Thursday, 24 November 2016

Share Your Story: Shane Baker

Name: Shane Baker

What course are you studying/have you studied?
BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work, at the University of Huddersfield
Postgraduate Diploma in Education, at University Campus Barnsley
MA in Education and Youth Work Studies, at the University of Huddersfield

What, or who, inspired you to train to become a teacher?
Several factors influenced me to take up teaching as a profession. My grandad, particularly, guided me to higher education and ultimately into the profession. I was always keen to share what I had learnt with others. I remember my primary school teacher being significant in my childhood, and hoping that one day I could have the same impact on others. With the skills, knowledge, and experience I already obtained at the time, I felt there was definitely an area within education that I could bring these skills to, as the teaching profession is so broad.

What was the application process like?
The application process was very straightforward. It was exactly the same as applying through UCAS for undergraduate courses. I think it is important for those who are contemplating completing initial teacher training (ITT) after their initial undergraduate degree, that you know you can access student finance to fund the course. ITT courses are one of a few courses that are exempt from second funding.

What was your course like?
The course I studied was very informative and really gave me the opportunity to put theory into practice. I felt that as soon as I had learnt something, I was able to put it into practice, having undertaken a placement throughout my time on the course. This, ultimately, put me in the position to gain and take up a full-time, permanent role in a further education college on completion.

Did you move away from home to study, or did you commute?
I lived at home and commuted. I actually received a bursary from the government, as I focused on developing as a SEND specialist teacher. This bursary allowed me to purchase my first home, reducing my worries about my finances, and concentrate on developing my skills as a newly qualified teacher.

What age group(s) and/or subject do you currently teach, and where?
I have worked within FE colleges as a lecturer, personal tutor, and assessor, teaching students aged 14 to 70. I have taught health and social care, foundation learning, Jobcentre Plus programmes, and childcare.

I recently achieved Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) through The Society for Education and Training (SET), and have moved to an outstanding ‘all-through’ SEND school/college as a post-16 class teacher. I think it is important to know that, just because you qualify to teach in the lifelong learning sector, it does not stop you from working within local-authority-maintained schools if you gain QTLS. If you apply and achieve QTLS on completion of your initial teacher training programme, it has parity with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), meaning you can apply for positions across the profession.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being a teacher? What is the worst?
The best thing about being a teacher is seeing students developing, progressing, and meeting their individual targets. It’s the little comments like ‘I get that’, ‘I never knew’, or ‘Thank you’ that remind you that you are making a positive impact. You cannot come into teaching and not expect there to be a large workload and paperwork. You have to be realistic and recognise that teaching in class is just one of the duties of being a professionally qualified teacher. If you do not know the full expectations, I highly recommend you read/research the professional expectations of teachers.

Do you have any regrets about your course/route choice? Did anything surprise you?
I still have a very keen interest in youth work but, for me, there were no opportunities to progress, with the significant cuts to the profession. It has allowed me to continue working with children and young people to make a positive difference to their onset development. I wish I trained earlier as a teacher! The course I undertook was first-class and has allowed me to gain first-class results.

Is there anything you wish you’d known before you applied?
I think I would have liked better careers advice and clearer guidance. Because of my previous experience, I was suggested to focus on becoming a PSHE/citizenship teacher. I think I have found my niche as a SEND teacher. I think it is important to gain some relevant work experience, to ensure you are embarking on the right journey – whether that is primary, secondary, or lifelong learning teaching.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about training to become a teacher, what would it be?
Be prepared for hard work. It will not be a stroll in the park but you will gain a lot of satisfaction from seeing your students develop, and getting to the end of your first academic year – looking back and recognising all the hard work you have put in, which has led to the success. You will learn that what works for one class doesn’t always work for another. You will learn to think on your feet, adapt, and react to the forever changing environment that is teaching.

I love teaching because… 
I love teaching because one day is never the same, and witnessing students achieving what they set out to achieve.

15 January deadline: Your questions answered!

As the 15 January application deadline approaches, here are some of your questions we’re answering on social media at the moment.

Q. Why can’t I log into my application?
A. If you can’t log into your application, first of all make sure you’re trying to log into Apply and not Track by mistake. If you’ve forgotten your username or password, try our ‘Forgotten login?’ link to retrieve or reset your details. If you’re still having trouble then give us a call so one of our advisers can help.

Q. How do I add my qualifications?
A. Before you can add any qualifications you need to add the schools or colleges where you’ve taken them. This video explains everything you need to do.

Q. How should I write my personal statement?
A. The personal statement may appear daunting at first but try not to panic, we’ve got lots of advice to help! Start by checking out the pointers on our website, then take a few moments to watch our personal statement video.

For further inspiration, check out this great video from someone who reads personal statements for a uni.

We also have an interactive personal statement tool to help you think about what you should include in your personal statement, and how to structure it.

Q. How does the reference section work?
A. There are three ways to request a reference, and the one you’ll use will depend on how you’re applying. Watch our video for a step-by-step guide to what you’ve got to do.

Q. Why can’t I pay and send my application?
A. You can only pay for and send your application when every section of your application is marked with a red tick. If you’re applying through a school or college, they’ll be able to complete a reference and send us your application after you’ve paid for your application. If you’re applying independently, then you can pay for and send us your application once your referee has finished your reference.

