Name: Elisa-Mae Allen
Where did you grow up: Lincolnshire
Degree course studied and college/university/employer: I studied A-levels in my hometown and then moved 200 miles to study Primary Education (3-11) with QTS at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster.
Why did you decide on this subject / area? I have always wanted to be a teacher and I don’t remember a time that I didn’t. I was always that child who set up my bedroom as a fake classroom, took registers and taught my toys using a little whiteboard. Whilst in Sixth Form, I carried out a teaching placement in a school close by and completely fell in love with the idea of being teacher. I love being a part of a big community and enabling children to make the best memories at school, which is why a lot of my teaching involves music, singing, paints and drama.
Why did you decide on this college/university/employer? As soon as I went for a tour around the University of Cumbria, I loved it. The landscapes around the campus, the sizes of the classes and buildings and the sense of community and happiness that I felt there was exactly what I wanted within a university. For me, the course was perfect, but it was the campus and the people who worked at the university that helped me to decide that this university was best for me. I love that all your tutors know your name, that you can always find a quiet place to study or a place to sit with friends, that you can ask for 1 to 1 support from tutors for your lectures, seminars or assignments and that everybody who works at or attends the University of Cumbria is so kind and friendly.
What did you want to be as a child? As I previously said, I have always wanted to be a teacher. If I had not done that though, it would have been something within education and the schooling environment.
Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns? What were they? For me, my career goal has always stayed the same but my choice in which university took an unexpected turn. I never expected to move so far away to complete my teacher training, but I just had to go where was best for me.
Why did you decide to study for a degree? I chose to study a degree because it was the most direct way to become a teacher. I know people who have done it in different ways, such as PGCEs or attending university part-time whilst working in schools. This has the same outcome, but it just depends on what suits you the best.
What did you study at sixth form / college? Why? At Sixth Form I studied A-levels in Psychology, Sociology and English Language. Although these didn’t have any direct links to teaching, I just chose subjects that I was confident in, enjoyed and thought that I could do well in. Although some university courses require subject specific grades on entry, my advice to anyone would be to just pick something you really enjoy to study at A-level.
How did you decide what to do after school / college? I decided with the help of my Sixth Form. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher but they helped me to achieve that goal and put me on the right path for it.
Did anyone help you to decide? Same as above.
Who influenced you? I was influenced to be a teacher by my teachers at primary school. I always loved primary school and I have very happy memories of being there. I now want the ability to be able to create lovely memories for the children in my class.
What support did you get? I had support from my form tutor at Sixth Form, my class teachers and the careers advice team.
What’s the best thing about studying with your college/university/employer? What’s the best thing about your course? The best thing about this course for me is that I love what I am doing. Everyday I am learning something new, getting stuck into my learning and then using this when I am on placement teaching children. I love that university has enabled me to make the friends and the memories that I have.
Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree? How did you get around this? I think the most difficult thing about university, and this can scare people away from it, is Student Finance and financial situations whilst studying. A lot of people presume that university is very expensive and that if you are not able to afford it in that exact moment, you are not able to go. This isn’t the case and there are lots of funds, bursaries and help you can get within your university and with Student Finance to support you while you studying. For me, I found applying for Student Finance very tricky as there are lots of forms to fill in and requirements. It wasn’t as bad as I expected though and I left enough time for everything to be filled in and processed.
What are you looking forward to the most about university/finishing university/finishing your apprenticeship? I am in my final year at university now and I will really miss it, but I am really looking forward to starting my teaching job, having a classroom of my own and putting all the things that I have learnt into action.
Any tips for anyone choosing to study your course? I would just say: choose the A-level or college course you enjoy, make sure you visit the campus (in person or online) and feel happy and safe there when you go and see it, if you have the opportunity to talk to someone online (on a university or college website there is sometimes the option to chat to a student who is already doing your course)- do this and make sure that you are completely sure this is what you want to do in terms of the course.
What advice would you give to someone from your area? The advice I would give is not to just look at local universities. You will find the one which is right for you, with the right course, tutors and people, so don’t settle for one just because it is close. The right university may be 10, 50, 100 or 200 miles away, but if it is right for you then it will be worth it in the end.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? I hopefully see myself in 10 years’ time still as a teacher but taking on other responsibilities such as a Subject Leader or Key Stage Leader.
Tell us about your placement experience: The placements on my course are very useful as you have a placement in each Key Stage. This means that when you graduate you have had experience within most year groups and can make an effective decision about which year group suits you best when applying for teaching jobs. These placements are typically 6-10 weeks long and will happen once a year, being in a different school each year. Within this placement you are assessed and required to teach the whole class, small groups, plan your own lessons, observe your class teacher and assess children. The placements become more independent as time goes on.
Most memorable moment on placement: My most memorable placement memories will always be either watching the Christmas Nativity, attending Sports Day or being a part of science experiments.
Do you have anyone in your family who works in the same area? I don’t, but the university will rarely place you in schools where you know people or have family members as staff or pupils. This is so that you are able to remain professional and can develop on your own.