Education profiles

Ilona Witoszek

MSc TESOL

Home country: Poland

I have great memories of studying for the TESOL qualification at the University of Stirling. I especially appreciated being taught by tutors with real world experience, and how they were always ready to give advice. At Stirling you will learn more than the textbooks offer, and you benefit by mingling with international students who possess different levels of teaching experience. I felt very welcome here!

Bethan Mitchell

MRes Educational Research

Home country: Wales

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

When I finished my first Masters degree (Management Learning and Leadership) I was very keen on exploring workplace and professional learning further. I was particularly interested in Actor-Network Theory and had attended a conference at Stirling University where this was discussed widely.

What attracted you to Stirling?

The conference content was dynamic and aligned with my interests, which indicated that Stirling University would be the best place for me to study. The other important reason was that Professor Tara Fenwick works here and she was my first choice of supervisor.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?

For my Masters in Research Methods I enjoyed the placement most. It was an excellent opportunity to go into the workplace specifically to conduct research. I presented my work at the Doctoral Conference and displayed and presented a poster at the ProPEL conference. It was a valuable and rewarding experience that I will draw on for my research degree.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the workshops that were provided for the PhD students. These were a great combination of theory and discussion, and got us reading (and talking) about key theories in education research that we might otherwise not have come across.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

My Masters in Research Methods will help me if I seek work as a researcher. It also gave me a good grounding for the PhD; even though I already had a Masters degree, the MRes developed specific skills and knowledge. For example, the course covered NVivo (computer software for qualitative research), quantitative methods (STATA), and qualitative methods such as interviews, discourse analysis and analysing data. Not all of these are directly relevant to my PhD, but it is very useful to know and I may draw on these in the future. I would encourage students who are thinking of going into research to undertake this course.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

Come and enjoy studying in a beautiful place! When you need to study there’s a great library, and when you need to think, there are lots of lovely walks.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

Hard work but rewarding, and I still have lots of hard work to come with the PhD. At least I can do this in lovely surroundings with the support of brilliant staff.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

PhD in Education Research.

Mairi Law

MSc TESOL

Home country: Scotland

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

I realised that I needed a recognised ELT qualification in order to further my career and decided that it would be more worthwhile getting a recognised academic qualification than other ELT qualifications.

What attracted you to Stirling?

I was attracted to Stirling because it is a well-known university, the campus looked an attractive place to study and I saw that the School of Education was rated among the highest in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (1st in Scotland) prior to my application.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?

I enjoyed learning from lecturers who really knew their subjects and who were passionate about TESOL. I also enjoyed interacting with my course peers, who were from a variety of countries and had experience teaching in a wide variety of contexts.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I most enjoyed the modules in which there was the most ‘real world’ application, especially Syllabus Design, Testing and Teaching Young Learners.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

Absolutely! Having the degree was key to me being employed as the Academic Director at an institute that I had previously worked at as a teacher. Also, the knowledge I gained on the degree was key to giving me the confidence to set up my own ELT consultancy after leaving that institute. Furthermore, I am interested in doing further study in the next few years and I know that the research skills I learnt at Stirling will stand me in good stead for that eventuality. I have remained in contact with my course peers and lecturers that I met during the course. Furthermore, I was able to join SATEFL as a result of events that they held on campus at Stirling.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

I would advise any prospective student considering Stirling to go for it and once they are at Stirling to fully immerse themselves in the Stirling experience! Stirling is a great place to study with its beautiful, spacious, campus, knowledgeable lecturers and diverse student body.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

My postgraduate degree was very demanding, but it was worth every moment. I immensely enjoyed studying at Stirling and living nearby in Bridge of Allan. I made friends that I am still in contact with and gained a thorough knowledge of English language teaching.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

After graduating I worked as the Academic Director of a private English institute in Bolivia and I now have my own English teaching consultancy, also in Bolivia. In this new role, I am able to fully apply the valuable skills and knowledge I gained at Stirling and I am now able to design tailored curriculums and materials that are most suitable for each of my students to successfully learn English.

