Our graduates Carla Findlay, BSc Mathematics with Teaching

Mathematics with Teaching graduate Carla FindlayTell us a little bit about your background...
Hi! My name is Carla and I am from Greenock. I was a pupil at St Ninian’s Primary and St Columba’s High School which are both situated in Gourock. After completing high school, I went onto study BSc Hons Mathematics with Teaching at the University of Strathclyde.

What made you pursue a career in teaching?
When I was at school, I aspired to be a Civil and Constructional Engineer, I undertook work experience with a local firm and loved it! But when it came to submitting my UCAS application something just didn’t seem right…I changed all my option choices to Mathematics based degrees. When I sat my Higher Maths, it just clicked with me and I understood it, I liked helping others in my class and that’s when I realised it was something I could consider as a profession. It’s safe to say I have never looked back.

Did you have a favourite teacher when you were at school?
When I was at school, I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers who offered me great support and advice. In particular, my Maths and Science teachers. They made learning enjoyable and created a safe environment to learn in. So enjoyable, that I stayed with Maths and Chemistry until Advanced Higher level. Both departments had great members of staff and they inspired me to consider teaching.

What appealed to you about the BSc Mathematics with Teaching degree?
After attending Scottish Space School in S5, I couldn’t wait to become a student at the University of Strathclyde. It offered so many great opportunities and it was only a train journey away from home. When I decided to apply to Mathematics courses, I seen the joint degree and I was interested in it. I asked different teachers for advice on the joint degree or studying a PGDE after gaining my Maths degree. I remember Ms Goodfellow telling me, if I was 100% sure becoming a Maths teacher was the career for me then definitely apply for the joint degree. I am so glad I took this advice on board as I saved a year of studying whilst also gaining two degrees.

Did you have a particular highlight of your time at Strathclyde?
Looking back at my time at Strathclyde I couldn’t just pick one highlight. For me, meeting new people from all different backgrounds and making new friendships is definitely one of them. I now have friends for life and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Also the day I found out that I was graduating with a first class degree, I was sitting at my first NQT induction day when the message came through. Words can’t describe how I was feeling and I couldn’t concentrate much after it. But I knew I couldn’t wait to get into the world of teaching.

Tell us a little bit about your experience on placement...
I undertook two placements, both of which were schools in Inverclyde. When I think back to my first placement I had just turned 20 and only just out of school myself. This is another reason why I am glad I picked this degree as it let me experience placement over two years and allowed me to mature a bit. I have matured and developed as a teacher so much since then. I am now 22, in my first teaching role at Clydeview Academy in Gourock. I was lucky enough to have spent my final placement at this school before COVID-19 cancelled it. Placement has given me the opportunity to become more confident and to have more faith in myself. I have been extremely lucky to have worked with two fabulous departments who have shaped me into the teacher I am today.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying to this course?
There is so many appealing aspects of this course, one being that it eliminates that extra year of studying. There is a high level of Maths required in the degree, however in 3rd & 4th year it’s a lot more enjoyable as half the year is based on Maths classes and the other is based on placement and education classes. On many occasions I remember just feeling like “I can’t do this anymore” but you manage to find the willpower to keep going. The only advice I can give is ask your lecturers or go to the Maths skills centre if you need help and make sure your placement folder is up to date!

What were the main challenges you experienced whilst studying this programme?
My biggest challenge at university was the 3rd year Maths exams. There is a such a big jump between the level of Maths in 2nd year to 3rd year. This was something me and my friends struggled with and it made you question if you would ever graduate. But hard work pays off and it was a relief finding out we were all continuing onto our honours year.

What are your ambitions for the future?
Hopefully I will be able to gain a full time teaching post next year. Ideally I would love to stay at Clydeview Academy and continue to work with a great department. There are so many options for movement in teaching from a classroom teacher to pastoral care or to being in a managerial role such as department head. In the future, I aspire to undertake some of these roles but at the moment I am happy developing my teaching style and teaching the subject that I love!