Bethany North

Primary Teacher Education, 2016

“I initially investigated studying at Brookes after the course was recommended to me by several Head teachers I spoke to during my work experiences. It was clear from the start that Oxford Brookes had established a high standard for themselves which was also reflected through their Ofsted report”

Bethany attended a sixth form college at home in York where she studied English Language and Literature, Biology and Psychology at A Level before coming to Oxford Brookes. She also volunteered in several schools in her local area assisting teaching in a variety of curriculum subjects, involving the whole class, small groups or individuals.

I decided to study this course as from a young age I was described as a natural teacher. Teaching has always been something I have wanted to do but through my hobbies I was provided with opportunities to confirm this. Continuing on from my natural instinct and going on people’s advice, I completed my Year 10 work experience at a local primary school. During this time, my love for teaching was confirmed after seeing the impact I had on the children’s lives over the space of two weeks. I was overwhelmed with the appreciation the staff and children showed for my work and I was filled with enthusiasm to become a teacher who consistently helps the children in their class. From that experience I continued to work with children in a wide range of contexts, building up my experiences in order to apply for my university course.

I initially investigated studying at Brookes after the course was recommended to me by several Head teachers I spoke to during my work experiences. It was clear from the start that Oxford Brookes had established a high standard for themselves which was also reflected through their Ofsted report. After investigating the course further through the prospectus and university website I soon discovered Oxford Brookes offered a lot of extra opportunities to their students alongside the expected encounters with the primary school curriculum. Having a background in the performing arts, I was particularly drawn to Brookes due to their inclusion of the creative curriculum consistently throughout the three year course. This reflected my love for creativity in the classroom and how it can help children of all ages to develop as individuals, something I felt other universities did not acknowledge in their primary teaching courses.

Additionally, the Primary Teacher Education course at Brookes University attracted me due to the wide range of placement opportunities provided to students throughout the three years. The course has provided me with opportunities to interact with a wide range of children in a variety of settings. For instance, a week in a local museum, a week in a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities school and a week of sports on campus to just name a few. These placements have sometimes pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but have enabled me to become more confident as an individual and gather a wide range of skills to be used in my teaching practice.

My favourite part of the course is the focus on practical learning. Tutors and lecturers work hard to not only provide us with the theoretical understanding behind education and learning but they also provide us with practical opportunities to put this into practice. This allows us to see the implications of theory on our teaching in the classroom, consequently allowing us to effectively evaluate the choices we make – a skill not only beneficial on our university placements but also one which we can take into our teaching careers.

All of the modules on the course are perfectly tailored to ensure we are fully prepared for becoming full-time teachers by the end of the three years. Whether the module is focused on a National Curriculum subject or pedagogical research, it provides us with a wide range of skills, approaches, and attitudes developing us into well-rounded individuals. Additionally, when I felt outside of my comfort zone, the tutors have been extremely willing to offer and provide extra support and encouragement. The tutors have a wide range of experiences in education, particularly in primary schools, and to me this is a particularly successful part of the course. They can offer real life examples of primary education, including successes and failures, thus making us feel a lot more at ease about our experiences during the university course.

Harcourt Hill is a beautiful campus to live and study in with lots of facilities available for student use. The library is particularly beneficial for trainee teachers due to the vast School Experience Centre dedicated to children’s books and resource packs all of which can be loaned and used on school placements. Moreover, from the first Open Day I attended I could feel the sense of community at Harcourt Hill Campus, which made the move to university a lot easier.

Oxford city centre offers a lot more for students besides shopping. The city is full of beautiful architecture, parks and museums for you to explore and all of these have helped me on my course, particularly the museums through reinforcing the importance of learning outside of the classroom. There is always an event or occasion happening in Oxford allowing you to relax with friends, experience new things, and meet new people. The lively city provides students with a wide range of opportunities, whether these are course related or social.

In the future I hope to successfully complete my NQT year and continue teaching for many years to come. I strive to become as inspirational as the tutors who have taught me at Oxford Brookes and to be a positive role model to the students I will teach. Oxford Brookes has provided me with a wide range of professional, personal, and academic skills which I will use profusely in my teaching career. My own personal confidence has increased through the university’s high level of support and reinforcement of individuality and personal teaching style. Additionally, the numerous school experiences have provided me with the opportunity to be fully involved with the whole teaching process.

My course at Brookes has provided me with a lot of extra opportunities which I feel other NQT teachers may not have experienced. For instance, working with an education team in a local museum and having four separate placements based solely around the importance of inclusion. Additionally, the inclusion of the creative curriculum throughout my course has provided me with an in depth appreciation of how to effectively incorporate the arts into schools. Brookes has provided me with insights and experiences into every aspect of the teaching career.

During my second year at Oxford Brookes University I helped create the Primary Education Society in order to provide a support platform for all students on my course whilst also hosting social events to reinforce course community. I really enjoyed this opportunity and I still regularly attend the society’s events. This position provided me with an opportunity to give something back to the university and the future students of Brookes. I hope students in many years to come also enjoy the society and it will provide support and fun for many trainee teachers.

Alongside this I have also been a student representative for my seminar groups in first and second year. In this role I have communicated between students and tutors to ensure the course has been as effective as possible. Students were very grateful of this communication link and tutors were very conscious and proactive about our opinions. I feel that this role provided me with a greater appreciation of the running of the course and enabled me to interact with a wide range of students and tutors sharing opinions and approaches to education.

Through Brookes I am also a tutor at the local Mosque. For two hours every Saturday I tutor young children with English as an Additional Language to help them improve their Literacy and Numeracy skills up to a standard expected by their school. This experience has developed my confidence as a teacher enabling me to perfect my inclusion skills. I am also a member of the Primary Education choir which originally was set up to sing at the Harcourt Hill Christmas Carol Concert, however after enjoying this so much we are now expanding this group to sing more regularly.