Xianwen Li

MSc TESOL

Home country: China

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

After completing a Bachelor’s degree majoring in English Language, I found that I wanted to further improve my English language skills and decided that by studying abroad, I could gain a postgraduate qualification and become more professional as an English teacher.

What attracted you to Stirling?

There are many reasons to study TESOL at Stirling, the main two being the quality of the course and the campus. I received several offers from UK universities, but chose Stirling for its strong reputation and ranking in Education, the professional teaching methods and quality of the tutors. Also, the university campus has beautiful scenery which provides students a good environment to study in.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?

I really enjoyed all my classes, and although some courses were challenging, the tutors were all very helpful and understanding

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the microteaching course for its benefits to my teaching practice, and learning more on English grammar to help improve my English language teaching. All the tutors are professional, respectable, and a joy to learn from.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

By graduating from the TESOL course I have definitely made myself more employable, I am now more skilled and have a competitive edge over others when job hunting. The salary in China is also higher for postgraduates!

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

Prepare for each class then review what you have learnt
Pay attention to your teachers, you can learn a lot from them
Don’t be shy to ask questions and discuss with your tutors and classmates.
Try hard on your assignments, but remember they are there to help you learn too.
When studying in the University library, use the reference books, they are a valuable resource.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

The period I spent studying TESOL has left a lasting impression on my life, I had a fulfilling time studying and enjoyed daily life in Stirling. When I returned home to China I recommended Stirling to all my friends!

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

Since graduating I have become a TOFEL teacher in a foreign language institute in Shanghai, China.

 

Audrey Branagh

BA Education (Secondary) and English

Home country: Northern Ireland

I started Stirling in 1980 although I graduated in 1984 as I studied English.

I remember Colin Peacock with fondness as he was a very approachable tutor who made our practical sessions in "The Theory and Practice of Classroom Drama" very enjoyable. He was a great role model. 

With our micro-teaching and link practice, which were in their infancy way back then, our course was innovative.

I taught in Scotland for nine years before returning home to Northern Ireland. I have been teaching now for 31 years, due in no small part, to the grounding I received in the Education Department.

Caroline Cane

BA Professional Education (Primary) with a specialism in modern languages

Home country: Scotland

What attracted you to study at the University of Stirling?

I chose Stirling University because of the excellent academic reputation and impressive history. I had always wanted to progress academically and because I had been out of education for over 5 years, I was able to apply for an access course to enable me to get back into the mind-set required for completing a degree. Having a background in Spanish, I was particularly interested in the primary teaching course as it was paired with a specialism in modern languages, which I thought could be attractive to potential employers in the future.

What did you enjoy most about your time at University of Stirling?

I enjoyed learning how to study and do research independently as well as being exposed to the different perspectives of my peers and participating in the School’s numerous and varied range of academic and social activities.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

The primary programme is a unique route to becoming a teacher. The School of Education has a wide range of experts who teach and are able to provide a wealth of knowledge and support throughout the course. The feedback I received on coursework and class presentations was always very detailed and provided me with my next steps in terms of learning.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills?

My degree has provided me with the ability to up level my current skill set as well as providing me with transferrable skills for the future. I developed my communication skills in order to be clear, concise and focused as well as listening to the viewpoints of others. I have proven that I am team player but also have the ability to manage and delegate to others and take on responsibility. I was able to build positive working relationships that helped everyone to achieve a common goal. I can now confidently display an ability to take a logical and analytical approach to solving problems and resolving issues as well as confidently showing that I can approach problems from different angles. Organisation is key and I am now able to show that I can prioritise, work efficiently and productively, and manage my time well. It's good to be able to show employers how you decide what is important to focus on and get done, and how you go about meeting deadlines.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

Be prepared for a large, sometimes confusing, campus. But you’ll get used to that very quickly. My time at Stirling has been an extremely positive experience where the excellent standard of teaching has given me a sound grasp of what teaching is and what a teacher does. I relished my school placements within different authorities, as I was able to experience first hand what it is like working within busy and diverse schools.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

Stirling is a lovely city with lots of opportunities, societies and activities. It’s a very active University with an excellent quality of teaching.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

I am permanently employed within Falkirk Council as a class teacher.

