Bethany Mallett

Primary Education with QTS - BA (Hons)

"A last minute change of mind from a media degree to primary teaching meant Bethany deferred going to university for a year – but she’s glad she did! She’s now training to be a teacher and making the most of the opportunities on offer, committing herself to becoming creative and confident in the classroom and in her life as a student.

Originally I wanted to apply for a course related to Media, preferably somewhere close to Bristol or Bournemouth. I looked at lots of universities to do a media degree and complete a PGCE afterwards to become a media teacher, as my own media teacher had inspired me to do so. However, I have worked with younger children all my life, at community playgroups and in my previous job as a teaching assistant, which made me realise that working with younger children was my calling! I realised this very last minute so I ended up deferring a year and worked to earn some money. This was after seeing the variety of aspects within the BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS course at BCU and doing some further research. When looking at BCU I realised all the parts of Birmingham that I love. I was also able to see just how perfect the course was for me as not all universities offer the same modules, such as working in a special needs school. The University was also really welcoming when I visited for an Open Day, which made me feel comfortable and supported.  

There are always challenges and wobbles about whether a course like Primary Education is right for you, especially as becoming a teacher is a very demanding job! It can be difficult to complete assignments and planning and still find time to socialise. I’ve faced challenges in working a packed schedule and finding the right work-life balance. However, there have been some really helpful tutors and facilities at BCU’s City South Campus (where my course is based) that have supported me through assignments, placements and finding that balance. For example, I’ve taken part in volunteering and work through the Graduate+ scheme, which has given me opportunities to socialise with others. I’ve also worked as a Student Ambassador at University Open Days, which helps me remember why I love this course, and taken part in smaller projects and activities on campus. This is a more proactive approach to work-life balance and is helping set me up for my career. I’ve also had the option to get private tutorials to support my assignment writing, through services like the Academic Development Department. This has helped me to improve my grammar and referencing, as well as learn to plan my workload effectively. 

As a result, timetabling and time management are some of the key skills I’ve learnt from the course so far. It would be very difficult to be a teacher if I was not able to do this! I have also learned so much about primary school subjects that I was not taught when I was younger, including learning about coding computers and participating in group science activities, along with professional skills such as public speaking and risk management. It has surprised me that sometimes what you might think will be the most unexciting aspects of this course can include fun practical sessions and interesting information!  

My teachers and lecturers have given me countless opportunities to get involved with the University. They realised I was someone who enjoyed having different things to do, so they offered me things I could get involved in. This has helped me to realise that the University and tutors have faith in me to push myself and involve myself in things I hadn’t considered before. They also made sure they always have time for me whenever I needed it and would point me in the right direction to other people or support services that may be more beneficial to talk to. This made me feel very supported and motivated to be a hardworking student as I knew I had tutors and others behind me. 

Since becoming a student, I’ve become much more aware of other people and their situations. In secondary school and sixth form you’re usually surrounded by peers who are in very similar situations to you in terms of their age, aspirations, etc. At university though, you meet such a variety of people that have different backgrounds, situations, aspirations and you become more aware of that. It opens your eyes to more of the world. This was also through working at different schools around the midlands. I think I’ve become a lot more independent too. Being an only child before I came to university, I was quite independent anyway, but learning to manage finances, paying bills and depending on my own time management were all things I hadn’t really needed to learn before. University gives you that opportunity to become an independent person, but in a situation where you always have people to help if you need it.

I’m only just over half way through my course but I feel I’ve accomplished so much already! I’ve been involved with extra-curricular work alongside my degree which always looks good on the CV. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I’m involved with the Student Academic Leaders’ team for my year and course, which means I will be making a positive contribution to other cohorts of students in the future. I was also offered a Governor's role in a primary school that I have not worked in, which I felt was a real accomplishment. Although I didn’t take up the opportunity as I felt this would be something to consider in the future, I was still extremely honoured to be offered the position.  

My course is geared to launching my career as a teacher as it offers the opportunity to achieve Qualified Teacher Status as well as my academic degree. However, the course has shown me that, even though my course title sounds limited to a specific type of career, there are a lot of different avenues you could go down after finishing the degree. I can work with different ages and abilities, as well as providing the foundation for building towards more senior or unique roles within a school. This can be a role such as curriculum lead or SENCo or a more demanding role such as senior management. With my degree I can choose whatever I would like to do and the University has ensured that I’m able to adapt, so I am not just limited to my degree.  That said, being at BCU has solidified my feelings towards my career: I know that teaching is definitely for me! I hope that in three years from now I will have finished my newly qualified teaching (NQT) years and will be aspiring to become a year leader or subject leader.  

To me ‘I AM BCU’ means being whoever I want to be and being proud of my achievements, no matter how big or small. As BCU provides support, activities and interesting opportunities, I can become that independent person and decide what I want to get involved in. It doesn’t matter if you’re a quiet, studious type or a loud, sociable type, BCU always has something to offer, which makes me proud to be part of the University."  

Nursing I AM BCU CTA

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