Mental Health and Primary School Children

9.

First and foremost, I would like to give a small introduction to open this article to abolish any misconceptions you may have about this post. No, I do not believe we should ‘quickly label’ or diagnose children who simply appear to be behaving differently; no, I do not think that the fault is on the parents, nor do I think anybody is to ‘blame’. Mental health should not be written off as something you just have to ‘fix’, or that the problem needs to be entirely eradicated. Sometimes it’s as easy as providing children with coping mechanisms.

Certain mind-sets of adults can be very narrow, whether it is intentional, or indeed unintentional. You may have sat and said to yourself ‘what kind of mental health issues can a 7-11 year old really have?” and it’s so easy to forget so many important things. As an adult, mental health can in some cases be linked to situational factors, such as finances, relationships, work etc. I am very aware that in some cases there is no real reason for somebody becoming depressed or having any other mental illnesses that can be caused by a ‘malfunction’ of the brain, and its chemicals and functions. However, I for this particular article would like to consider the causational mental health issues.

I’d like to take you back to why I even came across such a topic, and it all stems from my Primary Education with QTS interview (which you can see below); we were asked to choose a current educational issue to discuss, and this was what I had chosen. A lot of things I subsequently read about showed me just how much I’d forgotten about the impact of certain issues for children at such a precious and impressionable age; a few examples of these are bereavement, divorce, and even moving house or school. We as adults get to a certain point whereby although we can be deeply affected by these same issues, we over time, have accumulated coping mechanisms and know that as devastating as anything is, we must continue and find a away through. Children can struggle with the same issues more than we do as adults because they simply have not learnt yet what to do with their emotions.

I know that the vast majority of parents and guardians pay a lot of attention to their child’s thoughts or feelings, but many people through their own business, grief, or displacement, unfortunately simply assume that their children will be okay or are coping. Just as I sit here and say that children don’t know how to deal with their emotions, they can also be unaware of how to show them at all. Should it be compulsory for you to cry or look sad when you’re upset before somebody notices? Should it be compulsory for you to shout and lash out if you’re angry before somebody notices? And the answers are of course no. Communicating appropriately with children is absolutely essential, and can not only help your child, but can help you to feel closer and more in touch with your child. Learning about the ways to do this, and how to do it effectively, is something that I am most definitely looking forward to at University.

It’s also worth thoroughly recognising that it is not unheard of for children to put on a façade to comfort their parents or guardians. Is your child really desperate to play that game now, or can they just see how stressed or unhappy you are and are trying to comfort you? This would not seem so far fetched when we realise that that’s what we have taught them to do; When they are unhappy or upset we try to do anything we can to distract them and keep them happy. So is it so unusual to consider the idea that maybe they try to do the same for you? And so I think its very important that as teachers in a school, whereby our purpose is to teach and listen to children about their emotions and how they deal with things, to try to improve the mental health of our primary school children.

Statistics have shown that 1 in 5 children have issues surrounding mental health before the age of 11, and this statistic can be found in the following link, which will also give you a lot more information around the topic from a factual point of view: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/02/08/childrens-mental-health-week_n_9185014.html

Not only do I think it’s something very important to focus on, but I also think it’s very worthwhile making the figures known to everybody. It is an issue not greatly spoken about, and that unfortunately seems to go unnoticed to a certain extent. If nothing else, I would love for this article to have raised awareness of the potential of mental health issues for primary school children.

In other news, we’re reaching a time now where there is a slight ‘plateau’ shall we say, in the amount I will be posting. This is solely down to me waiting on more information about my course, hence the posts around general topics, much like this will be. Therefore I’d like to invite you now to comment or contact me personally if there is anything you would be interested in seeing on this blog.

What Should I Wear?