Would you recommend this career/further study to others?

I would highly recommend coming to Stirling University to study. Regardless of the programme you enter, the university provides an outstanding education to prepare you for the world beyond university life and the experiences and friendships you gain while living in such a fantastic city will last a lifetime.

Elizabeth Johnstone

BA Professional Education (Primary) with Specialism

I chose the University of Stirling as I was attracted to the diverse modules offered. It also has the added benefit of being situated within spectacular grounds.

Make the most of every opportunity that University of Stirling offers in terms of modules and guest speakers and lectures. 

Stirling

Gillian McLaughlin

BA Education and French

I am a very proud graduate of the - then - Education Department. I graduated in 1986 when the Foreign Languages section, under the care of Dick Johnstone (now retired Professor Richard Johnstone OBE I believe). I chose Stirling in no small part due the fact I could study Education and qualify as a teacher alongside my main subject. I LOVED my time there and the care and attention we received were unparalleled. Even all those years ago the Education Department was at the forefront of pedagogical developments in language learning in Scotland, the UK and Europe. Although I have never taught French, I have spent most of my career working in the field of foreign language education at a European level and Dick has never been far away - researcher, keynote speaker, expert. Yes, very proud of my attachment to the Education Department. at Stirling

Lindsay Tonner

BA Professional Education (Secondary)

I remember choosing to go to Stirling, I chose it because of the great course and the lovely campus feel, but I really decided when I stood on the bridge on my first visit and already felt at home. I loved knowing that my tutors saw me as a person not just a number. My courses were challenging and interesting and prepared me superbly for my career in education. I graduated and became registered in both English and Religious Studies and have taught both in a variety of different settings but have settled into my old school, Mid Yell Junior High School, teaching mainly English with some Religious Studies and I loved it... I couldn't have done it without Stirling University!

Rochelle Ireland

BA Professional Education (Secondary) with History

As a mature student part of the attraction of the course at Stirling was that I could obtain a degree in History at the same time as studying for my teaching qualification meaning I would be qualified in 4 years instead of 5.  I have never regretted choosing Stirling! Doing the Education course throughout the 4 years mean that there was time to absorb education theory whilst working on the practice.  Completing 3 placements over the period of the course means that students have experience of a variety of schools before embarking on their probation year. 

The support from all the staff at Stirling was amazing! I had a particularly difficult period in my private life during my time there and due to the support and guidance from the staff still managed to successfully complete my degree.  For that I will always be grateful. I cannot recommend the University of Stirling highly enough!

Ma Huan

MSc TESOL

Home country: China

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

I decided to study for an MSc in TESOL to become more employable in English teaching and improve my career prospects.

What attracted you to Stirling?

I love Scotland and was attracted to the TESOL course by the Universities’ good reputation

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?

My most enjoyable experiences at Stirling came in the classroom.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

The part of the TESOL course I enjoyed the most was practising being a real teacher in the Microteaching module

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

Now I have graduated I think I am more employable as a teacher, I have gained valuable skills in planning and writing lesson plans and how to improve on my ability to teach.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

My advice for prospective students would be to practise your English writing skills, this will help you when writing assignments.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

I enjoyed my time at Stirling a lot, the class, the time with teachers and classmates, even the assignments helped me learn a lot about teaching.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

Now that I have graduated I plan on becoming a teacher

 

Catriona Marwick

BA Professional Education (Primary) with a specialism in Modern Languages

Home country: Scotland

What attracted you to study at the University of Stirling?

It had been my dream since I was young to become a primary teacher but also had a passion for languages and enjoyed them throughout my school. Finding out about the course at Stirling was the best of both worlds for me. In terms of the university itself, I remember going to the first open day and the university felt like a place I could call home as I walked around the scenic surroundings.

What did you enjoy most about your time at University of Stirling?

