Friday, 21 October 2016

Share Your Story: Alice Hackett

Name: Alice Hackett
What course are you studying/have you studied?
I studied a BEd in Primary Teaching with Qualified Teacher Status.
What or who inspired you to train to become a teacher?
My own reception teacher inspired me to be a teacher. I knew I wanted to be just like her! I thought: if I can be as good a teacher as she is, then I want to give it a go.
What was the application process like?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher, so I took the relevant paths at each stage to give me the best chance of getting into university. The application to university was not as stressful as everyone says.
What was your course like? 
Enjoyable! A real insight to what being a teacher is like. The placements were really useful as well, because you got to learn on the job.
Did you move away from home to study, or did you commute?
I moved away into halls for the first year, then moved into a house with friends for second and third year.
What age group(s) and/or subject do you currently teach, and where? My first job outside university was as a learning support worker. I chose to do this job as, after completing my dissertation, I had a keen interest in SEN. I wanted to know more about SEN and provisions within school. After that, I became a KS1 nurture and behaviour teacher for a year, and I am now a Year 1 teacher as well as PE lead and NQT mentor.
Do you have any regrets about your course/route choice? Did anything surprise you?
The best thing about being a teacher is being able to make a difference to children’s lives. Being able to see the progress the children make. I have no regrets about being a teacher and the course I chose. I love my job.
Is there anything you wish you’d known before you applied?
More about applying for student finance.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about training to become a teacher, what would it be?
It is hard, especially the first year, but have faith, you can do it! Also, being aware there are ups and downs, but no down stays with you for long, because the love you have for teaching takes over again.
I love teaching because… I am able to make a difference to children’s lives.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How to apply for teacher training programmes in four steps

You can now apply for teacher training programmes for 2017 entry. There isn’t a set deadline that your application needs to reach us by, but to be in with the best chance of securing a place at your preferred provider we recommend you apply as soon as possible.

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got it covered in four simple steps.

1. Research training providers and programmes

Before you start your application, research the training providers that offer the programme you’re interested in. There are four different routes into teaching, so if you’re not sure which one is right for you, check out this short video.

Once you’ve found the programme you’re interested in, see which providers offer it in our search tool. Here, you’ll be able to find further information on the provider and programme.

2. Register on our website

So, now you’ve found the programme and provider you’re interested in, the next step is to register online. It’s a short process which will ask you for basic information such as your name, address, and date of birth. You need to provide a valid email address as this will be your username and you’ll be asked to create a password.

3. Complete an application

When you log in you’ll see a page like this:

Each section must be completed before you can send your application. We’ve got lots of advice on how to complete the application on our website.

The ‘Education’ section can sometimes cause a bit of confusion. You need to enter every place where you’ve achieved a formal qualification from in the ‘Education’ section.  This should start from the age of 12 onwards.

First, you search for your school by clicking on the ‘Add new school/college/university’ link and then ‘Find school’ to select the ones you’ve attended.

If the school isn’t listed, close the pop up window and you’ll be able to enter the details in manually.

Once you’ve done this, add in your GCSEs and A levels (or equivalents). If your qualification type isn’t in the list, select the ‘Other’ option that best suits you to enter the details in manually.

Finally, add details of your degree. Start with your university or college name, degree class, course name, start date, and results date.

When it comes to adding your school and work experience you need to include:
  • your school experience and work history, including current occupation
  • the time you spent in a school or college, including details of the age groups and subjects you were involved in
  • For the ‘hours per week’ question give the average weekly time you spent in the establishment.
Some training providers will require your complete work history, if you can’t fit this in then send the info to the providers separately, in a CV or a summary of your work history.

If you need any help with the personal statement or reference sections, then all the advice you need is on our website.

4. Pay for and send your application

Once every section of your application is complete, the final step is making a payment. The fee is £24 and you pay with a debit or credit card. It can take up to 48 hours for your application to be processed but once it has, you’ll be sent an email with your Track login details.

Good luck with your application!

Download our free UCAS Teacher Training pack which contains all the information and advice you need to apply.

If you have any questions then send us a message on Facebook or Twitter and we'll get right back to you.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Decision, decisions… when are you likely to hear back from unis?

The wait for decisions on your application can be agonising. It’s a good idea to use this time effectively by familiarising yourself with the decisions the unis you’ve applied to could make, so you know what to expect and what to do when the time comes.