Inbetween each snippet of writing will be photos with various bottoms, tops, and shoes to consider combining, they are all from the Primark website, and are linked with the Primark range, because I myself find it great value for money, and their products are always very stylish and up to date with fashion. The male and female clothes are separated and have been given a heading to distinguish between the two, and prices are also provided: http://www.primark.com/en/products

MEN2

Men

Being a teacher doesn’t automatically mean you have to throw all elements of fashion sense out of the window, or compromise on every outfit decision. Although formalwear (the usual skirt and basic top or the same with trousers, or in fact a dress) is the typical outfit and in some aspects I suppose the most easiest, a lot of outfit decisions are down entirely to organisation, and in some aspects your morning routine; If you’re a late riser, and enjoy your lie in’s, then effort with outfits is probably the last thing on your mind, but there’s nothing to stop being organised the night before. Maybe the best thing to do would be to make the decisions at the end of the week for the next week, or to maybe pair the items together in your wardrobe ready to just grab and slip on. If you would rather less effort to put in, a basic combination of formal/casualwear would be ideal. However, too casual (jeans, and a jumper) would not be so professional. The school itself will have also have a rough dress code.

WOMEN2

Women

Sometimes we can feel very organised and confident in ourselves, and on these days it would be nice to embrace it. And so maybe that means wearing a dress for a change, or choosing a patterned pair of trousers. On the more casual “I’m going to be late” days, a simple combination can be a godsend, or maybe some simple colours that aren’t too bold. What you wear can be a statement about you. Now that’s not to say that all of a sudden you should be fashion conscious or spend hours pouring over outfit decisions, it just means that sometimes people can pick up on your mood changes. For example, if you aren’t feeling your usual ‘peppy’ self, you might decide to go for a more simple skirt/trouser and jumper combination, and others will notice that maybe you were in a rush, or that you aren’t quite feeling yourself. I think it’s a fair statement to say that if you usually aren’t one for making elaborate ‘fashion’ choices, and one day you decide to switch to a bolder pattern, colour, or style, because you’re having a good day, it can be infectious for other people, and their mood too.

WOMEN1

Women

It’s worth being aware that all teachers dress very differently. In my placement school alone there were very different outfits all across the year groups; some very causal, some rather stylish, and some smart. I can easily say without a doubt, that none of them looked at all out of place, neither males nor females. What you choose to wear is entirely up to you-within school regulations of course, so unfortunately no you cannot wear your favourite onesie, or your favourite football shirt I’m afraid, sorry! The choices you make about your ‘outfit’ should only meet two criteria: the first is that you’re happy, and the second and most important, is that you’re comfortable. Your job as a teacher should be focused around the children, who will not think twice about the fact that you’ve not matched your outfit, or are wearing odd socks, or that you don’t look as formal today.

WOMEN3

Women

 

Luckily, we’re heading into a profession where we’re reshown how to be carefree again, and how minor some things are in comparison to happiness or enjoying life. So although I have provided a few outfit suggestions, my biggest suggestion is to be happy and comfortable, focus on the children, and remind yourself every day of why you chose the teaching profession. Stay happy, stay confident, and I hope this article has helped in some way, shape, or form.

 

 

 

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Men

 

 

I am very excited to be introducing my next article very soon surrounding the mental health of primary school children, and I would be thrilled if you were to join me in contributing your opinions and feedback.

My Primary Education with QTS Interview

24th March 2016

As soon as I had heard back from the primary school about getting some work experience with them, I could get back to the Admissions Team at Birmingham City University (BCU) about when I could attend an interview. My university was very accommodating and extremely helpful with the entire process. This post will tackle further the in’s and out’s of my interview. Needless to say I was very nervous about it! After my work experience and much serious though, I realised just how much I wanted to be a teacher.

As I was a ‘transfer’ for me to begin in September, I only had one interview at BCU. This was by choice; if you wanted to apply to different universities or if it’s your first application to university you would apply through UCAS. I was told in my pack to prepare me, to allow the whole day (from 9-4 roughly). The set up was intended to allow time for a Maths and English test, a personal interview, and a presentation of a book or an artefact.