Being at Stirling felt like being part of a community, whether that was in lectures or seminars or in the student housing on campus. As our primary student intake was lower than other universities, this meant that you built a closer relationship with the others on your course. It also meant that tutors knew you as a person and were able to fully support you along your journey.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

The primary programme covered a range of topics to prepare you for placement. Your time out in schools was where ‘it all clicked into place’ and you could put into practice the skills and approaches you had learned. It was also beneficial that we got to spend one day a week in a high school as part of our training to gain more of an idea about transition and inclusion. In addition, it was interesting sharing some classes with secondary students to share different viewpoints and approaches. Likewise, as part of our specialism, you were taking classes with non-education students which meant you were able to meet lots of new people.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills?

Having the specialism in modern languages has definitely helped me stand out as a teacher, particularly as the new 1+2 Languages initiative has come into place across Scotland. Having this knowledge and experience from university means that schools do not have to retrain you. Thanks to my specialism, I have been lucky enough to work as the 1+2 Coordinator for my school.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

Definitely go to the open day and get a proper feel for the place – it won’t let you down!

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

I felt valued as a student at the University and both challenged and supported. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge and skills that was shared with us.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

I am coming to the end of my second year at Scottish Borders council. I have taught both P6 and P7 and currently have my own PGDE student which is quite a surreal experience.

Would you recommend this career/further study to others?

Yes. Every day is unlike no other. Over the past two years I have had both the best and most challenging days of my career. It is like being on a rollercoaster with all the ups and downs but one that is so rewarding that you never want to come off.

Julie Ann Westmorland

BA Professional Education (Primary) with Environmental Science

Home country: Scotland

I chose Stirling simply because I'm a single parent and travelling to Glasgow or Edinburgh simply wasn't an option for me. Primary teaching has been a goal of mine for a very long time and when Stirling added this to their course choices I jumped at the chance of fulfilling this goal.

Stirling was, and is, an excellent university and in providing the opportunity of studying primary education with a specialism (in my case environmental science) this has, I feel, made me more employable and has helped me to secure a full time, permanent position.

My advice for anyone considering studying at Stirling would be, embrace your specialism, listen to the advice of your lecturers and tutors (they really do know what they're talking about!) and most importantly enjoy your time in this wonderful learning environment. I laughed and cried my way through university, but have to say, this was the best four years of my life and Stirling has provided me with the degree I craved and the expertise I needed to fulfil my lifelong ambition. I now have the best job in the world!

Hazel McDonald

BA Professional Education (Primary) with a specialism in Modern Languages

Home country: Scotland

What attracted you to study at the University of Stirling?

Since I was 5 years old I have always known what I wanted to do – teach. In secondary school I realised that languages was also another passion of mine and I wanted to explore this. The University of Stirling was the only place that offered me the opportunity to study both.

What did you enjoy most about your time at University of Stirling?

Throughout my 4 years at the university I enjoyed every aspect that Stirling had to offer. The beautiful campus, outstanding facilities and social aspects of university life. I made friends for life and learned who I am as a person and a teacher.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

As our year was smaller than most, it meant that we all formed close relationships. Many of us are still friends today and keep in touch to help each other out. I also found there was a lot of support from the university itself and the tutors that we had. If you ever had a problem, or even a question, there was always someone to talk to.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills?

For me it has been slightly different as I did not apply for jobs in Scotland, however having a background in languages was extremely beneficial for me working abroad. I employ the same strategies I was taught throughout my course, to the classroom situations I am in today. Nowadays, languages are becoming more important within the curriculum and I feel that in the future my degree will give me an edge over others.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

Make the most of it. They were an amazing 4 years of my life and they pass all too quickly!

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

After my probation year in Stirling Council I decided I wanted a new challenge and took a job opportunity abroad. I am currently living and working in Spain as an English Language Teacher and work with a variety of people, aged from 4 to 60.

Would you recommend this career/further study to others?

