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Tina van der Graaf, alumna, PgDip in Education

For Tina van der Graaf, the fact that the PgDip in Education is work based made her decision to study at LSBU that much more convenient and easy

One of the key elements of our PgDip in Education is that we are able to offer it in schools – we travel to our students to fit in around their schedule, rather than the other way round.

Management skills

“There are very few universities offering that kind of opportunity,” says Tina. “It was one of the main reasons for me choosing the course. I was working as a Year Leader in a comprehensive secondary school, and felt that the course offered me the chance to develop the management skills I would need to progress my career.”

It certainly seems that Tina was right, as she is now an Assistant Head and SENCO across three sites: one a PRU, one a special school for teenagers with combined autism and she also manages the site for students with mental health difficulties.

“My role involves a mixture of management, developing the curriculum, reporting on performances of classes, students and teachers and working with a variety of agencies including clinical and educational psychology as well as speech and language therapy, and music therapy.”

Well prepared

Tina describes her job as cognitively and emotionally challenging, but feels that her Postgraduate Diploma has prepared her well for it.

“I honestly feel as though I have learned more in the last 18 months than I did in the previous five years,” she says. “The experience has really sparked a love of further studying, and it has definitely helped me gain my current role. I still remember and use a lot of the things we covered on the course.”

Among Tina’s highlights were the residential weekends and the Leadership and Management module.

“The unit leader, Peter Wimborne, was extremely supportive and was always available if I had any questions,” she says. “That was so useful, considering I was in full-time employment.”

Looking to the future

As she looks ahead to her future, Tina feels that her time at LSBU has prepared her well whichever direction she decides to take her career in.

“I’m at a bit of a crossroads at the minute,” she says. “I either want to move into Headship at a secondary school, work strategically with Special Educational Needs, or continue my studies and do a PhD,” she says. “I’ve thought about working in Dubai or somewhere similar to advance my life experiences, and take on a new challenge.”

Whatever she does, Tina feels that her PGDip has helped prepare her for it. “The course was a stepping stone for me, and it’s reminded me how important it is to study while working,” she says. “Combining the two has helped me to progress my career, and I feel it’s helping me in my current role too.”