I decided that I didn’t want to present a typical book and simply say I would use it in English. You can do that, it’s perfectly fine and is a good idea, however I wanted to do something a little different. I therefore chose to make an artefact to be used in science. I made a book from scratch using coloured paper and card, and stapled in some more coloured sheets. I’d used Word to create each page, the pages varied from a quick ‘label the diagram’ activity to refresh their knowledge, to information pages in between for them to write the new information, to a final page for them to self-assess. The last page asks them to think about one thing they had learn, and one thing they would like to look over again. The original diagram on the first page would have also been used in the middle of the lesson for the children to colour in to break up the lesson slightly and to keep their interest levels high. I chose to use card to make the book for my artefact to present, however, practically in a classroom a teacher would just use blank paper, and coloured paper for the front cover, and simply staple the pages together down the spine when they have been folded in half. I felt this would be something different for the children to do, and would be nice for them to have their own different section in their books, as the booklets could be stuck in. My artefact was related to plants and their parts and functions, and would be used in a Year 2 class.

The presentation itself was fairly casual, we were taken in smaller groups along with a tutor (making a total of four people in my group, not including myself). We sat around a table and simply had to show everybody our artefact or book, and cover the information that was requested in the interview preparation pack. We then passed it around the table so others could have a closer look and received feedback from the other prospective students. I’m not sure whether feedback was given in the other groups between each other, however I wanted to let the girl who had presented her book to the group just what a good idea and concept it was, and from there we all had an input in each others presentation. The other three girls had brought books, but were all very different and used in different ways.

The English test was simply a question on what our experiences had taught us about the education system and generally our reasoning for wanting to become teacher. The question was pre-set and was given to us before the day. Most of what I had to say was the way I felt, and what I had learnt from my experience, and therefore I didn’t really prepare anything beforehand, I had decided that would add an extra element of nervousness that wasn’t necessary. We were informed that our English test would contribute in someway to our application, and that on the other hand our Maths test would not. The idea behind the maths test was simply to establish what level we were at, and what kind of assistance (if any) we would need if we were to start a course there. The maths test was fairly easy, and covered some basic concepts such as amounts, money, area, and angles of triangles. But again, there is absolutely nothing to be nervous about.

The majority of this post is back to front really, so I’d just like to give you a quick overview of the day, in the correct order. To begin with when we arrived we were greeted at the door and asked to sign in and provide our details, along with proof of our qualifications. We were taken to a room, offered the usual tea and coffee, and sat until everyone had arrived, and were then given a presentation from the course leader all about the course and what would be happening for the rest of the day. After this, we were split into groups, presented our artefacts, and had our two tests (which, combined, took around an hour and a half).

After being led back to the room we were taken one by one by a member of staff to have our individual interview in their office. The lady I was paired with was lovely, and made me feel at ease straight away. Personally, I found my entire interview process very calm, casual, and friendly, which definitely helped to settle my nerves. We had already been given a list of questions to prepare for in our interview pack, including being prepared to discuss a current educational issue. I decided that I wanted mine to be something that wasn’t too obvious, and personal to me, and that was the mental health of children. I spoke about how I thought the mental health of primary school children was incredibly overlooked, and how more support should be given. Children have a way of making themselves seem care free and that they’re coping rather well, or start to behave in a certain way seemingly without reasons, and I think it’s important to try to recognise that there may be a problem that they have and that they simply don’t know how to properly express it yet. It is incredibly important that the mental health of children at a young age is supported, particularly surrounding issues such as family bereavement, divorce etc. Just because a parent or teacher feels that a child doesn’t know or isn’t aware of a situation, it is important to recognise that actually you may well have unintentionally overlooked the possibility that they might. The statistics were staggering and statistics show that 1 in 5 children have a mental health issue before the age of 11. When you consider that age range, and how many that equates to in a class of 30, or school of 250, the figure is worrying. I presented and discussed all of this with my interviewer and she seemed genuinely interested in my opinion and what I had found.

My interview finished, and that was the end of my day. I heard back within a week whether I had been offered a place or not, and the good news is I was, I was over the moon. Of course, the offer was conditional upon further health checks, and me passing my PST (which I later went on to do).

I am incredibly excited to receive more information about my course, and I can’t wait for it all to begin! Until I hear more from the University, my next few posts will be my opinions on various education-related topics. A few ideas I have are what to wear on a work experience placement in a school, why I chose to become a teacher, and an interesting discussion (or insight, if you like) into primary school children and their mental health. I welcome you to get lost in these personal posts, and give your opinion wherever you would like to, I would be very interested in hearing your points of view!

