BSc Mathematics with TeachingEilidh Cuthbertson, UK

Tell us a little bit about your background...
Hi my name is Eilidh and I am from Kilmarnock. I was a pupil at Mount Carmel Primary School and St Joseph’s Academy. Throughout school I have always known I wanted to work with children but I was never 100% sure which profession. When applying to university I was in two minds about Primary teaching or Secondary Maths teaching and I left school and went to UWS to study Primary teaching. However about half way through the year I realised that it wasn’t for me. After completing my first year at UWS I decided to transfer to the University of Strathclyde and join the BSc Hons Mathematics with Teaching course and went straight into second year.

What made you pursue a career in teaching?
I wanted to become a teacher to try and make a difference in young people’s lives and to hopefully inspire the same passion and interest in my subject that I have. I have always loved doing maths and solving problems and wanted to help others. I have helped coach Figure Skating for several years and also tutored Maths since I left school. Having had both of these experiences, in completely different environments, I have loved working in such rewarding environments and I knew I was going to love being a teacher.

Did you have a favourite teacher at school?
When I was at school I was very lucky to have a lot of great teachers who offered me a lot of support and advice. There was one teacher in particular that really inspired me and that was my Maths teacher. She was my teacher from 1st year to 5th year and I felt like I could ask her anything. Learning was made so enjoyable in the class and I decided to take Maths all the way to Advanced Higher level. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for this teacher.

What appealed to you about the BSc Mathematics with Teaching degree?
The University of Strathclyde was constantly mentioned when I was at school and the social idea of going to a university in the city of Glasgow really appealed to me. The idea of a four year course where I could graduate with two degrees really caught my eye when applying to Strathclyde. I knew I would love studying Maths at university level but also having the teaching experience alongside it was a great idea. I enjoyed having placements in both 3rd and 4th year of the course as I got to see myself improve over the year and also got to meet new people when working in two different schools.

Did you have a particular highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
Looking back at my time at Strathclyde, there are several highlights for me. Meeting new people and making so many memories was definitely a big one for me. I made friends for life and memories that I will remember forever! The day I found out that I was graduating with a first class degree was also a huge highlight of mine. Although, due to Covid-19 we never got to celebrate with a graduation which we were all so gutted about.

Tell us a little bit about your experience on placement...
I undertook two placements, my first at a school in Ayr and my second at a school in Kilmarnock. In my first placement I was still 19 and I did find it very difficult at times. Sometimes I felt that teachers and pupils didn’t respect me as much as others just because I was young and this was tough at times – so tough there was a point I nearly gave up! However, I loved my second placement and felt like I learned a lot. The teachers I worked with were so helpful and supportive and I was just so gutted when my placement was cut short due to Covid-19. Throughout both placements I feel like I have matured and developed as a teacher and I’m taking on all the advice I was given. I am now on my probation year at Robert Burns Academy in Cumnock and I’m loving it. I am working with great people and learning and improving every day. If there is any advice I can give whoever is reading this it would be to please never give up no matter how hard things get!

What advice would you give to someone considering applying to this course?
It won’t surprise you that there will be some challenges along the way, but just make the most of every moment and never give up! The level of maths is challenging but if you use the lecturers and the maths skills centre for help you will feel a lot better. Remember you are always learning and improving and use the Placement experience to really get yourself out there and make sure teaching is for you. Always remember you are always supported and never alone. Meet new people, make new memories and just enjoy your time at Strathclyde!

What were the main challenges you experienced whilst studying this programme?
Going straight into second year was a big challenge for me as I was scared that everyone would already have their own friend group and I would struggle to meet new people. However, this was not the case at all! Everyone was so nice and I definitely made friends for life. There was also one maths class in particular that myself and my peers struggled with, however with the help of our lecturers and the maths skills centre we managed to gain more confidence in the class and here we are today in our probation year.

What are your ambitions for the future?
Hopefully I will be able to gain a full time teaching post at the end of my probation year! I hope to work as a classroom teacher for a good few years and develop my teaching skills within my subject. However, further down the line I would quite like to work a bit in pastoral care alongside teaching my subject.