- Name: Sophie Holmes
- Role: Chemistry Teacher
- Joined: 2016/17
- University: University of Cambridge
- Degree: Chemistry (2:1)
Applying for a Scholarship
Receiving a Royal Society of Chemistry scholarship was crucial in my
decision to train via the PGCE route. As well as ensuring that I was
financially capable of another year of study, the RSC provided me with
excellent training sessions throughout the year focusing on different
aspects of Chemistry teaching. I was also able to meet and network with
other Chemistry scholars and experienced teachers, which was invaluable
in terms of sharing ideas and supporting each other through the course.
The RSC also provided lots of resources for our classrooms, CPD
opportunities online, and I am hoping to use my link with the RSC to
organise school trips in the future. Application for the scholarship was
straight forward; an online application stage followed by an interview
and assessment day in London.
Why did you choose teaching?
Whilst at university, I helped with science outreach projects which I
really enjoyed. I also volunteered during the summer working with
vulnerable young people, as well as various child care jobs. I knew that
I really enjoyed working with children, so I signed up for a “Chemistry
into Schools” module in my third year at university. Initially
disappointed that there were no places in primary schools, I nervously
started a placement at a secondary school. I loved the atmosphere of a
secondary school, as well as the more challenging concepts taught and
the wider range of experiments you could do with secondary aged pupils.
By the time I finished my Chemistry degree, I had decided that I wanted
to become a Science teacher.
Tips for future trainees
If you are considering teaching (you should – its great), try and get
experience of working with different age groups if you can. I initially
was certain I wanted to teach primary aged children, but a placement at
a local secondary school completely changed my mind. In terms of
maintaining a work-life balance during training, my advice would be:
plan something fun each week with friends/family, try and keep up a
sport, never work on Saturdays and make the most of the holidays!
Applying for teacher training
I chose to complete my teacher training via the PGCE route, as I wanted
to ensure that I was able to focus on pedagogical research as well as
putting it into practice in the classroom. When applying, I used the Get
Into Teaching website as well as speaking to recent graduates and former
teachers about their routes into teaching. I enjoyed writing my personal
statement and pulling together the experiences and reasons that had
drawn me to teaching in the first place. I would recommend getting as
much experience with young people as possible (both inside and out of
the classroom), both to confirm whether teaching is what you want to do
and to discuss in your application.
Your training Year
The most valuable lesson I learnt during my training, is that the
relationships that you form with pupils is the most important part of
teaching. Taking the time to build positive relationships (which can be
challenging at times!) can transform the quality of teaching. I trained
in two completely different schools, which was invaluable as it meant I
had to learn how to adapt my teaching style early on. Time spent in
faculty and carrying out research projects in school allowed me to
really think about how children learn, and how we as teachers can best
facilitate this in the classroom. Having time to reflect on my lessons
allowed me to continually evaluate and improve my teaching practice.
Life as a teacher
I am currently completing my NQT year in a mixed inner city
comprehensive. I teach seven classes, from Year 7 – 12 as well as being
a Year 9 form tutor. Since starting in September, I have been able to
put into practice teaching strategies I learnt in my PGCE year both at
university and through the scholarship programme. I have also learnt a
great deal from the excellent team of teachers I work with, and continue
to receive NQT training as well as the guidance and support of a mentor.
Although teaching can be stressful, it is incredibly rewarding to be a
part of shaping young people’s futures, and inspiring the next
generation of problem solvers!