Monday, 19 February 2018

I was looking for a challenge - Jack Green

There is no shame in saying the Leadership Development Programme is a challenge. But you never get away from the fact that you are part of something a lot bigger, and I'm loving it. When you have difficult days, it's good to be part of a network of people who have experienced or are experiencing those difficult days as well, and often just hearing a story from those people about their day and the difference they're making is a really positive thing.

The social life does take a hit, especially during the first couple of months while you're getting used to the sheer volume of work you have to do. It has been difficult at points. But the best part about being a primary school teacher is that you get to build relationships with 30 brilliant children and really make an impact on them on such a broad spectrum of things. Yes, you develop their English skills, their maths skills, right down to their physical education and their IT skills, but you get to develop them as a person as well. That's a powerful thing to be able to say that you do on a day-to-day basis. The majority of parents do fantastic jobs with their children but there are some children who maybe don't have that stable home life, and to be a stable part of their lives for six or seven hours a day - I don't think there are many things more rewarding that that.

It's brilliant when you get to May time, when you've been teaching these children for close to a whole school year and you can look back in an exercise book at where they were at the start of the year to where they are now. The child who couldn't write three sentences in an hour at the start of the year but can now write you three paragraphs of fantastic sentences, or the child who couldn't do their five times table but can now lead the rest of the class in a five times table song are the real high points. One of the best parts is developing the whole child. When you see a child who struggled to build relationships but now has friendship groups within the class, for me, that's almost as important as the child who couldn't do the five times table but now can.

A lot of my friends were looking for jobs that paid the most money or that were based in London. I wanted something a bit different to that. I was looking for a challenge, something where I'd have a lot of responsibility and where I could make a difference. There's nothing greater than getting home from a day at school and being able to tell family or friends what you've done and why it's a worthwhile thing you're doing. That is a really positive thing to have in your life.


Jack Green is a primary school teacher in London. This was originally posted by Teach First and is published with kind permission.

If you liked this…
Gabrielle and Tom share their stories about why they chose a career in teaching:

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

How to Choose an EPQ Topic and Title (EPQ Advice #2)

Hello and welcome to my second EPQ advice blog! If you want to know what an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) is and why you might consider doing one, please read my last blog here.  In this installment I’m giving you the three main things you might want to consider to help you decide a topic and title for your project.

Before we start, I ought to tell you about my own project (which is now near completion). Drum roll EPQ is on The Hunger Games!!! If you’re anything like the people I know, you might be surprised, and fair enough – it’s not really a conventional topic choice. My title concerns the originality of the first novel in the trilogy, so in the most basic terms: is Suzanne Collins a copycat? Don’t get me wrong, I love the books (and the films too), but my title was the best option when I asked myself the following things:

What do I want to get out of the EPQ? – I knew I wanted to use my EPQ to help prepare me for university, where I’ll be doing an English Literature degree, and that led me to choose a topic related to literature so I could research similar ideas and write in a similar style to how I will in the future. You might want to relate your chosen topic to your own future prospects, especially if you think your EPQ might help you receive an offer from university or other higher education options. And don’t be put off if your plans don’t involve ‘essay subjects’ – I know people who’ve done projects on biology, medicine and loads more.

What do I like? – Having decided that I was going to focus on a book, it didn’t take me long to choose The Hunger Games as my specific focus. It’s one of my favourite novels and belongs to a genre I know pretty well, so it made sense to go for it. But YOUR personal likes are super important when picking a topic because you’ve got to spend a long time on your project and it’s ten times easier if you actually like it. So pick an area which interests you so you can become on expert on something you WANT to know about.

What makes a good EPQ? – At the end of the day, you probably want to pass the EPQ with a grade you’re happy with, and your chosen topic and title inevitably affects this. For example, your title must allow you to write an objective, academic essay using references, so it must have potential for a counterargument and some sort of debate. So before you choose a specific topic and title, make sure there are some academic sources you could refer to, and enough things for you to discuss in detail. I suggest searching things like Google Scholar for sources and talking to teachers to get their opinions.