It is a difficult question to answer, as with most careers you have your ups and downs. Some days you will question whether or not you made the right choice in studying teaching. However, there are also days where you realise there is nothing else you would want to do expect teach. Watching children mature and grow in confidence is one of the most rewarding experiences a teacher could have.

 

Dr Elaine Cook

Doctorate in Education (EdD)

Home country: Scotland

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

I completed a Masters Degree in School Leadership and Management at Stirling. During the graduation ceremony I had a conversation with Dr. Alison Fox of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Alison encouraged me to consider an education doctorate. I have a professional role in education within a Scottish local authority and thought that the practical aspects of a Doctor of Education programme would enhance my career abilities and stimulate my continuing academic interest.

What attracted you to Stirling?

Having taken my Masters course I was already familiar with Stirling and was very impressed with the strength and depth of the professors and lecturers: Tara Fenwick; Julie Allan; Mark Priestley; and Richard Edwards, to name but a few. I also had knowledge and experience of other universities. Stirling’s Faculty of Social sciences was highly rated (Research Assessment Exercise) and to me the obvious choice.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?

I have a very demanding and consuming career in education. My involvement in the course provided an extra dimension and gave me another perspective in my professional role. As a part-time student I enjoyed visiting the University and the discussions I had with my supervisors and other students in my cohort. I enjoyed preparing and presenting my research at conferences and listening to the presentations from my fellow students and interacting with them and the academic staff.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I especially enjoyed reaching the point of submitting my completed thesis to the University. The discipline of writing a thesis of relevance to my job and of practical value was tremendously rewarding. I received invaluable advice and guidance from my principal supervisor Professor Tara Fenwick for whom I have enormous admiration and respect. My additional supervisors, Alison Fox and Valerie Drew, were also of great help.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

My doctoral journey has definitely enhanced my ability to do my job and increased my understanding of an area for which I have specific responsibility, i.e. raising attainment in secondary schools within my local authority. I am much more analytic in defining and approaching challenges and in ensuring I am making clear evidenced-based decisions. I have increased my participation in professional and interdisciplinary projects, some of which involve the Faculty of Social Sciences and academic staff from other universities.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

The Stirling campus is very attractive, the library and other facilities are excellent and the support I have received during my studies has been outstanding. I know the Stirling Faculty of Social Sciences was the right choice for me and would urge others to come and enjoy it too.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

A wonderful experience, assisted by dedicated and talented staff ,that has given me a real sense of achievement. I can truly describe my doctoral journey as transformational.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

I continue in a senior education role within my local authority. The practical and academic aspects of my doctorate have certainly improved my job performance and career prospects.

 

Dr Denise Mifsud

Education PhD

Home country: Malta

A former deputy head teacher has travelled almost 30,000 miles to gain her PhD from the University of Stirling.

Denise Mifsud is based on the Island of Gozo in Malta and completed her Education PhD through distance learning, combining her studies with a full-time day job as deputy head of a school.

Her flight to Scotland to attend graduation is her ninth 3,000 mile round-trip to Stirling and sees Denise complete her studies from the Faculty of Social Sciences an impressive two years ahead of schedule.

Driven by her desire to become a University lecturer, Denise studied after work, on weekends and on holidays to complete her PhD in just three years.

“I chose Stirling because, for me, it’s the number one Faculty of Social Sciences in Scotland and it allowed me to do my doctorate remotely,” explained Denise, who has worked in education for 16 years and has already secured a new post as a university lecturer. Ninety-four percent of Stirling graduates are in employment or further study six months after graduation.

“I was able to have the best of both worlds – with my supervisor supporting me through the process while I worked at home. When I set my mind on something, it’s impossible to dissuade me from my target. The PhD was a challenging and time-consuming commitment, but luckily my husband was very supportive and became housekeeper, chef and personal travel agent.”

“My PhD journey – from embarking on the course to gaining my first academic job – has been incredible. I am grateful to the people around me, especially my supervisor Professor Cate Watson, whose constant encouragement and unerring support made it possible for me to fulfil my dream and look forward to starting my career in academia.”

