Despite leaving school with no qualifications herself, Victoria Collman always wanted to become a teacher, even when it looked impossible for her to achieve her dream. However, after studying an Access Course, she began looking for universities that would give her the opportunity to fulfill her ambition – and quickly realised that London South Bank University (LSBU) was the right place for her.
“LSBU was in an ideal location for me,” says Victoria. “I have a young child so it was important to study somewhere I could get to and from easily. Being in the middle of London makes that quite easy. My commute is about half an hour or so – there were other universities closer but the course at LSBU was just what I was looking for.”
According to Victoria, one of the most important elements of the course at LSBU was the chance to take work placements in schools and alternative settings. “I felt that mix would give me a good grounding for the field of education I wanted to go into,” she says.
Having undertaken her placements now, Victoria feels that her experiences have justified her decision to come to LSBU. “I took two placements – one in a mainstream school and one in an alternative school setting,” she explains. “They didn’t just help me to develop my teaching skills – they gave me professional skills in areas such as dealing with colleagues, parents and other organisations that you might not automatically think are part of a school day.”
It’s valuable experience that Victoria feels will help her when it comes to starting her career. “It looks great on your CV when you go to schools looking for work,” she says. “It’s also really helpful to have that experience under your belt – you are better prepared to deal with things when they happen in a real-life setting.”
Victoria was also able to use the networking opportunities that placements present to find a path into volunteering at her alternative education setting. “As well as that, I also took part in the Learning Together programme which was possibly my favourite part of the course,” she says. “It combines students from the LSBU course with students from a local prison. All the lessons took place in the prison and really was an eye-opener for how education can be used as a tool for social justice.”
Victoria is currently coming to the end of her studies, but will be taking some time out before launching her career as she is expecting another baby. “I'll definitely be coming back to LSBU to study my PGCE and go on to teach,” she says. “I have a great bond with my lecturers here, which is why I want to continue my studies at LSBU.
“It’s a modern university that supports students in every way. Without the support of my course director and the academic team I don’t know what I would have done. Even if you don’t actually need the support, just knowing it is there if you need it puts you at ease.”