7

My Results (The Professional Skills Test)

29th April 2016

I managed to finish my Literacy test quicker than my Numeracy test, and although I felt nervous, at the same time I felt as though I had done a good enough job to pass. Thinking about that however, did not stop my butterflies; I waited until I was asked back into another room to be given my results on a piece of paper.

You are notified of whether or not you have passed around 10-15 minutes after you have finished, which I can hand on heart say is incredibly relieving. It can also mean you leave any stress behind before beginning the next test. I was fortunate enough to have passed both of my tests, and the relief is unbelievable! It’s a big weight lifted off my shoulders to know that I have passed the tests and that I am one step closer to my ultimate goal of becoming a teacher. Your results are available for institutions to view around 48 hours after you’ve finished your tests.

I am looking forward to trying to obtain more information about getting the bursary that the university offers, and this of course is an added bonus to passing the tests should I be eligible.

I wish each and every one of you the best of luck in your tests. My advice is of course to practice, be prepared, and remember that confidence is key!

6

The Professional Skills Tests

29th April 2016

First and foremost, I’d like to again take this time to mention another benefit that BCU offers, they stated in my interview that if you were to pass both of the Professional Skills Test (PST) before May 4th, you may be eligible for a £1,000 bursary. As a current University student, I can’t tell you how helpful that will be!

The PST’s are made up of a Literacy test and a Numeracy test, which must be done at an official centre. They recommend that you book as soon as possible, and definitely before August time if you can, simply to make sure that you get an appointment, as you must have passed both of these tests before you can begin your studies for this course-this is relevant for courses with the QTS, and if you need to take the tests, you will be informed about this well in advance. The policies around the tests have also now changed in that it used to be possible for you to retake the tests as many times as it takes for you to pass. However, since September 2012 it is now only possible for you to retake the tests twice, after which, if you have not passed, you must wait 2 years before taking the test again.

Your first set of tests are free, and you only pay for any resits you take. Most institutions will provide help sessions if you have applied with them and been successful in your interview. I personally did not attend any of these as I was too far away, however I found the practice tests and information more than sufficient to use as revision for the tests.

To sit your tests you’re required to take two forms of identification-I took my drivers license and my passport. You must also take a letter from an institution or confirmation of a place on a course to show also. I chose to take both of my tests on the same day, and had to go through the process twice, but that only takes 5 minutes, if that. You cannot wear any watch into the exam room, earphones are provided, as are a pen and paper for workings. You are also given a key to a locker to put your belongings in when you arrive. If you have ever been for your driving theory test, the process is very similar.

The literacy tests involve firstly a spelling test in which the words are read out to you, and are placed in a sentence for you to listen to, and spell out. I personally preferred to just type, however I am aware that some people find it easier to write their spellings instead, and this is perfectly fine. Punctuation is then tested, this is done by providing you with a text that is missing basic aspects of punctuation such as commas, full stops, speech marks, brackets, the capitalisation of letters, and the input of paragraphs, there are 15 pieces of punctuation which must be added. I found this aspect fairly easy, but it is always helpful to double and triple check by reading through it slowly. We’re often very used to reading so much material where the text is exactly as it should be without any errors, and so sometimes its easy to read it over and our brains to quickly fill in or sort out those errors; so reading slowly and double checking can make sure you spot those. Thirdly, there is a test of grammar, in which there are multiple (around-if not exactly-four) potential endings/beginnings/sections of a sentence that are missing and you must input the one that makes the most sense, and is the most grammatically correct. Again, I liked this one, some of them were rather easy, and others I just needed to read each option in my head to see which one sounded the most accurate if I wasn’t sure. And finally, the last test is of your comprehension. You’re given a text, and you must read the whole thing, the same text is used for every question. You’re either asked to link together meanings or implications, or asked which words imply the same as that used-this will become much clearer when you carry out the practice tests, its not as difficult as it sounds.