Professor Watson has nothing but praise for Denise’s dedication and diligence. She said: “A PhD student like Denise comes along once in a supervisor’s lifetime. Her appetite for doctoral study was awe-inspiring and, right from the start, the most difficult thing was getting her to slow down.

“I gave her the go ahead to submit her thesis three years to the day that she first walked into my office – not bad given her other demanding commitments. I am delighted with her success and wish her all the best in her new post.”

Dr Heather Bain

Doctorate in Education (EdD)

Home country: Scotland

Why did you decide to study a postgraduate course?

To be able to progress in my professional practice as a nurse educator.

What attracted you to Stirling?

It was recommended by previous students but more importantly I was aware of the excellent reputation from the Faculty of Social Sciences and the strength of the academic staff.

What did you enjoy most about your time at Stirling University?

The taught element of the course over the first two years was very fulfilling and in particular studying with a cross section of professionals who challenged my assumptions.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed the relation this programme had to my professional practice and that throughout the doctorate journey I was able to influence policy and practice. It was in submitting my completed thesis and preparing for my viva that the significance of my journey became clearly apparent to me. The support I had from my principle supervisor Professor Tara Fenwick was exemplary.

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills? What contacts/networks have you made in your time at Stirling?

I have developed new networks from undertaking this programme which are both personal and professional. I see this doctorate as the beginning of my research career and it will be a foundation for both further research and seeking a promoted post.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

The Campus at Stirling University has excellent facilities and the support provided by both support and academic staff is exceptional. You won’t be disappointed.

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

This course has supported me in a personal and professional journey, which at times has been very challenging but the end result is very rewarding.

 

Teaching Qualification in Further Education (TQFE) - Pre-service

Jenni Cook

BA Secondary Education with History and Politics

Home country: Scotland

I was attracted to Stirling due to the 4 year combined course offered, allowing me to study my subjects (history and politics) alongside my teaching degree. The school experiences are full on and being able to split them up over the four years rather than crammed into a one year post grad was a big factor in my decision to go to the University of Stirling.

I enjoyed the building up of teaching, so working from micro-teaching with maybe 10 pupils, to a full classroom. Teaching your first full class is a daunting experience and having that gradual build helped me greatly in building my confidence.

I found the subject seminars the most use and would have liked to have had more of them in the earlier years of the education course. It's great being able to mix with other people doing the same as you, and also gain knowledge and advice from the experienced subject-specific tutors at Stirling.

If I were to give advice it would be explore as many teaching strategies as you can whilst at University be as creative as you like, and reflect on these, what could you do improve or adapt it and also the successes. The successes get you through the more challenging times so make sure always to reflect on what was successful! Finally keep everything you use, and share resources with fellow students. Creating a bank of resources early on will help you in the future.

I am currently teaching history at a secondary school in the Scottish Borders, absolutely loving it....my dream career.

Samantha Cairney

BA (Hons) Primary Education with specialism in Early Years

Home country: Scotland

What attracted you to study at the University of Stirling?

Having initially started my University career in Law and realising it wasn’t for me. I decided to find a course that would suit me professionally but also as an individual. Whilst searching for courses that seemed appropriate to me, I realised that the University of Stirling was the only Scottish course that allowed you to specialise and it’s the number one Faculty of Social Sciences in Scotland. I loved the idea of being specialised in a specific subject whilst still gaining my teaching degree. After visiting the campus, I fell in love with the peacefully scenic surrounds that was littered with wildlife.

What did you enjoy most about your time at University of Stirling?

During my time at Stirling, I felt like part of a community. The course was structured so you get to build close relationships with your education tutors but also mix with other students in different degrees when you were studying to deepen your knowledge on your specialism. As a result, I met and became friends with lots of different types of students from different degree backgrounds – something I feel I may not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

Which aspects of the programme did you enjoy the most?

