After leaving Edge Hill, Clare Cotterill followed a fairly typical route for a business graduate and embarked on a career in banking. But, in the back of her mind, Clare knew that, ultimately, banking wasn’t for her and decided to retrain as a teacher. She now teaches A Level Business and Economics at Winstanley College in Wigan.

I started out as a Customer Advisor at Barclays and then gained a place on the graduate programme at Santander. I enjoyed my job but I’d always wanted to go back to university and find a more fulfilling career that would require continual study to improve. I spent my days off volunteering in schools to see if I really wanted to do it, and to get the experience I needed to apply for a PGCE. I only ever wanted to teach Business and Economics because it’s about giving people useful life skills that they can use in the real world.

I worked in banking for four years after graduation and I think it’s really important to have that industry background if you’re teaching business. It makes what you say more believable.

Having worked in schools and seen trainee teachers going through the Schools Direct route into teaching, I’m glad I did a PGCE. Nothing can really prepare you for the first year in teaching, but the PGCE course gives you time to think about the underpinning theory before you go into the classroom and that gives you more confidence. You also learn a lot of practical skills like preparing resources, time management, planning and exam preparation – things that are quite difficult to learn on the job.

The course stretches you academically and you have to really commit yourself to it to get the best from it, but doing your training at a university means you get to share ideas with other students and build a support network. You get to experience a range of different schools, which helps you decide the kind of school you want to work in.

For me, teaching is about having a purpose. I love seeing my students progress and knowing that what I’m teaching them is going to be useful to them in their lives. It’s a very rewarding job.”