Each university and college will make their decisions at different times, meaning you might hear back before your friends do, or vice versa. However, there are deadlines by which they have to decide:

  • 5 May 2017 – if you sent your application by 15 January 2017
  • 13 July 2017 – if you sent your application by 30 June 2017
  • 23 October 2017 – this is the final deadline for unis to make decisions on applications to courses starting in 2017

If a uni you’ve applied to doesn’t make a decision by the appropriate deadline, that choice will be automatically made unsuccessful.

Good luck with your application! 

Check out our advice on what you can do while you wait for uni decisions. You can also stay up-to-date with any decisions by checking Track.

You can also get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter and they’ll be happy to help!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Why study a postgraduate?

Name: Jessica Stokes
What course are you studying/have you studied?
I started off studying a BSc in Biology at Swansea University before doing a Masters by Research in Veterinary Parasitology at the University of Bristol. I’m currently doing a PhD at the University of Liverpool on Schmallenberg virus (a disease of sheep and cattle that is spread by midges), as part of my BBSRC funding I was required to do an MRes in Clinical Sciences at the University for my first year.

What or who inspired you to study for a postgraduate qualification?
I’ve always been fascinated by diseases, so studying them after my undergrad seemed the perfect thing for me, but it was my mum that inspired me to carry on to a PhD. She completed hers in marine zoology not long before I came into the world.

What was the application process like?
There are a lot more people applying for PhDs in my field than there are funded. I always hoped to go straight into a PhD from my undergrad, however I found a lot of the other applicants at interview had been in industry or had completed a Masters. After a few interviews for PhDs I was offered a Masters by Research at Bristol- this was 1 year of research, with a thesis and viva at the end - a perfect test for deciding if a PhD was for me. The next year I got the PhD I had previously applied for. It required a lot of resilience, but it was worth it.

What was your course like?
My undergraduate course was a standard taught course, with a mixture of coursework and essay exam. We could choose some of our modules, and the degree was more ecology orientated than molecular biology (which suited me). We also had lots of opportunities for extra learning, and I was able to get involved with some carnivore post mortems (road traffic accidents) and bird surveys.

My Masters by Research at the University of Bristol was a project evaluating the risk of Echinococcus multilocularis to the UK with pet travel. This is a parasitic worm of dogs, cats and foxes which exists in Europe, if you ever take your pet abroad you have to deworm them before you re-enter the UK to prevent the spread of this worm. There was no taught element of the course, as it was 100% research. However I could elect to take courses, such as a week long course on statistics. At the end of the year I had to write up my research in the form of a mini-thesis and then defend the work through a viva. You had to be in charge of your own time as the only deadline was the final one! I really enjoyed being in charge of my time and project, which really spurred me on to the PhD.

The MRes in Clinical sciences was a mixture of taught modules and 3 individual 10 week research projects. I could choose my 3 mini-projects, but none of the taught modules. The taught modules included lab skills, statistics and journal clubs, all of which had a write-up. You had to be very organised and on-top of your work, as the deadlines were short and often all came at once. I found this course more structured, but also a lot more intense. It definitely helped teach you productivity and how to think critically.

My PhD is my own research again. There are no taught courses, but I have the option to sign up to some short courses. I can also undergo training in areas useful to my research- for example I now know how to handle sheep. I also hold a Personal Licence to allow me to collect samples from sheep to test for immunity to Schmallenberg virus. I have to plan my projects, apply for ethical approval, collect the data and write up all under my own steam. This freedom to undertake and oversee my own work really suits me and I really enjoy what I do. My research is a combination of field work, lab work and desk work. I love fieldwork, so try to get out as much as I can; the best part of my research for me is interacting with farmers. I’ve learnt so much over the last 2 years, and it has been constantly changing and challenging. I feel proud of what I have achieved already and really enjoy my work. As a PhD student I can also take on teaching hours and my own students, which is a great opportunity. So far this year I have taught on undergraduate courses, overseen Nuffield (AS-level) student projects and acted as a tutor on the Realising Opportunities course, encouraging AS-level students into university. Encouraging a passion is really rewarding and it’s a great experience.