So that’s my advice
on choosing a topic and title. Although I chose The Hunger Games as a topic very quickly, it took a long time to decide on my title to ensure I could produce a good essay, so don’t rush this decision – it may make things difficult if you discover problems with your topic/title later down the line.

Look out for my next EPQ advice blog (sometime next week) where I’ll focus on my approach to research – a massive part of EPQ!


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Changes to the professional skills test

The Department for Education have announced that as of 14 February 2018, there will be changes to the professional skills test, and all of these benefit you!

  • You’ll be able to take unlimited resits, and will no longer be locked out for two years if you fail. Candidates who’re currently locked out will have the lock removed. 
  • You’re entitled to three attempts of the numeracy and literacy test, free of charge. A charge will only be applied from the fourth test attempt per subject.
  • If you took one – or both – of the above tests for a second or third time between 24 October 2017 – 14 February 2018, you’ll be entitled to a full refund.

Refunds will automatically be issued by 31 March 2018. If you haven’t received a refund by then call learndirect on 0300 303 9613, so they can look in to this.

Need some more advice on the professional skills test? Check out our blog post or the Department for Education website for more information.

If you have any further queries, please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

Things to do while you wait for your University Decisions

So you’ve sent off your university application, what now? Here’s four things that will help the long wait before uni seem a little a more bearable.

Visit Your University Options

Visiting your uni options may sounds stupid but it’s so so helpful, after all if you accept you’ll want to know where you’re going to be living and studying for the next few years of your life. Visiting your choice will help you get a better understanding of where things are on campus and other things like where the best places are for you to live. If you’re not able to visit all of your university options try to visit your first and second choices.

Sort Out Your Finance and Accommodation

It’s never too early to begin thinking about your finance and especially your accommodation. So many other people will be applying for both of these things so it’s best to get in early and get started, avoiding the last minute rush. Most university accommodation applications are open now and finance usually opens around the beginning of March. Check out the Student Finance England Twitter @SF_England to keep updated with exact dates.

Explore Social Media Groups

Social media is such a good place to find course and flat mates. The likes of Facebook have so many groups already for various things including student housing, events and general advice. I’m already in a few and it’s helping me but also getting me more excited to start in September.

Enjoy Yourself!

This goes without saying that before you know it September will come around and university will be here! Although this is a stressful time for a lot of people what with exams and results, try not to let them get to you too much. Enjoy your time now and get ready for the hard work to begin!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Five Tips on Choosing Your Firm Choice

You’ve received your offers and the deadline is fast approaching to decide which is your firm choice and your insurance, aka one of the biggest decisions in your life so far! Fear not! I’ve put together 5 easy steps you can take to help you decide which choices to make!

This is the most obvious thing to do when applying for University and you’ve probably already done a load of research before applying but it’s a good idea to re-visit your offers and have a look again at their course structure, modules and the general university. You could try making a pros and cons list to help you out!

Seek Advice from Others:
Once you’ve got all the information you can from a Uni website share that information with family, friends, peers and teachers for different viewpoints and opinions. It might also help to talk with someone already in the field you are applying to as they will have valuable experience.

Attend Open Days: 
Once you’ve received offers you can still attend open days at the relevant universities. Attend as many of these as you can and talk to as many students and staff as you can manage. Can you really see yourself studying there?

Check Out League Tables:
League tables come in really handy when applying for Uni as they give you so much information. You can find out anything from how successful their teaching is to how satisfied the students there are. Student satisfaction is something you should definitely be looking at! Be aware some Universities may achieve top grades but have low satisfaction.

Go With Your Heart:
At the end of the day it’s your choice and you need to feel completely happy and comfortable with the decision you’ve made. Listen to your instinct while taking everything else into consideration and you should be able to make the best choice for you.