PGDE Secondary Education - GeographyVictoria Forbes

Tell us a bit about your background...
My university studies didn’t start in a conventional way, due to some unusual circumstances. I studied a year of primary teaching at the Jordanhill campus and was able to transfer into geography. I did my geography undergraduate degree at The University of Glasgow and then went on to complete a research masters at Glasgow. Two years ago I had a brain haemorrhage and I was determined to come back and qualify as a teacher, which was my dream… so here I am!

What inspired you to become a teacher?
I think that education is the best way to develop the characteristics of empathy and acceptance. The only way that we are going to make real change is to improve education. My mum is also a primary teacher, so I know how rewarding the job can be. If you can make just one child feel better each day, it becomes more worthwhile than any other job in the world.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were younger?
My geography teacher was amazing (and also my mum, of course). My geography teacher wanted everyone to be involved, and was so open and honest about what she was teaching you. She wouldn’t sugar-coat anything. I took her a copy of my dissertation when I had finished as I had mentioned her in it! I would love the same thing to happen to me in the future!

Why did you choose to study PGDE at the University of Strathclyde?
When I came to my interview it was amazing to see how much they’d taken students feedback onboard and developed the department since 2009. Clare McAlister, one of the course leaders, was so enthusiastic, it was so contagious. I interviewed at another university and knew that it just wasn’t right for me. Having studied here before, I knew that it’s such a friendly university, which is something I didn’t feel like I could find elsewhere. It was an easy choice really.

What was the highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
Seeing how the theory connects to the practice is great. When pupils say ‘don’t leave, you make geography fun’ – that’s really special! I love it when pupils can clearly see how geography ties into everyday life. For example, I showed them the recently banned Iceland palm oil advert and they said ‘that shouldn’t have been banned’. They’re developing their own opinions and it’s truly fantastic.

What would be your advice for people considering taking the PGDE course at Strathclyde?
Don’t worry, just go for it! You could spend so much energy stressing out about all the things you have to do, but you can only do one thing at a time. There is so much to do, in and out of the classroom, but it’s so important that you take time for yourself too.

What were your main challenges at university/in placement, and how did you overcome them?
I was sick during placement, so I had to take two days off. I was worried about going back to school on Monday as I didn’t know where the pupils would be in their learning. I shouldn’t have worried as the school were very understanding and supportive.

What did you think of the support available during your course?
I’m about to start counselling support through the health and wellbeing service. It was recommended through my tutor and it seems like it will be a really helpful service for me.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I would like to teach abroad, and I would like to be a pupil support teacher eventually. I would even like to teach PE, but that may a little later in the future! There are so many opportunities available through teaching that I don’t want to restrict myself to anything yet.