Joshua Denton

Primary Teacher Education, 2016

“The course at Oxford Brookes in particular attracted me as after attending many open days and interview days, Brookes just felt right!”

Before starting his Primary teaching degree at Brookes, Joshua took a year out from studying to decide what he wanted to do with his future. He started jobs in a local youth centre and cub pack, before deciding that the education sector was what he wanted to do, and getting a job as a teaching assistant.

I decided to study this course through my experience as a part-time teaching assistant. Within two weeks of working with an incredible Year Two boy I had applied for university, become a full-time teaching assistant, and discovered a profession I knew was completely right for me. My mother, who was a primary school teacher, had always encouraged me to join the profession.

The course at Oxford Brookes in particular attracted me as after attending many open days and interview days, Brookes just felt right! Many other universities felt too big or like they were just interested in how many students they could fit through the door. Brookes offered something different; with the Harcourt Hill campus being primarily for education students there was a real sense of community which came across straight away.

The course offers an opportunity to go beyond what you ever thought you could do, and it has really helped me as a person as well as a professional. For example, I am far from what you would call comfortable when it comes to performing arts. Yet, in the first year of my degree I was dancing in a local museum and it wasn’t in the least bit scary, embarrassing or nerve-wracking, in fact I would go as far as to say I would do it again! My favourite module so far was “Understanding the Inclusive Classroom” in my second year. This module was split into four different sections, allowing you to explore different groups of students you would encounter within the classroom.

Oxford is just an incredible city to live in. I find it very hard to describe what it is about Oxford, there is just something here which makes it very special! The city offers a range of extracurricular societies such as Jacari, a student charity providing home tutoring for children aged 4-16 who don’t speak English as their first language. These give you the opportunity to develop your teaching career further.

After completing my degree I am hoping to go on and gain a master’s in Education and Technology. Following this I am excited to get into the classroom and teach for a couple of years before seeing where the world of education takes me. Brookes has allowed me to make a diverse range of connections with people involved in education within the local area. Aside from this, through varied placements it has shown me what kind of school I would like to work in. However, perhaps most importantly, Brookes has helped develop my sense of reflection and my confidence, both imperative skills for the classroom. The university offers a very diverse range of opportunities, especially throughout the Exploring Learning modules. Only this afternoon was I splitting wood, grinding wheat, building fires and making pancakes with a class. I feel that all these opportunities combined make us well rounded teachers.

The staff at Oxford Brookes have been great throughout my time at university. In particular my academic advisor has been very supportive throughout my whole university career. They have always been there to help me with professional and personal highs and lows, have always known who I should talk to should I need something, and have helped me find a research placement in my second year.

The advantage of living in halls at Harcourt in your first year is that you meet so many people on the BA Primary Education course. In my first year I met a really good friend who has inspired me as a person. Before coming to university I was always worried about what other people thought of me and this stopped me doing activities I genuinely wanted to do. This person has helped me throughout the course and I am sure they will continue to support me throughout my career!

Outside of my course, early in my university career I established the Primary Education Society and acted as its first President. The society offered students the chance to support each other academically and socially throughout their time at university. During my time as President of the society time management became an imperative skill, something which has been useful in other aspects of my life. Following on from this, I was voted a department representative for the School of Education, meaning I represented a diverse community of over 1000 undergraduate, postgraduate and research students. This role helped me to develop my communication skills as I built up relationships with students and lecturers, allowing me to represent students’ views. The most rewarding part of this role was seeing changes students had requested implemented within our course.

Recently, I was elected as a student trustee for Oxford Brookes Student Union. During this role I oversaw spending and ensured the Union worked within its rules and limits. Thanks to these skills I have been asked to extend my tenure as a trustee through becoming an appointed trustee.