The numeracy test is split into two parts, the first is the mental arithmetic, where the questions are read out to you and you must answer in a given time limit. I found my mental arithmetic to be incredibly rusty the first time I tried after doing it for so long, however after practice it gradually got easier. I made a note of questions that I struggled with to check I could answer a question like it in the future. The paper to do workings on is extremely useful, however be very careful that you keep an eye on the time, and allow enough time to type in the answer. The second part is a written section, which involves a combination of reading data and answering questions, and being word questions that require an answer.

Both tests are entirely surrounded by a teaching ‘theme’ shall we say. For example, the grammar aspects tend to be a letter to parents or governors, the spellings tend to be things you would include in notices or letters, comprehension has aspects of articles in relation to teaching and education, and the punctuation again a letter or notice. The numeracy is similar, such as looking at pie charts of results, or Ofsted reports, marks of pupils, or the cost of trips etc. It’s actually quite interesting and encouraging to see aspects of what you will be involved in contributing to, or seeing in the future.

I personally was very nervous about my tests as my results were not anywhere above 90% in my practice tests on the Government website. My growing desire to become a teacher and begin the course added to my nerves. However, I knew I could only do my best, and that I had revised as much as I could. I made sure I was as relaxed as possible, had eaten well, had drunk plenty of water, and went with my granddad and brother in order to give a slight distraction.

The tests themselves I found were easier on the day than the practice tests, but that is just my personal opinion, I’m unaware of how others found it. I began the tests slowly and confidently, some questions I was unsure of the answers to, and some (particularly for the mental arithmetic questions) I either guessed, or ran out of time to answer, and so that made me extremely nervous. But, I tried to relax as much as I could and just continued, as I knew the pass mark meant that I didn’t have to get every question right. My tests both began earlier than the time I had booked, due to me getting there before others and us being seen in order.

All of the above information was correct as of the 6th April 2016 as per the Department of Education page, to which the link is given below for more information on the tests. However, I am not responsible for any information you take directly from this post, hence why the link is provided below for you to view the information yourself.

I hope this has helped to answer some of your questions surrounding the tests, and should you want to know, the next post includes information about the results of the test in general, as well as my results.

5

Pre-Interview Work Experience Part Two: The Nitty Gritty

14th March 2016

For those of you wanting to read about my work experience, we’re finally here! Fast forward to 8:00am on Monday 14th March, my first day. Admittedly, I was slightly anxious, but more excited than anything else. I checked for the usual before I left: My DBS check, a snack, my glasses, and my coat. I got the normal positive “have a good day” from my mum, my dad on the other hand gave a typical dad joke. Before I left all I heard him shout was “make sure you write your name in your coat, and don’t forget your packed lunch!”. As you can imagine my sides were splitting at this point at such originality…

I arrived a little early, but rather early than late. I signed in, explained who I was, what I was there for, and the year group I was going to be placed with. I was taken across to the junior building and introduced to the Year 3 teachers-Miss Baugh, and Mrs York the teaching assistant for the class. Both were extremely welcoming and lovely, as were the class as they filed in. It was slightly bizarre to be introduced as Miss Young, and to hear a full class of 7-8 year olds chanting it after the usual “Good Morning”, but it was pleasant to hear and I hope to hear it for many years to come.

Many of my days began in much the same way: Registration, lunch choices, personal reading, and then an assembly given by the Headteacher. Often whilst the children were in the assembly there would be sheets that needed sticking into books or books that needed handing out. On a couple of days I was also asked if I’d like to listen to a child read. I of course jumped at the chance and found it very easy to tell who enjoyed reading, and read at home, and who didn’t. Most of the children read beautifully, and those who didn’t read so well tried very hard. I also saw a boy reading two books, swapping between them each day, and some were reading incredibly advanced books.

One thing I without a doubt took from my work experience, is that children’s potential has no simple restraints, I was incredibly taken aback when the children were asked to spell ‘signet’ and the majority could effortlessly. At the ages of seven and eight I think that’s incredible, and what’s expected of children has increased hugely over the years. As a Harry Potter fan, it filled me with so much joy to see how excited and incredibly knowledgeable the children were about it, after using the books as the basis of their English lessons. It really did spark their imaginations and kept them captivated every lesson.

