Kirsten’s Story

21 years old, Workington

Where did you grow up?

Workington.

What did you want to be as a child?

A teacher.

What are you studying now?

PGCE General Primary (5-11) with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) and inclusion at the University of Cumbria.

Why did you decide on this subject?

I have always loved the idea of shaping future generations to make sure that they get what I didn’t in terms of education, and I felt like the best way to do this was through becoming a teacher.

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns?

Yes – during the final year of my undergraduate degree and continuing on into my postgraduate studies I have suffered with some mental health problems, but having that end goal of finally being a teacher has helped me massively, along with the amazing support team I have around me in university.

Why did you decide on this university?

I am currently based in Lancaster at the University of Cumbria. I chose this campus as it was far enough away from home to be able to live the true student life, but also close enough and with good transport connections so that I can go home of a weekend for my mam to do my washing!

Why did you decide to study for a degree?

I know I would need a degree to become a teacher.

What did you study at sixth form/college? Why?

At sixth form I studied Geography (you need a core subject to get into teaching), Psychology (I was interested in how we as humans worked) and Media Studies (I liked the idea of being creative but was no good at music or art!).

How did you decide what to do after school/college?

I always wanted to be a teacher so I went straight into trying to follow my dream.

Did anyone help you to decide?

During sixth form and the process of applying to universities I spoke with a few teachers about my idea of being a teacher and they all encouraged me, so I went for it.

Who influenced you?

Mainly the amazing teachers I have had during my time in school, along with the few bad ones who showed me where I wanted to change the education system.

What support did you get?

During sixth form we had careers events, but also going to university open days allowed me to speak to staff from the course I wanted to join to make sure it was the right one for me.

What’s the best thing about studying with your university?

At the University of Cumbria we aren’t just a number; the staff mostly know you by name and are so warm and friendly that you can ask them anything and they will do their best to help.

What is the best thing about your course?

Gaining all the experience from being in schools, and gaining the knowledge from lecturers that have been teaching in schools for a number of years.

Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree?

Yes – at first I didn’t get on to the course I originally wanted for my undergraduate study, so I have had to take a different route into teaching, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have gained so much more experience this way that I feel is making me a better teacher.

Were there key any turning points in your journey into a degree?

I had a conversation with a lecturer on a open day that set me at ease, knowing that even if I didn’t get my original path into teaching all was not lost and the university supported my every step making these decisions.

What tips or advice would you give to someone from your area?

The world is so much bigger than Cumbria; if you get the chance, move away and live in a big city for a while – but never forget just how nice home is. Be persistent, don’t give up on a dream just because you fall at the first hurdle, speak to people and see what can be done so you still get to the end goal. Make sure you get someone else to read your personal statement; different people will know how to big you up better than yourself and they will pick up spelling or grammar mistakes!

What are you looking forward to the most about graduating?

Graduating will mean that I will be the first person in my family to have a degree, let alone two. Graduating will also mean that I will have my first chance at having my own class of children to teach.

Any tips for anyone choosing to study the same course?

Be open minded and take everything as a learning opportunity – good or bad – but don’t forget to have down time with friends too; teaching is very full-on, but so so worth it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I hope to see myself teaching a Key Stage 1 class in a SEND school and having the most amazing time with the children, being as creative as possible and still living my inner child and still learning. You can never stop learning as a teacher. Every child and person you meet will teach you something completely different.

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