PGDE Primary EducationAkansha Sharma, India

Tell us a little bit about your background...
I hail from the northern city of India called New Delhi which is also the capital of the nation. I was born and bred in New Delhi. Over my elementary years at school which was in the English influenced community, I was raised with the ideology that with diversity and cross-cultural understanding we could overcome and bring harmony in the future world. After finishing up from high school, I joined the university to pursue Bachelors in English as my appetite for reading and learning in the world of literature wasn’t enough to get me through till the end. Literature is like an ocean, the more you dive into it, the more you will be enlightened with knowledge. So, I recollected my passion for literature and went ahead for Masters in English. After successful completion of my Masters degree, I wanted to get into teaching with a slight confusion of opting for primary or secondary level. However, after a few voluntary experiences at different schools, I was able to make my mind up and decided to pursue PGDE in primary.

What inspired you to study your subject?
My biggest inspiration have been children. I really like being with children and enhancing their knowledge and personalities, significantly bringing change in their lives and providing them with new opportunities. I also enjoy working with children and young people. Also, I had an aunt who was the principal of a school and I used to listen to her everyday experiences at school with children which was very much fascinating. She emphasised on how children would connect with her and shared their feelings and thoughts with her.

Why did you choose to continue studying for your PGDE at the University of Strathclyde?
University of Strathclyde was my first choice as it’s one of the best in the world and it was a dream to graduate from a global top university. It offers world class education and as you are taught by renowned teachers in fantastic facilities and this explains its international reputation. For my quest to find the best PGDE program with a value for money factor, I was impressed at finding universities in Scotland with renowned educational heritage to be fitting within my budget, and their popularity overseas. Other than the quality of education, I believe that a hospitable and an interactive environment is necessary in my field to fully experience what is learnt. The overall environment, natural beauty and pleasant weather also adds to the reasons why I choose University of Strathclyde.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde so far?
The highlight of my PGDE was being able to build relationships with my placement classes and it’s such a satisfying moment when you’re teaching them something and that lightbulb moment happens and they just get it and they do something they couldn’t do yesterday. And that feeling as a teacher is so rewarding.

How have you found studying online, in the current situation?
Scottish people are extremely friendly and helpful. I had received immense support from my teachers and peers throughout my journey. My classes were taught online throughout the term but that never stopped me for learning about my passion for teaching. I had really interactive zoom sessions, a bit of fun and guiding sessions. From guiding how to make lesson plans, to maintaining professional practice file to behaviour management strategies, I learnt a lot about a teachers journey.

What specialist knowledge and professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?
The place where I come from has a completely different teaching environment and when I came to Scotland, I learnt a lot about how to make professional lesson plans, maintaining the professional practical file, observations and different pedagogical theories that helped me complete my different placements in the best possible manner.

What would be your advice for people considering taking this course?
I would highly recommend this course to anyone who has a passion for teaching and love being with children, although one has to face a lot of challenges while being on the course but that’s what leads one to achieve great success.

What have been the main challenges studying at postgraduate level?
My main challenges so far have been managing time and staying organised. As this is more of a practical course, strong time management is one of the most important aspects of the PGDE. To ensure the quality of your work doesn’t suffer, it’s necessary to plan ahead of your timetables and lesson plans carefully for each placement.

How has your scholarship supported your studies?
This scholarship enabled me to pursue my teaching dreams as it greatly reduced the financial burden on my family, provided me peace of mind and helped me to continue my educational aspirations, especially in these difficult times of pandemic.

What do you think of the support available?
I really enjoyed my experience studying at University of Strathclyde. I’ve been really lucky to learn from some fantastic tutors who have a vast range of experience in primary education and also in research.  Teachers have provided immense support for all of us. Even though everything was online, it didn’t stop the teachers to provide help in a great manner. All international students were provided with a support team and platform named international café where you can join various online events and remain updated with the latest happenings at the university. I had an amazing online orientation week when my university commenced. It was completely guided and all the support services were introduced like health and well-being, students union support services, etc. 

What are your ambitions for the future?
I see myself as a lovely and accessible primary school teacher who can easily interact with children. A responsible and imaginative teacher who motivates children at the same time to be innovative, creative and principled. I want to be a teacher with whom children feel loved and safe in their environment. I want to make learning enjoyable and engaging for them, so they'd love to come to school every day.

Watch Akansha's video profile here >