I worked a few times with a little girl, she was lovely but struggled mostly with her maths. Even with help she was trying so hard but struggling to grasp some things straight away. Her determination and positivity was refreshing and eventually she got there. For her, and a few of the other pupils, I feel it would’ve been more beneficial for them to have practised their times tables more frequently at home, however I am very aware that this isn’t always possible. I wonder whether they would have benefitted from an after-school club on the basics, presented in a fun manner. Yet the issue there is how many children-or in fact parents for that matter-would be interested.

I found it very interesting that at the school I was in (I’m unsure whether this is country wide), the main class teacher did not teach P.E. or R.E. One reason I was told for R.E. being taught by a different member of staff, was that all teacher must have at least one hour a week away from their class and teaching, in order to plan, prepare, and assess (PPA time). The class was also invited on a school trip to Tesco to learn more about where their food comes from, as well as a trip to the church, I was kindly invited to both, however unfortunately I couldn’t attend, but the children had a lovely time, and I was made to feel more than welcome to join them.

My final morning involved going with the children to the book fair set up in the infant school hall. Their excitement was enough to explain why it continues to be so successful every year. The children looked through all of the books, some on their own, some in pairs, some even asked me to walk around with them, or to help them to look for a book. We then all sat down to listen to the teaching assistant read a story, the children really did love that, and it was a perfect time for me to take in all the time I had spent with the teachers and children and just how much love and warmness there was in the room.

And then came my time to leave. It was coming up to the Easter holidays and I wanted to give the teachers and children a little something to say thank you for being so helpful and pleasant. In true future-teacher style, I bought a multi-pack of sealable eggs from Hobbycraft (whilst on sale of course!), and filled them with sweet treats. And for the teachers, two Easter bunnies. The disappointed groan from the children when they were told that it was my last day was truly heart warming, their spirits were soon lifted back up however at the sight of the gifts for them and they were incredibly grateful, making it worth every penny. The teacher I was placed with also gave me a gift to say thank you of all my help with the children, it was a lovely gesture but the thank you’s alone from everyone were more than good enough. The class teacher also told me that I was welcome back at any time, and I intend to take her up on that offer closer to summer.

Most of my time involved practical interaction with the children and actively helping them with their learning. I really appreciated the fact that I didn’t spend my time just doing menial tasks. So if you’re about to begin some work experience or are thinking about it, go for it, its one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. And don’t worry if you work, or still have classes, most schools are very flexible with their times and availability. It’s also worth remembering that schools in particular, always finish after colleges and universities, giving the perfect time to volunteer.

Please make sure you have allowed time in advance to get your DBS check done and sent off to save any disappointment, and contact schools as soon as possible about the potential of work experience with them. If you’re starting to get disgruntled by the amount of schools without places and the unsuccessful communications with schools, don’t be disheartened-be patient, keep trying, and stay enthusiastic, you will find somewhere! Whatever you do, don’t panic!

I hope this post has cleared up a few things, or at least settled a few potential fears any of you may have had, or that at the very least it has been interesting for those who are just curious. I’d like to close with a few humorous, and some touching lines from the children during my time with the class:

  • “It doesn’t matter that you don’t like the subject, it’s about learning, and when you learn, then you’ll be good at it.”
  • “Your hair is like my neighbours.”
  • “Excuse me Miss, she’s still got her coat on.”
  • “Holy Communion involves bread with butter, and a knife on the side”
  • “I will get you back for this and get you out next time, just you wait and see.”
  • “If we have 28, but need 29, we need 2 more?…4?”
  • “Let me start again so I can make sure I get my pen license.”
  • “These are muggle pictures, they don’t even move!”

I do hope that I’ve captured you enough to be interested in reading further into my blog, and following me in each stage of my journey. Thank you very much for reading, and see you soon!

4

Pre-Interview Work Experience Part One: Finding a School

2nd February 2016

As I’d decided to switch my course fairly late on in the year I carried out my work experience fairly late. This was made even longer due to waiting for my DBS check to come through. The check itself cost £44 for the full check. The form itself you must obtain from an institution such as your college or university, after which you fill it out and return it to them.

