Annie Cole, alumna, Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Early Years)
How London South Bank University's location and reputation helped to give one student a great start to her teaching career, with focus on Early Years
When Annie Cole began looking for the best place to study her Early Years PGCE, she found herself drawn to LSBU for two reasons. "I was initially drawn in by the location and the excellent reputation of the course," says Annie, who graduated in 2013.
"LSBU's south London location is great, with excellent transport links and affiliations with inner city schools that I felt would offer me a wide range of teaching experiences. What clinched the deal for me was the emphasis that the University places on equality and diversity as an integral part of the course – that's what really made my mind up."
Annie had previously worked in South Korea, teaching English as a foreign language and it was there that she made the decision to specialise in Early Years teaching. "I found it to be such a rewarding experience because at that age the children progress at such a rapid pace," she says. "That's why I wanted to specialise in Early Years at LSBU, because you are really shaping the person these children are going to be, and you can see them develop and grow."
Upon starting her PGCE, Annie was immediately impressed by the pastoral care on offer, describing it as 'invaluable' as she adjusted to life back in the UK. "I'd never worked as a teacher in the UK before, so it was all new to me, but I felt completely supported," she recalls. "Our placement tutors were really clear when it came to offering advice that helped us to improve as the course progressed, and the subject tutors at the University were exceptionally supportive! With an academic advisor there to help us as well, we never felt lost and our questions were never left unanswered."
Another strength of our PGCE is the guest speakers we attract, something that Annie felt was of real benefit. "They spoke candidly about the real issues they dealt with daily – issues which we were very likely to encounter in our future careers," she says. "When we went on our teaching placements, that insight informed our practice and our research projects, and I felt as if I had every opportunity to learn about teaching through first-hand experience."
The hands-on element of the course enabled Annie to experience teaching in an Alternative Educational Setting (AES), an option she was delighted was available. "I really wanted to work in a special needs setting, and I gained invaluable experience from it. I learned about planning for and dealing with children with autism and complex needs, but also got to spend my time in Key Stage 2, which was wonderful. Having AES experience is the thing that has set me apart and given me an edge in the job market too," says Annie.
Experience on work placements is another area that we pride ourselves on, and Annie is quick to concur. "Each school had a different demographic and I felt as if we were completely prepared for it through our visits from the guest speakers," she says. "My final placement showed me what is truly involved in being a teacher; it's definitely hard work and can be challenging. It was a completely different curricula and a very different demographic, but it confirmed to me that teaching was definitely what I wanted to do."
Now that she has started her teaching career, Annie appreciates more than ever just how well LSBU helped her to prepare for her career. "I think the standard of teaching and quality of lecture at LSBU is consistently high, inspirational and evocative," she says.
The environment and atmosphere are particularly great, and I made some great friends – we all stay in touch with each other now that we are working as teachers. In short, I am so glad that I chose LSBU!