Did you move away from home to study, or did you commute?
For my Masters by Research at Bristol I worked from home and commuted in from time to time. I found this quite isolating having lived away from home for my undergrad.
Knowing that I was going to be at Liverpool for at least 4 years (1 year masters + 3 years PhD) I decided to buy a house not too far away from campus. I commute in everyday (all 10 minutes of it) which allows me to have my own space at home and also interact with other postgrads at work and at home (most of us live nearby). I have the option to work from home if I am not in the lab or the field, but generally I work from my desk so that I can benefit from problem solving with other PhD’s.

Are you currently employed? How do you fit your work around your studies and vice versa?
When I was at Bristol and working from home I took up some extra hours at the job I kept throughout the summer of my undergrad. I also volunteered 1 day a week at Slimbridge Wetlands Trust as my research and hours of work were flexible.

My PhD is funded so I effectively ‘get paid’ a stipend quarterly. I can also get paid for teaching some courses, but this is just the odd hour here or there. I don’t think I would be able to fit my current research in around a job as my hours depend on the project (and quite frequently the weather). Some of my research requires me to be away from home for weeks/months on fieldwork so I don’t tend to have a structured routine like some other student projects.

How do you/did you fund your studies?
I’m lucky enough to be funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership (BBSRC DTP). This means I receive a quarterly stipend and have a pot of money to spend on my research (consumables, equipment, travel, etc.).

Do you have any regrets about your course choice? Did anything surprise you?
Having done the Masters by Research at Bristol I came into the PhD knowing what to expect. This has suited me very well. However having to do a second masters before I could start my PhD surprised me. I felt I already had a lot of the skills I needed having already completed one, and although I did hone some important skills, it did feel unnecessary. I know I was not alone, as one of the other girls that started at the same time as me had also completed a prior masters beforehand, but I guess this just shows the level of competition in our field.

For my Masters at Bristol I regret not spending more time with the research group. I feel that by working from home I missed out on some of the community spirit and support I could have benefited from during that year, and at times I became quite isolated.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you applied?
How fast the time goes. Three years, or in my case 4, has flown by. I think it’s important to know there is a plan in place at the beginning, and at least 2 back-up plans for the project, as research doesn’t tend to be straightforward. Schmallenberg virus- the disease I am currently studying- disappeared whilst I was doing my second masters, which means I have had to come up with new research projects for my thesis.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about postgraduate study, what would it be?
Make sure you can time-manage. If you need to have someone set you deadlines, then a taught course might be more for you. If you are organised and thrive when left to undertake your own work, then you are likely to really enjoy undertaking your own research project as a Masters or PhD.

More information
For PhD students it is always worth meeting your supervisor to make sure you are compatible. They are your support, so if you are on different planets and can’t communicate with each other efficiently, then your relationship and ultimately your work is likely to suffer.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Share Your Story: Sophie Lea

What course are you studying/have you studied?
BA Hons Primary Degree 5-11

What or who inspired you to train to become a teacher?
I have always wanted to work with people and feel that I am doing something worthwhile and positive.

What was the application process like?
When I trained, there were lots of applicants so I can remember that it was competitive. It was good to hear from current students/teachers during interview days. My interview involved a presentation and group discussion.

What was your course like?
Placements in school were by far the most valuable part of my training to prepare me for the job. There were lots of practical tasks in seminars, as if we were the children. Guest speakers were the most exciting part of lectures, I remember a lecture by a children’s author being really interesting.

Did you move away from home to study, or did you commute?
Moved away from home

What age group(s) and/or subject do you currently teach, and where?
I teach year 4 at Cam Hopton C of E Primary School and am the English subject leader.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being a teacher? What is the worst?
Being in the classroom with the children is the best part of the job. Having feedback from the children, after a lesson they really enjoyed, feels great!

Marking and planning is the worst part of the job but just has to be done! You do get faster at it!

Do you have any regrets about your course/route choice? Did anything surprise you?
No I was pleased with my route choice, having completed a three year degree.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you applied?
Teaching is most definitely a challenging career but a very rewarding and enjoyable one too.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about training to become a teacher, what would it be?
When you start placement/your career, you must prioritise. It’s very easy to get caught up doing unproductive tasks. Every night I ask myself ‘What do I need to do for tomorrow to run smoothly?’ I would also say it’s important to keep things in perspective. When you’re on placement some lessons go well and some don’t go so well. It’s the same when you have your own class too!

I love teaching because… the children I teach say they enjoy being in my class.
Having school holidays is also a massive bonus! If you have aspirations to travel you have lots of opportunities to do so, there aren’t many careers that have as much holiday.