The primary education programme is very well structured to allow for the different types of learners who may enter the University. This meant that we had a range of different assignments such as oral presentations, essays, exams or group work, so it allowed me to work out my best mode of studying. I also loved the practical workshops that were built into our classes. This involved things such as actually going outside to learn about outdoor learning techniques or taking part in gymnastic lessons. The opportunity to complete these tasks as we expect children to, really allowed me to grasp the concept and content of what our tutors were explaining to us. Similarly, I found all my classes to be incredibly interactive and this allowed me to build close relationships with my tutors and peers. I felt very well supported in all areas and knew whom I could turn to when I needed advice or support.

Entering my placements, I felt very prepared and confident, thanks to the education department. I think I really enjoyed my placements much more as I had a solid foundation to start from and didn’t feel like I had been thrown in the deep end. Speaking to other primary education students not at Stirling, I realised how lucky I was to have had the support from the staff in Stirling as the stress of placements was minimised thanks to the structure of the course and how prepared it made me feel!

Do you think the degree has made you more employable, or better prepared for further study? If yes, what are the key skills?

After completing my probationary year, I was offered jobs in Scotland prior to moving to London, with head teachers explaining that they would prefer a teacher in their school which has a specialism as they are rare and highly sought after. Although I decided to move to London, I was thankful to have my specialism after being in such a competitive environment. I found that I could really identify with my degree and use my knowledge surrounding my specialism to explain my views and opinions. The Early Years specialism was always a topic that was pinpointed during interviews and I was confident in explaining why my specialism made me a more valuable teacher.

My degree also gave me an edge during my probationary year. The education programme really prepared you for new initiatives that were being introduced by the Government. As such, I was conscious that the 1+2 Language Initiative was being introduced in Scotland in the next year and primary teachers would be expected to teach two additional languages aside their mother tongue. Thanks to being so aware of this new initiative, I used my probationary year to undergo relevant Continued Professional Development surrounding new initiatives being introduced. This allowed me to support my probationary school’s development plan as Language co-ordinator and be fully prepared for the introduction of the initiative. If it was not for the encouragement of my tutors to be update with Governmental policy and the need to discuss these initiatives during class time, I may have perhaps not been as prepared as I find myself now.

What advice would you give a student considering studying at Stirling?

Visit the campus, meet other students, check out the sports facilities and talk to the education tutors. You’ll get a real feel for the University and it is sure to not disappoint you. I LOVED Stirling!

How would you summarise your time at Stirling?

I feel like I have been given the tools to help me develop into a professional young adult thanks to being pushed to challenge myself but also supported by the staff at Stirling. The staff equipped me with the skills, confidence and resilience to combat a magnitude of different scenarios that I may be faced with during teaching.

If you have now graduated, what are you doing now?

I am currently working in a school in London as a 2-form Year 2 primary teacher. My job requires multiple different roles including working alongside others to help develop co-ordinator roles.

Would you recommend this career/further study to others?

Absolutely! Teaching is such a satisfying career choice! It is incredible to help support young learners to develop socially, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Seeing your student’s confidence grow and enjoy learning is so gratifying. No two days are ever alike and children are so spontaneous…your day is full of fun and laughs. Of course this career can be stressful at times but it is also important to realise that you are positively influencing children in their learning, opinions and how they view the world. When you realise that you are influencing our future generation’s lives, it is hard to not feel grateful to have such a position.

Mr Gregory Mihill

BA (Hons) Professional Education (Primary) with a specialism in Early Years

Home country: England

What influenced you to choose the University of Stirling to study your course?

The course outline was fantastic and the support you get is incredible. The campus is not too bad either!

What are the benefits you found as a result of studying at Stirling?

From studying Education here I feel very confident in becoming a teacher, whereas at the beginning I wasn't sure.

What specific features do you like most about the course?

The micro-teaching is fantastic as it eases you into teaching practice in a gentle way over each academic year making the jump into a classroom setting less difficult.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering come to Stirling?

It was the best decision of my life! I have met people I will know forever and encourage everyone reading this to apply at the University of Stirling, you will not regret it!

Please tell us what impact do you think your studies will have on your future career?

Studying has given me a lot of confidence and made me realise that teaching is definitely what I want to do!

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