Case Study: Royal Society of Chemistry

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Sheffield University BSc Chemistry degree

My name is Beth Taylor and I am currently a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) after passing my PGDE (Post Graduate Diploma in Education) in 2017, provided by The University of Sheffield. I also completed my undergraduate degree at Sheffield University, gaining a BSc Chemistry degree with Honours (2:2) in 2016. It was during my degree that I wanted to get into teaching. Whilst at university, I was a 'student ambassador' for some outreach programmes; these programmes allow local schools to get involved in different university aspects.

I worked in two main areas- The 'Discover US' programme allowed me to work with GCSE and A-level students to promote the prospect of University. I worked on the 'Discover STEM' programme assisting with science and engineering related workshops for A-level students. I also worked on the 'University of Sheffield in schools' mentoring scheme, I individually mentored year 10/11 pupils each week based upon their individual needs e.g. homework/careers advice. The school where this was based served a deprived social-economic community in which English was an additional language. This experience has granted me the opportunity to increase my confidence and adapt my teaching to suit EAL students. During my final year as an undergraduate student, I volunteered as a classroom assistant at a local secondary school and this was the moment I knew I would make a great teacher- a pupil said to me: "Miss, I wish you were our teacher, you're so approachable and caring". This moved me and it was then I knew I had to apply to teach.

During my training year, the support I received was second to none, even financially- receiving bursaries for travel and a student loan. I chose the PGDE route as it had more masters credits which has allowed me this year to continue a part-time masters degree in education, with me having to write a dissertation only since completing more of the masters aspects during my training year.

My combined enjoyment for Chemistry and my desire to make a difference to the lives of others means that I am ideally suited to teaching science, as it allows me to relate this passion effectively to young people. Chemistry is the key science, entailing aspects of Biology, Physics and Maths. It is vital within the modern world, underpinning aspects of our own lives, alongside some of the greatest issues within modern society (including CO2 pollution and global warming). I aspire to educate the younger generation about these issues, and the impact that they could have in the future.

The Royal Society of Chemistry allowed me a teacher training scholarship during my PGDE which provided me with regular CPD courses to increase and promote quality teaching and learning in my classroom, including thorough training in practical aspects of the subject. For example, microscale chemistry- this is practical chemistry on a small scale in order to reduce cost, waste and time spent on practical procedures so that pupils can focus on the science rather than the recipe, hence reducing their cognitive load. The financial benefits of this scholarship really assisted in bringing new, more modern resources to my classroom. I applied for my scholarship during my final year of my degree, this entailed an application form and then an interview at the RSC in London- the interview day was fantastic, allowing me to network with other trainees and gaining an insight into the RSC.

If I could give a future trainee any tips, it would be to be yourself and allow your personality to take the lead. All schools are different and so go where your personality fits. A supportive school in terms of staff wellbeing is also important. My current school has a huge drive on staff wellbeing as it is very important to remain mentally healthy in a challenging role, and it is great to be a part of their wellbeing programme.