|Primary School Teacher|
|Vision for Education|
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A day in the life of a Primary School Teacher in the United Kingdom
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work for a teaching supply agency that recruits and supplies teachers for primary, secondary and SEND schools. They have branches across the country, including Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Lincoln. They also offer a variety of free training courses for their employees to continue their professional development.
What do you do?
My duty is to teach clearly structured lessons/sequences of work which interest and motivate children, while providing appropriate challenges to help them achieve their full potential. I have to make use of a variety of teaching/learning strategies to establish a purposeful learning environment (including behaviour management) and I am responsible for the safeguarding and wellbeing of students. I have to follow the school’s monitoring and assessment policies to ensure pupils’ work is assessed effectively and have to stay committed to continuing my own professional development as a teacher.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I always knew that I wanted to work with children but it was only during my last year of university that I decided to aim specifically towards teaching. After focusing on educational psychology for my final year project & literature review, I was determined to continue researching these topics by completing a PGCE alongside a SCITT programme. This really gave me the best of both worlds as I was able to expand my knowledge of educational theories and the relevant science, while also spending most of my time actively teaching. Due to COVID restrictions, my training was unfortunately cut short when the schools closed in March 2020 and although I still received my QTS, I felt that I had missed out on a considerable amount of opportunities. I therefore applied to join a supply agency in order to gain wider exposure to different age groups, teaching practices and schools.
Your local council website, Gov.uk and the TES website are the three main places where most people find their first placements. Usually, if you are interested in a school’s position, you will get in touch to arrange a visit (this allows you to find out more information and make a good first impression). However, most schools are currently only offering an informal phone call, which can make it more difficult to know if the school is right for you. Similarly, if you are invited to interview (after sending off your cover letter/personal statement and application form), this is most likely going to be over a video call.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
No, by the time I had graduated from York, I had already secured a place on my teacher training course and therefore knew I was going to be working in the educational sector.
Describe your most memorable day at work
Another great thing about teaching is that you come away with so many stories to tell, its hard to single out just one. However, I would probably say that my most memorable day has to be on the last day of term when I had to say goodbye to a class I had been teaching for most of the year. I had received a handmade card from one of my Year 3 pupils, thanking me for “being the best teacher”, along with a pretty accurate portrait of me and what they had learned in the first lesson I had ever taught them. Knowing that I am able to have such an impact on their educational experience is exactly why I fell in love with teaching in the first place.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
During my 3rd year, I completed a volunteering placement with ‘York Students in Schools’, lasting roughly two terms. This involved spending half a day each week as a classroom assistant, working alongside the Class Teacher, although I also supported children’s reading development by listening to them on a 1-to-1 and group basis.
This enabled me to build up my knowledge of the day-to-day running of an effective learning environment and experience the role of responsibility within an educational setting. The ability to adjust communication was one of the most valuable, transferable skills I took away from this because it forms the basis of meeting children’s needs, regardless of age, phase or ability, which an essential skill in teaching.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Get as much experience as you can, as early as you can (I understand this might be a bit difficult at the minute with COVID restrictions) but any sort of experience with children will be valuable on your job applications. I volunteered at Osbaldwick Primary as part of the ‘York Students in Schools’ programme with the university and would highly recommend doing something similar if possible. You may also consider tutoring if you are looking for a paid way to gain more experience.
Alternatively, look for online courses that may be relevant to teaching (safeguarding is a big one!). You don’t have to spend a lot of money, there should be loads out there that are free.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
If you have any questions regarding job applications (i.e. writing personal statements and cover letters to fit person specifications), I am more than happy to help. Similarly, if you have any concerns about teacher training, the day-to-day life of a teacher or the teacher assessment process, I am happy to share my experiences with you.
If you like the look of Megan’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Megan a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Megan to be your mentor.