Catherine Shiel

Catherine Shiel, Post-Compulsory Education and Training PGCE trainee, discusses the book she has helped to produce about journeys into teaching.

“Edge Hill was the ideal place for me to do my PGCE for three very good reasons – reputation, practicalities and nostalgia. It has an excellent reputation for teacher training and is easy for me to get to, which is important as I have a three year old son, and I met my husband at the University when I studied for my degree there in the 1990s.

The course has been excellent. As well as developing the skills I needed to do the job and pass the course; it has opened up my mind and helped me explore the Post-Compulsory Sector in ways that I would never have done if I had simply ‘learned on the job’.

One of the best things about it was being continually challenged to develop my own practice and establish my identity. I feel too often in life that learning and teaching is done ‘to’ people, but here the personal development element of the course encourages both tutors and trainees to bring with them their own experiences, values and beliefs, and so we all end up learning from each other.

I’ve now got myself a qualification that means I can teach in the Post Compulsory Sector – one that is respected and recognised by those in the sector as the most thorough and challenging of teaching routes into further education, and so I hope this will give me an edge on others when looking for work. Completing a PGCE with Level 7 Credits does open up further opportunities to progress, which should give me different pathways to move into in the future.

During one of our lectures we began talking about all the different routes there are into teaching and the daily challenges this profession throws at you. Within my group the trainees were all very different individuals, being of various ages and from numerous cultures and backgrounds, so it was suggested that sharing our learning journeys and the things that prompted us to go into teaching would be quite an inspirational thing to do and help us get through the course.

From this, two colleagues and I worked with our course leader to co-ordinate all the stories and then edit the essays into a book for publication, and the result is ‘I teach … journeys into teaching’. Now published, this collection of stories and personal anecdotes reflects the sheer variety and richness of personalities found in the Post Compulsory sector and should act as inspiration to anyone thinking of choosing this rewarding career.

As well as providing practical help to current trainees it would be fantastic for the book to inspire others. All proceeds from sales will be donated to the Helena Kennedy Foundation, which aims to overcome social injustice by providing financial bursaries, mentoring and support to disadvantaged students from the Further and Adult Education sectors.

One of my placements on the course was in the business department at Liverpool Community College, teaching Level 2 and 3 students. I must have made a good impression as I have been offered a post starting in September teaching business, which is something I am really excited about. Hopefully this will be a great start to a long and rewarding career in this challenging yet exciting sector.”