Student standing at st james' house

Kayleigh Van Dongen

PGDE Secondary Education - Chemistry


What made you decide to train as a teacher?

I never quite imagined myself to be a teacher, to be honest when I left high school I was quite determined to never come back. But during my previous course, I got involved in giving workshops in forensics and chemistry for STEM, either as outreach or for smart STEM aimed at girls only. During this I found a passion on how I enjoyed explaining my subject, doing experiments with them and explore how a child mind worked. It also reminded me how I used to enjoy tutoring chemistry in high school and was able to help other pupils out with their coursework and get them to achieve great results by giving them a small helping hand. As a result of this experience, I decided I wanted to become a teacher and be able to educate children in the subject I loved so much.

Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?

I had quite a few friends here who I got to know during my time at my previous university, I mainly met them at NUS and had socials with them outside of it, and was familiar with the union in Strathclyde so I knew I wouldn’t be alone if I would come to study here. Next to it I heard great stories of the university itself, and experiences from friends who done their PGDE at Strathclyde before me and would recommend it. Because of having friends here, having the mature student association and the recommendations by others, Strathclyde was my obvious choice.

What advice would you give to a prospective student coming to study your course?

Coming from a science back ground, this is course was daunting and scary. The first few weeks might seem very challenging, but it all makes sense after the first placement, it is a great mixture of knowledge being taught, and being able to go to your placement and experience it. Just take it one step at the time, and everything will just fall into place.

 What’s the best thing about studying PGDE at Strathclyde?

Most of the courses are so mixed with different subjects, and especially after your first placement you appreciate being able to talk to other subject areas about your experiences. Also, I never felt so much part of a group, and being able to talk to anyone who is on the PGDE course about what you are going through. There is a great sense of belonging and feeling proud to be part of this course.

How is your course helping to prepare you for your future career?

The placements are a great help, it’s good to go out there and get hands on experience. And the rest of the taught course is very complementary to it. It’s good to go to a placement with a bit of the theory and think about what you have learned, differentiation of classes is an example that I would not have thought of prior to the course, and most likely wouldn’t have crossed my mind on placement if I wasn’t told about this beforehand. And the course is broken up in sections, so it’s not just an information overload in the beginning, to than go out and try to do it all at once. It really feels like you are learning as the year progresses, with each time new theories to take with you to placements. 

What are your ambitions for the future and how do you think your time at Strathclyde will help you achieve your goals?

Currently, I just want to finish my course at Strathclyde and go out and become a teacher. There is so much excitement I got already at this stage of the course that I cannot wait to be fully ready to go out and teach my own classes. And with some of the classes on additional support, and being able to do a specialisation module during my time at Strathclyde, I hope it will help me achieve my goals in teaching kids with additional support needs and make education a possibility for everyone.