PGDE Secondary Education - GeographyHayley Leitch, UK

Tell us a bit about your background...
I’m from Islay, an island of the Inner Hebrides. I left there when I was 17 to study Environmental Science at Stirling University. Since then I have been working in the manufacturing industry alongside bringing up my little girl. I then decided to pursue a Professional Graduate Diploma in Education!

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I wanted to help and do something worthwhile. I’m really passionate about geography and think it’s a really relevant subject. Topics such as climate change are always featured on the news.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
For me, it was my technological studies teacher. He was really approachable and make you feel like you could ask any questions without feeling silly. He opened up so many opportunities for us, I remember we went on a course down south to do with technological studies, and learned so much – it wouldn’t have been the same experience without him. That’s why I chose him as a reference when applying for the PGDE course at Strathclyde.

Why did you choose to study PGDE at the University of Strathclyde?
It really is the best place to go for teaching. It has the best reputation for teaching and for PGDE. It is so well known and lots of other students talk about it as being the best.

Did you seek any support during the application process? Please tell us about this.
The website was a great resource for answering any questions I had. The application process was straightforward, I had my own questions for UCAS, but they were resolved pretty quickly.

What was the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
It was of huge benefit to have the mix of classes on campus and time on placement. During my time on placement I developed great relationships with some of the kids and found it so rewarding. I was given a card from a student that said because of me, she now understood geography! Being there to help kids from the moment you start placement is brilliant. When you are on campus there are so many people that you can talk to and ask questions, we are all doing the same modules so can share experience and best practice. I hadn’t studied at university for 10 years, so I thought I would be alone. That is the opposite of the reality as there are always loads of people around to support you.

How has your time at Strathclyde prepared you for placement?
The key thing I have learned is the importance of developing a lesson structure. This helps to allows kids to develop a routine in their learning habits. This is something I wouldn’t necessarily have known to do on my own. I’ve really gained a sense of compassion and understanding for kids that may be struggling at home, which impacts on their ability to learn.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
Be aware that there is a large workload when you are at university and during placement. You will have a lot of additional work to when you’re not in the classroom. Use the theory that you learn on campus in the classroom, take the time to let it sink in. It makes you a better teacher.

What were your main challenges at university/in placement, and how did you overcome them?
Managing my time with my personal life, while having to look after my little girl.

What did you think of the support available during your course?
I have had to email Claire McAlister, one the course leaders, for some support while on placement, she has been so helpful and responsive.

What are your ambitions for the future?
A full-time, permanent teaching position!