PGDE Secondary Education - Modern StudiesSean Smith, UK

Tell us a bit about your background...
Before starting the PGDE, I graduated with a Honours degree in History, Politics & International Relations. I graduated in 2018 and knew I wanted to become a teacher but I wanted to take a year out, work and earn some money. I worked as a personal assistant for adults with learning disabilities and additional support needs before coming back to university to do the Modern Studies PGDE. 

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I remember, which I know is cliche, but it is very much the truth! I have always enjoyed working with young people and have done so in various voluntary and paid capacities over the years. I believe that teaching was the best avenue for me to do this - it is an incredibly rewarding job where you can really change and enrich a young person's life. Even just offering a warm (literally and metaphorically) classroom, a safe space and a classroom where you value and look out for every child who enters it can make all the difference.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
Yes - my modern studies teacher!

Why did you select the University of Strathclyde?
Having done my undergraduate degree at Strathclyde, I knew it had a good reputation for producing well-rounded teachers. Teachers who were philosophically and practically ready to teach and to make a positive difference in schools. I also already knew all the good coffee and lunch spots.

Did you seek any support during the application process?
During the application process, I went along to the careers' service at Strathclyde which I still had access to as a graduate. They offer a CV and application writing workshop which was a big help in terms of fine tuning my application to be of the standard that is required. I went along to the PGDE open days on campus that was a help in terms of understanding the course - its length, content and forms of assessment.

What has been the highlight of your time at Strathclyde so far?
Without a doubt, the friends I have made on the modern studies course. It is a really supportive environment and one where everybody looks out for and looks after each other. It is a brilliant course but it involves a lot of work and it would be so much harder without the support of the people I am lucky and grateful to have met on the course.

Tell us about your experience on placement...
My personal experience on placement was an overwhelmingly positive one. It's a 9-5 all-consuming experience and involves a lot of work both in school and at home. But it was a totally rewarding experience and confirmed my dream of wanting to become a teacher. I have been lucky to have such supportive departments and colleagues whilst on placement who have helped me when needed and given me timely and useful feedback and advice. The highlight is always the pupils though - they will make your day every day.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
If you want to be a teacher, you should definitely come to Strathclyde. You will get a wide variety of classes that will prepare you for placement, expert tuition from a range of tutors and a good balance between class time and placement. You should be prepared though for just how much of your time the course will take up. It really is a full-time course and will demand your time even after hours. I work on weekends but other people on the course have given up work so, if possible, you will either need a job that will accommodate your needs or ensure you are financially secure before starting the PGDE (SAAS is available and there is a hardship fund available too). 

Have you had to overcome any challenges in your time here?
I am lucky in that my time both at university and on placement have been positive and that I have not had to face any financial problems. That could be a challenge for some students though as could placement if you find yourself in a school where the staff and/or department are not as supportive as they could be.

What do you think of the support available?
I have fortunately not had to seek out formal support, but my tutor(s) and other staff have all been supportive when I have required their help.

What are your ambitions for the future?
To be known as a teacher who was fair, reactive, inspiring and who did his best by and for his pupils. And to take my students to a battle of the bands' contest.