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Laura Cheney

PGCE Primary Education with QTS

Having the ability to explore and experiment with my lesson plans was really fun and seeing the difference it made to the children was honestly the best part.

Why did you choose Edge Hill for your postgraduate studies?
I wanted to study a PGCE at Edge Hill University as I loved the learning environment and facilities like the Catalyst. Also, the University is one of the top teaching universities, so it seemed like a no-brainer to study there.

How did you research your options?
Doing your research is really important when you’re thinking about where and what you want to study. I read through all the different courses and modules on every university website to see what interested me most. I have always enjoyed working with children, so going into something teaching-related was what I wanted to do. I also like the opportunities that come with having a teaching qualification such as the option to work abroad in the future. I knew that I wanted to stay in the North West so this narrowed down my research options and I only looked at universities in this area. There’s a lot of choice so thinking about where you want to live whilst studying can help narrow it down and not feel as overwhelming.

How did you complete the application process?
When I was completing my application, I made sure to be concise, but detailed about why I wanted to teach and how I met the teaching standards. I found it useful to print out the teaching standards and highlight the skills within it that I already had. I could then annotate a scenario where I had used that skill and explain how it would help me when teaching. This really helped me to structure my answers and make sure that all the information was relevant.

During the application process, I contacted the Careers Team to get some advice on developing my application and they proofread it too. I really recommend asking for help, they were so helpful.

Before my interview, I read through any pre-interview materials that I had been sent so that I had everything prepared in advance. I also done research into relevant topics and issues so that I was knowledgeable and could share how these issues would impact how I may teach. This research also showed that I was interested in the wider aspects of the course. Something that was really important to me was to surround myself with positive people who were going to help boost my confidence before my interview. This really helped as I could use that confidence to give me good positive energy going into the interview.

What are your top tips?

  • Be prepared – make sure you read any pre-interview information.
  • Be positive – interviewers want you to succeed and being positive gives them a great impression.
  • Research some of the current issues within the sector.
  • Talk about your skills and how they’re going to help you in your studies and future career. Remember to give examples.
  • How did you fund your studies?
    Initially, I was worried about how I was going to fund my PGCE, but I attended one of the Postgraduate Open Evenings held on campus and found out how to apply for student finance and how straightforward the process was. It was very similar to my undergraduate degree which was super easy.

    I’m glad I already had some budgeting experience from when I did my undergraduate degree, as this really helped me to ensure I didn’t run out of money or overspend when I received my student loan. I decided to work through the summer to save money to help support me whilst studying and I worked on Saturdays in the shop on campus to earn some extra money too. If you struggle with budgeting, the University have a great Money Advice Team who can help you.

    What was your favourite thing about your course?
    My favourite part of my course was the placements. I loved being able to create my own lesson plans and make learning fun. I was very grateful for the observation time I was given on placement as I was able to watch a range of teaching and develop my own techniques. Having the ability to explore and experiment with my lesson plans was really fun and seeing the difference it made to the children was honestly the best part.

    How did you find the progression from undergraduate to postgraduate studies?
    I found the transition from my undergraduate degree to my PGCE quite straightforward as I already had some experience writing essays as part of my undergraduate studies. I recommend making the most of the UniSkills essay writing workshops as they can help you with writing at a level expected of a postgraduate student.

    Where was your favourite place to study and socialise?
    I really enjoyed using the Catalyst when studying, as the group rooms that you can book are great for doing group projects or working on essays if you’re studying with others. I also liked that I was right by the books so I could grab a book and carry on with my essay research without having to wait and reserve it online. It also has a great coffee shop that is very much needed when doing some research or completing projects. The Catalyst is open 24/7 which was great for me as I am someone who works better in the evenings and also needs to be able to go and work straight away when I get an idea.

    How has your postgraduate degree helped your career?
    I currently work in student recruitment, and I enjoy being able to help students through workshops and careers fairs. My PGCE gave me the confidence to lead classes of students and communicate important information to others. I was really shy before completing my degree but through the professional practice placements I completed as part of my course, I have learnt how to give presentations and control a room which is something I didn’t think I could ever do.