I worked part-time at a supermarket, which meant that unfortunately I could only do mornings at my ‘placement’. I had already spoken to the Deputy Headteacher about this to check it was okay with the school to have that arrangement. Speaking of Deputy Head, I’ve left out a huge chunk; I’m yet to tell you how I even found a work experience placement, my apologies! My intention is to provide you with as much information as possible, and so whilst I know for some readers a lot of details may seem unnecessary, for others, I know hearing someone else’s experiences can help in knowing where to start and what to do.

Initially, I was looking for placements in Birmingham as that’s where I was living at the time, and I can tell you that it was by no means an easy task. But, I don’t want this to put you off. Most students begin their work experience, or at least their search for it, a lot earlier than myself, as I began looking in February. By the time I’d rung four or five of the local primary schools I’d found online, they had already filled their ‘quota’ of work experience placements. I simply googled primary schools along with my postcode, in order to find schools that I could realistically travel to every day.

For each primary school I found, I emailed the ‘contact us’ email address provided on the website, and I also rang each one in turn. My email simply explained that I was applying to a Primary Education with QTS course at Birmingham City University, and that for that, I needed to do some work experience. I also looked at the Ofsted reports for the schools I had chosen, and in my email spoke of how I had read their latest Ofsted report and how it puts them amongst some of the best schools in the area. I requested that they could get back to me with any information or help they could give me.

I compiled a list of all the schools I wanted to contact, and alongside them wrote the email address and phone number, and a column to write in their response so that I could remember when I came back to it. I chose to avoid religious schools as I don’t personally have a religion, and would therefore be better suited to a non-religious school as it is closer to what I am used to. But that’s not to say that you should be put off by religious schools, it is simply just that in my search for a school initially it was something I was more comfortable with.

Eventually, a lady got back to me and arranged to sort a time for me to carry out my work experience once my DBS check had come back. However, due to unforeseen circumstances I moved out of my student accommodation and back home with my parents. As soon as I knew this was going to happen I contacted my old primary school that both I and my brother attended in Crewe. I was lucky in that they got back to me very quickly and asked for the dates I would be available to start. I also made sure I contracted the original Headteacher from the school in Birmingham to explain the situation to her, and to thank her for the opportunity and her time. I spoke with the Deputy Headteacher via email and he went on to put me in touch with the Year 3 teacher that I was going to be placed with.

I’d like to take the next post to talk you through my week and a half of my work experience. So if you’re curious about what to expect please feel free to read on; if you’re simply interested in the process itself, please skip to the next post (after part two)-I won’t be offended, I promise! For those of you still reading, I’d like to think that maybe you’re curious or excited, or that maybe you yourself have had your work experience and just want to see how someone else got on. I welcome all of you warmly, regardless of what brings you here.

I hope I’ve captured your interest for long enough to keep you around to read more, and would like to point you to part two of my pre-interview work experience post. Thank you for reading!

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Course Switch: From Law to Primary School Teaching with QTS

22nd January 2016

I’d first like to give a little background information on how I arrived at this point. If you wish to read solely about the process of my transfer, please feel free to skip to paragraph six. However, I feel reading from the beginning will give you a better insight into how I ended up in the position I am today.

After truly loving Law as one of my choices at A-Level and having considered it before, I chose to apply to University for a Law LLB course in 2015. I applied, and got offers from the University of Leeds (AAA), University of Birmingham (AAA), Oxford Brookes (AAB), University of Exeter (AAB), and Birmingham City University (BBC).

BCU had made me an unconditional offer, and as such this went down as my insurance. As I had hoped to achieve AAA, I put down University of Birmingham as my first choice. I loved the University, and the look of it, as well as the accommodation, and adored the city itself. My predicted grades were AAB which was very generous considering at AS level I only achieved BCDDD (as I had taken five). However, the teachers were made aware that I was doing resits for all but a couple of my AS levels as I was unhappy with what I got, and was eager to improve.

