LSBU banner

William Russell, alumnus, School Direct PGCE

How the School Direct programme is helping one LSBU student go from teaching assistant to qualified teacher – via Nepal and Zimbabwe

After studying for a BSc (Hons) in Sociology and Politics and then a Masters degree in Sociology, teaching was not a career that William Russell had given any consideration to – but a spell volunteering in Nepal and Zimbabwe changed that.

“It was never my intention to move into teaching,” says William. “Everything sort of fell into my lap – my voluntary work sowed the seeds for pursuing a teaching career back home, and from there it seemed obvious to start life as a Teaching Assistant to gain classroom experience of London schooling, and look to climb the ladder from there.”

Work experience

With teaching experience already under his belt, the idea of going back to full-time study did not appeal to William at all. “It would have felt like a step in the wrong direction,” he says. “To go from spending five days a week in a classroom to then go back to five days a week at university, waiting for a chance to get onto a placement, made no sense to me.”

School Direct

William had heard about the outdated Graduate Teacher Programme from a colleague at one of his previous schools, but it was a close friend who had studied for her PGCE at LSBU that referred him to School Direct – and William hasn’t looked back since.

“The main benefit of the programme is that you never stop learning from day one,” says William. “You are thrown in at the deep end straight away, but you have an excellent support network around you to help you cope."

Although it’s daunting, I have around a dozen senior people at LSBU and my school who I can turn to when I need to. You never feel alone on this course, and that’s a very reassuring note to end each day on.

William Russell

Good role model

William is also feeling the benefit of studying alongside colleagues from Crampton Primary School. “There are four of us from my school enrolled on the School Direct programme, and we help each other through the challenges we face,” he says. “We’ve also got a good role model of how well School Direct works: Emma, the Year One teacher at Crampton, was part of the programme last year. You wouldn’t think she was newly qualified, however – she comes across as a very experienced teacher.”

Community feel

That community feel amongst his course mates is something that William values very highly. “After a strenuous week at school, it’s always therapeutic to laugh and catch up with people who are going through exactly the same trials and tribulations as you,” he says. “It’s been an incredible journey so far – a rollercoaster where I bought the ticket, but didn’t realise how mind-blowing the ride was going to be.”

Find out more about PGCE School Direct.