What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?
Read more about my experiences
Please feel free to read my profile as it may help to answer any questions you have. You can also search for another ambassador who may be able to answer any further questions!Back to Ambassador listing
You have to find the course that is right for you. Training to be a teacher can be a very intense and rigorous process so having the right support is essential. I would highly recommend the PGDipEd offered by the University of Birmingham due to the fact that the staff are so knowledgeable about their field and can, therefore, offer excellent advice and support as a result. I would also pay particular attention to the schools offered for school-based experiences. I was fortunate to have three very different placements which proved to be invaluable to my training – this is down to the excellent links that the university has made with local schools in the surrounding area.
What, for you, are the best things about the course?
For me, in addition to the fact that the lectures themselves are extremely informative and the lecturers (all of whom have extensive experience within the field of education) impart invaluable knowledge, I found the school-based experiences particularly beneficial. The School of Education have made some excellent links with surrounding schools in the Birmingham area, which provide a wealth of experience over your three placements. This allows you to work with children of different ages and demographics which I found really useful.
What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?
Having completed my undergraduate degree at Loughborough University, I wanted to qualify as a primary school teacher. There were many options available to qualify as a teacher but I was keen to take the Postgraduate route to ensure best-quality teaching and The benefit of studying at the University of Birmingham is that the course offers 120 credits towards a Masters degree and on-going support to complete this in your third year; comparable to the schools direct route which has less ‘on-campus’ university study and only qualifies you with 60 credits towards a Masters degree.
Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?
Having looked at a number of PGCE course-providers, I liked the fact that the Postgraduate Diploma in Primary Education - offered at the University of Birmingham - was not only a teacher training programme, leading to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), but it also provided the equivalent of 120 credits which could be used towards an MA in Teaching Studies. It was encouraging to have the option for further study.
Furthermore, the university itself has a fantastic reputation and excellent facilities (including a brand-new £60 million library). Having met my lecturers, I was also confident that I would be receiving high quality teaching as well as a close network of support.
How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?
My PGDipEd has successfully prepared me for the world of teaching by giving me a realistic depiction of what the job entails. I have been able to implement a lot of the creative ideas learned from both experienced lecturers and the teachers I worked with on my school-based practices.
Now that I am completing my MA in Teaching Studies, I have been able to do further research into a specific area of Education which is allowing me to develop my knowledge and understanding of the profession. Even though a Masters degree is not essential for progression, I hope that it will enable me to stand out in my field and specialise in children’s wellbeing which is what I have centred my dissertation on.
How did you find completing your MA alongside being a full-time teacher?
It is tough but completely manageable if you set aside time for it. I tried to stick to doing a few hours at the weekend and then dedicated more time during the holidays. There are only 3 Saturday sessions to attend (which are compulsory) and then you are allowed 5 hours contact time with your tutor to discuss your dissertation at different stages (which you will arrange).
It's also worth talking it through with your headteacher as some schools will give you time out of class in order to work on your dissertation.
Definitely worth the extra workload!
I’m a primary teacher who completed the PGDipEd at Birmingham. I’m considering doing the MA Teaching Studies. How did you go about choosing your topic? What did you do to decide what you would research for the dissertation?
This might sound obvious but my advice would be to choose something that you are really passionate about. I waited a couple of years after completing my PGDipEd so that I had given myself plenty of experience and CPD opportunities to further my understanding of different areas but I know some choose to do theirs straight away.
My school happened to have a couple of CPD sessions which focused on using Mindfulness in schools which I was really interested in - I decided to read up on it further which then influenced my decision to do the Masters. By choosing something you are really interested in, the research and additional reading is an enjoyable process which really makes a difference. You don't want to end up resenting your research focus!
I don't think it matters too much if you're not 100% on your subject before you decide to do the MA. Your tutor will help you to focus and narrow your ideas down (they will be really broad to begin with). It might also be worth discussing this with your headteacher (particularly if the MA is being funded by the school) as there might be a research area that he/she wants you to focus on.
I hope this helps you. Good luck - whatever subject you decide to choose.
Was there any funding available for you to complete your Masters in education from anywhere? I am just wondering whether if I want to complete this after the PGDipEd if I would have to save this money up? Thanks!
Hi, I funded my own Masters so didn’t look into other options. However, I do know some people whose schools funded it for them - this normally meant that the school also had an input on the focus of the research (e.g. parental engagement). It might be worth having a conversation with your head to see if this is an option. Failing that, have a chat to student finances to see what your other options are. Hope this helps.