Unfortunately, the pressure and workload of 12 exams proved too much and I finished my time at college with BBD. I still managed to get an offer from BCU-I think most likely due to me achieving a C in my EPQ (which was also law related)-so I began my course in September of 2015 at BCU, and moved into Oscott Gardens (BCU accommodation). Originally, I was given an offer of accommodation for a building which included having shared bathrooms; of all the things at university that may come along, that was one thing I was not comfortable with due to being very ‘precise’ shall we say, about hygiene. But, I rang the Accommodation Office and spoke to somebody who said they may be able to find out if anybody had turned down an accommodation offer at one of the other en-suite buildings. I thought this was probably unlikely but it is always worth an ask. They got back to me on the same day to say that they had found me a place, which was a huge relief to say the least.

I began my course and at first was enjoying it, I continued to work at the seminars and go through my notes and the textbooks after my day at University. However, the novelty of different work soon wore off, and I began to realise that much of what I was studying was similar to what I had done at A-level and it just was not grabbing my attention at all. I began to get less and less motivated and more and more disconnected with my course. Even before I had applied for Law, I had considered teaching as a potential career, however I spoke to the career advice at my college and was essentially put off it by how difficult he was making it sound, and the things he was telling me unfortunately. I was torn by the usual predicament of having a job for money, or a job doing something that I enjoyed. Law is arguably an incredibly hard industry to get into, and that led me to make my decision to continue with Law.

Around Christmas time I began to think more about potentially switching my course, and emailed the course leader for Primary Education with QTS about the potential of switching. She added into the email the Admissions Officer who gave me all the information I needed, and what I would need to do. I contacted my personal tutor to let them know what was going on, and made a list of all the things I needed to do. I had to give a statement as to why I wanted to switch to that specific course, which I did. In a reply a few days later, I was told that I had gotten an interview with the university, and that I needed to carry out two weeks of work experience to be able to have a successful interview; he also sent me a lot of information about what to expect on the day of the interview. I was told that the two offices for both law and education were communicating with each other about my transfer and that it should not be a problem, should I pass the interview stage.

I personally up to this point found my university to be very helpful and supportive of my desire to switch course, and all the information that they provided me with and assistance I needed, or might have needed. I was very grateful for this, as by this point I had certainly decided Law wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. However, I stuck to keeping up with my coursework for Law just in case I didn’t get a place on the teaching course. Had that been the case, I would have continued with Law, as next years modules would be down to me to choose, and most of the material I would not have studied before.

All in all, I would recommend a switch to anyone if you’re not enjoying your course. It can be helpful to decide this as soon as possible, but it is not impossible, nor is it too difficult to switch your course providing the university is accommodating and has the space for you to move. You should be aware however that it would be a good idea to check for courses that are similar in the grades necessary for your current course should you wish to switch. Universities tend to take a dim view on you getting onto a course with one set of grades, and then applying for a transfer to an oversubscribed course with higher grades than you have. However, I am unaware of how different universities deal with that kind of thing, and as it is something I have not experienced, I could not fairly or knowledgably comment on that.

Should you wish to continue reading (and I sincerely hope you do), the following posts will tackle my pre-interview work experience in a primary school-including how I managed to get my work experience, what I was doing whilst I was there, and many more stages of my Primary Education with QTS application, tests, and interview. So if you’re curious about the process, or are just looking for what to expect, I welcome you to continue to follow me on my journey.

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Feedback and Questions

As philosophical as the title sounds, the post is far from it; I want to take this opportunity to talk you through who I am, and why I have chosen to begin this blog. I first of all want to apologise in advance for the clinical drawn out tone to my writing, unfortunately it’s a habit and my time on a Law course certainly didn’t help to water that down any.

Please feel free to send me your own experiences through the ‘contact’ page for a private view, or use the comment section to make it visibly to anybody. Alternatively, if you have any questions I would love to put up a question and answer post at the end of every month. If your questions are urgent, I will get back to you as soon as possible, and also include them in the question and answer post unless you ask for it not to be included (names will not be used). I would like to keep all of the answers collectively until the end of the month so that you can see answers to questions that you may not have thought of, or realised you wanted to ask. Similarly, I welcome any messages privately addressed to me through the contact section, giving any feedback, whether it be good or constructive.

I hope you find something to interest you amongst this blog and I would love for you to join me on my journey.

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