A career change and new perspectives: spotlight on studying for a PGCE at the School of Education

Today’s blog features Georgia Adsett, current PGCE student at the School of Education. Georgia offers some insight on what made her want to change careers and train to be a teacher, and why she chose the School of Education to continue her postgraduate study.

Hi, I’m Georgia, I’ve lived in Bristol for a few years, previously working in Advertising and Marketing strategy roles before commencing the PGCE. I completed my joint honours degree in BA English and French at the Uni of Southampton which allowed me to live in France for a year and make the most of all the good grub! I spend most of my free time doing art, yoga, cooking and catching up on good books and films. My favourite word is kerfuffle. My worst nightmare would be potholing. I like people with memorable laughs and a cool sense of style. I asked my housemates to describe me in three words, they said: creative, personable and sparky… apparently.

It was a bit of a leap of faith deciding to train to be a teacher, coming from a different career. I was ultimately looking for a role that allowed me to blend my creative skills and subject interests with pastoral and leadership responsibilities. I’ve always been strong at presenting and wanted a more dynamic role than an office job sat in front of a screen all day. It was a values-based decision too, something that I felt was really worth investing time and energy into.

The course at the School of Education has a fantastic reputation and I spoke to people who had previously undertaken the PGCE at Bristol – they said the quality of training was really robust and that University tutor support was excellent, particularly in English.

I got a good vibe from the interview day and it just felt like the right fit for me. It’s worth mentioning that I researched both the course structure and school placements to suss out the areas I would potentially be placed in. I have lived in Bristol for a while and am planning to stay here for my NQT year, so getting experience in local schools was important for me, as was making sure travel to placements was realistic. The location of the campus was a bonus – there’s so much on the doorstep which our cohort made the most of!

During my course, I was placed in two contrasting schools in Bristol, one state and one private. I can’t speak highly enough of both of my associate tutors and the wider departmental teams I worked with. I felt supported and encouraged the whole way through, building confidence and professional aptitude as a teacher. The PGCE is full on and very demanding, but both the Uni and school placements took wellbeing very seriously and gave me practical, supportive advice. Having the opportunity to experience very different school environments was really interesting and there were benefits and drawbacks to each. I liked both of my placements for different reasons and it’s given me lots to think about while applying for NQT roles.

Looking towards when I complete my PGCE; well, immediately after finishing I’ll probably celebrate with a prosecco or two, as it’ll be a huge milestone and massive achievement! I have started applying to NQT jobs in the Bristol area so watch this space… I was hoping to go travelling around France for a bit this summer, but Covid19 happened so it’s not looking likely. Maybe next year…

If I had to give any advice or tips for people who are thinking about undertaking a PGCE, I would say there’s a lot of hysteria surrounding teaching and work/life balance which was an initial worry for me. I went into the year being determined to ensure I had some time for myself, time for exercise and to see mates – (you need it to stay sane and energised!) Being practical and putting things into perspective was hugely important. I worked hard but also looked after myself.

As I mentioned earlier, this was a big change from my previous career and I was open-minded and willing to see where it would take me. You achieve so much throughout the year and will grow personally off the back of the experience, with skills that will set you up for life.

Day to day, it’s lovely feeling like you’re making a difference for the students and honestly work can be hilarious – you’ll get some cracking anecdotes! I think, weirdly enough, the PGCE has made me chill out and get a really good sense of perspective about what’s important in life, so if that resonates then I’d say go for it! Do your research, talk to people, go into it with an open mind, be willing to work hard and be flexible to face what’s thrown your way.  You’ll come out the other side wondering how on earth you did it, but you’ll be a bloody good teacher for it! Good luck future candidates!

Don’t forget to sign up for our Virtual Event on Tues 5th May 2020 from 1pm-2pm, where our online live Q&A sessions are your chance to find out more about taught postgraduate study at Bristol. Each event will be hosted by academics, support services experts, and current postgraduate students working in your subject area.

If you would like to find out more about any of our Initial Teacher Education (Teacher Training) opportunities, please visit our website where you will find loads of information on courses, requirements, placements, and more.