placement in year two for our research projects. This was in a high school and I carried out interviews in order to investigate and explore the career aspirations of secondary school pupils.

This was a good experience to generate data for my research project, but also to gain insight into how things work in secondary school and make contacts.

On the student experience

Academically, you have access to loads of study spaces – for example, the libraries, computer clusters and small cafés – so it’s definitely great in that sense. 

Socially, you’re obviously in the city, so the number of things available is sure to meet the interests of most people. My own interests include dining and drinking out, shopping, and going to the theatre, whilst my housemates in second year enjoyed climbing and cycling; none of us was stuck for options or choice at any point.

Shortly after moving into halls in first year, I realised living away from home was not for me. Whilst I can imagine it may be the best year for many, for me I should have trusted my instinct of commuting. I met a good group of friends and decided to live with them in second year, but moved home after one semester.

Since then, both my academic and social experience at University has been great. There are so many opportunities both academically and socially, even when living at home.

On training to teach

I’m going to be starting my training as a primary school teacher. My course has helped my unmeasurable amounts – my general education knowledge has been broadened massively.

During my studies, I volunteered on the Reading Mentors Scheme – a programme organised by a team within the students union that sent out students to local underachieving primary schools to assist pupils with their reading skills.

I did this for a year and was paired with five pupils. This was great for the children as they enjoyed reading with somebody new. It was also great that I, an aspiring teacher, could gain such useful experience.