Our graduatesAndrew Laing, Biology with Science (PGDE)

Andrew Laing PGDE Biology graduate

From a young age I have always had an interest in science, I just loved learning how things worked! It was during my first two years in high school that my passion for biology really flourished. I attribute this fact to my science teacher who was an outstanding educator; her ability to build relationships and hold the attention of even the most difficult pupils was admirable. It was this teacher who inspired me to teach and who I aspire to be in the classroom, ensuring relationships and the wellbeing of my pupils is at the forefront of each of my lessons!

I’ve always somehow found myself drawn to teaching in some capacity or other, whether it was tutoring family and friends for their exams or working at Edinburgh zoo, I always liked to share my knowledge with others. It wasn’t until I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Stirling that I truly felt I was ready to start a career in teaching. I interviewed at a few different universities across the country for the Biology PGDE and not a single university or tutor came close to the welcoming environment of Strathclyde, I honestly felt like my tutor was there for me every step of the way.

I am especially grateful that I was able to complete a retrieval placement, which I think scares a lot of people the first time they consider having to complete one, I honestly could not have felt more supported by my tutor and I think we both shed a tear after the final observed lesson (I passed!) which to me sums up how much the tutors at Strathclyde care for their students and want to see them succeed!

At Strathclyde the teaching of the PGDE truly sets you up for the classroom, especially in the setting up and running of practical science lessons. It became apparent talking to other students that this was not common across all universities which in my opinion gives you an edge to be the best teacher you can be. My tutor and the other science staff truly helped me become the confident science teacher I am today; compared to the quiet/slightly reserved person I began this journey as.

My words of advice for students coming to study the PGDE would be to embrace every opportunity you can, get to know everyone on your course in some way or other. I have no clue where I would be without my entire Biology group, they have been my support network throughout the last year and a half and we have all helped each other during the highs and the lows, which there are plenty of. There will be days when you want to pack it in, but then you have days when that one pupil who was struggling comes to you and they just get it and you can feel the pride radiating off them. It just makes all those hours put into planning lessons worth it and it’s like no other feeling in the world. So just keep at it, because in the end teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had, and I wouldn’t change my experience of the PGDE at all.

Through the ups and downs of the PGDE I did come out more confident and sure that I want to stay in the classroom for as long as possible. I’m not too sure what the next few years hold for me, but I want to keep being able to build relationships with pupils and inspire them to follow their aspirations within STEM subjects and who knows, maybe I’ll be that teacher who inspires one of their pupils to be a Biology teacher, just like my teacher did back in my second year.