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!