Q. What time is the deadline on 15 January?
A. Applications for the majority of courses should arrive at UCAS by 18:00 (UK time) on 15 January (check your chosen course details in our search tool for the correct deadline). This is to ensure that it gets equal consideration by the unis and colleges you're applying to.

If you’ve got any other questions about your application check out our info on or get in touch with our advisers on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

How to fill in your spare time

I know the score, you’re at university and you’re there to study. Whilst you’re at uni, it can be a good idea to do something productive to fill the time in between studying. Here are my top ten suggestions to fill in any spare time you have!

1. Get a part-time job. A part-time job would be considered reasonably easy to a) apply and get, and b) to work around your studies. Not only will it fill your time, but you’ll be able to earn some money to fund your studies and social life.

2. Start a new hobby. Picking up a new sport or hobby is a productive way to spend your time. You will be channeling your energy into learning a new skill, and university is the perfect opportunity to do this.

3. Join a new society. Societies at unis often hold socials to help people make friends and socialise. Join a society that you wouldn’t normally join, you might surprise yourself by enjoying meeting new people with different interests to you. If you don’t like the first social, then you don’t have to go to another one.

4. Start a project. Projects, such as creating a blog or a website, can be a productive way to spend your time because you will gain something from it. It will also be something that you can add to your CV.

5. Get fit. During university, you may find that you don’t exercise as much as you should. Exercise is important and despite the effort to get changed into your gym gear and make your way to the gym, it will benefit you.

6. Learn a language. University is the place where it’s suggested that you try something that you might not have the opportunity to try again. Learning a language is one of these, because when you graduate and are working full-time, you might not be able to dedicate enough time to learning a language. There are plenty of apps and online courses that can help you achieve the goal from the comfort of your university room!

7. Volunteer. I’m sure there are people out there who, like me, believe that volunteering can be a fulfilling experience. However, as a student, you are short of money and don’t want to work for free, I get it. But, volunteering in a company for a short while will add another dimension to your CV, proving that you did actually make a difference whilst you were at university.

8. Learn to cook. It’s no secret that many students make a range of weird concoctions through their time at uni, because either you can’t be bothered to cook, don’t know how to, or simply only have a carrot and a bag of pasta work with! Learning to cook will be one of the most valuable skills you learn, so if I were you, I’d consider learning to cook a new dish once a week so you don’t have that same pasta dish over and over again!

9. Make the most of what the university has to offer. Some universities have schemes, opportunities to work, volunteer work, or awards that can be completed. I would highly recommend this option; it looks very good on your CV as it proves you are giving back to the uni, and it’s the perfect chance to make some new friends! The work environment tends to be quite young with fresh ideas and people, who will make it a positive experience for you.

10. Be spontaneous and brave, start a business. I know a few people who started and have maintained a successful business. University is the ideal place to do this as you can get the support, and maybe even some of the funding, to help you along the way. Not only will this look good on your CV but it will take up a lot of spare time in your week. It can be very time consuming, so you have got to be completely committed  for it to work, but the benefits and rewards of this can be extraordinary.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Budgeting at uni

By Hannah, a 19 year old student from South Wales. 

We all know that loans, grants, and bursaries are amazing as soon as they arrive in your bank account, but this money will need to last you longer than a week or two!

I don’t know about you, but when I know that I have a large amount of money in my account, I think that I’m wealthy and tend to spend a good amount of it on unnecessary items. Last year, when I was a student, I tried budgeting and here are some things to consider.

  1. NUS Extra is your best friend. My student discount card saved me so much money during the year. You’ll be eligible for discounts in plenty of high street or online shops
  2. Share the kitchen essentials with your housemates, such as milk, bread, and condiments.
  3. Remember, you’re a student! You cannot really afford to buy things that you maybe could have before you moved to university. When you go shopping and really like something, just ask yourself ‘Do I really need this?’ because you most likely won’t.
  4. As annoying as loyalty cards are, they can get you a free coffee or meal. So don’t throw them away!
  5.  Some supermarkets will offer vouchers for new online customers. If this opportunity arises then I would take it because you’ll be able to get money off your weekly shop.
  6. Purchasing a Young Persons Railcard will save you up to a third on train fares. These savings will add up in the long run when travelling back and forth from home. 
  7.  Opening a student bank account was the best decision I made before going to university. Student bank accounts are typically current accounts offering an interest free overdraft facility. If you do open a student account, just be warned not to exceed the overdraft limit because high charges will apply. Some bank accounts offer an incentive to open a student account with them, so do your research!
  8. I’m probably going to sound like your mum, but typically, healthy food is cheaper than junk food. You can create endless meals with fresh fruit and vegetables. When you purchase junk food, such as ready meals and processed food, the number of meals you can make is limited.
  9. I made the mistake in my first year to buy every book on the reading list brand new. I failed to realise that second-hand books were just as good and they’re a fraction of the cost.
  10. Purchasing food on campus may seem like a good idea at the time, but taking food from home will save you so much money in the long run. Think about how much you’d save if you hadn’t bought a £2 sandwich every day for three or four years straight.
  11. This is easier said than done, but saving money before you get to university can be useful. I managed to save a little money before I went and was grateful to have it as a back-up for emergencies.